How To Paint Like A Pro

How To Paint Like A Pro
How To Paint Like A Pro

Painting is often seen as a do it yourself job, something anyone who can hold a paintbrush correctly can do. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. And unlike an awkwardly placed tile or stain that you need to let dry for an extra few hours, painting mistakes can impact the way an entire room or outside of the house looks until you repaint. Here are seven painting mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

Skipping the Prep

There are people who try to save time by skipping the prep or preparation work. They don’t borrow or buy drop cloths, so their floors and furniture end up with drips and splatters to be cleaned up (or painted over) later. They don’t wrap door knobs with plastic and they don’t put tape around the edge of the trim, and now the do it yourself paint job looks very amateurish since there are drips and splatters all the way to the floor. It is even worse when you ignore tape on the windows, since everyone could see the paint that dripped onto them. And don’t use masking tape in place of painter’s tape.

Outlet and switch covers get similar treatment because they weren’t covered or removed. In short, skipping the prep work to save time means you’ll spend hours cleaning things weeks later.

How To Paint Like A Pro

Not Knowing How Long to Wait

You need to know how long it takes for the paint you bought to dry. If you don’t know how long to wait and you remove tape after the paint dries completely, dried paint may peel off along with the tape you put around windows and baseboards to protect them. If you move into the room too soon, you may be hit with fumes or touch still wet paint, ruining all of your work and whatever just came into contact with it.

Another mistake people make is not accounting for the weather. It is obvious that you cannot paint the outside of your home if it is raining. However, the humidity that lasts hours or days afterward will slow down the drying time for water-based paints. Even high humidity within a room can slow down drying time, so turn off the humidifier while you’re painting. Conversely, a dehumidifier can speed up the job.

Yet another mistake is not waiting long enough between applying the first and second coat of paint. If you don’t wait long enough between coats, there will be visible brush strokes or even peeling paint. If in doubt, wait at least 24 hours. If you’re a typical working household, it is OK to let the paint dry during the week and apply the second coat next weekend.

Using the Wrong Paint

Not all paints are the same, and they certainly aren’t all compatible. If you apply latex paint over oil-based paint or high gloss paints, the new layer of paint will crack and peel. The only solution is to remove the old paint by sanding it off. Know what type of paint you’re going to paint over before you find you have to do the whole thing over again.

Don’t use flat paint in high traffic areas. Semi-gloss paints are better for high traffic areas. Washable satins are another good option if you can afford it, or you can go with durable matte paints.

Another mistake is skipping the primer. Primer provides a surface for your paint to stick to. If you skip the primer, your paint job won’t look as good. If you accidentally paint primer on top of primer because you think it is paint, the end result won’t look good. However, if you want to save time, you can buy paint that combines the paint with the primer. Now you can skip the primer application step and only have to paint once.

However, if you’re painting on brand new wood or drywall, you need to apply primer and then apply paint. Paint and primer mixtures don’t work well on virgin walls, just walls that have been previously painted.

Not Budgeting Enough Time or Money

Sometimes you know how long the paint takes to dry, but you don’t give your project overall enough time. For example, you may plan on doing the work in a weekend but not give yourself enough time for prep and cleanup unless you’re not planning on sleeping.

Another mistake is not budgeting enough money for the project. You should check out Porch’s paint cost calculator at to estimate how much it will cost to buy enough paint for the rooms you want to paint. If you find the cost is too high, switch from paints that provide easy to clean surfaces or unusual colors to something more affordable. This also prevents the problem of not buying enough paint and ending up with a slightly different color for the remainder of the project. Even if you’re buying the same “color”, you can get slight variations if it is mixed at different times.

And don’t forget to budget for the supplies you need for prep work like drop cloths, good brushes and real painter’s tape.

Not Having a Technique

Start painting near the ceiling and work your way down by painting a horizontal line beneath the ceiling. This lets you catch drips as you work and results in the smoothest finish, while it gives you margin to not hit the ceiling with a roller brush. And go ahead and use a roller with an extension so you can get smooth strokes up high instead of straining to reach it. Don’t “over-brush”. Two swipes over an area of baseboard is sufficient.

How To Paint Like A Pro

Using the Wrong Paint Brush

Not all paint brushes are the same. If you are painting with latex paint, you need a brush with bristles made from synthetic materials. If you’re painting with oil-based paint, you need to use a natural bristle brush. A good quality brush will apply even layers of paint. Using the right sized brush for the job makes it look neat, so have small brushes for painting along the edge of the window instead of trying to use a big brush for that particular task. Another mistake is looking at the cost of roller brushes as a waste when it can save you hours of painting.

One error people make is dunking the paint brush when they paint and then blaming the brush. No, you should only dip the paint brush just under half the way in before you paint. If you dunk all the bristles, you’ll drip paint and get an uneven application.

Not Cleaning Up

If you leave the paint can lid off the can, someone could step on it and track paint through the room. That’s aside from the risk of splashing paint if they accidentally kick it. Leaving paint brushes out when the job is done lets them lose their shape.


If you want your painting project to be a success, stay away from these few crucial mistakes. Don’t skip the preparation work, know what type of paint works well for your application, and know how much time you need to wait for primer and coats of paint to dry.

Give yourself enough time for the project or plan stopping points that you can get back to, and budget enough money for the project. Know the right way to paint a wall before you start, and use the right brushes for the job. And don’t forget to clean up after the work is done to minimize the risk of ruining all your hard work.

Jacqueline Maddison
Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beverly Hills Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the rich and famous with the ultimate luxury lifestyle.
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