How to Fix a Patchy Paint Job

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You found the perfect shade of paint, taped your edges and spent hours painting the walls only to discover patchiness in the finish. The thought of repainting is almost enough to make you want to move instead, but a little extra work to fix the job now pays off down the road. A consistent paint job gives your room a clean, professional look even if you paint it yourself.

How to Fix a Patchy Paint Job
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What Causes Patchy Paint Jobs

Painting seems like a simple job, and it is something that anyone can tackle. But it does take some attention to detail and quality tools to get pro-quality results. Patchiness can happen if you don't apply enough coats of paint. The number of coats you need depends on several variables, including the color of the paint, the primer you use and the previous wall color you're trying to cover. Painting over a dark color with a light color naturally requires more coats of paint. Even the quality of paint has an impact. Lower quality paints may require more coats to get a consistent finish.

How you apply the paint can also have an impact. If you don't have enough paint on your roller, it can leave behind patchy areas. Likewise, too much paint on the edges of your roller can cause thicker areas that make the wall seem patchy. If your wall has texture on it, you may find it difficult to cover the surface evenly.

Even the lighting can have an impact on how consistently you coat your walls. It may look like you covered the walls completely while you were painting, only to discover light at a different time of day reveals patchy spots. Whatever the cause of a patchy paint job, you can fix it with a little more paint.

Preparing the Surface

If part of the patchiness includes thicker areas of paint, you may need to do a little sanding to even it out. It's tough to hide lines of thick paint from the edge of the roller or drips from excess paint. Use fine sandpaper to gently smooth out the thicker paint areas after they dry. Wipe the wall before painting to remove any dust or debris to ensure you get a smooth finish.

Spot Painting

Patchiness in just a few areas may only require a touch-up job, especially if you just recently completed the paint job. If it's been a while, the spot painting is more likely to stand out, so doing another coat over the entire room yields better results. Wait until the paint dries to do your spot painting if you're working on a fresh paint job, so you don't mess up the existing paint. Cover the uneven areas with an additional coat of paint, making sure to feather the edges to help it blend in with the surrounding area.

Adding Another Coat of Paint

If the patchiness affects the whole room or a large area, it's time to pull out your painting supplies and add another coat to all the walls. Widespread patchiness usually means the number of coats you did wasn't enough. Apply at least one more coat, being careful to load your rollers with the right amount of paint and applying it evenly. Let the paint dry, and check it from different angles at different light levels to make sure you get the coverage you want. You may need to add more layers to get consistent coverage.


Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.

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