On the face of it, a painting project is straightforward and yet, many homeowners are dissatisfied with the results when they make it a DIY (Do It Yourself) project. How can that be? It’s just a matter of brushing paint onto a wall. Well, there are a few elements to take care of if you want a superb result. Let’s go through the big factors, and then you’ll be set for success whether you do the work yourself or you hire a painting contractor to help you.
I remember, in the first house I owned, being excited to thumb through the paint catalog. There were pages and pages of colors, and I liked simply the look of them all together. A few weeks later, though, after I had completed my basement room painting project, I knew that the color I had chosen was simply wrong. Not so wrong that I wanted to repaint the basement again, but wrong enough for me to be unhappy with the results, and every time I walked through our basement, the rooms reminded me of that. For years after that, I promised I would take more time – and get some good advice – before I embarked on another painting project.
Some people have a natural eye for color. They can see a small patch of color in a catalog, and envision that covering a whole wall in their home. They have an “eye for color”, as it is sometimes called.
Choosing the right colors usually means testing the colors you are considering. For about five dollars, you can purchase small, test cans of almost any paint that’s available in the large cans. Take the time and make that small investment to paint a few square feet of any wall you plan to paint. Consider using a few shades of your desired color on different sections. You might be surprised at how they look once you’ve had an opportunity to see all of them in situ, as it were, and after you’ve had a chance to sleep on it.
Not all paints are equal. In fact, builders and developers often use a lower grade of paint than you might select for your own home. In fact, home builders will naturally go for the lowest cost materials they can get away with. Over the entire cost of building a home, those cost savings add up, but for you, a homeowner planning to live in his or her home for years or even decades, you will want something that lasts. That means paying for quality products in the first place.
Different paint manufacturers offer different levels of quality. And within those manufacturers’ offerings, there are levels of quality to consider. Ask your painting contractor about the specific differences between different paint types, and for the purposes you are intending.
Gloss level is another consideration that has an effect on the color intensity and quality. Have you ever gone into a room where the walls seem too shiny? This can be from incorrect gloss level selection in the first place, but in some cases, it is what’s required. A hardy gloss that’s waterproof can be the perfect selection in a bathroom where the walls might never get a chance to actually dry out properly. But in a well-lit living room, such a gloss paint might look overwhelming.
You’ve selected the right paint, scheduled the project, and now you need to know how to best prepare your home. Preparation is about making it easier for the painters (and that might be just you, if you’re doing all of the work yourself), as well as protecting your home and its contents. You also want it to be safe for children and pets.
If you are painting walls and ceilings, you want to remove all of the contents from the rooms you are considering, or at the very least, cover them up with fully protective covers that are impervious to drops of paint. If you are doing the work yourself, you can either buy or rent these drop-cloth like covers, but whatever you use, it’s important that they fully insulate your furniture and other items from paint drops or spills. There’s nothing worse than saving a few bucks on drop cloths only to destroy a ten-thousand dollar grand piano you failed to cover fully.
Where trim is concerned, you might need to mask out all of the spots that will not be painted. Window panes, door frames, door handles and many other elements inside the room being painted should be protected with masking tape. Masking tape has the unique ability to adhere to and protect what should not get paint, while being easy to remove after the job is done. Consider where the paint will be used, and choose masking tape thickness accordingly.
Where objects and fittings can be removed, it will make it easier for the painters. For some, this is a bit of overkill, but if you can remove door handles, outlet covers and light switch covers, now is the time. In fact, because such fittings are relatively cheap – at least compared to the cost of painting a room, it might be worth also replacing them with new ones. The first time I painted a room in my house, many years ago, I regretted not replacing all the outlets and outlet covers. The second time I painted a room, I removed all of the covers before any painting was done. Once the project was finished, I ripped out all the old outlets and switches, and replaced them with new ones with colors than matched the new paint combinations. Aside from giving the room that “new look”, no masking was necessary, it made it easier to paint the walls, and when the new covers went over that new, dry paint, it made the room like like new construction.
Each minute you spend in prepping a room for paint, you will get back two minutes in both painting and cleanup. The more you prepare, the easier the cleanup, too. As Einstein once said, if he was given a question and just one hour to answer it, he would spend the first 55 minutes making sure he was answering the right question. Preparation is everything!
See you next week.
Photo byKari Shea