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Here is a home seller’s go-to guide on how to touch up paint, from buying it to storing it and painting techniques to make sure you get an exact match.

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Prepping your home for a sale is a lengthy process and can be quite daunting. There are a lot of checkboxes to mark off as you prepare your home for a sale. There’s everything from staging your home to landscaping the yard, repainting and maybe even small kitchen renovations. The truth is you can’t just sell your home overnight. There will be many days, if not months, in the planning process before your home is ready to sell.

One task on your presale list should be to touch up paint around your house. If you’ve ever done any house shopping, you know how much a coat of paint can do for making a first impression. It’s true that a well-painted house is an essential step in good home staging for a successful home sale.

There is much more to doing paint touch ups than just opening a can of paint though. That said, this is still an easy DIY for any homeowner, even if you’re not the home improvement type. Touching up paint is easy if you know the right process and follow it.

How to Touch Up Paint in a Nutshell:

  1. Lay down a tarp to protect the floor.
  2. Cover hardware, baseboards, air vents, etc. with painters tape.
  3. Clean the surface and let dry.
  4. Repair nail damage or dents if needed.
  5. Paint and let dry!

Here is a step by step video and some important tips on how to touch up paint for an exact match.

Retouching Paint on Interior Walls

Touch Up Tools

How to Touch Up Paint - The Tools - Roller brushes and angled brushes

If you’ve never done touch up paint on your home, you may not be familiar with all of the tools that can be very useful in getting the project done. While you certainly don’t need a ton of unique supplies, these small tools will make the job easier!

Buying the Paint

First thing’s first, to do any touch-up paint, you have to have paint to begin with. If you are painting for the first time, know that not all paint is created equal. Just jumping from one brand to another can change the price of a quart of paint from $5 to $20.

It’s common to first choose your paint color since not all brands have the same selection of paint color. If you’re painting the interior of your house, be sure to stick with interior paint. Next you’ll need to choose your finish. This is important to note for any future touch ups you may need – especially if you have to buy more paint down the road.

While it may be tempting to think buying more is the best bet for paint, paint can go bad and separate in certain climates, so you’ll want to make sure to have enough for your project, plus a bit more for touch ups. But you don’t necessarily want an extra gallon of paint if you won’t need it for years to come.

After buying paint, always save the barcode label from the paint can. Home improvement stores can print a second one most of the time or give you the sticker. This will save you lots of time down the road when touch ups are in order.

How to Touch Up Paint - Pro Tip: Save paint can barcode labels.

Pro tip: When painting your home, keep a running list of paint colors, finishes and brands. Better yet, create a list out of those paint label stickers and store it in a filing cabinet for when you need to purchase more paint down the road.

The Prep

You have your supplies and the right color paint. Now you can get started on your touch ups. After protecting your floor with a plastic tarp, wrap any nearby hardware, baseboards, vents, etc. with painters tape. Then clean the surface of the wall you’re touching up. A simple water and dish soap combo should do the trick or a Magic Eraser. Make sure all soap residue has been wiped away and the moisture dries.

Next you’ll want to repair any holes in your walls from nails or other damage. You can do this by filling them in with nail filler. Once the filler dries, sand the area to level your surface. You’re ready for paint!

How to Touch Up Paint During Home Staging

Doing the Touch Up

This step is pretty straightforward, but here are a few quick tips for touch up painting:

  • If you’re using the original paint, stir it completely and then take a look at it. Be sure that it is still in good condition. It should not be watery or discolored.
  • If you have to get new paint made, be sure the paint finish matches the original.
  • When you apply the paint and it is still wet, don’t panic if it doesn’t appear to match right away. Wait until it’s fully dry to decide.
  • If you’re touching up a large area, use a small roller brush. It’s likely that a big area would have originally been painted with a roller brush and you’ll want to use the same brush so that the texture matches.
  • For smaller areas, use a small angled brush.

Storing Paint

How to Store Paint - How to Touch Up Paint

Storing extra paint for later is extremely simple! Paint needs to be stored in an airtight container, which could be either the original can if the top can be re-sealed properly, or a glass jar with an airtight lid. The biggest factor is that paint needs to be stored at room temperature, meaning not in a garage or shed. (Hint: Climate controlled storage is a great option for storing paint. Learn more about the benefits of climate controlled storage here.)

If you’re saving a can of paint for future touch ups, be sure to seal it with a rubber hammer or use a wood block between the paint can and a hammer. A hammer can damage the paint can, ruining the air tight seal or making it difficult to open again in the future.

Label the paint can with the location the paint was used, the year and the finish (glossy, matte, etc.). And be sure to add it to your master paint list, too! Read this guide to find out how long leftover paint lasts.

More Home Staging Resources

More Painting Resources

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About the Author

Madison Wetherill

Arizona based food blogger passionate about hospitality and community around the table. Madison shares easy recipes to inspire others to get in the kitchen and learn that cooking can be a fun part of every day life.

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