Painting is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most dramatic ways to change the look and mood of a room.
Whether it's freshening up your kitchen to this year's blues and greens, or bringing a soothing new hue to the bathroom, the end result depends on the time, tools, and preparation you put into the project.
Here are 10 things you should keep in mind as you embark on your painting ventures:
1. Many factors go into selecting colors. The National Paint and Coatings Association says you should consider the type of mood you want to create, what furniture, artwork or other items in the room you want to emphasize, and what color you want to be an integral part of your overall decorating scheme.
2. Choose the appropriate paint type. The NPCA says latex paints are thinned with water and easy to use with a brush or roller. Latex is easy to clean with soap and water and does a good job inside in most cases. They aren't flammable and have a very mild odor. Alkyd, or oil paints, are solvent-thinned paints. You can apply an alkyd with a brush or roller, but need turpentine or mineral spirits for clean up. Alkyd paints are sometimes preferred for kitchens and bathroom shower areas where constant cleaning is necessary.
3. Select a sheen. Home improvement retail giant Lowe's says the term sheen means the degree of light reflection a paint has. The more sheen, the more stain-resistant it is. Gloss is the sturdiest sheen, and is easiest to clean, making it a natural choice for high-traffic areas, kitchens, bathrooms, woodwork, and baseboards. Semi-gloss is also durable and easy to clean, but has less shine than gloss. Satin combines easy clean and moderate sheen. Eggshell is smooth and has low sheen. Many people like eggshell for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Flat is non-reflective and is best for large areas and ceilings. It hides imperfections better than the other sheens.
4. Early preparation steps are key. Lowe's says the best way to get started is to clear the room of furniture -- at least as much as possible. Group the heavier items together and cover them with drop cloths. Make sure you have plenty of light. Patch any holes or cracks and then sand patched areas.
5. Clean and tape the walls. Lowe's says you should then spend the time cleaning the ceilings, walls, baseboards, window and door moldings. Paint manufacturer Glidden suggests using painting tape and plastic sheets to cover receptacles, switches, radiators and other surfaces that will not be painted. If you do not plan to paint entire walls or sections of the room, you may need to mask off those areas if you are painting adjacent areas. If you have enough drop cloths, cover the entire floor.
6. Brush up on brushes. The NPCA says natural bristle brushes are best for varnish, enamel, and shellac, and shouldn't be used for latex paints because they wear down quickly. Polyester bristle brushes are great for water-thinned coatings, but wear down on rough surfaces. And nylon bristle brushes are similar to polyester, but more abrasion resistant. Whatever type of brush you use, the tips should be flagged, or split. This allows more paint to be retained and the paint will spread more evenly.
7. Learn about rollers. Rollers are useful for painting a large area. They come in a range of widths.
8. Develop an orderly fashion. Lowe's says it's best to paint trim first, then proceed with the ceiling by rolling paint with a series of m-shaped strokes then fill in the open areas by cross rolling. If you're using a brush, you should apply the paint in short strokes toward the unpainted area, going from wet to dry. Then brush back into the area you painted. Then when you get to the walls, edge around the ceiling first. If you have a semi-gloss or gloss, make the final brush strokes away from the light source in the room -- the tiny ridges that a brush leaves won't be as pronounced. Like the ceiling, use the m-stroke technique.
9. Know how to store your leftover paint. Lowe's says if you have leftover paint, clean any excess paint from the rim of the can, tap the lid tight with a hammer and a block of wood and then store solvent-based paint cans upside down to prevent a skin from forming. Also, avoid extreme heat or cold.
10. Dispose of paint properly. Disposal methods vary, depending on where you live. Find out what your local environmental, health and safety laws are regarding paint disposal.