Painting interior walls seems like a pretty simple task, right? You grab a few gallons of paint, get a cheap paint roller, and go to town.

However, it isn’t quite that simple if you don’t want a paint job that looks unprofessional and sloppy. And correcting interior painting mistakes long after the paint has dried can be difficult to almost impossible. Have you tried getting dried paint off of an expensive porous couch? Not fun!

Even professional interior designers and expert painters make common mistakes when painting interior walls. To help you avoid falling into the same trap, we’ve put together a guide to the nine most common interior wall painting mistakes and how to prevent them.

These issues are common among both novices and experienced interior painters. But thankfully, they’re easy to avoid with a little know-how.

Before you tackle your painting task, check out this handy guide to common interior painting mistakes.

9 Common Painting Mistakes

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

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 in Home Depot’s fluorescent lighting doesn’t mean it’ll look good in the room’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 you think will look good in theory, and then compare them in the room you’re painting. Once you’ve got the samples on the wall, you can eliminate the paint colors you don’t like.

How to avoid this painting mistake:

Always remember to take paint samples home with you and compare them in the natural light of the room you’re painting. Or take it a step further and buy small test pots of the paints.

We don’t necessarily mean “natural” as in “sunlight” either. We mean compare paint samples in the light conditions that are normal to 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 an 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 undertaking a big project.

It may be enticing to buy the cheapest $1 to $2 foam rollers and painter’s tape you can find when you’re painting your walls. Or perhaps you’ve got budget and speed in mind and want the cheapest paint sprayer you can find.

Either way, cheap tools can mean disaster.

Brushes made with good quality bristles won’t shed brush bristles all over the place, and decent rollers are much better and faster at applying paint than cheap alternatives.

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

Check paint sprayer reviews and quality before purchasing because poorly made paint sprayers could burn out halfway through a job or distribute paint unevenly. And make sure you choose a paint gun that’s fit for use on interior walls.

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.

3. Not prepping the walls before painting

This is a major painting mistake that tons of new and old painters alike 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.

Many people begin 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 cover up major imperfections. And if the walls are dusty and you don’t clean them first, your paint will be sullied.

In addition, 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 and a little sugar soap.

Be sure to fill in cracks, chunks of chipped paint, and holes. Sand the filler 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 different on a specific interior wall in a specific area of the home.

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

Some paints have a primer already mixed in while others require a pre-painted layer of primer to really get them 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 is 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 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

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, making it nearly impossible for new paint to stick. The smooth surface is not porous enough for the paint to sink into, so it just sits on the surface and will fall off over time.

How to avoid this painting mistake:

Sand the wall very gently with fine-grit sandpaper 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 over old wallpaper directly

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 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. Not a good look!

How to avoid this painting mistake:

Use a high-quality oil-based primer to seal the wallpaper if you don’t want to strip it. Otherwise, you can strip the wallpaper before painting:

  • 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. Note that you may need to moisten the wallpaper with water in a spray bottle first. And for wallpaper that’s really stuck down, you may need a steamer.
  • Grab both edges and pull upwards to remove the panel from the wall.
  • Do this around the room until all wallpaper panels are gone.

7. Painting in the dark or in poor light

Well, maybe not literally in the dark, but painting in dim or poor lighting could result in a paint job that looks 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 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.

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 — a square foot of paint on the wall is enough to decide if it’s right for the space.

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

You can also use a color testing app on your phone to see how a particular color looks in your room. Just be aware that your device’s color settings may influence the image you see.

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 easy to miss a spot or spread the paint a little too thin in certain areas. Thin spots can ruin the paint job’s overall aesthetic, so it’s best to concentrate on nice, even coverage.

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 in question.

We hope our guide to the most common painting mistakes and how to avoid them was helpful!

As you can see, most common painting mistakes are easy to avoid or remedy, don’t forget to share this article with your friends before they start painting their interior walls too!