Before You Paint: Tips on Prep, Color, Formula and Supplies

Paint is one of the most affordable means of transforming a room, but it can end up costing you cash and future aggravation if you don’t prepare well for the job. You can bet that every time you sit down in your family room, the first thing you’ll notice is where you ran the wall paint up into the white ceiling area. Save yourself from that moment by getting it right the first time, taping off your ceiling from your wall.

In addition to proper painting preparation, a top concern is selecting the right color. Addressing your color anxiety is easier than ever thanks to retailers and manufacturers who offer online visualizers, pre-coordinated color palettes, and, best of all, trial size paint samples that allow you to audition your transforming tone before you buy and apply. Paint samples are available as either poster-size color swatches or two- to eight-ounce containers of actual paint that can be applied either to a piece of scrap board or directly on the wallBefore You Paint: Tips on Prep, Color, Formula and Supplies to literally be seen in a different light.

When making paint color decisions, consider the color across an entire day’s light spectrum. Different times of day reveal various combinations of direct sunlight, indirect sunlight and artificial light that can transform your perception of a color. Painting on large-scale swatches is the best way to ensure that you’ll enjoy living with your selection around the clock.

Along with color selection comes the choice of paint product that’ll work best for the room you’re redoing. Paint comes in latex and oil-based formulations and finishes ranging from flat to high gloss. The combination you choose depends on use and traffic in the space you’re painting.

For long-lasting results with any selection, you should plan on applying a primer of the same formulation followed by two paint coats. So buy enough paint to cover the target space twice, and then buy some extra. Many stores are actually willing to accept returns on unused paint, even if it’s in a custom color, and having extra means you’ll avoid color matching problems if you run short. Store any extra paint in an airtight container where it will not freeze and mark the container with the name of the room in which it has been applied so you always know which paint goes where.

Finally, remember that painting is mostly labor, so buy the best-quality paint you possibly can from trusted brands with good track records. If you try to do painting on the cheap, you won’t get the coverage you need or the typically five to seven years of wear that you want.

Shop for supplies
Before You Paint: Tips on Prep, Color, Formula and SuppliesAlong with paint and primer, shop for the tools that’ll make the job a success. Brushes are a good starting point, and are available with either synthetic or natural bristles, also known as “china” bristles; for the best results, use synthetics with latex paint and natural bristles with oil-based paint. Rollers make quick work of large surfaces, except when you’ve chosen the wrong pile height and nap for the finish, so follow the paint manufacturer’s guidelines, and take care to remove any loose fibers that could mix with the paint and wind up on your wall.

Other items to add to your shopping list for painting and surface preparation should include:

  • Roller pans and liners
  • Drop cloths (use plastic types on the floor itself and cloth types on top to prevent slipping)
  • Spackle
  • Spackle knives in a variety of widths
  • Fiberglass wall tape (for cracks)
  • Nail filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Drywall nails
  • Painter’s tape

Before starting any painting endeavor, it’s important to know how to select a paint color and formulation that will work for you, as well as how to shop for the ideal amount of paint and the necessary painting supplies. By following these tips, you can get your painting project started off right and help ensure a room transformation that will serve you well for many years to come.

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Surface Prep of Old Houses

If your paint is old, chipping, peeling and rough surfaced, strip it off to get back to a surface which will look great and adhere the new paint well. If the woodwork or walls have pre-1978 paint, it likely is lead-based and toxic as it deteriorates. Test it with LeadCheck swabs from your hardware store. If lead, DO NOT sand or shave it off without a vacuum attachment to collect the toxic dust. Or use non-toxic chemicals or infrared, low-heat Speedheater. High heat guns and torches release toxic lead FUMES at 1000 degrees F. Make your new paint job last!

Surface Prep of Old Houses

Don't forget to remove the original paint if the surface in uneven before repainting. Otherwise, the new paint job won't have that smooth look you want. If the paint is on wood paneling and several layers thick, consider using the gentle, and lead-safe Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover.