Does Touch-up Paint Work?

A great paint job stands the test of time. Unfortunately, paint can’t handle everything your family might throw at it. If scrubbing and cleaning aren’t enough to repair the damage, then you’re probably wondering: does touch-up paint work?

We’ve helped homeowners through virtually every scenario:
  • A kid scribbles on the wall with a permanent marker.
  • A family pet scratches the paint off of a door frame.
  • A homeowner has trouble finding the right spot for a picture and leaves a series of nail holes in the wall.
  • Moving furniture has left scuff marks and chipped paint.
Although great paint jobs are meant to last, any number of things can damage them. When that happens, you can use some touching-up techniques to restore your wall to its original condition.

The quality of the touch-up job depends on the paint. The key question is this: do you have paint that matches the wall color exactly? If it isn’t exact, then you could end up with a worse look than the scuff you tried to cover up! This is why we recommend that our clients save any leftover paint after we finish a paint job.

If you have run out of the original paint, then try to purchase the same brand, paint, color, and finish as the original. You may have to put in a little more effort to blend the paint color with the rest of the wall, but you can still achieve great results.

Once you’ve got the paint, follow these steps to touch up your wall.

1. Clean the area

With a damp rag, wipe away dirt, dust, grime, cobwebs, or anything else that could interfere with the adhesion of the paint. Dry the area with a towel. Wait until the area is totally dry before painting.

2. Repair any damage

Fill small holes (less than ½ inch in diameter) with spackle compound. When it dries, sand the compound smooth. We recommend applying two or three coats of spackle because the compound shrinks as it dries. 

Larger holes (greater than ½ inch in diameter) require extra support. Purchase a wire-mesh kit appropriate for the size of the hole needing repair. Apply the mesh to the wall over the hole, then apply a layer of spackle over the mesh. Once it dries, sand the compound smooth. Spackle and sand as many times as it takes for the wall to look smooth.

3. Prime the area

Using a primer helps the paint blend with the rest of the wall. Primer also seals spackle compound. If you don’t prime the spackle, the paint will absorb differently than the rest of the wall and will stand out. One final benefit of primer is that it can cover stains, like that caused by a permanent marker.

Apply a layer of primer using the original application method. For example, if the paint was originally rolled onto the wall, use a roller (preferably with the same nap length). If the area was brushed, use a paintbrush. 

When applying primer, avoid painting outside the area needing a touch-up. Be sure to let the primer completely dry before continuing.

4. Begin painting

Using the same paint as was originally on the wall--or as close to it as you can get--begin applying the touch-up paint. Again, to get the best results, use the original application method. For small areas, you can use a foam paintbrush to lightly dab paint.

Apply light coats of paint. You will get better results by applying more coats of thinner layers rather than fewer, thicker coats.

Use the “feathering” technique to help your touched-up area blend with the rest of the wall. To feather the paint, don’t reload the brush with more paint after painting the touched-up area. Instead, use the brush to spread the paint out further. This smooths out the edges of the painted area and blends it with the rest of the wall, making it less noticeable for casual observers.

When you are satisfied with the feathering, wait for the paint to dry, then inspect your work. Areas with significant damage may require a second coat. Additionally, you may need to do some extra feathering to give your touch-up a better blend with the rest of the wall.

Is it time for a fresh coat of paint?

If you follow these steps and are satisfied with the way your wall looks, then congratulations! You’ve managed to cover up the damage and restore the look and feel of your room. Most small areas of damage can either be cleaned or touched up, so it never hurts to try this process before calling in a professional.

However, if you don’t have the time, or if your wall has significant damage, then touch-up paint may not be the best solution for you. If that’s the case for you, consider whether it’s time to call in a professional. 

Our painting professionals have spent years building up the knowledge and experience to tackle any situation. If your project seems bigger than you’re ready to tackle, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We provide free, zero-obligation estimates to help you evaluate your painting needs.

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