Improving Your Home: The Wonders of a Fresh Coat of Paint

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive way to change the look and feel of a room, consider a fresh coat of paint. Paint can add personality, brighten a small room or bring warmth to a larger one.

Expect to spend between $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot. If you’re doing ceilings, walls and trim, the cost will likely be closer to $3 - $4, and if there’s damage to drywall that needs repaired first, expect to pay even more.

GETTING READY

The majority of your time will likely be spent on prep work. You’ll not only need to move furniture and protect flooring with drop cloths, but you’ll also need to tape off areas for sharp lines and repair and patch any imperfections in your walls.

Patching requires tools and supplies like caulking, a lightweight spackling compound, a putty knife and sandpaper. Use the caulk or spackling and putty knife to fill any holes, making sure to remove any excess product. When completely dry, use a small piece of very fine sandpaper (220-grit is ideal) or a sanding sponge to smooth the repaired areas. When finished, wipe the walls clean with a damp towel or sponge.

Next, you’ll need to use painter’s tape to mask off moldings, windows, doors and ceilings. Use care when placing the tape, and always press it down flat and even. If you have a textured ceiling, we suggest running a screwdriver along the edge, making an unnoticeable texture-free surface to lay your tape against. Trust us – this will make creating a straight line so much easier!

If you’re creating an accent wall, we’d recommend taping it off at this time. Mask the inside edge of your selected wall for the best results.

First-time painters may not realize how much prep work is really involved. In fact, about three quarters of your time on this project will probably be spent without a brush in hand! There’s just so many time-consuming details to consider … removing the light switch plates, doorknobs and HVAC registers is a job in itself!

CHOOSING YOUR PAINT

When picking a paint, the first obvious consideration is color … but don’t forget about sheen! Sheen is the glossiness of a paint, and an important factor when making your selection. Gloss, satin or egg shell are the primary types, each with their own pros and cons. For high-traffic areas, consider a gloss or satin, as they hold up better to handprints and can be cleaned easier. However, they can make wall imperfections such as wavy drywall or patched areas stand out more. Paints with a matte finish will not clean as well as glossy options, but if you’re worried about the smoothness of your drywall, they may be a better bet.

When it comes to choosing the hue, don’t be afraid to add some color! It’s an easy way to add depth and texture to any room, and can also significantly affect mood and emotion. Understanding and using the psychology of color to your advantage is key here. For example, blue is considered calming and cool, representing the sky or heaven. Because of its calming power, it tends to work well in bedrooms. Another bedroom consideration could be a shade of purple, which historically represents royalty, luxury and romance.

After whittling down your options, we recommend picking up a sample or two. This will give you a better idea what the color will look like on a larger swath of wall, and potentially save yourself the cost and hassle of repainting.

APPLICATION

When it’s finally time to get the paint rollers out, you’ll have to start with primer. There’s no glory here, but it’s an important step in getting the most out of your new paint job. Some paints include a primer already mixed in, eliminating this step, but many do not. Some primers come tinted, especially useful if drastically changing the color of the wall. This important step shouldn’t be skipped – it helps cover up stains, prevents mold and gives the top coat a nice layer to adhere to.

We recommend using a roller for your paint and primer, which saves time compared to brushes. Start applying primer in small sections – about 3’ x 3’ – and work top to bottom, left to right. Only cover as much area as you can while the primer is wet, always overlapping the areas of wet primer. When dry, a light sandpaper can be used on any bumps or ridges. Again, wipe the walls with a damp cloth.

Next, it’s time for the “cut in” work. This is the painting at the corners and edges (which you should already have taped). Trying to do this after the main paint application can create uneven lines, so doing this first is crucial.

When applying the paint with your roller, work top to bottom and roll back and forth across the wall in a “V” or “W” pattern. Before reloading the roller for your next section, roll over what you’ve just painted in a smooth stroke from top to bottom. Again, overlap areas already painted, lightly lifting the roller off the wall to avoid leaving end marks.

Even as you work to apply your paint evenly, you may run into consistency issues with the actual color of the paint. Here’s our pro tip: mix multiple gallons into a larger resealable bucket and stir thoroughly. This is called boxing, and can greatly reduce the chances of uneven color. While today’s mixing technology is greatly improved over yesteryear’s, this is a fail-safe measure just incase there was an issue at the store.

Two to four hours after application, the paint should be dry enough for the second coat. Two coats is usually sufficient, but if you’re painting a light color over a dark, up to six coats may be necessary.

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