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Partner Post: Touch Up Tips and Techniques for the Perfect Paint Job

This content was republished with permission from Associa Advantage partner, Dunn Edwards Paint. Associa Advantage partners provide savings on household goods and services used by Associa community homeowners and associations.

"Touch-up" refers to the application of paint to a recently (less than 1 year old) painted surface. These may be missed areas (also known as holidays) or areas of repair. No touch-up is perfect, but if done correctly, it should blend in acceptably with the surrounding painted area.

There are several variables that can affect the appearance of touched-up areas

  1. The application technique used by the painting contractor.
  2. Temperature and humidity differences from the time of the original painting.
  3. Darker colors are usually harder to touch-up.
  4. Pants with a sheen (non-flats) are harder to touch-up.
  5. Excessive film build can make a touch-up more noticeable.
  6. Surface porosity and texture differences, especially when there is a critical light source, make touch-up more difficult.
  7. Dirt or other surface contaminants can negatively affect the touch-up.
  8. If the original coat of paint was not applied at full film build, then it may not show the true color or sheen.

What are the best practices when performing a touch-up?

1. Use the same batch of paint and apply the touch-up in the same manner in which the original paint was applied. In most cases, if the original coat was sprayed, it is not possible or practical to perform the touch-up using the same application procedure. However, it may be possible to set aside a small amount of the originally sprayed material for touch-up use. If there is no original paint available, make sure the touch-up paint used has been tinted properly (correct base, color formula and product).

2. If given a choice between a brush and roller, always use a roller to perform the touch-up. The preferred roller is a "weenie" roller with a good quality synthetic cover. Choose a nap thickness of ¼ to ½ inch.

3. Make sure the surface area is clean and free from any dirt, dust, grease or oils.

4. The surface must be dry and free from all loose or peeling paint.

5. When loading the roller, use the least amount of paint necessary. This will help to limit excessive film build in the touched-up area.

6. When performing a touch-up on a smooth wall with a brush avoid feathering into the originally painted areas. Feathering with a brush will produce a flat “halo” (or outline) around the touch-up. Feathering with a synthetic roller cover will aid in blending slight differences in color and sheen without producing a noticeable halo.

7. When performing a touch-up on a smooth wall with a water-based non-flat paint, the paint should be thinned (about 5 to 10 percent clean water) in order to help minimize the sheen difference from the original application.

8. If a given surface requires an excessive number of touch-up applications, it may be best to repaint the entire wall from corner to corner.

About the Author

Dunn-Edwards Paints® has produced and sold premium paint products for more than 90 years and is the #1 Choice of Painting Professionals based on an independent study where licensed painting contractors in Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix overwhelmingly selected Dunn-Edwards Paints as the paint they would use on their own homes. With 129 company stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, and more than 80 authorized dealers throughout the Southwest, Dunn-Edwards is one of the nation’s largest independent manufacturers and distributors of architectural, industrial and high performance paints and paint supplies. The company is dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment, and produces its coatings in the world’s first and only LEED® Gold-certified manufacturing plant. Based in Southern California, the company is composed of approximately 1,500 employees. For more information, visit