is one of the easiest way to transform the look of your
home, and yet, often, weíre just not good at it. We
think we can do a room in a day, the whole house in a
think painting is a very easy thing," says Michael
Parreno of 78 Painting, Textures, Plasters and More, in
Austin, Tex.. "Itís all about the prep and many
years of experience. Ö Patience is everything in
prep work is going to be about 75 percent of the job,
says Louie Funk of Funk Paint Contractors. "If
people take time to tape off the room, they can do
almost as good a job as we can. Theyíve got to be
serious about taping it off."
also is about knowing what jobs you can do and what jobs
are best for the professionals. And, most importantly,
itís about having the right kind of tools and paint
for the job.
the right color is also important.
is the big color right now, says Stacy Paulson of Stacy
Paulson Design. Itís a light-to-medium gray, but you
have to be careful because some grays tend to go blue
and when itís too cool, gray can go wrong, she says.
"Youíve got to find the right gray that stays
gray," she says.
Ebbo of Clementís Paints says heís selling a lot of
Benjamin Mooreís Revere Pewter. Paulson says people
are playing with all-gray walls and white trim. "Itís
and Paulson also see people going for bright colors as
well and definitely ditching the beige that was so
popular for so long.
are more adventurous with paint," Paulson says of
her clients, including one for which she just did black
caviar walls. "If you donít like it, in a year or
two, you can repaint."
you pick any color, spend $5-$7 and get a sample. Paint
a square of it on the walls and look at it at different
times of day to make sure it looks right in any light
and with your furniture.
says she hires professionals for her clients, but for
her own home, she paints the interior walls herself.
Light colors are less risky than trying to do dark
dark colors, as well as trim work and exteriors, the
professional might be worth the investment.
youíre looking for a professional painter, you want to
make sure the company is bonded and insured. Ask how
long the painter has been in the business. You also want
to know how many people will be on the job. If youíre
doing your whole house, know that if the company is
bringing only one or two people, they are going to be
there for weeks versus the time a whole crew would take.
for detailed estimates. How many coats will they do?
What kind of prep work? What kind of paint will they
use? The paint is also going to be only about 15 percent
of the total bill. Labor is your big cost.
exteriors, if you decide to paint it yourself, know youíre
going to be on a ladder a lot (especially for two-story
homes). Youíll need to pressure wash to start with a
clean surface, but hand scrub around the windows and
other delicate areas. Youíll need to check the
condition of the wood and siding to know whether there
are spots that need to be replaced.
fill in holes and caulk around the trim, windows and
professionals use paint sprayers for the exteriors, but
you have to be careful. Spray can go everywhere and be
influenced by the direction of the wind. Youíll also
lose about 25 percent of the paint to overspray. Cover
with tape and paper 3 feet to 4 feet around the brick
and cover the windows and doors. Painters should apply
at least two coats with a good paint.
you can paint indoors any time of the year as long as
you have the air conditioner or heater running to pull
out the humidity and keep the temperature consistent,
painting outside is a different story. Avoid days that
are excessively humid or raining or drizzling.
is an issue with painting. If itís going to be colder
than 35 degrees at any point in the 24-hour to 36-hour
drying time, do not paint.
the heat of summer, you also have to be careful. Paint
in the morning and follow the shade of the house. If
paint dries too quickly it wonít adhere to the surface
and can crack or peel off later. Make sure youíre
using paint designed for exteriors.
trim and cabinets, you want this paint job to last
because itís not the kind of job youíre going to do
often. Choose the best quality paint you can afford,
Funk says. Traditionally youíd use oil-based paint,
which has powerful fumes. Thatís why professionals use
masks when working with these products. Homeowners
usually have to stay elsewhere for a few days. Now a
water and oil hybrid can cut down on some of those
fumes. Not all the professionals have had good results
with the hybrids.
oil-based or the hybrid, youíre going to sand the wood
smooth, use caulk around the edges and to fill in holes
and cracks, apply a primer that is made for the kind of
paint youíll use and then paint.
