How To Fix 5 Common Painting Mistakes

Painting mistakes like drips, streaks, uneven edges, crooked lines, blotchiness and getting paint on the ceiling are all common. We’re here to help you fix them.

Close up of the seam between a white ceiling and a green wall.
In this video, learn how to avoid and fix the 5 most common painting mistakes.

Fixing painting mistakes is easier than you might think. Find out how to fix some of the most common painting mistakes with tips and insights from our painting experts.
Green paint dripping down a wall.

Mistake: Paint drips, runs and streaks

Green paint dripping down a wall.

Why it happens: An excessive amount of paint on your roller or paintbrush can cause paint to drip and run. Streaks, where paint is unevenly distributed on a wall, typically result from having too little paint on your roller or brush.

What you’ll need to fix paint drips, runs and streaks:

How to fix paint drips, runs and streaks:

  1. Use a razor to shave the bulk of the drip off.
  2. Sand over the drip with medium (100-grit) sandpaper on a sanding block in a circular motion until you can no longer feel the paint ridge or any surface unevenness.
  3. Switch to fine (220-grit) sandpaper and sand over the same area to remove any scratches from the previous step.
  4. Repeat the first two steps until the area is completely smooth, then feather the edges to ensure there is no difference between the unsanded area and the sanded area.
  5. Wipe the area with a wet sponge to remove dust, then allow it to dry.
  6. Once the sanded area is clean and dry, apply a light coat of paint to this section using a paintbrush. Let dry.
  7. With the same brush, add a second coat of paint over the first, then switch to a nearly dry paintbrush to blend the edges of the newly painted area with the older painted area and ensure a smooth surface. Let dry.
  8. Finish by very lightly applying a third coat of paint with a brush over a broad section of the project surface around the repaired area. Make sure to seamlessly blend this section with the rest of the project surface.
Painting over a painting mistake on a white ceiling.

Mistake: Paint on the ceiling

Painting over a painting mistake on a white ceiling.

Why it happens: Paint on the ceiling typically results from a wayward application technique, improper prep, or both.

What you’ll need to fix paint on the ceiling:

How to fix errant paint on the ceiling:

  1. If the paint has not yet dried, use a wet rag to wipe the paint off the ceiling.
  2. If the paint is dry, use ceiling paint and a small paintbrush to touch up the spots on the ceiling.
  3. If your ceiling is painted white, and you don't know your ceiling’s exact shade of white, having the color matched in Waterborne Ceiling Paint will yield the best results.

    Note: These tips can also work for wayward paint on any wall, just be sure to use Regal® Select, ben®, Aura® or your favorite interior paint.

Ceiling Paint Tips

Take a sample of your ceiling paint and bring it into your local Benjamin Moore retailer to color match it.

Start off by cutting in your edges to establish the project’s boundaries. Use a small paintbrush for better control near the ceiling-wall border.
Painting green on an unevenly painted wall.

Mistake: Uneven or blotchy paint

Painting green on an unevenly painted wall.

Why it happens: Uneven or blotchy paint occurs when you’ve either skipped priming or not adequately primed your wall before painting. This can also result from not applying enough coats of paint to get a uniform finish.

What you’ll need to fix uneven or blotchy paint:

How to fix uneven or blotchy paint:

  1. No matter how many additional coats of paint you add, this problem likely requires going back to the drawing board. If you run into uneven or blotchy paint, the best thing to do is start over. The first crucial step in getting back on track is to prime the area you’re painting.
  2. Once your primer is dry, begin painting—this time knowing that you've primed your surface and set your project up for success.

Helpful Tip

Achieve a uniform finish and avoid stretching the paint by applying the paint liberally.

If you find yourself applying a lot of pressure to the roller to get paint on the wall, it’s time to reload!
Peeling painter's tape from a white wall.

Mistake: Paint Peeling or Leaks with Painter’s Tape

Peeling painter's tape from a white wall.

Why it happens: Whether your paint gets peeled off with your tape or leaks under the tape border you’ve applied, improper taping application can lead to trouble.

Tape tips:

  • For smooth walls, when applying the tape, use a putty knife to apply pressure so it fully adheres to the surface.
  • Remove the tape immediately when you’re done painting your last coat. Be sure not to over apply the paint at the edge of the tape.
  • Apply a small amount of clear caulk all along the edge of your taped line, lightly pushing the caulk under the tape’s border to create a clean edge between the tape and your paint.

How to fix issues with painter’s tape:

  1. To fix paint that has peeled off with your tape or bled under a tape border, you can use a small angled paintbrush to touch up tight spaces with precision.
  2. Use the color you have been working with or one that matches your base, depending on which area needs fixing.
  3. Place the brush about 1 inch above the affected area.
  4. Slowly and carefully drag the brush across the affected area, making sure the bristles fan out and cover the surface and working to seamlessly blend the border of the mistake area with the painted area.
  5. Repeat until the paint covers the entire area in need of retouching.
  6. Keep a wet rag on hand to quickly fix any touch up mistakes you make in the process.

What you’ll need to fix painter’s tape issues:

Uneven paint lines between wood edge and white walls.

Mistake: Uneven Paint Lines & Edges

Uneven paint lines between wood edge and white walls.

Why it happens: When you are establishing the borders of a painting project, the art of cutting in can be difficult to master. Bad cut-ins result in crooked lines or uneven edges.

What you’ll need to fix imperfect cutting in:

How to fix errors with cutting in:

  1. When cutting in your paint edges, press a loaded paintbrush firmly along the surface to apply a thick layer of paint roughly 1 to 1.5 inches from your desired border.
  2. Use the tip of the brush to lightly feather the applied paint right up to the edge of the surface.
  3. Be certain to go over the whole line once more to ensure the paint is evenly applied.

How Much Paint?

Dip it 1” to 1.5” into the paint for best results. After you dip the brush in the paint, lightly tap it on the side of the interior of the bucket to remove any excess paint.

Fill a tray with about ½” of paint. Use the tray’s textured roll-off area or a paint grid to get any excess paint off the roller.

Use the Gravity Test
Test how much paint you have on your application tool by rotating it over your bucket or tray. Let excess paint drip.