How to Repair Chipped Paint

Chipped paint can make your home look worn and dated. Repairing chipped paint properly ensures the paint adheres well and blends with the surrounding area for a seamless finish. With some basic supplies and proper technique, you can repair chipped paint to renew the look of any surface in your home.

Assessing the Damage

The first step in repairing chipped paint is to assess the extent of the damage. Look closely at the chipped area and determine:

  • Size – Measure how large the chipped area is. A very small chip may only need a dab of touch-up paint. Larger areas will require more extensive prep and painting.
  • Surface type – Is the chipped paint on drywall, wood, metal, masonry, or another material? Different surfaces require different repair techniques.
  • Layers – How many layers of paint are chipped? Multiple underlying layers may show the paint has worn down completely in that spot.
  • Cause – Consider what caused the chip. Was it an impact, weather damage, old age? The cause can clarify the best repair approach.

Thoroughly assessing the damage helps you plan the repair process and ensures you have the right materials ready.

Gathering Your Materials

Repairing chipped paint requires just a few simple materials, most of which you may already have on hand:

  • Paint – Matching touch-up paint is ideal. If unavailable, sample the color and purchase the closest match possible from a hardware store.
  • Paintbrushes – Angled brushes work well for cutting in. A small detail brush can apply paint to the chip.
  • Sandpaper – Lightly sanding helps paint adhere. 220 grit is an all-purpose option.
  • Painters tape – Mask off surrounding areas to keep paint neatly within the chip.
  • Primer – Priming ensures paint bonds optimally. Match primer to your paint type.
  • Putty knife – A flexible putty knife helps scrape off loose paint edges.
  • Drop cloth – Protect nearby surfaces from drips and spills.

Purchase any missing supplies at your local hardware or home improvement store. For small touch ups, you likely already have what you’ll need.

Prepping the Surface

Proper prep creates the ideal surface for the paint to adhere to. Follow these steps:

Clean the Area

Use a clean, dry cloth to remove any dust or debris from the chipped area. Wipe gently to avoid damaging any paint edges further.

Sand Lightly

Use 220 grit sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface of the exposed subsurface and any remaining paint edges. This roughens the area for optimal paint bonding.

  • For previously painted surfaces, avoid sanding all the way down to bare wood or drywall.
  • For untreated wood or drywall, sand until just smooth and uniform.

Wipe Away Dust

Wipe again with a dry cloth or tack cloth after sanding to remove all dust. Any remaining dust can impact paint adherence.

Spot Prime

Apply primer to just the chipped area using an angled brush. Enough primer should soak in to turn the subsurface uniform in color.

  • For raw wood or drywall, use a primer formulated for the specific subsurface.
  • Previously painted areas usually only need a basic latex primer.

Let the primer fully dry before painting.

Applying Touch Up Paint

With the area prepped, you’re ready to neatly apply fresh paint. Follow these best practices:

Tape Off Surroundings

Apply painter’s tape around the damaged area to protect nearby surfaces. Press the edges firmly to keep them paint-free.

Use a Small Brush

Dip a small detail or angled brush into your touch-up paint. Tap the bristles against the rim to remove excess.

Paint Thin Layers

Apply the paint in slow, thin layers to build coverage gradually. Thick globs can look blotchy and uneven.

Blend Outward

As you apply layers, brush outward from the center to blend and feather the new paint into the old seamlessly.

Dry Between Coats

Let each thin coat fully dry before adding another. Drying times vary by paint type. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Remove Tape Promptly

Carefully remove the painter’s tape promptly after the final coat dries. Leaving tape on can lift existing paint when removed.

With care and patience, the touch-up paint will blend right in for an invisible repair.

Filling Holes and Gouges

For chips that remove paint all the way down to the subsurface, filling in gouges and holes helps create an even surface:

Remove Loose Material

Carefully pick or scrape away any loose paint or subsurface material around the hole using a putty knife or utility blade.

Fill with Putty

For small holes in drywall or plaster, use drywall putty applied with a putty knife. For deeper holes, layer it in thin coats.

For wood holes, use wood filler putty, adding layers to fill the depth. Avoid over-filling.

Sand Smooth

Once dry, sand the putty patch flush and smooth with the surrounding surface using 220 or finer grit sandpaper.

Prime and Paint

With an even surface restored, follow the priming and painting steps above to match the repair to the existing paint.

Filling in holes and gouges properly prevents further paint chipping in damaged areas.

Repairing Different Surfaces

The techniques for fixing chipped paint vary slightly depending on the surface material:


  • Clean, sand, prime, and apply touch-up paint as outlined above.
  • Use drywall primer and putty to fill any holes and smooth the subsurface.


  • Carefully scrape off any splintered edges around the damaged area.
  • Sand until smooth, wipe away dust, then prime with wood primer.
  • Use wood filler to fill any gouges before priming and painting.


