Painting a room can be an easy and inexpensive upgrade, whether you're freshening it up or dramatically changing the color. With a little planning and a few expert tips, this do-it-yourself project can be as quick and easy as it seems. Consumer Reports' paint pro offers foolproof ways to prevent goofs and make flawless fixes.
Rico de Paz has tested paints in Consumer Reports’ lab for 12 years, and applies his knowledge when painting his home and as a volunteer who helps paint and fix homes in need. "From what I've seen, missing a spot is the mistake most folks make," says de Paz. "Usually it's because they spread the paint too thin." Here are his easy fixes for some common mistakes.
The goof. Blame this painting mistake on the lighting, fatigue, distraction, or spreading the paint too thin.
The fix. Good thing you kept the leftover paint (in a tightly sealed container, or course). After the paint dries—usually about 4 hours—touch up the missed spots with a brush. But if you do it before the paint dries completely you’ll mess up the paint surrounding the spot. As for spreading the paint too thin, a roller dipped in paint should cover a 2-by-2-foot section of the wall. See the video below for how to ace it.
The goof. Perhaps you’re using a long-napped roller, loading too much paint on the roller or brush, or not spreading the paint well.
The fix. Once the paint dries, use fine sandpaper to remove the run, then retouch the area with a brush and a little paint, feathering the edges.
The goof. A cheap roller with obvious seams could be the problem, and the paint makes a difference too.
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The fix. Synthetic short-napped roller covers (1/4 inch) work best on most walls, ceilings, and trim. Use longer-nap roller covers for textured walls, or walls that have a very uneven surface from patching, for example. Rollers with steel frames and lots of tines are sturdier and stiffer than ones with just caps on the ends, and those sealed ends keep the paint on the roller cover.
Before using a new roller cover, use a piece of painter's tape to remove loose lint. As for the paint, be sure to check out the smoothness scores in our interior paint ratings. They indicate whether marks from roller, brushes, or runs are obvious once the paint dries. Home Depot’s Behr Premium Plus Ultra, $28 a gallon, and Valspar Reserve, $44 a gallon, leave smooth surfaces.
The goof. Prepping is a hassle, but even our high-scoring interior paints won’t look their best if the surface isn’t well prepped.
The fix. Taping. Yes, it takes time, but it's worth it. FrogTape Delicate Surface tape leaves a very sharp line and is easy to remove in our tests. And use a sash brush with a tapered tip. The bristles are cut at a diagonal and trimmed, providing a narrow tip that gives you better control. Carefully remove the tape as soon as possible after painting, so the paint doesn't dry and stick to it.
Best Paints Tested
Our interior paint ratings include 21 brand lines, from the inexpensive to the pricey. Our tests have found that a brand's flat, eggshell, and semigloss formulations perform similarly overall, so we combined the scores to make it easier for you to choose. You can find CR's top-rated paints as close as your local Home Depot, Lowe's, or Ace Hardware store.