Drips? Slips? We've got it: How to Fix or Hide Painting Mistakes

I think many of us have been here - confronted with the battered walls of sloppy tenants of yesteryear. Drips, streaks, paint on the trim, paint on the ceiling, and of course, the ugliest color you could imagine someone choosing.

(Not an abstract, just badly painted walls)

Now you want to make the room fresh and all your own, but yeesh, where to begin?

Well I have some thoughts. As you might have guessed from the existence of this post. Had to build the drama... thanks for being patient...


The two most common problems you'll be confronted with!

Drips :..(
There are two ways to deal with drips as far as I see things.

  1. Sand Them: This would be the "best" and "right" way to do things.  Take the time to prep properly and sand those obnoxious drips away.  It may take a good deal of time, but if you have the patience it will really pay off long term.  WARNING: If you have textured walls, be careful with the sanding.  If you sand your texture off you will have a funny bald spot on your walls.  Of course, you can fix it with spray textures, but you will have given yourself more work and spent more money.
  2. Mask Them: This is a much easier solution.  Don't actually fix the drips, but minimize their visibility by using flat or eggshell finish paint. The lower the gloss in paint (flat is the lowest and high-gloss is the highest), the less light can reflect off of all the imperfections in your wall.  Light reflecting = spotlight on the ugly.  SO, use less glossy and less reflective paints to avoid the spotlight.  WARNING:  Because apparently all of my methods have scary consequences I have to warn you about... Flat paint scuffs easily and isn't good for rooms like your bathroom, kitchen, or mudroom that get a lot of rough usage.  For help choosing paint finishes read Carol Nafie's great post: Choosing the Right Interior Paint Finishes.

Paint Where it's Not Supposed to Go
Oh so annoying.  Paint on the trim, ceiling, floor... someone wasn't very careful....

  1. Touch Up Mistakes:  Match the color of the part that shouldn't be painted and paint over the little mistake parts.  This the cleanest and longest lasting way of doing things, but it can also be time consuming and costs a little more money.  On the bright side, if you make a mistake, you can touch it up too - it doesn't just have to be for former tenants painting mistakes. HINT: Most ceilings are painted flat pure white.  WARNING: Trim is often painted bright white BUT can also be any number of other whites, so be sure to match carefully.  Also, be sure to match your finish.  Trim is usually semi-gloss or high-gloss.
  2. Mask Mistakes: If the existing shade on the walls is fairly light and the shade you've chosen is darker, you can mask existing mistakes with a little illusion.  Just paint the room as perfectly as you can, while ignoring the existing mistakes.  When you look closely the mistakes will still be there, but at a distance, they won't be very noticeable.  Here's a visual... (clearly I have used this sneaky method)

Looks like a nice clean line to me....

Oh snap! There's a bunch of sloppy blue there! I was tricked!

So there you have it folks. Good ways and crafty ways to outsmart all of the messy people before you. I believe I described them as from yesteryear. Just don't get to use that word enough...