Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Invisible Paint Touch Ups? Maybe Yes, Maybe No...

Have you ever tried to fill a hole in a wall and touch up the paint, only to have the repair be obvious and look even worse than the hole? It's likely not your fault. Successful paint touch ups can be challenging, and in many cases aren't even feasible. 

Here are some of the areas where things go wrong:


  • Even if you use the same color paint from the same can, the touch up might show. There are several reasons why this happens:
    • The paint on the wall has changed color over time.
    • The paint in the can has changed color
  • If you don't have the original can of paint, try to get the same color, or have it matched. In this case the best solution is to repaint the entire wall from corner to corner, to make any slight difference in color less obvious.


  • The easiest type of paint to touch up is a flat or matte finish, and, ironically, cheap paint touches up better than high quality paint.
  • "Flashing", a noticeable difference in the finish, often occurs if you attempt to touch up a paint with a sheen, even a low sheen. Flashing is most visible when you view the surface from the side, such as when you enter a room or go up or down stairs.
  • Paint sheen can change over time too. Even if you have leftover paint from the same can as you used originally, the sheen on the surface or the sheen of the paint in the can could be different when you try to do a touch up. 
  • Other reasons for a difference in sheen could be that the temperature or humidity when you did the touch up were considerably different from what they were when the paint originally was applied.
  • Satin, eggshell, semi-gloss and gloss paints usually can't be touched up. In these situations, the best approach is to repair and repaint the entire run of trim, or the entire surface, such as a door.

Patching and Priming

  • Even if the patching is done reasonably well, if you fail to prime correctly, the patch
    can show.
  • If the patched area is large, don't even try to touch up the paint because the repair will be obvious. It's wiser to repaint the entire wall.
  • Always make the repair as small as possible, if you want it to be undetectable. 
  • Use the least amount of patch that you need to fill a hole, and feather any patch material outside the hole to blend with the surrounding area. 
  • Prime the repaired areas with the correct primer for the surface. 


  • Unless patching is done with great skill, the texture of a patch can be obviously difference from the texture on the rest of the wall, or ceiling, especially a popcorn ceiling.  
  • If the surface is textured, buy a can of spray texture and practice, or use a drywall texture stencil designed to match fine, medium or heavy texture. Don't forget to prime before you do the paint touch up. 

Applying the Touch-up Paint

  • Use the same method of paint application on the patched area as was used originally, or the difference in texture from the applicator will show. If the paint was applied by roller, use a roller.
  • Always use the least amount of paint that you can.
  • Use a tiny artist's brush, when possible.
  • For larger patches, you can try to apply some of the new paint to the center of the repair and feather it out to blend with the old paint, before you repaint the entire wall.

Now you know why it's not always possible to have invisible paint touch-ups, even when you're careful.

If you have a repair and painting project, such as from fire or water damage, a falling tree, or even a challenging cosmetic repair, Roger can help. Call me for an estimate at 828-692-4355. 

"We had a tree fall on our house last winter. Roger repaired and painted our ceiling and did an incredible job. He has worked on several other projects for us as well, both interior and exterior. Excellent, excellent work each time. If you want it done right at a fair price, call Roger and Sandy."

Hunter Marks

By:  Sandy LeRoy

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