Painting can be a low-cost, high-return fix for a home makeover project - if done well. Pick your color, test it on a wall, observe it at different times of day to catch its changing mood, then - with the right tools - paint that room.
I frequently tell people that painting a room is the cheapest fix available. Some people have reservations about doing it themselves, so here are a few tips to get you started.
The first step is to choose your color. Looking at paint chips can be daunting! What you need is something to inspire you. One plan is to pick a color palette that you’ll use throughout your home.
Another technique might be to use your rug or upholstery fabric as a starting point. Pick a color from nature, often a leaf or a river rock can suggest a color. Or find your inspiration from a favorite outfit in your wardrobe.
My favorite trick is to ask for a paint color (name or number) if I see one that I like in a store or model home. Many times merchants are happy to give you the information. Room and Board has had so many requests that they hand out a floor plan of their stores with a notation of the paint chip used in each room. Once you’ve seen the color on a wall you’ll know if it’s the right color for you. Pottery Barn offers a Colors Fan Deck which features a line of Benjamin Moore paints.
If you have selected a paint chip that you aren’t completely sure of, buy a small two ounce paint sample. Paint it on the wall and then observe the color at different times of day and in different lights. The differences can be astounding. So, invest a few bucks if you are unsure because it will save you a lot of work in the end.
Benjamin Moore has a fabulous website, www.benjaminmoore.com and they’ve developed a number of techniques to help their clients find the perfect color.
Now on to the how-to’s.
1)Pick a quality paint. I’ve always had luck with Benjamin Moore. It’s the brand that many of the pro’s use. Builders and designers use it in Designer Showcases and model homes all the time. We have an older home and have been happy with their Historic color line.
2) Invest in good tools.
• Invest in a good paint brush. I used to buy cheap disposable brushes. Not anymore, the results are so much better with a good brush. A good brush won’t shed, will apply the paint more smoothly and cleans up easier.
• Paint pads are a very useful tool for painting close to molding.
• If you need to paint behind a radiator there are special rollers that make that tricky job a snap.
3) Calculate how much paint you’ll need. Take a few measurements first. Multiply height times width to get square footage. Deduct large spans of windows or doors. A gallon usually covers about 400 square feet. Two coats are recommended.
4) Decide on the gloss. When you step up to the counter they will ask flat, eggshell, semi-gloss or gloss? Here are a few things to consider before deciding.
• Flat is a good choice if the walls have a lot of imperfections, but don’t use this in a kitchen or bath because it’s difficult to clean. Most professionals use this on walls and ceilings.
• Eggshell gives a low-sheen finish and is easier to clean. This is a popular finish.
• Semi-gloss is a popular choice for trim and moldings. Often recommended for kitchens and baths because it’s resistant to stains, chipping and scuffing. This finish has a bit of a sheen which may change the color slightly. If you try to touch it up you may notice a difference in the sheen.
• Gloss is used for trim. If you use it on the walls it will highlight imperfections. This is the most durable finish and the easiest to clean.
5) Prep. This is the hardest part. Move the furniture or at the minimum, cover it. Take off the switch-plates and tape around windows, doors and molding. Use blue painter’s tape. It costs a little more than masking tape but it’s easier to remove and seals around the molding a little better. Fill in holes with spackle or smooth out the wall with a drywall compound.
6) Lay out your tools. Many people use drop cloths. I think they’re messy. It’s too easy for the cloth to flip over and then fresh paint touches the floor. I use a collapsed cardboard box. It slides easily on the floor with the paint supplies resting on top.
7) If you plan to paint the ceiling, paint it first. If not, cut in with a painter’s pad or brush along the ceiling and molding. Cutting in is a term that means you paint a three or four inch strip parallel to the trim. This insures that when you roll the paint on with the roller you won’t touch the trim. Dip the brush about 1/3 of the way into the paint. If you’re painting with someone else, one can cut in and the other can roll. Roll paint on using a standard roller and paint tray. Apply the paint in a V pattern. Roll until the paint is even and smoothed out. Finish painting the wall before moving to the next. Let it dry. Repeat.
8) Clean up. By this time you’ll probably be tired but it still pays to clean up immediately. Spilled or splattered paint cleans up very easily on the day it’s applied.
We live in an older home. A previous owner splattered paint across the back of several wooden doors, and we have not been able to remove it. It’s heartbreaking.
Remove the tape and wash the floor. The room is now completely clean and fresh!
Put some leftover paint in a baby food jar. Store this with a small child’s paintbrush. This kit will make touching up dings quick and easy!
If you take a break in the middle of the job put your brushes and rollers into a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer. That step keeps the paint from drying out and saves you from cleaning your supplies in the middle of the job.
Karen Henke is the owner of Come2Order in Minneapolis, MN. Visit www.come2order2day.com and request a free Time-Savers Kit which is loaded with time-saving tips and services. And sign up for a subscription to the free monthly newsletter.