How to touch up paint on walls

Our expert guide talks you through the tricky task of touching up paint on walls to ensure a seamless finish

Paint touch ups on wall
(Image credit: Alamy)

It's essential to know how to touch up paint on walls. Minor knocks or scratches can easily damage a beautifully painted surface. Even worse, fire damage or a water leak can leave a larger patch of paintwork damaged. 

In both instances you will need to know how to touch up paint on walls to refresh the overall look of your room. However, touching up paint requires a different approach to simply painting a wall; there are techniques you can use to ensure the newly applied paint does not stand out from the older paintwork. 

We’ve asked the experts for the best ways to feather, dab and blend like a professional.

How to touch up paint on walls

It’s important to be realistic about the area you wish to tackle. Touching up paint on walls is most effective when targeting a small localized area. Helen Shaw, Director at Benjamin Moore explains, ‘scuffed paint is one of the more common and straightforward imperfections to touch up.’

In some situations performing an effective touch up may be too difficult. If your original paint job was uneven it might be necessary to paint a room again from scratch, which is a much bigger undertaking.

1. Prepare the area for painting

Start by preparing your space. Ensure you have covered all fabrics and surfaces with dust sheets and protectors. If possible, move furniture to one side so you have a clear, easy-to-access work area. Open windows to provide ventilation.

2. Fill holes and repair damage

It may be the case that a chip has occurred in the existing paintwork, so this will need to be addressed before you continue. Use a filler to repair holes and wait a sufficient amount of time for it to dry before you sand to create a smooth surface.

3. Clean the walls

Yuriy Kryvenka from New Jersey-based painting and decorating service, Hoboken Painter urges you to clean walls before painting. ‘Wash thoroughly with warm, soapy water and a big sponge or, better, sugar soap,’ he says.

Whether removing dust from sanding or just everyday dirt and grime, this step is important and should not be ignored.

4. Source the right paint and tools

The ideal scenario when touching up paint is to use the same paint you used originally. This ensures there will be no color variations. If this is not possible, buy a new paint can in the same color, or you could take it to a local hardware store that provides a color matching service.

Take note of the paint finishes you will be touching up – gloss paint is traditionally the hardest paint texture to blend due to its consistency.

Yuriy from Hoboken Painter, advises that touching up projects work best on ‘paints with a zero or very little sheen’. Texture is of utmost importance. ‘Glossier walls might have to be repainted completely, as the touchup areas will be visible and differ from the rest of the wall,’ he explains.

Helen Shaw at Benjamin Moore warns that the application method is crucial too. ‘Different paint applicators leave subtle differences on the end result. The paintbrush or roller you used when you first painted should be used again for your touch up.’

5. Apply the paint

Consider the tools you use to touch up paintwork. You can minimize surface texture differences by using the roller or brush that was used for the original paintwork. Do not use a brush to touch up rolled areas as the brush marks will be visible and highlight the different textures.

Open the paint can then use as little paint as possible and apply small amounts at a time.

For touch ups of small holes or marks that are less than an inch you can use an angled foam brush to dab on the spot.

However, if you are painting a larger area, there are two common techniques you can use to touch up paint: blending and feathering.

6. Allow to dry

After you have completed your chosen technique, allow the paint to dry thoroughly. If the area looks patchy, consider adding more paint using the blending or feathering method. Once you have finished your touch up project, store away leftover paint in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

How can I touch up paint on walls with blending?

Blending is a great way to make the paint flow together seamlessly. The basic steps for blending paint are simple, as Helen Shaw from Benjamin Moore explains: 

‘With a paintbrush or roller, start with as little paint as possible, applying a very small amount at a time,’ she says. ‘Slowly roll or brush over the imperfection, making sure to start in the middle and apply the lightest amount of paint to the outer edges.’

How can I touch up paint on walls with feathering?

Feathering uses a brush to create a seamless transition between old and new paint. Helen advises, ‘starting at the center of the touch-up and slowly moving outward’. Be careful not to overload the brush and then ‘lightly extend just beyond the area you’re touching up to seamlessly blend with the original paint,’ she adds.

Stephanie Hendries
Contributing Editor

Steph Hendries is a freelance journalist who has contributed to many different interiors websites including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Livingetc. She has also worked on a range of social content for property brands such as Zoopla and Boomin. Steph writes for Homes & Gardens Solved section, concentrating on DIY, how to, cleaning and organizing content.