5 Common Mistakes People Make When Painting a Room

I’m doing a little paint project in my garage this week, and it’s kicking my butt! Heat wave, remember? I’ve done just about everything wrong for this project, and I should know better because I’ve painted furniture for years. But having to paint at 7 am just to beat the heat is messing with my method. I’ll come back and tell you what NOT to do in a future post. But while you are waiting for that, you may be planning your own paint project. I’ve got literally decades of painting experience behind me. I painted my own room for the first time when I was about 12. Bold pink walls paired with deep navy blue carpet, if I recall. My parents hated it so much they repainted the room within days of me leaving home, but I absolutely loved it. Then there was the time my husband and I painted a room in a soft violet, only to realize that the satin sheen turned it into what we called Circus Purple when the sun went down. We repainted the very next day…using flat paint and a lighter shade.

5 Common Mistakes People Make When Painting a Room

Still, even with mistakes, painting a room is one of the cheapest and most impactful changes you can make to customize your home. Learn from me, and avoid these five common mistakes when painting a room.

5 Common Mistakes People Make When Painting a Room

1.      Starting with the paint color. Instead, start by choosing the things that you have fewer choices with. Your sofa may only come in a few fabrics. Paint can be mixed in more colors than you can imagine.

Pro tip: Start with a color family, and then adjust your wall color choice as you settle on big decisions, like sofa color.

2.    Choosing the wrong paint finish. Flat, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss, and high-gloss are just words, until you put them on the wall. Flat paint will typically hide flaws better and absorb the light. Glossier sheens will typically repel dirt better and bounce more light back into the room (and might change the actual color depending on the lighting, like in my story above).

Pro tip: Flat paint is always a good first choice because it’s the easiest to paint over if you need to change it.

3.    Taping every single thing. If you have a reasonably steady hand, you can use a paint edging tool to get straight lines around trim and molding instead of spending the time to tape. Use a small artist’s brush to go back and touch up straight lines if necessary. Sure, taping your molding on your very first paint project is a good way to start. But don’t let trying to get a perfect taping job prevent you from ever starting your project!

Pro tip: Always protect your floors with drop cloths. Accidents happen.

4.    Assuming the ceiling has to be painted white. The ceiling is the 5th wall, and can add a lot of style to the room. You can use a bold color, such as a bright sky blue in an otherwise neutral room, for a fresh surprise. You can treat it decoratively with stencils or molding to give it an architectural feel. You can even use the same color as you do on the walls, which creates a spacious, continuous feel, and works well in a room with peaks and dormers.

Pro tip: You can tint ceiling white paint by dropping in a few drops of your wall color to have it match with the color of the room, which makes the whole room feel more coordinated.

5.    Ignoring lighting’s affect on color. Adding lighting, changing window treatments, and deciding whether the room is enjoyed more during the day or after dark can all change how a color is perceived. Even changing a bulb from one that produces a yellow light to a bulb that produces a warm, clear light can change the entire space. Once you paint the room, you may need to move lighting around or add new fixtures to get the desired level of ambiance and function.

Pro tip: Don’t paint a room in the dark. Paint your room during daylight hours so you don’t have uneven coverage and missed edges.

If you are trying an furniture paint project, here are five more paint mistakes to avoid. 

Want to try something a little fancy? Check out this tone-on-tone painted stripe pattern that we put in my daughter’s room. We still love it today.

Do you have any fabulous paint mistakes that you’d advise us to avoid?