All About ReDecorating

Story: How to touch up those nasty paint dings in your home
How to touch up those nasty paint dings in your home

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, November 30, 2008

By Barbara Mahany

Chicago Tribune

‘Fess up: It’s been bugging you all year that smack dab in the middle of your front hall there’s that can’t-miss evidence of the day the delivery crew dinged your walls. And don’t forget the living room, where you changed your mind five times about just where to hang that picture. And what about the scrapes in the dining room where the electrician changed the switch-plate only to reveal a 3-inch swatch of that putrid Pepto-Bismol pink that once made you queasy at every meal?

Well, people, any day now it’ll be Ding-Dong Time, when the flocks of family and friends whom you’ve invited for the holidays start pressing pinkies to your doorbell. They’ll pour through to see you, but don’t think they’ll miss the oopsies on your walls.

Do not delay. Now is the hour to haul out the paint cans and brushes and get to work ditching the dings that mar your home sweet home. Only problem, we hear you sigh, is you really don’t have a clue how to touch-up paint so it’s not obvious from clear across the room that you’ve been dabbing at your walls. Ah, cast aside your fears. Take a deep breath and count to five. We turned to Marc Poulos, painter extraordinaire and president of MVP Decorating, who’s been putting loveliness to walls for 25 years (six of those as the in-house painter for the Ritz-Carlton Chicago). He knows at least five things about touching-up like a pro.

Less is always more, especially in the paint department. You always want to start with the least invasive procedure here. And in the case of dirty, finger-smudged walls (or even that nook where spaghetti sauce splattered and dried before you noticed), try just plain washing first. Poulos and crew are big fans of Soilex and water (just follow the directions, right on the box). Some of the wall-cleaning solutions leave residue, but Soilex does not, Poulos says. If he can’t find Soilex, his No. 2 choice is Blue Soap. Again, just mix with water, as directed.

When in doubt, erase. A plain old No. 2 pencil eraser would work, but better yet, pick up a whi! te craft eraser at any art or craft store. Either one will do away with lots of odd dots and dashes on the walls. But here’s the trick: Wet the wall first, with a clean terry-cloth towel, then rub the eraser. If you don’t wet it first, those little eraser bits will stick to the wall, and drive you batty.

Pray the ding is not in the middle of a long, long hallway. Here’s the indisputable fact of the matter: Eggshell-finish paint is a bear to touch-up. So, too, are dark paint colors. But if you must, moisten the wall first with a wrung-out terry-cloth towel. Absolutely, positively stir the paint in the can. (Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how often that’s overlooked and the result can be a whole new splotch on your wall.) Use a brush, or what’s called a hot-dog roller (a 4-inch sponge mini roller). Do not try a full-sized roller because, again, less is always more, and you could wind up needing to re-paint the whole wall. Brush over the spot where you need the touch-up. But then take your brush and “stipple it,” says Poulos, explaining that to stipple is to dab, dab, dab. “Feather it out,” he says, lightening your touch as you fan out from where you’ve started. (Matte finish and lighter colors, by the way, are easier to touch up, says Poulos.)

No need to cower over corners. Even if the hard-edged angles tend to take the hardest hits, often being the first spots to succumb to passing limbs or stiff hard objects, the truth is, where wall meets wall is the easy part. Just dab that bend in the wall with your brush. And sigh, as you witness order being restored.

Trim takes no shortcuts. Because trim paint tends be a higher-gloss finish, you need to repaint the whole expanse from corner to corner. Each coat will add more shine, so unless you take the long stroke here, you’ll wind up with shiny blotches.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment