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Touching Up

Even the best paint jobs need a touch-up now and then. High-traffic areas such as hallways and bathrooms, as well as walls around light switches, are subject to heavy wear so they will need to be freshened with a touch-up once in a while. Plus, there may be areas that were missed in the original paint job or have been damaged. This is the opportunity to make it right.

While a touch-up sounds quick and easy, it can be quite a challenge. Matching the original paint job is the most difficult part and is subject to obstacles such as if the same paint used on the project is available and the age of the paint on the wall, which may have discolored with time.

But, if done correctly, a touch-up should blend acceptably with the surrounding paint area. Just know that most touch-ups usually aren't exact but, chances are, only you will know the differences — and we won't tell!

  • Clean the surface area — Make sure the surface area is clean and free from any dirt, dust, grease or oils. The surface must be dry and free from all loose or peeling paint.
  • Use the same batch of paint — Hopefully, any unused paint was kept. This is your best chance of getting the color to match. If the original paint isn't available, make sure the touch-up paint has been tinted properly (correct base, correct color formula and product.) You will want to apply the touch-up in the same manner in which the original paint was applied. If the original coat was sprayed, it may not be possible or practical to perform the touch-up using the same application procedure.
  • Thin the paint — When performing a touch-up on a smooth wall with a water-based, non-flat paint, the paint should be thinned (about 5% to 10% with clean water) in order to help minimize the sheen difference from the original application.
  • Use a roller, if possible — A roller will give you better quality and blending than a brush. The preferred roller is a "weenie" roller with a good, quality synthetic cover. Choose a nap thickness of ¼ - to ½ inch.
  • Use less paint — When loading the roller, use the least amount of paint necessary. This will help limit excessive film build in the touched-up area.
  • Avoid feathering — When performing a touch-up on a smooth wall with a brush, avoid feathering into the originally painted areas. Feathering with a brush will produce a flat "halo" (outline) around the touch-up. Feathering with a synthetic roller cover will aid in blending slight differences in color and sheen without producing a noticeable halo.

If the surface you are working on requires an excessive number of touch-up applications, it may be best to repaint the entire wall from corner to corner. Repainting the full wall will also give you the best look for your touch-up efforts.