Home & Garden

Painting tips: Everything you need to know about house painting

By: Natalie Bahadur

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Painting tips: Everything you need to know about house painting

By: Natalie Bahadur
Sometimes, you just need a change. And whether it's a new look for yourself or for your home, change can be motivating, inspiring and refreshing. When it comes to mixing things up at home, a fresh coat of paint can be an easy and inexpensive way to make any room feel new and revitalized.

But there are a few things you should consider before you get started on your house painting project -- besides what colour you like best. From the type and quality of paint to the optimal colours and finishes for various rooms in your home, here are the top painting tips to help you plan before you roll up your sleeves and start working.

3 expert painting tips

1. Find the right finish

Staring at paint chips in the paint aisle of a hardware store can get pretty overwhelming. There are so many choices, so before you go, know what you're looking for. "For kitchens and bathrooms, I recommend a paint that provides a mildew-resistant coating," says Misty Walker, colour manager for Olympic Paints and Stains (olympic.com). "It provides a mildew-resistant coating in a semigloss finish, which is perfect for areas prone to heat, humidity and frequent cleanings. For bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms, I recommend an eggshell finish because it reduces glare and is beautiful, yet washable. For kids rooms and playrooms, move up to satin or even semigloss finishes for the additional durability these high-use rooms need."

If you're painting more than just walls (such as doors, trim and ceilings), there are even more painting tips to consider. "Pearl, satin, semigloss and glossy paints are best used for wood surfaces like doors and trim," says designer Laura Stein, principal and CEO of Laura Stein Interiors (lauramstein.com). "They provide a strong coating, are easy to clean and add a touch of elegance. My favourite finish for doors and trim is satin. It has a beautiful lustre that's not too shiny and looks supremely sophisticated. Ceilings should always be painted in a flat finish, unless you are going for a special effect."

2. Consider low-VOC paints
As more and more people become conscious of eliminating toxins in their environments, low-VOC paints have gained in popularity for house painting projects. VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) are toxins found in paint that linger in the air long after you've finished painting. "Regulations in the paint industry have required manufacturers to reduce the VOCs in paints, so most paint on the market today is either low-VOC or no-VOC," explains Stein. "Using a low- or no-VOC paint not only helps the environment, it also keeps you from breathing in toxins in your home. These paints should be used everywhere possible, especially in children's rooms and by moms-to-be who are painting a nursery," she says.

3. Invest in good-quality paint
"It's difficult to know the quality of a paint based on the label, but generally you get what you pay for," says Stein. "Good-quality paint is more expensive, but it will require fewer coats, have better coverage and texture, retain its fresh appearance for longer, and have richer pigmentation and better colour-fastness." In other words, it will look a lot better for a lot longer, she says.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find more great painting tips for your next house painting project on page 22 more great painting tips

4. Be honest: Should you call in a pro?

Painting isn't a particularly difficult task, but it's one that requires time and patience. And if you're not up to it, and want the best results, it might be better to leave the job to a professional. "If there is a lot of woodwork involved, or the walls are in poor condition, it might be best to call in the pros," says Stein.

The most important step in any paint job is the prep work, and most people don’t take the time to do it properly, she says. "A professional painter will do all the prep work for you. They'll fill holes, sand trim, caulk joints, and do anything else required to get a clean smooth surface to paint. They also know how to use a brush and roller to get an even finish without any marks or drips, and will brave high ladders to reach difficult spots on ceilings or above stairs."

5. Avoid "never colours"
Some designers (though not all!) believe there are "never colours" -- colours that should never be used in a particular room. "Avoid yellows and greens in the bathroom, particularly if makeup is applied in the room, as it can cast an unfavourable colour onto your skin," says Walker. "It's not flattering to the complexion."

Stein, however, disagrees. "While it's true that colours can change the appearance of other colours around them -- like your skin tone, for example -- with a little creativity and careful planning you can avoid colour mishaps and still use the colours you love," she says. "I myself have a green bathroom and I find it better for applying makeup than my white bathroom because the lighting is brighter and more natural. The green doesn't affect my complexion because it is not in the area adjacent to the mirror."

For the bedroom, Walker suggests avoiding bright, energetic colours unless it's a kid's room. "As an adult, you want your bedroom to be a peaceful retreat and bright colours will add energy when you need to be unwinding. Soft, subtle tones will create a calming effect in your room and help you get a peaceful night’s rest."

And for the kitchen? "Colours to avoid in the kitchen are blues or any muddy hues -- they’re just unappetizing," says Walker. "Rich, vibrant food-derived colours are great for the kitchen. The kitchen is known as the heart of the home, which is why it should be warm and inviting. If it’s in the produce department it will work on the walls," she says.

Stein still isn't convinced, though. "While some designers might say there are 'never colours' I completely disagree," she says. "I think any colour, used the right way, can be used in any room. Colour is a great way to explore your creativity, and there are many ways to use paint without covering all the walls top to bottom in the same colour. If you don’t want to cover a whole room in colour think about incorporating colour as an accent. Use colour on trim, built-ins or in decorative painted stripes. Colour could be used only on certain walls to break up a space or to feature a detail."

Whatever you do, just remember that picking a colour is all about your personal choices and preferences -- so go with what you love and most importantly, have fun!

Find more great home decor tips here.

Natalie Bahadur is the senior editor of styleathome.com and is a regular contributor to canadianliving.com.

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Painting tips: Everything you need to know about house painting