The short answer is, there is no one paint brand that works for every situation, and every home, or every surface. Brand is less important than type, as each type of paint is designed for specific purposes. Let’s look at all the factors, and take that information to your paint specialist.
A house that is south-facing, not shaded by trees or buildings, and is “sun-drenched” – although it’s hard to imagine that term in the Pacific Northwest area – will need a type of paint that is able to take some ultra-violet sun rays for most of the year. UV light will bleach a paint that is not designed to cope with UV light. This might not be a big problem for you but remember, when you return to patch up some damaged spots later, the paint you saved for it might be a darker color, because it remained in the paint can for all that time. Secondly, paint will bleach unevenly. That means that some of the wall and trim surfaces will be lighter than others, only evident some years later. It’s not something that can be spotted easily simply at a glance, but it does give a home a certain ‘weathered’ look, and the paint itself may – in aggregate – look old and fatigued a few years after the painting project. That’s why, if your house takes a beating from the sun, you need a paint that will stand up to UV light and keep its color for many years.
On the other hand, if your house is mostly in the shade – and this is often a big challenge for homes in the Seattle / Bellevue / Kirkland regions of Washington State – black mold, both inside and outside the house, is something you can’t ignore. Inside the home, rooms that not well ventilated are particularly vulnerable. Black mold likes damp and cold, and it’s something that seems to happen almost overnight. One day you switch on the bedroom lights and you see a kind of black shading appearing unevenly on the walls. Often, it lines up on the wall with the studs behind the sheet rock, particularly where the wall is an exterior wall, and the outside temperature is finding its way unevenly to the interior side.
Before starting any painting, it is wise to remove the black mold by washing. Personally, I have used Palmolive dish washing soap to do the job by hand – doing the work as you would washing a car, you could say – but there are some effective black mold removers available on the market now, to help you do an effective job quickly. Your painting contractor will be able to help you choose the right one.
Clearly, the outside of a home will need paint that can withstand the onslaught of weather. Inside a home, interior damp is always a consideration in the Seattle area, and all year round too, in many cases. Anyone who has left a room closed and sealed for a while knows that familiar moldy smell that quickly take over a place. You might not even smell it is your own home, but visitors certainly will.
The exterior: Most types of paints need a relatively dry environment in order to do the painting. That means, in almost all cases, the project should be planned for within the warmest six or eight months of the year. (If we were talking about Santa Fe, New Mexico, it would be a different story, of course, where the air is so dry, you have different options). In Seattle (and the east side areas of Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah, etc.) the weather and seasons dictate when you can and cannot paint a house on the outside.
Exterior paint is different from interior paint
The interior: Inside your home, you want paint that is mold resistant. The winter of 2015-2016 brought record-breaking rain in the Seattle area, and with that, increased the likelihood of mold on wall and other interior surfaces. Many people close up their windows tight with the rain and cold arrives, but this increases the chances of mold. By the way, even if it is raining a lot, fresh air moving through your home is the best long-term defense against mold of almost any variety.
Talk to your paint specialist about where you intend to paint. Living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms all need a potentially different type of paint. Kitchens – especially if you have children – need food- and stain-resistant paint, whereas a bathroom will benefit from damp- and water-tolerant types of paint.
What material was used to make the surface?
Another common consideration is what surface material are you planning to paint? Stucco will benefit from one type of paint, while plain sheet-rock interior would require a different type.
Years ago, a professional painter we hired to paint our house gave us the suggestion of using a type of ‘plastic’ paint. At least, the paint left a great ‘plastic’ effect within the paint, which bonded with and strengthened the exterior stucco surface of our house.
One area where brands are important, of course, is in quality. Just like cars, TV sets, computers and furniture, quality varies enormously by brand. Better known brands like Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore have a national reputation to maintain, as long term painting service providers eventually learn which paint brands are going to serve them and their customers best. Probably, too (but I am not sure of this) different brand paints may behave differently as they are applied. So, one brand might take two days per room to finish, while another might take longer. Talk to your paint supplier about differences between brands when it comes to ease of use. Not all brands are equal.
If you are ‘flipping’ a house, you might wish to go for a cheaper brand than if you are planning to spend the rest of your life in it. Personally, I like to do a good job of it whether I am selling or staying, so I will always opt for the highest quality I can reasonable afford. You can also refer to that investment when you are selling the house, if that helps close the deal!
Hard as it is to believe, with the hundreds or even thousands of colors than any big brand paint manufacturer puts onto the market, that you might not find one you like with any one brand, specific colors often are only available with one brand. Designers, in particular, develop a fondness for a particular brand, when their personal preferences are well met. Designers also become familiar with the predictability of particular brands, and so, tend to favor those brands in future design projects.
Choosing a brand is most like far less important than choosing a type of paint. Consider where your house is positioned (shaded or sun-drenched) for exterior painting projects, Room Type for interior projects (bathroom versus living room versus kitchen) and for any surface, what the surface is made of.
No matter which brand you choose, always make sure the surface is clean and dry, and give yourself enough time and expected good weather to finish the job before any kind of inclement weather arrives.
As always, I’m looking out for you. Check back next week for the next episode!