The Ultimate Guide to Matching Paint on Your Wall: Tips from a Pro

Bob Thomas

Introduction

We've all been there – you want to touch up a small area on your wall or repaint a section, but you're unsure how to match the existing paint color.

Don't worry; as a qualified painter and decorator, I'm here to help. In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of matching paint already on your wall, so you can achieve a seamless finish.

Quick Summary

In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions to help you match paint already on your wall. We'll also cover the necessary tools and materials, and share some tips and tricks from a qualified painter and decorator. 

Gather Your Tools and Materials

To begin, you'll need the following tools and materials:

  • A utility knife or scraper
  • A small paintbrush
  • A piece of cardboard or paper for mixing paint
  • Paint samples (more on this later)
  • A digital camera or smartphone (optional)

Identify the Paint Type and Sheen

First, determine whether the existing paint is oil-based or water-based (latex).

To do this, dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and gently rub it on the wall. If the paint comes off, it's latex; if not, it's oil-based.

Next, identify the paint's sheen (flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss). This will help you choose the right paint sample to match.

Obtain Paint Samples

Visit a local paint store and request paint samples or color swatches that closely resemble the color of your wall.

It's a good idea to bring a small, inconspicuous piece of the wall (cut using a utility knife) as a reference.

The paint store can also use a color matching device to help you find the best match.

Test the Samples

At home, test each paint sample on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall.

Allow the paint to dry completely, as the color may change during the drying process.

Then, observe the paint under different lighting conditions (natural daylight, artificial light, and at night) to ensure it's a perfect match.

Adjust the Color (If Necessary)

If the paint sample doesn't match exactly, you can try adjusting the color.

On a piece of cardboard or paper, mix the paint with a small amount of white, black, or tinted paint until you achieve the desired shade.

Test this new mixture on the wall and let it dry before determining if it's a match.

Apply the Paint

Once you've found the perfect match, use a small paintbrush to apply the paint to the area you want to touch up or repaint.

Feather the edges to blend the new paint with the existing paint seamlessly. Allow the paint to dry, then apply a second coat if necessary.

Tips and Tricks from a Pro

  • When matching paint, remember that paint colors can fade over time due to sunlight exposure, so the original color might not be an exact match.
  • Store any leftover paint in a tightly sealed container for future touch-ups.
  • Consider using a digital color matching tool or smartphone app, which can help you find the closest paint color available.

Frequently Asked Questions Selection (FAQs)

Q. How do I find the exact paint color that's on my wall?

  A: To find the exact paint color on your wall, it's best to take a small sample of the paint (using a paint scraper or a razor blade) and bring it to a paint store for color matching.

Alternatively, you can use a color matching app on your smartphone to identify the color.

Q. Can I use a photo to match the paint color?

  A: While you can use a color matching app to match the paint color in a photo, it's not always accurate due to differences in lighting and camera settings.

It's best to bring a physical sample of the paint to a paint store for the most accurate match.

Q. How do I know if the paint on my wall is latex or oil-based?

  A: Rub a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol on a small inconspicuous area of the painted surface.

If the paint comes off on the cotton ball, it's latex paint. If the paint doesn't come off, it's oil-based paint.

Q. Can I match the paint color even if the wall has a textured finish?

  A: Yes, you can still match the paint color on a textured wall.

However, you may need to consider the texture when applying the paint, as the texture can affect the final appearance of the color.

Q. How long should I wait for the paint to dry before determining if the color matches?

  A: It's best to wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before deciding if the color matches.

Some paints may take longer to dry and reach their final color, so be patient and give it time.

Q. What if the paint color doesn't match after I've applied it?

If the paint color doesn't match after it has dried, you can try adjusting the color by adding a small amount of tint or another color to the paint.

Alternatively, you can consult a paint professional for assistance in adjusting the color or try again with a new sample.

Q. Do I need to paint the entire wall if I only need to touch up a small area?

  A: No, you don't need to paint the entire wall if you're only touching up a small area.

However, if the color match isn't perfect, you may notice a slight difference in the touched-up area.

In such cases, it might be best to repaint the entire wall for a uniform appearance.

Conclusion

Matching paint already on your wall can be a bit tricky, but with the right tools, materials, and a little patience, you can achieve a seamless finish.

By following these steps and using the tips and tricks shared in this article, you'll be able to touch up or repaint any area on your wall with confidence. 

Suggested Products:

  1. ColorSnap Match by Sherwin-Williams: A color matching app that helps you identify the paint color on your wall with a quick photo. Ideal for making the process of matching paint colors more convenient and user-friendly.
  2. Purdy 14A900520 Premium Paint Scraper: A durable paint scraper that makes it easy to remove a small paint sample from your wall for color matching. Its ergonomic handle and sharp blade ensure precise and clean paint removal.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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