I assume from the question that you might be planning on getting a contractor to do the actual work, in which case, it is probably better to work first on the actual painting plan with them before making any purchases. An experienced painting contractor will be able to more accurately estimate the amount of paint you will need, and this alone could help you to avoid buying too much or too little paint. Secondly, not every painter will use the same amount of paint. Some paints go on ‘thicker’ than others, and the number of coats depends in part on the type of paint you plan to use (as well as, of course, the surface you are painting). Let’s look at the paint selection process. You’ll see that it’s not just about the actual color, although that is perhaps the most critical step of the entire project.
Many homeowners wait until the last minute to choose colors. They get a phone call from their contractor a week before the project is to begin, then they go out in a panic and rush through the color selection step. When this happens, it’s all left to Lady Luck as to whether or not you’re going to be happy with the end result.
Whether or not you’re planning on hiring a painting contractor, you always want to leave plenty of time for the paint selection process. Many contractors will ask you to fit into a fairly tight schedule, especially if you are getting an exterior painted during the summer. For that reason, you can expect to have plenty of time ahead of it all to choose colors. You should take that time to go to a paint supplier – or work directly with your painting contractor if they offer that service – and have your paint colors and paint types nailed down long before the project begins.
Home supply stores and paint sellers in general all have small, sample sized containers of paint that are simply tiny quantities of the identical product in larger containers. For a few dollars, you can get hold of several different colors to test at home. Even a square foot of a sample color will give you a far better idea of how the color might work out when the wall is covered in it. Context can have a dramatic effect on how a color turns out, so you would be taking a risk by not doing a basic test like this before purchasing the paint in large quantities. What’s more, after you return to that one-foot-square test area in your living room the next morning, your first impression of it is likely to be a greater indicator of how it will appear when the project is completed. Give yourself the time to ‘sleep on it’ and be prepared to go through this test process until you are very excited with the direction it is taking.
Not all paints are of the same quality. There are manufacturers of lower quality paint that can be purchased by builders who are not as interested in the long term quality or durability. They’ll be long gone by the time the homeowner realizes the paint fade prematurely, so if they can save a few bucks by going cheap, there certainly are paints there to help them economize. But if you are planning to keep your house or condo for the long term – or you simply want to do quality work – there are top grade paint products you will want to use. I won’t list any one paint manufacturer here so as not to embarrass the innocent, but your painting contractor will be able to help you on all of this. Pay a few extra dollars for the best quality paint, and benefit from the decision for years.
There are infinite levels of gloss level, in theory, but there are a half dozen or so levels paint manufacturers use to categorize a paint’s reflective properties. For some surfaces, you might want the flattest of the flat gloss level, while for others, you might want a much higher level of gloss. This is another characteristic of paint that people sometimes miss. If, for example, you were to paint one wall a high gloss lemon yellow, and the adjacent wall a flat mat of the same color, they would look a lot different. It’s impossible to predict simply by thumbing your way through a paint manufacturer’s color catalog, so this is where the test area process comes into play again.
Your painting contractor will also be able to advise you on this. If you personally do not have a good eye for color and gloss, and you don’t have a painting contractor to help you through it, a few hundred dollars paid to an interior designer may be an excellent investment.
Most homeowners know what they like when they see it, but it does take a bit of an artist’s eye to choose the right color, gloss level and manufacturer if you’re hoping for an excellent result.
You could say that painting a room is not rocket science, but experience has taught me a lot about what is done before and after the project, and I have learned that the more time I put into the preparation – that is, everything that’s done before the first can of paint is opened – the better the result. It’s exciting, of course, to envision the great improvements that are to be made to the home that you love, and it’s understandable that a person would want to get the project moving as soon as possible, but waiting until everything is in place is worth it. By the time that first big can of paint is opened, you want to know that all of the furniture and fittings in the room are removed or otherwise protected. You will want to know that the colors you chose were excellent, and that nothing will get in the way now of doing a supreme job.
Take the time up front to prep your home. You’ll thank yourself – and me – when you do.
See you next week!