10 Interior Painting Fails: Avoid and Correct Them

A Fail Slideshow - See It or Be It

This should help you with any interior painting project – from kitchens to bathrooms, bedrooms to the den, these are some of the most common mistakes in interior painting. Be warned so that you don’t make them.

1. Poisined With Lead

First, a word about lead based paint. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has special rules and laws for working around and disposing of lead based paint. If the house you’re working on was built before 1979, it will have lead based paint in it. Lead based paint is very dangerous to health, particularly if you eat it (don’t eat paint) or inhale it. How do you inhale it? By prepping the surface for your new paint job. If you have lead based paint, the area you’re working in needs to be sealed off from the rest of the structure, and special safety gear and respirators must be worn by the painter. In some cases, you’re actually required to take a special course before working on houses with lead based paint. Check with your local paint store for availability, cost and hours required for the lead based work course. This is a step you must take if your structure was built before 1979.

2. Forgot to Find Old Fails

One big mistake is not inspecting the area or areas to be painted. Inspect all areas for any paint where paint does not belong, such as furniture, carpets, tile floors and natural wood. From day to day people do not notice these mistakes and messes. If you’re a painting contractor, it’s very important to point these things out to your customer. Take photographs of paint in the wrong places, even a video, so that the painter is not held responsible for existing mistakes. But even if you’re not a pro – these old flaws will suddenly stand out when your new paintjob is done if you don’t address them first.

3. Mixed Oil and Water

Did your new paint fall right off the wall? If the existing paint is oil based, you must paint over it with oil based paint. If it’s latex paint, you must paint over it with latex paint. Otherwise, the paint will peel off. To determine what type of paint you have, moisten a rag with denatured alcohol and rub it over the paint. If some of the paint comes off on the cloth, it is latex. If not, it is oil based. You can paint over oil based paint with latex paint, but it must first be painted with an oil based primer/sealer.

4. Tried to Paint Around Furniture

Started late, finished fast, spattered the chair and hid it with a chenille throw (or the cat). Another common mistake is not preparing the room to be painted ahead of time. Make sure you have all the tools necessary for the project ahead of time. This includes brushes, roller pans and rollers and extension poles, and of course paint. You may be planning to paint as a Saturday and Sunday project. Ahead of time, say Friday evening, nick-knacks, pictures, wall hangings and other small items. Carry out any small pieces of furniture and lamps. Remove TV’s if necessary.

Photo by Stephanie Lenz
5. Filled Cracks With Paint

Paint will never hide a crack, ding, nail hole or other damage. It will, however highlight them so everyone can see where you got lazy. Apply your first coat of spackle or joint compound over cracks and holes. Spackle should be applied in two or three thin coats, with sanding in between. It would be wise to try and to the spackle patches earlier in the week, sand and apply a second coat. Use fans to speed drying times. Apply fabric tape over cracks. Do not spackle and patch cracks and holes in a thick coat and wait a week to sand it. The longer the spackle or joint compound sits, the harder it is to sand. If you do not do these things ahead of time, you will find yourself spending a good part of the first day doing them, which could be very discouraging.

6. Created Tide Lines on the Switch Plates

Do not try to paint around switch plates and electrical covers, remove them and put the screws in a drinking glass or right back where they came from so that they are not lost. Cover switches and outlets with masking tape. Do all these things ahead of time and you will find your interior painting projects more enjoyable and effective.

7. Painted Out of Order

Paint the walls first and then the trim, not vice-versa. You can get a little wall paint on the baseboards and window frames, it will be covered when you paint the trim. Before painting baseboards, put two-inch masking tape on the floor.

8. Highlighted the Room With Stuck Painter's Tape

If you can’t get the second coat of paint on the trim before the weekend is over, don’t let the tape stay there until the next weekend, as it will be very difficult to remove after a week. Pull the tape off when the paint on it dries. Leaving the tape on overnight is OK, but it is a common mistake to let it sit for a week and then try to remove it.

9. No Idea How to Do Windowpanes

When doing windows, do not put masking tape on the glass. Instead, paint about 1/16 of an inch onto the glass and remove it with a single edged razor blade when it’s dry. This seals the windows. Again, it is a common mistake to let the paint sit on the windows for a week, making it very hard to remove. Razor it off right after it is dry.

10. Painted Over Stains

One last common mistake is to paint over stained walls without first sealing them. If there are smokers or a fireplace in the house, the walls may be smoke stained. Old water damage or food splatters can stain too. This needs to be sealed with an oil-based primer/sealer. The stains will not be covered with and extra coat of paint, the sealer is required. Otherwise, the stain will bleed through, often in streaks. You MUST wear a respirator for this step, as this type of sealer is very volatile, and you will get high and sick if you don’t. Use plenty of ventilation. A respirator should actually be worn when doing any kind of painting inside. Read the warning label printed on the paint can for more information on this.