How to Get Rid of Brush Marks on a Painted Wall

A person painting a lavender-colored wall
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-300
What You'll Need
Orbital sander
120 grit sandpaper made with aluminum oxide
Primer matched to paint type
Low gloss paint, either oil or latex
Suitable brush for the paint type
Shop vacuum
A fine bristle brush attachment
LED flashlight
Eye protection
Dust mask or respirator

Whether you've moved into a house with existing paint or are tackling a paint project of your own, you'll want the best possible result. A paint job with visible brush marks looks decidedly amateur. To make your painted surfaces look professional and smooth, use these methods to eliminate brush marks on painted surfaces.

Orbital sander

Remove the Brush Marks

Examine your wall or door surface carefully before you repaint. You should be able to see or feel brush marks on the wall surface. Use an orbital sander on medium speed with 120-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper, which is considered a fine grit. This type of sandpaper is preferred for paint sanding as it is self-sharpening. Sand over the whole surface once and then vacuum it with a fine brush attachment to remove all the paint dust. Sand over the wall or door again, until you can no longer feel or see the ridges made by brush marks. Vacuum off the last of the sander dust, then apply primer and paint. Use either latex or oil paint, in a low-gloss finish that minimizes surface imperfections.

Check for Brush Marks

Brush marks may become visible on a freshly painted surface. It may be because you made them as you applied the paint with a poor-quality, coarse brush or because they were already there under the last coat of paint. Brush marks sometimes become more noticeable when they are emphasized by the adhesion of new, good quality paint. No matter what the cause, they are unsightly, and can be removed provided you tackle the task with patience.

Remove Brush Marks Visible Under New Paint

Allow the paint to dry for at least a week and up to 30 days to ensure the painted surface has a hard finish. Sanding paint that is still the least bit tacky will clog your sandpaper and can tear it off the sander, causing damage and possible injury.

Resand New Paint to Remove Brush Marks

Put a fresh sheet of 120 grit sandpaper on your handheld orbital sander and make a few strokes with it. If colored dust comes off the painted surface, the paint is dry and hard enough to sand. Change the sandpaper frequently as you sand, for the cleanest sanding and smoothest finish. Go over the entire wall or door surface once, then vacuum up dust with your shop vacuum and a brush attachment. Continue sanding until the whole surface looks smooth and feels that way under your fingers. Vacuum off the paint dust once again, then inspect the whole wall or door with a bright LED flashlight. A ripple or ridge from brush marks will cast a shadow like a mountainside in the intense light.

Painting a wall

Repaint the Wall or Door

Use brushes to repaint the wall or door. Buy the best you can get for the type of paint you are using. Use polyester bristle brushes for latex and China bristles for oil-based paints. Apply from the top down to catch all drips.