Refresh your space with paint
Painting is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to change the look of your home without spending a lot of money. Even if you get the best paint available, a blotchy, drippy paint job can ruin an otherwise gorgeous room re-do. We asked Dave Tait, a DIYer who parlayed his skills into a career as a Toronto-area housepainter and handyman, for the insider tricks to getting a perfect paint job—every time.
Tait's tools of the trade- Painter’s tape (like Scotch masking tape, made from 30 per cent recycled materials)
- 2- or 4- millimetre plastic sheeting, old sheets, or drop cloths to cover floors and furniture
- Rollers (choose a roller appropriate to the paint finish)
- Paint tray
Tait says that choosing the right paintbrushes and rollers is essential for a smooth finish. Angled brushes and other specialty tools are designed to be goof-proof, so really invest in quality tools. “Dollar-store brushes are OK if you’re painting a chair and you don’t care what it looks like,” he says. “But a pro knows how much paint to put on a brush, whereas a DIYer might not. Specialty brushes make it easier.”
Keep it neat
Cover furniture with drop cloths or plastic to keep paint spatter off your upholstery, and lay down plastic sheeting or old sheets to protect the floors, using painter’s tape to secure them. If you are not painting the entire room, tape around the areas that aren’t going to be painted. “It’s even a good idea to cover windows with plastic, to keep them from getting splattered,” Tait recommends.
Remove all electrical plates, wall decorations and light fixtures from the room to be painted; if the walls have any cracks or holes, use a putty knife to fill with spackling compound. “Sand down any rough areas such as baseboards,” says Tait, as well as any glossy surfaces. Wash walls with a detergent solution (such as TSP or Natura's Safe Prep, available at Home Hardware, as an eco-option).
Priming is crucial when making drastic colour changes: “For instance, if the wall colour is purple and you want to make it a lighter colour, you definitely have to prime it with a light-coloured primer or else the purple will show through,” Tait says.
Tait’s favourite time-saver is to always tint primer to match the new colour. Even if you are painting a light colour over another light colour, a tinted primer will reduce the number of coats needed to achieve the final shade. In general, you only need one coat of primer; if you are trying to cover a dark colour or are applying a dark colour, then you’ll need an extra coat.
Now that you've primed, it's time to pick your paint. Once you've decided between oil and latex paint, there are other options to consider, namely finish. Depending on the effect you are looking for, you could pick anything from a matte to gloss finish. Just keep in mind that matte finishes, while good for hiding uneven walls, also show dings and scratches easily and may need to be touched up.Paint the ceiling and trim first, and once dry, carefully tape around the perimeter of the walls. “For people who haven’t painted much before, taping is important,” Tait says, as it keeps edges neat.
Using a brush, carefully paint around the edges of the wall, creating a border. With a roller, roll on paint in a large “w” pattern, overlapping with the painted border; continually rotate the “w” shape until the entire section of wall is a uniform colour. Tait recommends working from the top of the wall to the bottom, to get the most even colour, and, since the tint can vary slightly from can to can, painting the entire room before starting on the second coat.
Don’t be surprised if two coats of paint isn’t enough for a dark colour; on one job, Tait had to apply two layers of primer and then three coats of paint to get an even, deep finish for the raspberry-coloured walls.
When you’ve completed your final coat of paint, it’s time to remove the tape. “I wouldn’t wait more than two or three hours after you’ve put on your final coat,” Tait says. Let the paint dry completely, then remove the drop cloths, hang your pictures back up and admire your handiwork.
- If you have drips, make sure you are rolling the extra paint off on the ridges in the paint tray; if you’ve made the classic beginner’s mistake of overfilling your paint reservoir so that it covers some of the ridges, do the best you can, then lay out a piece of newspaper and use that to roll off the extra paint.
- If your paint looks washed out in places, you need to apply another coat. This is especially true with dark or high-pigment colours, like reds, which Tait says are some of the hardest colours to cover or apply.
- If you’ve left the paint to dry too long, removing the painter’s tape can remove some of the fresh paint with it, especially if a lot of paint got on the tape. If this happens, use a utility knife to gently score the paint along the edge of the tape and pull it away. Use a small paintbrush if touch-ups are needed.
When to call in the pros
One word: Safety. If it’s an awkward space that you don’t feel comfortable painting (i.e. dangling over three flights of stairs), call in the pros. They have the equipment to do it safely.
Lead image courtesy of West Elm.