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How to repair an uneven paint job?

I painted my dining room a dark brown. The walls were plaster that had never been painted. I primed first with a tinted primer, per the manufacturer’s instructions. I applied 3 coats of the color and everything seemed to be going fine, but upon finishing with the third coat, roller marks are visible in some areas and – to me – it looks awful. So, now I’m unhappy with the paint job itself, and on top of this, I’m not pleased with the shade of brown either.

My dilemma is this: I don’t like the color, so sanding the wall to prep it for another coat of the same shade isn’t ideal. To paint it a lighter color would require a coat of primer, probably 2 coats, and a minimum of 2 coats of paint and I don’t want to pile on 3 or 4 more coats of primer and paint (I hate that thick, ‘tons-of-paint-on-the-wall’ look – like it’s been painted a thousand times).

I’m not averted to the dark brown walls per se, I just don’t like the particular shade of dark brown. I wouldn’t mind painting it another shade of dark brown, but with a bit more red in it. How do I do this properly, with as little paint as possible, so it doesn’t look piled on? Would it be feasible to sand the walls and apply the new shade directly overtop, or would I have to prime first?

A. Spruce
Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

As long as you're staying about the same shade of brown, changing the color slightly shouldn't be a problem.

The problem you're expressing with a spotty application is common when painting walls a dark color, even with a tinted primer. It takes more coats to get a full, even coat across the surface. If your new color is as dark or darker, then it shouldn't take more than one or two coats to get a good coverage with the base you've already got. If you try to go lighter, say to a chocolate rather than a deep brown, then you'll probably need to primer to lighten and block the base coats before applying two or three top coats.

What most people don't realize with paint is that more is not better when it comes to painting.As long as you're applying the paint in thin, even coats, you shouldn't have a problem with "‘tons-of-paint-on-the-wall’ look – like it’s been painted a thousand times". Glob the paint on with a thick nap roller and yeah, it's going to look hideous.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

Since you have four coats of paint on the walls, I suspect the unevenness is a result of not allowing everything to fully cure. Please wait a week for things to dry before adding yet another coat or more.
The outgassing will often cause uneven drying, which will take a longer time to vanish.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

Very dark colors are LOADED with colorant. This slows the drying considerably, not just dry to the touch, but cured sufficiently to not affect the sheen of the final coat. As a rule of thumb, allow one hour of drying time for each ounce of colorant. Dark colors might have 12 to 14 ounces of colorant in it.

I used to use a lot of Benjamin Moore's eggshell acrylic enamel. The instructions clearly said to wait 8 hours between coats. Of course, I would get impatient and do it sooner. The results was a very streaky finish. One more coat the next day and the finish was beautiful!

Painting technique also helps: use a quality dense nap roller of about 3/8ths inch, less if using high gloss paint. Do your cutting in and rolling simultaneously, bringing everything down the wall at one time. In painting, the goal is to maintain a wet edge. Do not roll out the paint too thin. The goal is to lay out a smooth, generous, flowing coat.

Unlike others here, I have been using Behr's Ultra paint in my own house and find it to be an excellant product, as does Consumers Union. (touche Spruce :) ) All acrylic paints retain a certain gummy quality. If this is of a concern, there is always oil paint.

In full disclosure: Ja, I work at Home Depot :). And yes, my association with paint goes back 55 years, if you count being drug kicking and screaming with my father out to paint houses during the summer as a kid. If you count in my grandfather, we go back to 1907, when he brought the painting trade with him from Denmark.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

I hope you aren't painting your walls the way they make those big W's in the middle of the walls as seen on the DIY shows. That alone will lead to patchy looking walls.

Cut the room in first then follow with floor-to-ceiling applications (one roller width at a time, starting at a corner) heading in one direction around the room until you get back to the original corner. Don't stop mid wall unless the house is on fire.

PS I like Behr paint too. I find it flows well, handles nicely, sprays and brushes well.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

Agreed with everything above especially against the dreadful W's method. As far as sanding goes, it may not be necessary but a fine grit over the entire surface may actually benefit especially if there is noticeable texture or paint with some level of gloss or sheen. Give at minimum a few days as suggested to let the paint cure before doing this and make sure to thoroughly clean any dust as a result of the sanding. Don't overdo it trying to sand off layers of paint, you just want to knock the gloss off.

An extreme measure may be to use a heat gun to melt/bubble the paint and sc**** it off since its plaster walls but that is a very extreme measure and time consuming in my opinion.

Trying Behr Primer and Paint mixed in one can may be a good compromise to a one coat fix as long as you're not trying to drastically change the color which in this case sounds fine.

Depending on your level of painting experience i'm wondering if you're putting too much pressure to one side of the roller to cause the roller marks. Another cause may be the urge to go back and 'touch up' some spots which is also a no-no. Then again you may be a semi-pro painter and it might just be the paint! good luck!

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

One thing to remember when painting is once the paint is applied evenly, don't go back and roll it more. As the paint dries, it appears uneven, but going back and re-rolling will mess up the finish. Especially noticable in eggshell and glossier finish.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

This can’t be difficult to fix, can it? It’s not the worst paint job I’ve seen. There are only a few areas with visible roller marks. It just happens to really bother me, and I would like to adjust the shade of dark brown slightly (don’t worry, not to something lighter).

This is my plan (as soon as I settle on a color):
1) lightly sand the visible roller marks, 2) wipe/vacuum all the dust, then 3) repaint with a paint & primer-in-one product to hopefully eliminate the need for multiple coats of paint.

Could this work?

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

sounds like a good plan to me. Take care on the primering, you can leave marks there too.

Re: How to repair an uneven paint job?

Sounds good. if you're going to sand then remember to lightly sand the whole wall evenly. Just a quick light pass is all it should take. Also, it will be best to wipe the walls after the vacuum since dust may still stick to the wall after the vacuum.

To prevent the roller marks again, all of the previous advice is helpful. Remember to work with the wet edge and keep even pressure on the roller. I wind I usually wind up accidently putting more pressure on the side of the roller where the wire for the handle comes out so I work to that side. E.g. If i'm starting on the left side of a wall, I hold the roller on the wall with the wire to the right so as i'm painting, the left side(with less pressure) lightly fades into what I already have painted. While I dont advise doing this on purpose, its just something that winds up happening with regular rollers.


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