What I'm Seeing Now


Jays' School of Inspectology - Painting Do's and Don'ts - Part 2

As a home inspector, I see a lot of painting mistakes and issues.  I thought it was time for a list of Painting Do's And Don'ts! 

This is Part 2 of two parts IT IS THE DON'T LIST!

Again, this does not purport to be a complete list!  It is based on personal experience.  And each suggestion here is listed in no particular order.

  • First, NEVER paint over wallpaper!  I see this all the time!  And paper-backed wallpaper can swell in the seams because of the paint and really look ugly.  And stripping wallpaper with your spouse is divorce bait, even when it is not painted over!
  • Resist the temptation to paint a second coat, indoors or out, until the first coat has had adequate time to dry.  This is typically 24 hours for latex, and can be 48 hours or more for oil-based.  Cool temperatures and high humidity will cause paint to dry more slowly however.  DON'T paint if the first coat is tacky!
  • Painting directly over spackle and joint compound will leave dull spots.  The paint absorbs enough of the paint to cause a different reflection.  Prime such repairs first, or "seal" them with an additional coat of flat paint.
  • Similarly, never paint directly over stain blockers - such as Kilz or Parks.  They will reflect light even through paint.  They must also be covered over first with primer or an additional coat of flat paint.
  • Read the label of whatever you are using to see the recommended minimum temperature above which the paint SHOULD ONLY be applied.  Also, it should dry completely before that temperature threshold is reached.  Why?  Indoors or out, if temperatures dip below that temperature, OR WITHIN FIVE DEGREES OF THE DEW POINT, the surfectant in the paint will leach out.  SURFECTANT LEACHING?  The surfectant is the chemical in the paint that helps it adhere to the surface.  In cold temperatures, it will separate!  And the paint will not adhere properly.  I see this most often on new construction when they insist on painting when it is very cold out.  The problem begins as small, brown bubbles which develop on the surface of the paint.  Then the paint will drool and run.  The result is not only a really ugly job, what you have is no longer paint!  Its chemistry has been destroyed.  Typically this temperature threshold is 50F.  BUT READ THE LABEL!
  • Avoid semi-gloss and gloss paints on the ceiling.  The glosses will reveal every little hair that is in the paint!  Flat paints with an anti-fungal agent work just fine in bathroom ceilings.
  • Never roll in erratic patterns.  It's best to roll in straight lines, keeping a wet edge.  And on ceilings don't roll in straight lines toward the windows.  Rolling parallel to the windows shows less-noticeable paint lines.
  • When painting horizontal siding, don't break up the wall into thirds or fourths, working from top to bottom.  Instead, keep a wet edge and quickly paint one or two boards all the way from left to right.  Sectional painting will cause large overlaps and the final finish will have distinct areas with more paint, and the lines will be visible and erratic.
  • Don't buy cheap paints!  The old adage that you get what you pay for certainly applies to paints!  Good quality paints have more titanium (which seals and covers) and provide a smoother finish.  Also, good paints are more washable, even the flat paints, and durable.
  • In this vein, use good materials, especially brushes!  Cheap brushes are just that - cheap!  Don't use them!  Remember, natural bristles for oils and alkyds, and man-made bristles for latex and acrylics.  Good brushes can be cleaned better and last longer.
  • Don't leave the rim full of paint when you replace the lid!  Clean it out as best you can.  Then the lid seals better and is easier to remove.
  • Try to store left over paint in a single bucket.  Don't store less than 1/2 gallon in a 1 gallon bucket!  It will get a skin, separate and the chemistry will change.  Quarts are best for storage.
  • Never store your paints where they will freeze!  If they freeze once they are done.  Again, freezing alters the chemistry and it is no longer paint.
  • Don't use outdoor paints indoors.  Even with lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), exterior paints off gas indoors and can be harmful to health.
  • And the BIGGIE - NEVER paint latex paints directly over oil-based paints!  Latex will not adhere!  It will peel quickly!  Oil-based paints can be prepped first to receive latex with deglossers or primers.  Latex paint WILL adhere to an oil-based primer, which primer is usually best over oil-based paints, and which may be needed especially outdoors depending on what is being painted.  Prepping a paint job is a lot of work and requires paint knowledge!  

My recommendation:  WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE DON'T KNOW!  If you don't know if something is best practice, find out!  Ask!  Research!  Look it up!  And if all else fails, all else, READ THE LABEL.  Likely your answer is there!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 36 commentsJay Markanich • June 04 2012 03:28AM


Jay, great advice on painting. Thanks for sharing today...

Posted by David Burrows, No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate (Classic Realty) about 7 years ago

Good morning Jay I've seen the dreaded paint over wallpaper (not a pretty sight).  Since the wife is wanting to paint the office I'm going to print this one out and give it to her. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) about 7 years ago

Oh my goodness...I can't imagine painting over wall paper.  Now that is a recipe for disaster.  So is painting while the previous coat hasn't dried.  Anyone that has applied nail polish should know that this is a no no.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 7 years ago

Glad you liked it David.  Taken together the two blogs should be useful.

James - what an awful idea!  Wow, the wife paints?  I like that division of labor!

