04 Dining Room

Demystifying Paint

Everyone knows a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to update, improve, and personalize any space in your home. You know what’s not easy about it? Figuring out which paint to choose.

Besides the color, there are countless other considerations: Do you want a matte or a glossy finish? Do you want latex or oil-based paint? Are you considering a textured paint? Or a paint process that gives the final product a weathered or distressed look? It’s enough to make a person’s head spin, isn’t it?

Here are the basics to consider in a nutshell:

Choosing the color: Paint swatches are free, so don’t be shy about taking as many as you need to your home where you can see how that swatch will look in the space you’re painting. Keep in mind that different types of light, as well as the amount of light in a space, are going to drastically affect how a color will actually look. In fact, the lighting can sometimes make it look like a completely different color.

Once you’ve narrowed your color choices down, buy some very small sample cans, and paint a poster board or a portion of the area you plan to paint to get a better idea of what that color looks like on a larger area than just the swatch. If you really like the color hue, but feel it’s too light or too dark, you can ask your local DIY store to lighten it or darken it for you.

One last thing: Don’t be afraid of trying something new. For starters, try your paint choice on just one wall, let it dry (sometimes a color will look different from the swatch until it dries), then evaluate it before painting any more walls. If you end up not liking a color, you can simply repaint it, and the next time around you’ll have a better idea of what you want.

Choosing the sheen (how shiny the paint is): There are pro’s and con’s to the different types of sheens. While a high-gloss paint is easier to clean, it tends to make imperfections stand out, such as bumps, divots, or a shoddy drywall job. The opposite, of course, is true of a matte finish: While it will make imperfections less noticeable, it can be very difficult to clean, especially if you have children, pets, or a lot of traffic in your home. There are a few “in-between” choices, such as a semi-gloss or an eggshell finish, that tend to be good middle-ground choices.

Choosing the type of paint: Latex is the most widely-used paint choice since it’s water-soluble and very easy to clean up, as well as durable, versatile and easy to apply to a variety of surfaces. Oil-based is best for wood surfaces, such as doors, shutters, molding, and trim pieces.

In addition to these basic choices, there are several options now for a “specialty” paint job, such as paint or a paint kit that makes the finished piece look aged or weathered, or textured paint that adds richness and interest to a space. Use these wisely; they are best suited for accent pieces or an accent wall. Too much in a space could be perceived as overly busy.

Okay, now grab your paintbrush, don those overalls, and have some fun letting your inner artist come alive!

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