How to Avoid Common Painting Mistakes

ECOS 05/06/2014

Everyone who’s ever tackled a paint project has also likely made some mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, right? Sometimes, you may not even know you’ve made a mistake, but your paint job quality and durability can easily be compromised. To save you some time and trouble, today we’re sharing easy tips for how to avoid common painting mistakes. 

#1 - Not preparing the surface. Poor preparation can lead to many problems. Unsound, rusty, damp, or dusty/oily surfaces of many types can cause problems. Here are quick tips for preparation:

○ Make sure surface is clean, dry, and free of any loose dirt or grime.

○ Scrape loose, peeling paint or degrading components.

○ Fill and putty holes and cracks. Let dry and sand.

○ Bare plaster or wood should be dry and dust-free, then primed or sealed, and allowed to dry thoroughly before painting.

#2 - Using the wrong products for the job. It may seem obvious, but interior paints, for example, will not work well out of doors. Consider the conditions of the space (hot, cold, humid, etc.) and impacts of inhabitants. For instance, in areas of high traffic, like hallways, flat paints can be susceptible to marking. (Dark colors amplify this effect.) This can easily be avoided by the use of a different type of paint, such as Soft Sheen or Eggshell in light to mid-toned colors. Ask the manufacturer about your specific project and conditions if you’re unsure. It’ll pay off in the long run!

#3 - Not buying enough. Always buy enough product to complete the job, and “box" or mix paint that is the same color in one container, if possible, to minimize any differences from can to can, as well as from different batches. Also, do not mix brands of paint. Each manufacturer has different formulas and colors, and some may be incompatible with each other.

#4 - Dipping your paint brush too far into the paint. Dip it about one-third of the way up the bristles to save paint and paint cleaner.

#5 - Using water-based paint over oil-based paint. If you apply latex paint over oil-based, you’re going to end up with a bubbly, crackled mess because it won’t adhere correctly. Test the surface by soak a clean rag or cotton ball in denatured alcohol and rubbing the surface. If the paint starts to soften, it’s latex. If not, the paint is oil-based. If it is indeed oil-based, you’ll need to clean the surface, sand the surface, clean again, and apply a primer.

#6 - Creating unnecessary lap marks. Always maintain a ‘wet edge’ while painting to avoid lap marks. If you need to stop, always do so at a natural break, such as a corner, to avoid lap marks.

#7 - Painting the second coat too soon. If the first coat of paint or primer has not fully dried and you try painting another coat over the top, you’re going to end up with stroke marks, clumping, and peeling. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding drying and curing times.

#8 - Pulling painter’s tape off after the paint has dried. For a crisp, clean line, pull off the tape when the paint is still wet.

Now that we’ve shared some of the most common mistakes our in-house experts have come across, we want you to share yours -- for a chance to win a $200 gift card for ECOS Paints!

[UPDATE: Congratulations to Nancy for winning the giveaway! And thanks to everyone who participated!]

enter to win ECOS Paints giveaway

Here’s how to enter:


Answer the following question in the comments below:

What’s a painting mistake you’ve made (or one you’ve seen others make)? It can be anything from improper application, to spills or falls, or even bad color choices. Go ahead and admit your painting fails (you’ll find you’re not alone)!


For each additional entry, leave a separate comment letting us know what you’ve done (and what your profile name is where relevant). You can enter up to 6 times by taking all of the actions listed above and the more entries you make, the more chances you have at winning!

One random winner will be selected on May 31st!

Good luck!!!

Participants must be 18 years of age or older and must be U.S. residents. Click through for full sweepstakes rules.

CATEGORIES painting tips