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A Paint Primer and Goof Proof Tips, Tools, and Techniques

By Debi Lynes

paintedroomColor theory is interesting. Shades, tones, and color hues can say things words cannot. Color has a way of calming or exciting the mind, soothing anxiety, and stimulating creativity. Color can isolate or build harmony. In fact, in the field of interior design, supportive and facilitative design, and architecture, “functional” color is now used to promote human health and wellness, both physically and mentally. Needless to say, the selection and application of paint color can be a great way to create your home sanctuary.
Here are 7 goof proof tips and techniques for getting the most from your paint.


Start at the very beginning with the selection of the color palate, including not only the color, but the finish. When choosing a color, it is always helpful to have color swatches, the bigger the better, or a small sample of the actual color to paint on a section of wall. Remember, paint looks different in different light and during different times of the day. Choose five or six samples, move them around the room and observe them at different times of the day before making your final selection.
Paint finishes vary. Matte or flat finishes, popular choices today, are charming but do not wash well and are not good at reflecting the light.  Use them in areas such as dining rooms, guest bedrooms or areas with little traffic. Eggshell finishes are more resilient to soil, are hearty, and wash well. Eggshells are great for hallways, family rooms, and any space that is busy. Semi-gloss and gloss finishes both have sheens and are extremely durable and washable. Trims are often painted in semi-gloss. However,  gloss reaches a point of diminishing return; the higher the gloss the more it will show imperfections and requires a near perfect preparation and application.
Prepare and prime a wall when it is new and has never been painted, or is stained with grease spots that are visible. Also, if you are using a light color over a dark color, it may save time to prime the wall.
Prep the Room! It makes your job a breeze when you clean your room on the front side of painting. Aside from the basics (take down window treatments, faceplates and outlet covers; move furniture into the center of the room; fill picture holes; etc.) vacuum, yes vacuum, the floor, walls, and ceiling. You will be thrilled with how much smoother your paint applies. Wash the walls with a bit of diluted soapy water, especially if you are painting the kitchen or bathroom to remove whatever grossness is lingering. Now, it is time to cover the floor with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting.
Assemble the right tools for the job. Typically, that includes a roller, a roller pan, a couple of narrow (two- to four-inch) angled brushes for “cutting in” or doing the tight areas between wall and ceiling or trim work, a wider brush for areas narrower than the roller, cans of paint, and a stir stick. Have a roll of paper towels nearby for the inevitable spill, a screwdriver to remove the paint can lid, a stepladder, and do not forget the latex or rubber gloves.  Use a fan and open the windows to help eliminate fume buildup.   A cold drink or two, and some good tunes are also a good idea (in painting, and in life).
Did you know that a room is painted from the top down? So paint the ceiling first. Next comes the molding and the baseboards followed by cutting in the trim. Some people choose to tape off the molding around the baseboards, windows, doors, and ceiling (as a personal aside, I highly recommend Frog Tape! It is a little more expensive than your basic painter’s masking tape, but it will make a world of difference in your paint job) Now it’s finally time to get that first coat of paint on the walls. Take a bathroom break, fill up your drink, and move on to the second coat. The second coat usually goes on a little quicker, but don’t rush this step. It will make all the difference in your paint job.
All that is left is the paint cleanup, and putting your room back together. This may be a good time to finally try rearranging your furniture, or changing up your art work or décor in the room. Simply painting your walls will give the entire room a new feel that you can then enhance with your furniture, lighting, and accessories.
Words to the wise...
If you take a break during the project, don’t leave your brushes or rollers sitting in paint. Take time to clean your brushes, or at least wrap them up airtight in cellophane. Latex paint will dry out quickly. Cover paint trays with a damp rag. If the paint has a plastic lid, snap it back on. If it has a metal lid, clean the rims of the can, put a piece of newspaper or a rag over the top, and gently tap the lid!