As a homeowner, it's inevitable that at some point you will need to do some touch-up paint. Whether it's covering a hole from an unmounted picture, or the scuffs and scrapes that walls and baseboards take along the way. And when you sell your home, doing a little touch-up paint (and wall cleaning) will go a long way to show that you're a responsible homeowner.

And nowadays, the average home has at least 3 different paint colors adorning the walls. When you add in trim and ceiling colors, and different sheens used in different rooms (like bathrooms for instance) - it can all be a challenge to keep up with. . Following are some simple tips to keep track of your paint colors, match existing paint colors, or clean scuffs off walls and trim.

Tips for Keeping Track of Paint Colors & Easy Touch-up Painting in Your Home

How to Properly Store Paint

First and foremost, if you take care of the paint you have - it can last quite a while (2-10 years depending on conditions). Paint is expensive, so keeping the paint you have fresh can save money over the years as well.

1. Put the paint in a smaller container. Paint lasts longer when it has less contact with air. So when you have just a little bit of paint left (for example, just enough for touch-ups), it often makes more sense to pour it into a smaller container for storing than keeping it in the original can it came in.

2. Wipe away any excess paint. Paint on the outside of the can hide and easily come into contact with something you don't want paint on.

3. Use plastic wrap to seal the lid better. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the opening and then put the lid over the plastic wrap, sealing it with taps from a rubber mallet until completely sealed.

Tips for Keeping Track of Paint Colors & Easy Touch-up Painting in Your Home storing cans paint colors

4. Store the paint can upside down. This prevents air from entering the container (but make certain it is completely sealed first using step 3).

5. Store your paint at a proper temperature. Paint doesn't like really cold temperatures. If you live in a cold climate, it’s best not to store latex paint in a garage or storage space that’s not climate-controlled since repeated freeze/thaw cycles can make your paint lumpy over time.

Label Your Paint Cans & Make Cheatsheets

Most homeowners won't do simple touch-ups because they can't find the paint they need, so make that as easy as possible.

1. Label your paint cans with a sharpie. It's not always easy to see the color and sheen on cans as they get covered with, you guessed it, paint. Use a sharpie to write the color, sheen, and the room the paint was used in to easily keep track of it for years ahead.

2. Keep a master paint sheet on hand. If your home is newer, you probably have a one-pager that shows you all of your paints used as well as color-coded. If not, it's easy to create on your own and should take just a few minutes (and will save you lots of time down the road).

3. Put the paint colors and code on the inside of your electric cover plates. Genius you say! When someone else (or yourself) paints the same room in the future, what's the first step? You guessed it, removing the electrical switch cover plates. Label the inside with the paint color and sheen for easy reference for your future self.

lable your electrical cover plates with the paint colors code used in the room

How to Color Match Paint Colors

You may not be able to find the paint or the paint you have may be unusable. Most hardware stores can match paint using a laser sensor, and the results can be pretty close to the existing paint. Follow these steps from This Old House to match your existing paint.

1. Cut out a small sample of the wall. Find a low-visibility area, like behind a couch or near an outlet. Using a box-cutter blade, cut a small area gently so you don't go into the drywall with the blade. With drywall, it’s easy to cut the paper on the face of the drywall and that can be patched later.

2. Take your sample to the hardware store. Take the paint sample to the home center or a paint store. Most locations have a color-matching scanner that can closely reproduce the color of the chip.

3. Patch & paint the small area. Patch (if needed) and then paint over the chunk cut out for the color scanning.

4. Paint the wall or areas requiring touchups as originally planned. The darker the color, the more likely it will be that you will have to paint the whole wall or even the whole room, since dark colors are nearly impossible to match.

painting your home tips and tricks

Clean Before You Touch-Up

You may not need to touch up in the first place. Try cleaning the affected area before going crazy with the paint.

1. Wash the wall with soap.  Take a microfiber cloth and a bucket with warm water and a little laundry detergent and wash the area. Laundry detergent is great for grease and stains, and can quickly take the dirt off the wall.

2. Use a magic eraser. It's the one product with a perfect name, they are magic! Get the magic eraser slightly damp, and gently rub the area. Be careful though, you can take the paint right off the wall (especially flat sheens). Magic erasers work especially well on baseboards and trim with a glossy finish.

If it's still dirty or scuffed, it's time to get the paint out.

How to Spot Touch-Up Small Areas

If you need to touch up a small area, either due to a hole or a scuff - follow these simple steps to make sure it matches perfectly.

1. Clean the area. Grab a microfiber towel (or sponge) with some warm water and a little soap (laundry detergent works well) and then wipe again with a rinsed cloth to make sure there is no soap left behind.

2. Patch the hole with spackling paste. For a small hole, don't go overboard. Grab a small container of spackling paste at your local hardware store (I recommend 3M high strength small hole repair spackle). Don't cover the whole area, as the spackle dries quickly and can alter the existing texture. Let it dry for 20 seconds and then wipe it with the same cloth, leaving just the nail hole perfectly covered.

how to properly touch up paint

3. Paint over the patched hole. You can even just dab the paint with your finger and just dab the paint over the hole. Don't go crazy with the paint, if it's not a perfect match the more you apply the more noticeable the repair will be. Feather the paint with a mostly dry paintbrush to blend it in.

Hopefully, you found these steps helpful. Now go store your paint properly so it's not a dry clumpy mess when you actually need it.

Posted by Ryan Penn on


Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.