After patching, however, it’s likely you’ll be left with a mark that does not match the original paint color you chose for your house. If you’re in the safe window, open the paint and test it to be sure it hasn’t spoiled: if, after stirring, it feels lumpy or grainy, it may be time to toss it and buy more.
Even if your paint has spoiled, you may still use the can as a reference to create a match at your local hardware store.
In that case, you can cut a small piece of drywall from a low-visibility area (behind the couch, say, or next to an outlet) using a utility blade and bring it into your hardware store to match. Another way to match the color is to remove an outlet cover or vent painted the same shade as the wall and bring that in. Many of the major paint companies offer apps that will help you match the right color for your wall.
It’s much easier than going back and forth to the store to pick up and return paint chip samples, but note that the color might appear different in-person, depending on your screen’s resolution, brightness, and other factors. There are many sensors on the market these days, and most use Bluetooth and your smartphone to match a photo you upload with paint colors from several brands.
Since the sensor “reads” the color with its own light source, they can be more reliable than using a photo taken with your phone, and many sell for as little as $50.
If none of the options above are available, look for a favorite t-shirt, sweater, or towel—or something else in the house that is the same shade as the wall—to bring into the store for them to match using the spectrophotometer.
Still, many experts say that re-painting an entire wall will make the patch less noticeable—and it might be an excellent excuse to give the whole room a facelift with an alluring, bright color. For completely smooth walls, you’ll want a three-eighths or half-inch nap roller cover.
You’ll want to apply two or three thin coats about a foot in each direction from the patch, and feather out from the center area, lifting away from the wall as you go. You won’t know how well the freshly painted area has blended in until it dries, so take a break, go on a walk, and come back later to make your final evaluation of how your hard work turned out.