Debbie - the bane of mankind, after Molly Bolts that is.  I'll have to remember that when I put on my nail polish.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay. I think I have seen all these "sins" and have been guilty of committing a few of them myself. Congrats on the star...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 7 years ago

We learn by doing Michael!  But, in case you haven't repented, imagine me standing on your desk and pointing down at you, "Repent!  Repent you heathen Visigoth, or face the damnation of hell fire!"

There, did that work?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

On my "to do" list for inventions is a liquid...wouldn't call it paint...it aint....that could be rolled or sprayed over paper and give the walls a colored drywall finish...voila...instant update !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 7 years ago

Great tips Jay!  But honestly, would anyone actually paint over wallpaper? I thought that one was common sense.

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) about 7 years ago

S&D - I believe that IS called paint!

Don't know Donald!  But I see it all the time.

Valerie - maybe they can cover the exposed seams with paintings?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

All great advice, when it comes to paid and painting. We have all seen paid jobs that that did nothing to improve the looks of a property.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) about 7 years ago

Another great lesson, thanks Jay.  When I paint a ceiling I always give tow coats, one each way to cover everything.  Works for me.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) about 7 years ago

Everyone who ever touches a paint brush should read your two list before they dip it into paint!

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Hi Jay.  Again I will bookmark for later reference, but I still will let the professionals handle this:) Not my cup of tea, but now at least I know and can pass this on to my clients!

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com) about 7 years ago
Jay, Great advice...some sellers have no idea what nightmares they are leaving behind to new buyers. Printing this off for future reference...thanks! Rob
Posted by Rob Thomas, Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro (Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954) about 7 years ago

This is one of the best primers on painting that I have seen!  I absolutely HATE paint over wallpaper!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) about 7 years ago

Jay, this series of painting posts is very well done.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Jay I see wallpaper painted over all the time. It shows especiallly when the paper starts peeling.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) about 7 years ago

Great two part series, Jay, I am going to re-blog this for people in South Simcoe

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Jay - I'm glad I read this; I was unaware you should not paint over wallpaper; I've heard many people down here in FL recommend to paint over the wallpaper. In many cases, the drywall was not prepped correctly, and stripping the wallpaper will result in drywall damage....

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) about 7 years ago


I never realized I was doing so many things wrong when I paint.  Thanks for the tips.  I am going to bookmark this blog for future reference.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) about 7 years ago

Great tips on painting Jay. I had not realized that you could not paint directly over Kilz!  Thanks

Posted by Teri Clardy, APSD Certified Home Stager Pro (Colorado Premier Staging, LLC) about 7 years ago

Never paint over wallpaper! First, you should nail up some paneling, then paint. Much better.

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) about 7 years ago

Jay, What a difference a good brush makes! Excellent tips, I'm sure I've done all of these at one time or another.

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) about 7 years ago

Joe - those are out there in abundance!  Too bad too. 

Ken - two coats usually cover no matter which way you paint!

Margaret - well, now the posts are out there!  I hope people can use them.

Cheryl - you can pass along or use them yourself!  And even if painting isn't your cup of tea!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Thanks Rob.  Glad you can use it.

And how often do we see it Kathryn?  Too, too much!

Thanks Charlie.  It's a pretty small series!  Makes it easy to link the one to the other!

Debbie - not the best idea in the world.  But stripping wallpaper is so much fun!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Great Chris.  Thanks very much for the reblog.  I hope they can use the info there!

Carol - stripping wallpaper usually results in drywall damage!  That's why it's so much fun!

Evelyn - I have heard about you!  Your reputation precedes you!

You can Teri.  But it bleeds through!  In the right light the Kilz appears as a shiny spot.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Tim - I see painted paneling often!  Just this afternoon in fact!

Adrian - the brush is everything!  I have a couple of brushes that are very old.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Another great post Jay.

The do's and don'ts of painting are very important and anyone can follow it.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 7 years ago

Thanks!  Any suggestions to the lists Tom?  For sure they are not definitive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Thanks for the post.  It is more than I ever wanted to know about painting.                     


Posted by Jerry Morse, BBA,GRI (The Morse Company) about 7 years ago

Once in s while Mike and I are asked why we charge more for painting than the guys on craigslist...from now on I think I'll just have them read your series here. Great info!

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) about 7 years ago

Jay, Thanks again for these two post. All of this reminds me why I pay someone to paint. 

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) about 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

I love to paint, but I HATE stripping wallpaper - especially, when the original layer was put up without any wall prep...nothing like peeling off 1" (or less) bits of paper and ruining the sheetrock.  But then, more fun...floating the sheetrock to fix the gouges!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 7 years ago

Glad you enjoyed it Jerry.  More than you wanted to know? 

Thanks Sue.  Happy painting!  Then you can inspect it when you are done.

Tom - most people don't need a reminder!  Most don't like it at all!

Lisa - before wallpapering the walls need to be "sized."  Without sizing stripping usually destroys the drywall!

I haven't been able to get on in some time!  Good to be back.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Obviously, to make it look perfect a little common sense and a good primer will get it done.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 7 years ago

People sometimes just paint Ed.  They paint and expect to get good results!  It helps to know what one is doing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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