if youíve decided to do the interior walls yourself,
first move everything you can to the center of the room
so you have space to work. Remove electrical and light
time to place tape carefully in a straight line around
the windows, doors, baseboards and crown molding. Some
professionals use brown paper trim rolls in addition to
tape to cover crown molding and baseboards.
are a lot of tapes to choose from, and whatís
important is the release time. If youíre able to
complete the job in a day or two, you can pick a
three-day release tape. But for bigger jobs, such as
faux finishing or more detail work, choose a 14- to
60-day-release tape. Parreno also likes to run a line of
white caulk between the ceiling and the wall and the
wall and the baseboard to get a clean line.
sure to tape down the drop cloth or the brown paper you
are using to cover the floors to avoid leaks from
between the wall and the floor. Never use plastic to
cover the floor. It wonít absorb paint and if you step
in a drop of paint, youíll spread it everywhere.
youíre ready to remove the tape, run a utility knife
between the wall and the tape to make sure you have
broken the seal. Youíll avoid ripping some of the
paint off the wall.
every job needs a primer. If you have a flat,
light-color paint on the wall already, you can skip the
priming step. If you have dark colors and want to go to
lighter colors, use a primer. If your walls have a
semi-gloss or another paint with a sheen, priming will
make painting easier. If youíre painting light colors,
you can use a white primer. If youíre painting dark
colors, use a gray primer. Your paint store can help you
determine whether you need a primer and what kind.
paints are coming as paint and primer combinations. Most
of our professional painters say this is just a
marketing tool. Itís basically a high-quality paint
that will cover well, but itís not that much different
from what was already available in high-quality paint.
go cheap on interior paint, Ebbo says, because youíll
just have to do more coats. Some of the higher-end latex
paints might be $60 to $75 a gallon but will take only
one coat with touch-ups, or two at most. You donít
have to go that high-end, but avoid paints that are less
than $30 a gallon; with those youíre going to be
painting again and again. Some of the new higher-end
flat paints are scrubbable, so you donít have to go
with semi-gloss if you have children.
(volatile organic compounds) or no-VOC paints are
becoming more common, but ask whether the tint is also
low VOC or no VOC. Some brands have low or no-VOC in the
base paint, but not in the tint, which means youíre
still getting VOCs.
scrimp on brushes either, Funk says. Instead of an $8
brush, you want to choose a $16-$20 brush in either
nylon or a nylon and polyester blend. Avoid straight
polyester. Immediately wash brushes with soap and water
and dry after use. "Treat a good brush like a
screwdriver," Ebbo says. Hang it up in the paper or
plastic case it came with to protect it for the next
Ortega, owner of MJD Ortega Painting, says if he cleans
his brushes well, he can get many jobs out of them. Even
rollers he can get three or four jobs out of with proper
use the brush for detail areas around trim and windows.
Use rollers for large, uninterrupted areas.
Professionals use sheepskin, but you donít have to go
that high end. You do have to make sure you know which
type of nap (thatís the thickness) you need for the
texture you have. If you have a light texture or smooth
walls, youíll use a nap of 3/8 inch. For thick
texture, you need Ĺ inch.
for the actual painting: Most people get a pan to pour
paint into and then use a roller or a brush. That can
make for a messy job with a lot of drips and the
constant need to refill the pan. Parreno uses a 5-gallon
bucket with a grid and mixes the gallons together to
make sure the color is the same; one gallon could be a
slightly different tint. He dips his brush and roller in
the paint and then knocks off the excess paint on the
edge of the bucket.
professionals use an up-and-down stroke, but a lot of
home improvement television shows recommend a W stroke.
That stroke works well if you have a lot of texture and
are using cheap paint. With good paint and the right
roller or brush, you can just go up and down.
want your roller or brush to have a lot of paint on it
and frequently dip it back into the paint to avoid
painting with a dry brush or roller. Make sure the brush
and roller have an even coat to avoid streaking.
"You can feel it on the roller if itís dry or
needs more or needs less paint," Ortega says.
"You can feel it in your arms."
up unused paint and store it in an air-conditioned space
so you can use it for touch-ups later. A hot garage or
attic will destroy the paint.
you do need to get rid of the paint, check with your
city or garbage company about how to do so.