Accidents happen in busy households, and invariably walls get dirty, dinged and dented. Here’s how to make these accidents disappear.
Evaluate the wall damage
What was it that hit the wall? Did it discolor the paint but not penetrate the surface? Or did it scratch, dent or gouge both the paint and the wall beneath it? The answers to these questions determine how you fix the problem.
When the blemish is just a discoloration
The goal with a smudge or stain is effective cleaning that doesn’t make the problem more obvious. Stain removal may be easier on certain paint finishes. Most interior walls are painted with latex paint, which comes in four finishes: gloss; semi-gloss; satin, also called eggshell, and flat, also called matte. The names refer to the extent the paint has a reflective sheen.
Gloss and semigloss are more stain-resistant than satin and flat and thus easier to clean up. If the stain won’t budge, however, or you have to repair wall damage and apply touch-up paint, the newly painted area is likely to stand out, especially under direct, strong light. Satin and flat are less smudge- and stain-resistant and harder to clean. However, if you must paint over a blemish, a touch-up of satin or flat paint will be less conspicuous than the glossier paints, thus better concealing the fix.
No matter the finish, over scrubbing can burnish wall paint, leaving it shinier than the surrounding area. It’s best to rub gently, not vigorously.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads are nifty, non-abrasive smudge cleaners. Wet the sponge, wring out most of the water and gently wipe the discoloration. If the mark doesn’t come off, try adding a small amount of mild dish soap. If you need a stronger cleaner, test it on an out-of-sight area of the wall, such as behind a hanging picture, to make sure it won’t leave a discoloration of its own. Once you’ve removed the mark, wipe with plain water to remove soapy residue.
If none of these methods work, use touch-up paint to cover the mark. Wait until the area has thoroughly dried from your attempt to clean it. Use paint from the original can if possible. Stir and mix the paint well before applying. If you must buy a new can of paint, get the exact brand, shade and finish to match. Be aware that new paint may not be identical to the original. When you apply the paint, “feather” the edges to blend them well with the surrounding wall paint. Painting beyond the area of the spot will make the patch more obvious.
If the blemish is invasive
If the wall was penetrated by a gouge, scratch or chip, a repair is required.
- You’ll need a container of wall spackle, a two-inch-wide flexible putty knife, a cloth, sandpaper, matching touch-up paint and a paintbrush. This assumes that the damage is not large enough to require replacing the section of drywall.
- Using the putty knife, scoop out slightly more spackle than you will need to fill the gouge. Press it into the dent, then drag the putty knife outward from the filled hole in every direction, in effect wiping the spackle into the blemish.
- Be sure to get a complete fill. Add more spackle if needed. Sculpt the spackle evenly with the surrounding wall and feather the edges until smooth.
- After the spackle is completely dry, lightly sand it. Wipe the dust away with the cloth, then apply the touch-up paint. Again, feather the edges to smoothly blend with the surrounding wall.
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