Trade Advice: Touching Up Paint Coatings

Spotting imperfections after painting can be frustrating, but it doesn’t always mean a tedious full repaint. In this guide, we’re sharing our pro decorator’s thoughts and considerations for touching up paint coatings, which could give you a noticeably more even finish with less time and hassle than extra coats.

There are some situations that will make achieving an effective touch-up incredibly difficult, so be sure to take these conditions into account before you make up your mind on whether or not to recoat.


If the temperature is 10°C cooler or warmer than during your initial application, the brightness of the touched-up area could be affected, so try to paint in similar environmental conditions as much as possible throughout your project.

Coating colour

Darker colours are generally more difficult to touch up than lighter colours, as any variations in brightness are much more obvious on darker shades.

Lighting conditions

Even touch-up work completed with flat coatings will be visible under critical lighting conditions. Critical lighting conditions occur when sunlight or another source of light strikes a wall surface at a 15º angle or less.

Porosity of the substrate

Any freshly damaged and filled areas will absorb the touch-up coat at a different rate than the surrounding previously painted areas. This can result in variances in colour and sheen, like ‘flashing’.

Sheen level

Variances in how the painted surface reflects light are significantly more noticeable with higher-sheen paints, such as Full Gloss.

Paint batch

In general, it’s a good idea to keep a bit of paint left over for touching up. Farrow & Ball rigorously tests its paint for consistency of colour and finish, but slightly different qualities can still appear between different batches, so it’s best to be on the safe side.


The same type of application tool should be used when painting and touching up, and the exact same tool used on your original coats is preferable. Different applicators will create differences in the paint film’s profile, and ultimately make any touch-up attempts highly visible.

Meeting these conditions won’t always guarantee a perfect finish, and in some cases a full repaint including surface preparation will still be required to achieve the desired outcome. However, they’re certainly a great place to start, and could help avoid a lot of extra inconvenience.