If you’re a homeowner, you know that your once pristine painted walls can become a surface of dings, divots, and scratches over time — especially if you have kids and pets. These scars of everyday use can be most impressive around your entryways, kitchen and on your entry doors and trim.

When you’ve got blemishes that you can’t magically erase, you may be thinking that it’s time to repaint your walls or trim. But before you get out the drop cloths or call in a professional for a half-day job, you might be able to do a touch-up.

At Select Painting, we know that paint touch-ups can be tricky, but they are also useful as a stop-gap measure to keep your interior paint looking great between repaints. Here are some tips and tricks from the pros for touching up paint in your home.

Determine the Type of Paint and If You Still Have Some

Flat paint is much easier to touch up than satin or semi-gloss. No matter the finish, it’s much easier to touch up paint if you have access to the original paint used. You know, that quart or partial gallon you stored in your garage or basement for just these times?

Get the original paint and the type of applicator — usually roller or brush, though it might be a sprayer. The nap of a roller matters, too. It probably was a ¼ inch roller to produce a smooth finish on your walls, but it may also have been a ⅜ inch. The more information you know about the initial painting process, the easier it will be to match and touch-up.

If you don’t have any of the original paint, it may be possible to purchase a quart for touch ups if you know the name, brand, and finish of the paint. However, even though the paint is the same color, it won’t be from the same batch so there may be subtle differences that cause your touched up areas to stand out from the rest of the wall.

If you don’t have any of the original paint and you don’t know what brand and color it was, it may still be possible to purchase a quart of touch up paint. Smartphones have made matching paint easier as has computerized technology at your local paint store.

You used to have to scrape off a chip of the original paint and take to your paint vendor for matching. Now you can take a high-resolution photograph, and your paint specialist can use that to scan and analyze the color. It likely won’t be perfect, but it might be close enough to work.

If your paint is darker or a custom color, especially if it is satin or semi-gloss finish, it may not be possible to match the existing paint and have a successful touch-up.

Clean Your Surface

Dirt, grease, dust, and grime can build up on your walls over time. Before painting, be sure to wipe down the surface with a soapy sponge or rag, then dry off with a clean, lint-free cloth. You don’t want to paint over dirt and make it a permanent part of your wall. Not only will the paint not stick as well, but it will also be harder to have this area blend in with the rest of your wall.

Make Any Repairs

If you have dents, divots, nail holes, or scratches from carrying furniture or exuberant pets, you’ll want to repair and smooth those before you touch up the paint.

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and get rid of any rough edges around the hole.
  • Use spackling compound and a putty knife to apply a dollop of spackle to the hole or dent with the edge of the putty knife. You only need enough spackle to cover the blemish; don’t be tempted to overdo it.
  • After filling the hole, scrape away excess spackle with the putty knife until the spackle is even with the wall around it. Wipe away any excess with a damp cloth
  • Let the spackle dry for several hours.
  • Rub your hand over the surface. If the repair is slightly higher than the wall or there are any rough edges, use your fine grit sandpaper to smooth it.
  • Wipe again with a wet cloth to remove any dust.

Prime the Area to Be Touched Up

A primer will help cover the repaired areas and help the spackle (which has a different texture) blend with the rest of the wall. Primer also helps allow the touch-up paint to adhere better, and gives better results.

Keep the primed area only to the repaired area and its immediate surrounding. Let the primer dry thoroughly (a couple of hours) before attempting to touch up paint.

Do the Touching Up

Using a bristle or a foam brush, or a small 2” or 4” roller, it’s time to apply the paint. Use as little paint as possible and only apply a little at a time. When using a brush to touch up, you’ll want to use the ‘feathering’ technique. Start in the center of the touch-up and move outwards, crossing into the already painted area.

As your brush strokes go out, the brush loses paint, so you have less and less. You’re blending some of the new paint with the old paint on the wall, outside of the repaired area. Feathering helps you give your touch up a smooth transition and make it less noticeable.


  • Using a paint reducer can help your new paint blend in better with the old. Use the paint reducer your paint manufacturer recommends.
  • An angled foam brush barely dipped in touch-up paint can be your best friend when it comes to touch ups.

Inspect Your Work and If Not Satisfied, Call for a Repaint

Not every touch-up works. Sometimes they are just too noticeable, and you’re better of repainting the wall or the room. If, after your touch up is dry, you can tell that the wall has been touched up and the new paint sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the wall’s surface, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you tried.

Give us a ring at (605) 728-2598 or send an email to info@selectpainting.biz. Our estimates are free, and our work is guaranteed to satisfy.