Extend the Life of Your Paint Job – DIY



Welcome to the joys of home ownership! Unfortunately, along with the pleasure of ruling your own domain comes the expense of maintenance. You will find included in these expenses is the repainting of all those walls that have not been touched in years. Extend the Life of Your Paint Job – DIY, is intended to help home owners save on the costs of maintenance. People often defer the substantial cost of completely repainting their home by touching up areas that have been marred, soiled or damaged. See below how the experts fix up their paint jobs and drastically reduce repainting costs.


house cleaning

You will Extend the Life of Your Paint Job – DIY by taking the first step in any painting project, which is to clean the surface to be recoated. You should do this by using a clean, soft cloth and a mild solution of cleaner and water, and then rising thoroughly. For dark marks and smudges, try one of the “eraser” products available at most  home improvement stores. Once you have the area clean and dry, mask off or cover any adjacent areas to prevent getting paint where it doesn’t belong. For more prep tips see my article VW or Cadillac Paint Job.


When you have areas that are damaged with gouges, large scratches or even holes. It is wise to repair these before proceeding. Depending on your level of expertise you can attempt these repairs yourself or hire a professional painter. Depending on the texture of your walls, smooth, orange peel or splatter texture, there are different techniques involved.

The simplest are smooth walls. Painters typically use a putty knife and a can of spackle to fill minor dings or scratches, sand smooth and then paint. More extensive damage will require patching that most homeowners can do. These patches can be done by a professional as well. Also, slightly more complicated, are surfaces that are textured. You can find aerosol cans available that will produce fairly satisfactory results. Be sure to mask off adequately to protect surrounding areas.



color tints


One other critical step is to match the painted surface you want to touch up. The best-case scenario is if you have some of the original paint left over. Painters learn to save a bit from most jobs, for touch up needs. Depending on how long it has been since the original paint job and conditions such as sunlight or soiling, you may need to completely repaint some areas. Such areas simply are not going to blend in. Often people find they do not have the original paint. The best solution is to have the brand name, product and “batch number” of the paint that was used.

When neither of these options are available, you can attempt to obtain a sample from your home, such as a piece of trim or a cut out of a 3”x3” section of wall board. This will require patching of course. Customers can then give the sample to the paint store to match. In the event none of these choices are realistic, you will have to try to match, as best you can, colors available from the paint supplier. Each has a different palette to choose from, and usually offer sample color cards. The drawback to this approach is that you are probably not going to get an exact match. You find at that point you must repaint entire walls or rooms, depending on how close the colors match.


touch up


Another aspect when considering the Extend the Life of Your Paint Job – DIY approach is technique. Assume you are dealing with water-based paint. The best tool for touch up is a good quality nylon or polyester brush. I suggest a 3” brush. Always use a good China bristle brush when using alkyd or oil-based paint. (Be sure to clean china bristle with mineral spirits and not water.)

I suggest that you provide adequate masking for protection. You will need a modest amount of paint on your brush.  Spread the paint over the area to be touched up, by using even strokes. Darker marks may take several applications to cover. People usually find that specially stubborn marks or stains may require the use of a stain sealer first. When satisfied with the coverage, finish with light, side-to-side strokes to “lay off” or even out the coating and blend it into the surrounding areas. You will need to wait until it is completely dry to determine if you are happy with the coverage and the match. One thing to keep in mind is lighting.  Painters learn that surfaces that are exposed to external light sources, such as windows, show imperfections more. The same is true with paints with a higher gloss.


Anyone can save money by following the steps outlined here in Extend the Life of Your Paint Job – DIY The good news is that for a few hours and a few dollars, you can defer the substantial cost of a complete repaint for a number of years. Who knows, you may even have fun!


Lynn Jackson





About the Author

Lynn Jackson began his painting career over twenty years ago under the watchful eye of a master painter. After many years of learning and perfecting his trade, working both on his own and for contractors, he finally settled in Northern California.

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