IMPORTANT INFO: Sampling & Touching Up Paint

September 22, 2013

Over the years, I have discovered that most folks don’t know that much about paint. Heck, I didn’t know much at all until I started creating paint colors and selling paint. Now that paint has gotten so expensive and there have been so many changes to paint products over the years, I felt it important to share some of the things I have learned that I feel are critical, so that you will be informed enough to make wise decisions.

One of the reasons paint prices from all manufacturers have gone up is due to a global shortage of titanium dioxide, one of the key ingredients in paint. Also, the biggest environmental issue facing the paint industry today is that of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions and the effect that the solvents contained in paints have on the air we breathe, so most companies have been making changes to the actual paint products, lowering and omitting the VOCs. This not only can change the product itself, but also affects the color formulas, hence the reason I had to reformulate many of my colors several years ago.

I have a lot of repeat customers and have recently come across a few who are trying to touch up previous paint jobs, but like most folks, they tossed the cans of leftover paint in the garage. I can’t begin to impress upon you how important it is to take care of your leftover paint by not only pouring it into an airtight container, but to also keep it indoors where it is climate controlled. Extreme temperatures greatly affect the color and usability of the paint. In fact, one source says touching up paint should be done within 5 degrees of the temperature that it was when the paint job was initially done!

Trying to touch-up paint after many years is extremely tricky and due to the many changes in paint products, it is imperative that you save and take care of your leftover paint. Also, when ordering paint, be sure to order enough so that you will have some later for touch-up. I recently touched up my Buttercream ceiling using paint stored for 8 years in a jar indoors in a closet and it worked beautifully!

What prompted this blog post is an email from a customer who ordered several pints of our sample paint to touch up with. Although we say what type of paint we use for our sample jars, she did not realize that ordering a completely different product would not work at all for touching up! I have since added language letting people know that our sample jars are not meant for touch-up. I have also revamped a webpage with all of this information and links to resources, so that you can be better informed: “Painting & Touch-up Tips”.

Now on to sampling paint. I get photos from clients showing walls where they have sampled paint directly on the wall. Although I don’t advise this method, many like to do this and that’s fine by me. But what makes it really ineffective and difficult to get a true visualization of what the color will look like, is when you do not get enough coats on the wall to truly see the color. I see this all the time. Here’s just one example:


There is absolutely no way you can tell what a color will look like by doing the above. To make sampling colors easier and far more efficient, we have 8″x11″ (what I use for on-site color consultations) and 11×17 hand-painted samples. Our samples are rolled on, just as the paint on a wall should be applied, and we use a minimum of two coats. Some of our more saturated colors require another coat or two and we use as many as it takes to get full coverage. Also, it sure saves you time and you can move the samples around the room, and from room to room, to see how the colors look in different lighting. If you want to paint yourself and apply it directly to the wall, then I suggest getting atleast a pint or using color guru Lori Sawaya’s Swatch Right Kit, shown below. Lori has done extensive study to discover that circles are ergonomically more accommodating to our physical vision system than typical square-shaped color sample boards. Also, it is completely flexible and conforms to wall shapes, contours and textures and with it’s holder tab can easily be moved and re-applied wall to wall and room to room. The kit has everything you need to test up to three different paint colors:

  • 3 Swatch Right™ Color Sample Decals (12″ diameter)
  • 3 Work mats made from sturdy and protective poly paper
  • 3 Foam brush heads and 1 interchangeable handle so you have a fresh brush for each decal
  • 1 Square Mailing Tube for shipping. Can reuse for storage.


I sure hope this will help with your next project! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help further.

P.S. Did you read my latest newsletter? It contains some exciting new information, like lowered paint pricing! Be sure to check it out: Ellen’s Summer 2013 Living Well


  1. We just painted our powder room with your paint after we had a window replaced. After a thunderstorm we discovered that the new window leaks!!! Luckily we just painted and have leftovers, but it will be a big touch up, maybe a third coat over the whole thing. But, love the Honeysuckle and the way the paint glows.

    • Sorry about the leak but glad to hear all’s well that ends well!

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