12 Easy Fixes for a Botched Paint Job

No matter how careful or experienced you are, the occasional painting mistake is inevitable. But fortunately, most missteps can be repaired without too much trouble. Next time you have a drip, spill, or "oops" moment, try one of these straightforward fixes that can help you find your way to a flawless finish.

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  1. Undo Uneven Coverage


    Applying the correct number of coats is key to a terrific paint job. If you didn't apply enough layers, you might find your walls looking patchy, with bits of color showing through from the old finish. To correct this common mistake, let the paint dry completely, and then follow up with a second coat, or as many as necessary for a polished result.

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  2. Banish Paint Bubbles


    Paint bubbles or blisters will occur if the top coat of paint doesn’t properly adhere to the undercoat, often as the result of a moisture or heat problem. If you notice these unsightly sections, first identify the underlying cause, especially if it's a temperature issue, before you move on to fixing the finish. Once the basic problem has been addressed, scrape the bubbles and blisters off with a paint scraper, and sand smooth. Coat with primer before repainting.

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  3. Scrape Paint Splatters


    Drips or splatters on the glass of your windows aren't difficult to remove. Allow the paint to dry completely, and then scrape the offending spots off with a razor blade set at an angle. Wipe off your razor blade with a damp rag to remove excess paint as necessary. 

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  4. Take Back the Trim


    It’s best to keep a damp cloth close by when you’re painting around trim work. That way, if you accidentally skim the trim, you can wipe it up as you go. If you don’t catch a spot until it’s dried, sand the problem paint off, then remove the dust by wiping the surface down with a damp cloth. When it's dry, touch up the area with trim paint.

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    Youtube via Lowe's Home Improvement

  5. Delete Drips and Runs


    Drip stains can occur if you overload your brush with paint. To fix them, wait until the paint has dried, then scrape the drips off the wall with a paint scraper and sand the area smooth. Repaint the section carefully, blending it in with the rest of the wall.

    Related: 5 Common Painting Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them


  6. Clear Off Ceiling Spots


    It’s easy to get a little dab of paint on the ceiling when you’re working up high. If you notice it while the spot is still wet, spray some window cleaner on a clean brush, and wipe the paint off. If the dab has already dried, you’ll need to touch up the ceiling with a small brush, being careful to feather the edges so they blend in with the rest of the ceiling.

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  7. Remedy Roller Marks


    Roller marks, or lap marks, occur if you don’t maintain a wet edge while painting. To restore a smooth finish to the wall, sand down all the uneven areas until they are smooth, then wipe the walls down completely to remove all dust. Prime and follow up with an even, thick coat of paint.

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  8. Touch Up Tape Lines


    Don't wait too long to remove your painter's tape, because you could end up pulling paint off the wall. If you fall victim to this common conundrum, sand the damaged area smooth with a sanding block, thoroughly wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove residual dust, and then carefully repaint the section. 

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  9. Save Carpets from Stains


    Paint spills on the carpet are easier to remedy than you may realize. If you catch the paint mishap while it’s still wet, you can blot it up with a wet paper towel—don't rub, as you'll end up grinding the liquid further into the fibers. Continue to blot until all the paint comes up. If the paint has dried, pour a small amount of hot water mixed with dish detergent onto the area. Allow the solution to sit until the paint is softened, then gently scrape the chips out of the fibers with a table knife.

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  10. Prime Patchy Filler


    If you filled or patched sections of drywall before painting but forgot to prime them, you may notice that they show through as unattractive lighter spots that ruin your finished product. Cover those patchy sections with primer, and once it has thoroughly dried, give the wall another coat of paint. 

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  11. Fix Brush Marks


    If you've ever stepped back from your hard work and noticed brush marks—most likely the result of your not having carefully applied the paint when cutting in—you may have found yourself displeased with the uneven results. Before you become resigned to live with the messy marks, give this method another go: First, sand down the area and wipe it clean, then carefully repaint for picture-perfect results. 

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  12. Lose the Lint Splotches


    If you don't remove lint and dust from a new roller, it can transfer onto the walls and ruin your otherwise flawless paint job. If you come across a splotched spot, lightly abrade it with a sanding block to remove the lint from the wall. Wipe off the dust, and then repaint when dry for a seamless finish. 

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