How To Touch Up Walls Like A Pro

How To Touch Up Walls Like A Pro

As much as we love our homes, it’s no secret that wear and tear can occur over time. One of the most common issues we face is chipped or cracked paint on our walls. Before you try to cover it up with a piece of furniture or a poster, know that touching up the paint is easy to do on your own and can save you time and money. With just a few materials and a little patience, you can have your walls looking fresh and new again. In this blog post, I’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to touch up paint on walls.

Before beginning the touch-up process, it's essential to evaluate the condition of your walls thoroughly. Inspect the surface for any marks, scratches, or holes that may require attention. If you notice that a wall has a considerable number of imperfections that need to be touched up, it might be more beneficial to repaint the entire wall. This could ensure a more uniform finish and color consistency, giving you the best chance of achieving a professional-looking result and saving you from repeated touch-up efforts.

To achieve a seamless blend of touch-up paint with the surrounding wall, it is crucial to use the same or as similar as possible paint and paint applicators (rollers and brushes) that were originally used. Ideally, having leftover paint and applicators from the initial painting would be ideal. If not, the goal is to find a matching paint with the same color and sheen. Here are some ways to find matching paint:

  • Paint-matching smartphone apps offer a convenient solution for matching the color of your wall with compatible paint. However, it's important to note that while these apps are convenient, they may not always provide the most accurate results.

On the other hand, color matching technology used by certain hardware stores and paint suppliers utilizes spectrometer analysis to accurately determine the color and sheen of your wall's paint. To avail of this service, you will need to provide a sample of the paint you wish to match. Typically, this involves taking a physical piece from the wall, such as a 1-inch square cut from the drywall using a utility knife.  While some stores may offer the option to analyze a picture taken with your phone, it's worth noting that this method may not be as precise as using a physical sample.

Pro Tip For Best Match: When obtaining a physical paint sample, it's advisable to cut a small section from an inconspicuous area such as inside a closet. This ensures that the patch you remove for paint matching will be less noticeable after the repair process. Ensure you use a sharp utility knife, and cut a one-inch square gently so as not to damage the underlying drywall. Remember, it's essential to repair this section properly after obtaining the sample, which could be achieved by filling in the gap with a small amount of joint compound, allowing it to dry, sanding it smooth, and finally, repainting it with the newly matched paint. Please note that cutting a small section of drywall is the most effective approach to achieve a seamless touch-up if you are unable to locate the exact original paint that was used.

When unsure about the type of applicator used, rollers are often regarded as the optimal choice for touch-up painting. It is advisable to opt for smaller rollers as they provide greater control and precision.

Step 1: Gather Paint-Related Materials

First and foremost, you’ll need to gather your materials. This includes the same paint or original paint, a paintbrush, a paint roller, a paint tray, a putty knife, painter’s tape, sandpaper, a paint stick and a clean cloth. Ensure that you’ve got the exact color and finish of your existing paint to avoid any variations in color or sheen.

Step 2: Clean the Surface

Before you start painting, you need to clean the surface that needs to be touched up. Use a clean cloth to wipe off any dust, dirt, or debris that may have accumulated on the surface. Be sure to let it dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Fill Holes and Cracks

For minor wall imperfections such as holes or cracks, using a spackling compound or caulk can be an effective solution. Using a putty knife, apply the compound to the area that requires attention. Try to apply just enough material to fill the gap without overdoing it, as too much can create a noticeable patch on textured walls, causing an uneven surface or "bald spots". Smooth out any excess compound with the putty knife for a level finish. Allow the spackling compound to dry completely. This process can take a few hours to a full day, depending on the size of the area and the manufacturer's instructions. Once the spackle is completely dry, take 120 grit sandpaper and gently sand the repaired area to create a smooth surface that is ready for painting. Remember to clean up any dust from sanding before you begin painting.

Pro Tip: For small holes, using a caulking compound can provide an excellent solution. This method is almost undetectable as a patch, creating a smooth, even surface that seamlessly matches the rest of the wall. Apply the caulk with a caulking gun, ensuring it fills the hole, then smooth over any excess to create a flat, even surface. Once the caulk has dried, it can be painted over, leaving no trace of the original nail hole. This technique provides a superior finish compared to other patching methods, resulting in a professional-quality touch-up that's indistinguishable from the rest of the wall.

Step 4: Sand the surface

If the area you’re touching up has any chipping or rough edges, use 120-grit sandpaper to smoothen it out. This will help create a smoother finish and avoid any visible bumps or ridges.

Step 5: Paint the wall

Now comes the fun part – painting! Using a paintbrush, foam brush or a small roller, apply a thin layer of paint to the chipped or cracked area until it is covered entirely. Avoid using too much paint as this can create a visible difference in surface texture compared to the rest of the wall and the original paint job. 

When touching up, it's crucial to 'feather' out the paint, which means extending it beyond the repair area into the surrounding paint in a gradual progression, to blend the new paint with the old and ensure a seamless finish.

Pro Tip: Before you start touching up multiple areas, do a test spot first. Choose an inconspicuous area for this initial application and allow it to dry entirely. This step will ensure that the color and sheen of the new paint match the existing wall paint perfectly. If you skip this step and dive straight into touching up all the spots, you might end up with patches all over the room that don't blend well with the existing paint, resulting in an uneven finish. So, always remember to test first and paint later!

Step 6: Let it dry

After applying the paint, give it ample time to dry. This could take up to several hours depending on the paint and the humidity of the surrounding area. Be patient and avoid touching the area until it’s completely dry.

Step 7: Assess and Repeat

Once the paint has dried, assess your work. Depending on the coverage, you may need to add another coat of paint. Keep repeating the process until the touch-up area blends seamlessly with the rest of the wall.


Touching up paint on walls may seem like a daunting task, but it’s quite a simple and doable process. By following these seven steps, you can easily touch up any chips or scratches on your walls and have them look new again in no time. Remember to gather all the necessary materials, clean and sand the surface, apply painter’s tape, paint carefully, and let it dry before assessing and repeating the process if necessary. With a little patience and careful painting, you can save yourself time and money while pressing the reset button on your walls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use A Different Brand Of Paint When I Touch Up My Walls?

To achieve the best possible results, it's crucial to use the same paint that was originally used to paint the wall. If possible, use the same can of paint. This is because even the smallest variations in the formula from different batches can result in noticeable differences in color, texture, and sheen. If the original can of paint is no longer available, at the very least, use the same brand

from the same manufacturer, of the same type, color, and sheen. If you choose to touch up the paint using a different manufacturer than was originally used, you're likely to encounter challenges in matching the color and finish. This could result in an uneven appearance and disrupt the seamless look of your walls. Therefore, for successful touch-ups, it's always recommended that you stick to the original paint as far as possible.

How Long Does Paint Last In The Can After It Has Been Opened?

Once a can of paint has been opened, its shelf life can vary based on several factors. Typically, if properly stored, an opened can of latex or oil-based paint can last for 2-5 years. However, over time, the paint will start to oxidize and degrade, and you may notice a foul smell akin to rotten eggs. This is a clear indication that the paint has started to spoil and should not be used. If left unattended, the paint will eventually solidify in the can, turning into an unusable lump. The entire process, from the time the can is opened to when the paint becomes solid, can take anywhere from a few years to a decade, depending on the type of paint and how it's stored. To extend the life of your paint, ensure it's sealed tightly and stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Ideally, keep it indoors in temperatures between 50-90 °F (10-32°C). Following these simple steps can help you preserve your paint and avoid any waste.