Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting a Room

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting a Room

Painting the walls can be a great way to improve a room’s appearance, but it’s not always an easy task. A smooth, flawless paint job takes care and effort.

Here are seven common mistakes to avoid when painting a room.

1. Painting Dirty Walls

Even if you think your walls are clean, you should wash them thoroughly before you paint them [1]. Dirt and dust can easily accumulate on your walls, and paint sticks much better to clean surfaces than to dirty ones.

You can use a towel, microfiber cloth, or vacuum cleaner to remove the dust from your walls. Then, you should wash them with soapy water, which will strip off any oil or grime that has built up over the years.

2. Not Prepping the Walls

Washing the walls isn’t the only thing you need to do to prepare for painting. If the current coat of paint is flaking or peeling, you should remove it before you apply the new coat [2]. Glossy surfaces also need to be removed as they’ll prevent new paint from sticking. Scuff any glossy or shiny surfaces with sandpaper to give them a rougher texture, which the new paint will adhere to more easily.

Skipping primer is another common mistake. Applying primer takes extra time and effort, but it will cover up flaws in your walls and create a smooth and consistent finish. If your walls are in good shape and have a non-glossy finish, you can use a paint-and-primer-in-one mix. However, if your surfaces are made from wood or plaster or are coated in a glossy paint, a stand-alone primer is essential for getting good results.

3. Not Using Tape

Even the most experienced painters use tape. You may want to save time by skipping the tape, but it’s easy to make mistakes even when you’re extremely careful. You should put tape around the door frame, windowsills, outlets, and any other surfaces that need a clean edge. Otherwise, paint could drip onto these surfaces and create a messy final result.

It’s important to use real painter’s tape instead of masking tape, too [3]. Masking tape can pucker when paint gets on it, which may cause the paint to bleed through. It also leaves a sticky residue that can be difficult to clean up. Painter’s tape, although more expensive, is much cleaner and easier to use.

4. Leaving Fixtures Exposed

Before you begin painting, you should remove all the furniture in the room and cover up doorknobs, lighting fixtures, and anything else you don’t want painted. No matter how careful you are, some paint will drip, and it’s easier to cover up fixtures before painting than to try to remove paint from them later.

5. Bumping the Ceiling or Floor

Unless you plan to paint the ceiling, bumping it with your roller can be a big mistake. Splotches of paint on the ceiling can make the entire paint job look sloppy and touching them up with white paint is a tedious task. To avoid this problem, begin by rolling a horizontal strip of paint across the top of the wall. This way, as you paint the rest of the wall vertically, you can stop rolling several inches away from the ceiling where the horizontal strip begins.

Bumping the floor can be equally as frustrating. To prevent paint from dripping onto the floor, you should spread out a tarp or a plastic sheet. You should still be careful not to bump the sheet, though, or the roller may pick up lint, hair, or dirt and spread it across the walls.

6. Overbrushing

It can be easy to accidentally overbrush a section of the wall, but this can leave obvious brush marks and ridges. For a smooth paint job, you should only go over each section of the wall with one or two strokes.

Being over-enthusiastic with the paintbrush is another mistake to avoid. You shouldn’t put too much paint on your brush or roller at one time, or the paint may drip or splatter. Only dip your brush one-third of the way into the paint. This will also prevent paint from getting deep into the bristles, which will be difficult to clean out.

7. Using the Wrong Supplies

Even if you have a great application technique, your paint job won’t look right if you use the wrong tools. You have to choose the right type of paint for the surface [4]. For example, if the walls have chips, dents, or other imperfections, you should choose flat paint. Glossy paint will highlight all the defects in the walls. However, if you’re painting a high-traffic area like a laundry room or bathroom, glossy paint may be better as it’s much more durable than flat paint.

Your brushes will have a big impact on the paint job as well. High-quality paintbrushes have split ends, which create a smoother and finer finish [5]. Good brushes also tend to be longer in the center and shorter on the outside, which gives you more control over the paint application.

Rollers cover larger areas more quickly than brushes, but poor-quality rollers will leave you with an uneven paint job. To test out the quality of a roller cover, squeeze it. If it’s high-quality, it will go back to its original shape right away.

Slip-ups are common and often inevitable if you’re an inexperienced painter. To save yourself time and avoid frustrating mistakes, you may want to hire a professional painter instead of handling it all on your own. Professional painters have the right tools and knowledge to paint your home without any errors, so you can enjoy a quality paint job without any stress.


  1. Paintzen Staff. “What Is the Best Way to Wash Walls before Painting? – How To.” Paintzen, Paintzen, 2018,
  2. DIY Network Staff. “How to Prep Walls Before Painting.” DIY, DIY Network, 5 Oct. 2015,
  3. DoItYourself Staff. “Masking Tape vs. Painter’s Tape.” 6 Negative Effects of Alternative Energy |,, 3 Nov. 2010,
  4. Lowe’s Staff. “How to Paint a Room.” Lowe’, Lowe’s, 2018,
  5. Vila, Bob. “Selecting the Right Painting Tools.” com, Vila Media, 29 June 2016,