Have color, will paint

Like most professional painters, Tim Bosveld knows a dozen or so easy- to-learn tricks that an amateur can use to make the difference between a regrettable mess and what could pass for a pro job. But, despite years spent as a professional painter, Bosveld insists the most valuable tip he has to pass on is about how to pick the right color.

“Buy a small sample of the paint (under consideration) and apply it in the room and live with it for a while, really live with it. See how it works in the room,” says Bosveld, marketing vice president with Dunn-Edwards. He says there’s no way to predict the full impact of a paint color change just looking at color swatches in the store, or even holding them up to the wall in question.

“There are so many things that influence how a color works,” says Bosveld. “Lighting, whether it’s incandescent, fluorescent, natural or, now, even LED. Then there’s all the surrounding colors, furniture, window coverings, flooring. The only way you’re going to understand how all those factors” interact is to live with them a bit before painting. This is made easier by the paint dealer trend toward selling small sample-sized containers of paint.

No. 2 on Bosveld’s list would be to take your time on a thorough prep job: first repair any holes or dents, then slightly rough up the surface with light grade sandpaper (particularly if you’re covering a slick semi-gloss or gloss paint, as in bathrooms and kitchens), clean the surface and, if necessary, prime the entire area to ensure an even finish, Bosveld says.

Simply put, Bosveld says, “The quality of the paint job is a product of how well you prepare the surface.” And although amateurs too often resist the primer coat, Bosveld says priming is nearly always part of the prep process. He allows that a coat of primer may not be necessary if the wall or ceiling is unblemished, with no patches or rough spots, and already painted a color close to that of the new paint. But, that’s not often the case.

“Paint is a system,” says Bosveld, “and it’s primer and the paint coat.” It is particularly important if there are any imperfections such as patches. “Primer will get in there and seal patches.”

Tucson painting contractor Brandon Mallis didn’t hesitate a second when asked about the biggest mistake do-it-yourselfers make. “Cutting corners on preparation - not priming or sanding,” Mallis, owner of Affordable Quality Painting, says.

“If it’s a surface - drywall, wood, metal, any kind of bare surface - it has to be primed,” he says.

After thorough prep work, Mallis’ tips for DIYers start with a strong recommendation for buying quality brushes and roller covers that can be cleaned and reused, rather than buying cheap ones and throwing them out after one use. “Spend $15. It only takes a couple minutes to clean and you can use it 15 or 20 times.” Besides, he says, cheap roller covers produce an inconsistent surface and often shed fuzz in the paint.

Before you pop the top of a paint can, cover the floor with a tarp, remove electrical-outlet covers and tape the edges between the areas you will be painting a different color or sheen: the edge where the ceiling meets the walls, doorways and window frame, fixtures that can’t be removed for the painting, and finally the floor, or baseboard. A new 3M Scotch Safe-Release Painters Masking Tape, won’t leave adhesive behind when it’s removed.

From there, the principal is, start from the top - the ceiling, if you’re repainting the ceiling - and work your way down. Paint runs downhill, and so does the eye. Safe-release tapes, by the way, usually can stay on longer without tearing off an adjoining layer of fresh paint the way traditional masking tape did if it was left in place too long. That’s handy if you are applying a primer coat or have to do a second coat.

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