New trends in paint
Women are DIYing it in overwhelming numbers, and the home improvement industry knows it. Many of the hardware and big-box stores are gearing their advertising toward women, and the manly image of a power-tool-wielding macho man has become, quite properly, the stuff of late-night comedy.
Not every handywoman is equally comfortable hanging drywall or brandishing a Sawzall, but there's one area of home improvement where we have seen and conquered, and that's painting. According to a recent survey by the editors of the hardware trade journal Hardlines, after gardening, painting is the number-one home improvement project performed by women, with up to 54 per cent of female respondents having engaged in at least one interior painting project in the last 12 months. The result has been a radical change in the painting industry at every level, from the independent paint store, to the big box, to paint manufacture and product design.
And this is where things have started getting really interesting. The range of progress, from new technology to gadgets that'll make painting easier for the layperson, is especially fascinating.
Latex paint has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, largely driven by consumer demand for a product that's easy to use and clean, durable and low-odour. (Latex has come so far that in exterior applications at least, many painters no longer use oil paint – for any purpose – anymore.)
Para has just introduced a new eggshell latex that answers one of the last of the complaints against latex – that it doesn't stand up to repeated scrubbing as well as alkyd. Called Elite, the new paint contains “ceramic microspheres” that protect the finish and colour from stains, scuffs and Junior's crayon marks. According to Para, even deep colours – which traditionally are most vulnerable to lifting caused by scrubbing – will remain true over time.
Here's another idea that any home painter can relate to. Most people paint their ceilings white – which sometimes leads to a problem when you repaint. How do you tell which parts you've painted and which you've missed? CIL's Magic Paint, part of a new line that also contains special additives that beef up its scrub-resistance, actually goes on pink. The tint allows you to apply a perfectly even coat, and then have fun watching it dry – whereupon the pink, which is actually a special disappearing dye, fades to a brilliant, fresh white.
But one of the most obvious improvements in the world of consumer paint – obvious in the “why didn't anyone think of it before?” sense – is Dutch Boy's new one-litre and 3.7 litre plastic containers, which feature twist-off lids, side handles, and easy-pour spouts. Because the cans are plastic, they won't rust or dent and are lightweight. The square shape also beats the heck out of traditional round gallon cans when it comes to storing quantities of half-used leftovers in the basement.
More and more consumers – especially women – have come to view repainting a room as less a form of home improvement than a quick and easy way to redecorate, especially when everyone from Debbie Travis to the owner of the local paint store is singing the praises (and the ease) of DIY. And with improvements that make the process simpler – and that make the job look better and last longer once you're finished – it's one job that just about anyone can tackle.