  • Sand using extra fine grit sandpaper to smooth and roughen the surface without scratching metal.
  • Clean, apply metal etching primer, then a rust inhibiting primer before painting.


  • Clean away any loose material in the chipped area. Use a wire brush for textured surfaces.
  • Apply masonry primer to any exposed block or concrete before painting.

Outdoor Paint

  • Gently scrape paint chips using a plastic scraper to protect exterior siding.
  • Use exterior-rated primer and paint for optimal adherence and weather-resistance.

Matching your repair process to the surface ensures great results.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Repairing chipped paint takes patience and care. Avoid these common mistakes for a seamless finish:

  • Skipping surface cleaning and sanding – Proper prep is crucial for paint to adhere correctly.
  • Using cheap brushes – Invest in good quality brushes suited to the task.
  • Rushing paint layers – Thin, dry layers create better results than thick, wet coats.
  • Overfilling holes – Putty should sit just flush with the surface when dry.
  • Forgetting the primer – Primer helps paint stick to the subsurface for a lasting repair.
  • Painting over tape – Remove tape promptly after painting before the paint fully dries.
  • Blending too quickly – Slowly blend touch ups outward from the center for natural looking repairs.

With care and the right technique, you can make chipped paint repairs disappear. Follow these best practices to restore any painted surface yourself and maintain your home’s look.

FAQs About Repairing Chipped Paint

What is the easiest way to fix chipped paint?

The easiest way to fix small areas of chipped paint is by cleaning, lightly sanding, and using matching touch-up paint applied in thin layers with a small brush. Allow each layer to dry fully before adding the next.

Should I prime before using touch up paint?

Priming before applying touch up paint helps the paint adhere properly, especially if bare drywall, wood, or other subsurface is exposed. Use primer suited to the surface material for best results.

How do I match old paint for touch ups?

If you don’t have the original paint or a paint sample, bring a chip to the hardware store. They can scan the color and match it with new paint. Custom blending gets an extremely close match.

What kind of putty should I use to fill holes?

For drywall, use drywall putty. For wood, use wood filler putty. Apply it in thin layers with a putty knife, allowing each layer to dry before adding more to fill the hole flush.

What causes paint to chip?

Paint chips most often because of impact damage, extreme temperature changes causing expansion and contraction, sun exposure breaking paint down over time, or inadequate surface prep before painting.

Should I use oil or latex paint for touch ups?

Use the same type of paint already on the surface – either latex or oil-based. Latex works for most touch ups. Oil paint is shinier and more durable for high-traffic areas.

Professional Paint Chip Repair

While DIY paint touch ups are easy for small damages, it may be worth calling in a professional painter for more extensive chipped paint for these key reasons:

Specialized skills and tools – Pros have the experience, expertise, and specialized tools to repair damage properly. Their work will be smoother and more seamless in appearance.

Access to tall or high spaces – Professional equipment makes repairing chips safely on tall walls, ceilings, and high spaces possible. DIY repairs are best for low, easy to reach spots.

Matching old paint – If matching your existing custom paint color proves challenging, pros can analyze and recreate the exact color for flawless uniformity.

Efficient large-scale repairs – Contractors can repair chips quickly and efficiently across large surfaces like siding or commercial buildings.

Correcting underlying issues – If chipping is a chronic issue, professionals can determine if insulation problems, structural movement, moisture damage or other problems are the root cause and address them.

While simple chip repairs are easy DIY projects, there are many benefits to hiring a pro painter for large repairs or persistent paint damage issues. Their expertise delivers lasting, quality results.

Maintaining Paint to Prevent Future Chips

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of repairs when it comes to fighting chipped paint. Keep your painted surfaces in good shape with proper care:

  • Clean surfaces regularly by dusting gently and washing with mild soap and water.
  • Address any moisture issues quickly to prevent paint blistering or peeling.
  • Make small touch ups as soon as chips appear to prevent further damage.
  • Recaulk around windows, doors, trim and fixtures annually to prevent water intrusion and peeling.
  • Keep wood exteriors stained or sealed to protect from sun and weathering damage.
  • Prune back any trees or bushes rubbing on house siding.
  • Add protective corner guards to high-traffic areas prone to bumps and scrapes.
  • Repaint exterior surfaces every 5-7 years or as soon as you notice fading or wear.

With vigilant maintenance and care, your home’s paint will look fresh and pristine for years to come. Address chips right away and make repairs promptly to keep all your painted finishes looking their best.


Chipped and peeling paint is an eyesore that makes any home look dingy and worn. Luckily, fixing paint chips is a simple, straightforward process anyone can do. By thoroughly cleaning, sanding, and priming the damaged area before applying fresh touch-up paint in thin layers, you can make repairs disappear. Pay attention to prep, patience, and paint matching for flawless, professional-looking results. Stop tolerating ugly paint chips and restore your home’s surfaces with these easy repair techniques. Your home will look fresh, updated, and well-cared for once again.