Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting

By Pete Youngs

Beginners and seasoned investors alike are prone to making mistakes. Most mistakes can be easily avoided by just listening to people talking at your local REIA group or in meet up sessions.

Some mistakes are minor and have little impact on the end result of selling or renting your property while others can become nightmares. This will not be the only portion I write on mistakes, but this one I am sure will affect everyone at some point in time.

One of the most guaranteed things you will have to do in your own house or investment property is painting. If you do it yourself or hire it out, you MUST know and follow this advice. You cannot paint latex paint over oil-based paint at anytime. It will peel and flake badly within about 3 to six months. Also, the paint will easily chip and scrape off as latex paint does not adhere to oil-based paint. You can however paint latex paint over an oil-based primer. I always use an all-in-one oil-based primer and sealer, such as KILZ or ZINZER. This will prime, seal in any stains and can be painted over with any latex paint.

To know what type of paint you are painting over, there are a few ways to test the surfaces and paint over it correctly. You also may have heard of Goof Off, a canned liquid whose claim is that it removes dried latex paint. This costs about $5 in hardware stores for about 4 ounces. Squirt this on a white rag and lightly scrub an area on walls, trim, windows, doors and gutters or whatever you are going to paint. If it melts the paint on to the rag, its latex paint and you can easily just paint over it with latex, no problem. If all it does is clean the surface and no paint melts onto the rag, it is an oil-based paint and must be painted with oil again.

There is another way to avoid having to paint the oil-based paint. If you use an oil-based primer/sealer (like KILZ) to prime the previously painted surfaces, you can paint latex on top of the oil-based primer and from here to eternity you can just paint latex on you house. That is how you change an oil painted house to being the easier latex painted house forever. You may also use XYLENE or DENATURED ALCOHOL instead of Goof Off. This will ensure that your painted surfaces resist peeling away.

Another common mistake is how do-it-yourselfers and painters paint cabinets and paneling. The finished product can show runs, drips and brush marks making the job look shoddy.  To paint any stained surface, first wipe it down with white vinegar in full strength with a sponge or cloth. This will remove grease from cabinets and oils from wood stains and paneling. Then I apply one coat of KILZ oil-based primer. Before I apply the primer/sealer, I have it tinted to the same color I am painting the cabinets or paneling (usually a white color). With the white vinegar and the sealer/primer applied, I am positive that my latex paint will now stick. But here is the kicker !!! No matter what brand of paint you use (I use BEHR marquee from Home Depot) It MUST say “self-leveling” latex paint. This self-leveling paint is designed to dry smooth as glass and never leave brush marks or runs on the surface. Most people even professional painters, do not use my vinegar, sealer/primer and self-leveling paint techniques and end up with cabinets that have runs, drips and brush marks as well as paneling that will let stains seep through within a short time after painting.  Which will certainly look bad and need repainting.

I have hundreds more techniques like this to share that stop costly mistakes and I plan on writing about them all in the future.


Pete Youngs also known as “Mr. Rehab,” is a national speaker on rehabbing homes for up to 50% off.  He does seminars and bus trips promoting his training system called SWAT (Simple Ways And Techniques).  He has been a contractor/investor for over 25 years.  Learn more about him at

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