HomeownerHelpful Info: Home Improvement


Painters Educational Content

A new paint job can brighten up a dingy room or revitalize an entire house. In fact, a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective home improvement tasks you can take on.

Knowledge and preparation are key to a great paint job. A high-quality interior paint job can last up to ten years. Paint will show wear a little faster in high-traffic areas. Exterior paint should last from five to ten years on average. Sun and weather exposure do affect exterior paint. If your property gets a lot of direct sunlight, the paint will likely dull sooner than it might otherwise. Regular cleaning is key to maintaining your exterior paint job.

As long as you select high-quality paint, weather shouldn’t play a large role in the timing of a repainting job. Cold temperatures aren’t a problem for interior painting. In fact, the lower humidity levels mean that the paint will dry faster. Exterior painting in the winter can be trickier. Most exterior paints should be applied when it’s between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside. This does vary somewhat depending on the type of paint. Heat and humidity can also affect exterior paint work.

Color. Selecting a color palette for an interior room is different from choosing colors for the exterior of your house. If you’re having interior painting done, first consider the room’s purpose. If the space serves as a gathering spot, try colors that are soothing and inviting. If you’re revamping your kitchen or utility room, for example, try a bolder, glossier color choice. Buy small samples of your favorite paint colors. Once you get home, paint swatches on the walls of the room you’re painting. Home lighting is different from the lighting in a paint store. The paint chip you loved may look different once you get it home.

Before you settle on an exterior paint color, be sure to check with your homeowners’ association, if you have one. There may be specific colors and paint brands you have to use. Also take the architectural style of your home into account. Color schemes that are in style for new homes, for example, may look strange on a 1920s bungalow. Some paint manufacturers offer preselected palettes to help eliminate guesswork. Your painting contractor may have a color consultant on staff, too. That person can provide professional guidance.

Water-based versus oil-based. Starting in 2004, the EPA passed legislation banning the use of oil-based paint in six states. Water-based (also called latex) paint has improved in quality and performance since the bans. In most cases, water-based paint is now standard. Latex paints are the environmentally friendly option. They’re easier to use, and they don’t give off strong odors or high levels of VOCs. Water-based paints are also far easier than oil-based paints to remove from brushes. Oil-based paints have a strong smell and give off VOCs. They can only be removed from brushes with mineral spirits.

Finishes. Paint finishes range from flat to glossy. A glossy finish is more durable than a flat one, but it shows imperfections more easily. Still, the sheen of glossy paint is great for high-touch areas. The matte finish of flat paint makes it perfect for ceilings and walls.

Quality. Avoid skimping on paint quality. Often, cheaper paints need an extra coat to get the same result as higher-quality paints. The cost of paint is usually lower than the cost of labor, so cheap paint often means that the job will cost more in the end.

Good preparation is crucial to a job well done. Most painters will take care of any prep work. Be sure to discuss the details before you sign the contract.

Relocating furniture. Remove all furniture from the room to be painted. You can also cover everything with a drop cloth. If the outside of your house is being painted, move or cover patio furniture.

Readying surfaces. Paint should only be applied to a clean, smooth surface. The crew should scrape or sand away any peeling or cracked paint. Surface mold or mildew should also be removed. They will degloss existing glossy paint with a sander or chemical deglosser. This step is important because it helps the new paint form a good bond with the old paint. Finally, the crew will repair any existing holes and cracks.

Priming and sealing. Primer helps new paint adhere and increases its durability. Before they start painting, the crew will prime any bare surfaces, repaired areas, and paneled walls. Primer is especially important if you’re doing a major color change. Your painter might even use tinted primer if the colors are different enough.

Removing fixtures. Before painting, cover and tape all fixtures and remove outlet covers from the walls. This will save time during the edging process. Store the screws or fasteners in small plastic bags and tape the bags to the fixtures or covers so you don’t lose things.

Taping trim and other features. Painter’s tape or masking tape keeps paint off features that can’t be removed, like trim and glass. Painter’s tape is typically more expensive than masking tape. Painter’s tape is the better choice for walls because it has lower tack than masking tape. This means that it’s easier to remove without leaving adhesive residue. All tape should be removed promptly once a wall is finished. Some painters paint around permanent features instead of using tape. They do this with a brush technique called “cutting in.”

Hiring a reputable, experienced contractor is important. Be cautious of companies that stress their low price over their quality of work. Remember that you might get shoddy work with the lowest price. If your house has to be repainted because of poor quality work, you’ll end up paying more in the long run. Always get estimate details in writing. This helps you compare companies evenly.

Professional painters will remove nails and patch holes to prepare the work surfaces. Some painters even have carpenters on staff. Carpenters can handle repair work, like replacing rotted wood and repairing damaged siding. Ask your contractor about the repair and restoration services its staff may offer.