Any professional interior painting contractor will know how to prepare your kitchen for their own actual painting work, but what does the home owner need to be aware of – ad to do – before the painters ever show up? Aside from not wanting to waste your contractor’s staff’s time when they show up on the morning, you want to empower them to do an excellent job, so here’s my thoughts on what I’ve found to be the best tips on the subject of preparation, with a focus on the kitchen, but will mostly apply to any part of a house or where people work and play:
If there’s a fruit bowl sitting on the kitchen table, put it inside the fridge on in another room. You could put it in a cupboard, but it’s best that not even the slighted vapors share the same air as anything you are planning to eat at some point. The refrigerator is a sealed container, and you will likely want to mask it completely in addition to that, so it makes it the perfect place to store food for the duration of a kitchen painting project.
Even though paint has gotten a lot safer than it used to be a generation ago – lead additives are now illegal for us in homes and other places – with new painting products and new chemical combinations coming onto the market, you can never know exactly what’s in paint, so the best rule is the safest rule: keep your food far away from wet paint.
Your painting contractor will likely do an excellent job of masking the appliances in your kitchen to protect them from paint, but they can’t be expected to look after every spoon and fork you leave lying around.
In many cases – and especially if your painting contractor has a big enough team to move through the project quickly – they’ll complete the kitchen wall painting in one day. If you plan it right, it can happen while you are away at work. They may need a second day to do the trim, but that’s less of an intrusive stage of the project than the wall and ceiling painting. Before any masking begins, I recommend you put all of your flatware into your dishwasher, if you have one. Pack them in and close the patch on your dishwasher. The appliance will likely be masked for the duration of the project, and that masking will be removed before the painters depart. When you return, run the dishwasher through a cleaning cycle to give everything a good going over before placing it all back in their respective daily-use locations. If you can’t seal your flatware away in such a way for the duration of the painting project, consider moving it in its entirety to another room for the duration of the project. Remember: whatever gets onto a fork ends up in your stomach.
Most people get the exterior of their home painted during the warmest half of the year – at least in the Seattle and general Puget Sound area, because it’s too damp to paint the rest of the year – and this allows them to plan a house painting to coincide with the family vacation. By the way, there’s nothing nicer than arriving home to a freshly painted house – interior and exterior – after several weeks away from home!
If the kitchen painting job is during a school day, and the job is not finished by the time your kids are ready to come home, consider eating out that evening. Even if the walls, ceiling and trim is all painted, it takes time for paint to completely dry. The longer you can wait before using the kitchen, the better.
It might seem like an obviously good move, but most homeowners leave this to the last minute, and it takes time. Even when you see a great set of colors, you need to do some spot testing. More often than not, colors on the wall of your kitchen will look different from how they looked in the paint store, or even in another room of your house. That’s because lighting and context play a huge role in how paint looks when it’s finally up on the wall where it should be. Spot lighting in a sitting room will make a paint color look one way; softer, flood lighting in a kitchen will make it look a different way. Take a few samples home to test them in your kitchen. It’s going to be all painted over completely anyway, so it won’t matter if you’ve covered a few square feet with test color paint. It will also get the whole family involved, and make it a more exciting, group project!
Most people, if they’ve owned their own home for any length of time, have tried to paint a room or two. Beyond color selection, there are plenty of ways to mess it up. Not every paint type goes everywhere. There are exterior paints and interior paints. There are many levels of matte to gloss, coarse to fine, and dull to radiant. Some paints are made to withstand strong ultraviolet, while others are made to withstand the harsh heat and moisture of a kitchen back-splash. The trick is to know which one, and this is where experience comes in.
Even if you’re planning on doing the painting work yourself, consider hiring a designer who has lots of experience in painting. It will be worth it. There’s nothing worse than having to stare at your own painting work every evening for years, that reminds you of the bad paint selection decisions you made long ago. In extreme cases, you might have to start the painting job all over again.
If you need to do a little touching up later – perhaps of the trim in the kitchen – it will be very handy to have the exact paint you used on hand. Rather than mess around with opened leftovers, I suggest you buy the smallest available container of each color you used – never opened – and label it according to where you used it along with its date of use. Once a can of paint is opened, and especially if it is now half full of air, you cannot be sure it will retain its advertised properties over the years that go by before you decide to use it. In addition, the exact paint you selected might not be available seven or ten years later. Those small paint samples are of value, too, to any would-be buyer of your home, should you put it up for sale later.
More next week!