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Tips for Painting Interiors

Buying a home is a fresh start in many ways, and one of the first things you may want to do is paint your new interior. While the neutrals the seller chose are okay, you may want to repaint with color choices of your own. 

Start with a high quality paint that is designed to last and plan to paint two coats for depth, rich color values, and coverage. Paint colors can be warm or cool, soft or saturated, light or dark, and many steps in between. When you visit the paint store to look for paint samples and chips, you’ll want to test the colors for accuracy. Hold the chips parallel to the wall under natural light. That doesn’t mean it will appear the same color on your walls at home, but you can at least tell if the color is too light, too dark, or too intense. 

Interior colors will appear darker than you think once you’ve painted. That’s why it’s important to see the colors in the home under the lighting you have. Paint chips are small, so get some poster boards and paint them edge-to-edge with sample containers of the colors you like best. Hang them with painter’s tape so that you can see how the colors change throughout the day and at night. You may be surprised and decide upon a color much different than you originally imagined. 

Once you choose the color, calculate how much paint to buy.  Architectural Digest recommends estimating one gallon per 400 square feet, or use the paint calculators provided Benjamin Moore and other paint manufacturers. You may also need primer and extra paint to cover dark or textured walls and cabinets. If you choose a deep shade for walls, give the paint a satin finish for sophistication. A dark matte color can easily look chalky. And the opposite is true – a light color can become blinding in a shiny finish. 

Another reason for primer is to avoid peeling paint. Moisture can get trapped under paint causing blistering and peeling, which will have to be sanded and primed before repainting. Bathrooms, kitchens, windows and doors retain more humidity than other areas of the house. When wood absorbs moisture, it expands and crumbles, allowing the primer and paint on top to lose their grip. Make sure the area you want to paint is clean, particularly in kitchens where greasy cooking film can build up on walls. 

It’s easiest to paint in an empty room, but use drop cloths to protect the floors and any remaining furniture. You’ll need painter’s tape to keep drips off of trims, toekicks, switches after removing the plates.  You’ll need brushes for cutting in, rollers for large areas (with thicker naps for covering textured walls), a paint tray to make rolling easier, and extenders and eye protection to do ceilings. 

Sherwin-Williams advises painting ceilings first, walls next, and trim last. Use an angled brush to cut in along the ceiling, where walls intersect with trim, and any area that’s too narrow for a roller. While the cut-in paint is still wet, use the roller all the way to the edges of the cut-in for a smooth finish. Trim looks better with a semi-gloss or high gloss finish paint to stand out from the walls, especially if you use the same color.  Give paint time to dry before applying a second coat. 

A good paint job is all about meticulous preparation. You’ll be proud when your paint job looks like a professional did it.