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Painting the walls of an interior space seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? You just grab a few gallons of paint, get a cheap paint roller, and go to town.

However, it isn’t quite this simple. Especially if you don’t want your paint job to look unprofessional and sloppy. Correcting interior painting mistakes long after the paint has dried can be difficult to almost impossible.

Have you tried getting interior dried paint off of an expensive porous couch? Not fun!

painting mistakes

Even the most professional interior designers and expert painters make common mistakes when it comes to interior wall painting. Luckily, we put together a guide to the nine most common interior wall painting mistakes and how to prevent or fix them so you don’t have to learn your lesson far too late.

These nine problems aren’t just super common among both the novice and expert interior painter, but they’re very easy to avoid with a little bit of instruction.

Check out this handy guide to interior painting mistakes and how to avoid them!

Nine Common Painting Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

These mistakes range from minor to seriously major, but don’t worry. We’ve got a solution to every last one.

1. Not comparing paint samples in the actual room’s light.

This is a huge mistake that newbies make all the time. Have you ever gone to the home and garden store, picked out a color you thought was pretty, then ordered a gallon of that paint right on the spot?

This could be potentially disastrous. Just because that color looked pretty at Home Depot’s fluorescent lighting doesn’t mean it’ll look good in the actual room in question’s natural light.

Not only that but picking a paint color quickly isn’t wise. It’s always best to select a handful of colorways that you think will look good in theory, and eliminating them by comparison in the room you’re painting’s natural light.

How to avoid this painting mistake:

Always remember to take every last paint sample home with you and compare them in the natural light of the room you’re painting.

We don’t necessarily mean “natural” as in “sunlight” only by any means. By “natural”, we mean the everyday light that stays mostly constant in that specific room.

Do you have a large hanging lamp that illuminates the room? Keep it on while comparing paint samples.

Do you use your side table lamps constantly? Keep those on too.

This way, you can get a more accurate idea of how the wall color will look in that specific illuminated environment.


2. Opting for the cheapest tools you can find.

We get it. Home renovation can be expensive, especially if you’re taking on a pretty hefty project.

It may seem really enticing to take the easiest job of painting the interiors and buying the cheapest $1-$2 foam rollers and sectioning tape you can find. It might also be enticing to buy a cheap paint sprayer, too, as these tools tend to be expensive.

However, getting cheap tools could mean disaster.

Brushes made with good quality bristles and foam rollers with firm, dense foam will apply paint better and quicker than the cheap alternatives. Good brushes also won’t shed brush bristles all over the place.

If you’re thinking about using masking tape instead of painter’s tape, think again. Masking tape isn’t designed to block out paint at the edges like painter’s tape does, so you may be wasting your time and energy.

Paint sprayers should be thoroughly investigated for reviews and quality before purchasing. A poorly made paint sprayer could burn out halfway through a job or distribute paint unevenly.

How to avoid this painting mistake

Invest in high-quality painter’s tape, brushes, foam rollers, and paint sprayers. You’ll be glad you did, and your paint job will look fabulous.

mistakes painting

3. Not prepping the walls for paint– at all.

This is one of the most major painting mistakes out there that tons of new and old painters make, so don’t feel too bad about it. It’s a pretty easy step to skip, but also a very easy and quick step to take care of.

Most people will begin going to town with painting without considering the amount of dirt, oil, or scratches that have built up on the wall’s surface over time. Even though interior paint is fairly thick and opaque, it can’t quite cover up the more major imperfections of a way.

Just as well, some kinds of dirt and oil can bleed through the surface of a fresh coat of paint long after it has dried.

How to avoid this painting mistake

Before you begin pouring and rolling the paint and even before you start masking things off and laying down newspaper or plastic, give your walls a quick wash. You can do this with a damp rag.

Be sure to fill in cracks, chunks of chipped paint, and holes. Sand does whatever patch material you used after it dries so that you’re left with a smooth surface that is prepped and ready to be painted.

4. Using the wrong paint, mix, or finish for your paint job.

Interior house paint types vary significantly. From mixes to tints to finishes to primers, each type of paint and combination of paint will look very different on a specific interior wall in a specific area of the home.

This makes it very easy to make one of the biggest painting mistakes around– picking the wrong type of paint for your specific space.

wrong paint

Some paints have a primer already mixed into it, while others require a pre-painted layer of primer paint to really get it to pop.

If you’re painting a high traffic area like a hallway or a wall near the front door, a glossy or satin finish would be ideal, while flat or matte finishes are best for accent walls or low traffic areas.

Also, some paints do better in paint sprayers than others. Selecting the right type will take some investigation.

How to avoid this painting mistake

When selecting paint, don’t be afraid to talk to the hardware store’s paint department. Give them the rundown on the area you’re painting and what exactly you’re looking for. A paint professional can give you the best recommendations for your space. The pros always know best.

5. Painting over super glossy old paint.

Have you ever tried to paint on something shiny or unprimed? How well did that work out?

Think of it this way– It’s like painting a nail with nail polish. If you paint a coat of new nail polish over another coat of old glossy nail polish, you’ll notice it chips pretty quickly.

The same goes for painting a wall. If your old paint has a glossy finish, new paint won’t stick to it well and you run the risk of cracking, chipping, and discoloration.

This is one of the biggest painting mistakes because glossy finishes have very little grit to them, making it nearly impossible for paint to stick to it. The smooth surface is not porous enough for the paint to sink into, so it just sits on the surface, ready to fall off over time.

How to avoid this painting mistake

Sand the wall very gently with a fine-grit sander to break down some of the old paint and give it the grit it needs to be painted over properly. Wipe the dust away with a damp cloth and allow it to dry before beginning to paint.


6. Painting directly onto old wallpaper.

This may not seem like one of the worst painting mistakes ever or even a problem at all. If the wallpaper is flat and matte, what harm could come from just painting over it?

A lot of harm, actually. The moisture from paint over wallpaper can seep into the paper and “reactivate” the glue, causing the wallpaper to begin to dislodge and eventually slough off.

This will result in pockets of air that show through your paint, or the weight of the wallpaper pushing through the paint to fall off. Not a good look!

How to avoid this painting mistake

Use an oil-based primer to seal off the wallpaper if you don’t want to strip it. Otherwise, you can strip the wallpaper before painting by following these steps:

  • Pry the edges of the wallpaper’s corners.
  • Remove the wallpaper by grabbing the bottom corner of a panel and pulling it away until both bottom corners are free.
  • Grab both edges and pull upwards to remove the panel from the wall.
  • Do this around the room until all wallpaper panels are gone.
  • If your wallpaper is older, you may need to use a liquid stripper and hot water to remove it

7. Painting in the dark or in poor light.

Well, maybe not literally the dark. But painting in dim or poor lighting could result in a paint job that looks alright in that light, but pretty terrible in any other light.

Who wants to go through the effort of painting only to have it look bad because you couldn’t see very well?

How to avoid this painting mistake

Schedule painting time for the early morning and in great lighting. If the room in question has large or plentiful windows, open them up.

Natural lighting is the light that your space will be seen in the most, so use that light to do your painting job. Avoid painting under fluorescent lighting or other harsh lights as well.

dark room painting

8. Failing to test the right color.

We went over how important it is to check your paint samples or palettes in the actual room you’ll be painting. Once you’ve narrowed it down to one or two colors you like, don’t just pick one and buy a whole gallon.

Just because a certain hue looks beautiful on paper doesn’t mean it’ll look good on the wall. If a color is dark or bright, it may not look so good all around the room, no matter how beautiful it is.

How to avoid this painting mistake

Order a small paint sample or two if possible. Swatch the color on a primed section of the wall. You don’t need to go nuts here– maybe a square foot of paint on the wall or so is enough to decide if it’s worth it.

If it isn’t, you can simply cover it up with whatever primer you’re using.

If that sounds too risky to you, you can also use a color testing app on your phone to see what a color would look like in your specific space.

yellow wall

9. Missing spots.

This painting mistake happens to pros as well as newbies. If you’re in a rush or painting a large room, it’s very easy to miss a spot or spread the paint a little too thin in certain spots.

How to avoid this painting mistake

Once you’ve noticed the mishap, don’t grab your leftover paint just yet. Wait for the whole wall to dry thoroughly (this can take four to six hours) and then touch up the area.

How was our in-depth guide to the most common painting mistakes and how to effectively avoid them? Tell us what you think, along with your own personal favorite tips and tricks to avoid common painting mistakes, in the comment section below!