It happens on even the best interior paint jobs done by the most fastidious do-it-yourselfers: discovering a spot that was missed months or even years after putting the roller down, a careless action that mars a carefully painted wall, a spill or stain that won’t scrub off – all reasons to reach for the touch-up paint.
Simple fix? Typically, it is, if you go about it the right way. But, as with so many aspects of interior painting, there’s an art to getting the best results, even when doing touch-up work.
The first order of business is to see if you kept some leftover paint from the original paint job. If you did things “by the book,” you’ll quickly find both the can of paint and your notes on the label as to where it was used. So far, so good.
For a professional-looking touch-up – that is, one that is unnoticeable — the paint color must be an exact match. This wouldn’t seem to be a problem if you kept some leftover paint. After all, the paint on the wall came from the same can. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough: Sun exposure may have caused the applied paint to fade slightly, or the color of paint in the can may have “drifted” a bit from its original appearance. Sheen, too, can change over time, whether the paint is on the wall or in the can.
So, how should you proceed? Try to do a simple touch-up and see how it looks. Here are some tips:
1. Apply the touch-up paint with the same type of applicator you used on the original paint job. If you used a brush, use a brush for your touch-up; if you used a roller, touch up with that.
2. Apply the touch-up paint sparingly. Use the smallest brush or roller needed to cover the area, and dab or roll the paint on with a very light touch.
3. Complete the touch-up by carefully feathering the edges of the paint to get an even finish. Use light, almost artistic strokes. Remember, this is “restoration” work – pretend you work for a museum!
When the paint has dried, take a critical look at your touch-up. If you can barely see it, and you’re satisfied with the result, your work is done. But even if you’re not satisfied, all is not lost.
Assuming that you have enough leftover paint, you can repaint the entire wall where the touch-up is needed. While this is probably more work than you bargained for, it’s an effective way to hide the touch-up. Even if the color or gloss of the paint has changed slightly, the mismatch will hardly be noticeable, since light and shadow often alter the appearance of paint from wall to wall anyway.
What if you don’t have enough paint for your touch-up, or your paint has gone bad?
In that case, your only alternative is to take a sample of the color to your paint retailer and ask him or her to try to match it. With your new paint in hand, your options, once again, are the touch-up two-step: first, try the “dab/roll and feather” technique described above; if you’re still not happy, then repaint the entire wall where the touch-up is needed. One way or the other, you’re likely to rescue your beautiful paint job and save yourself from repainting the entire room!