by Don Clasen
Settling on which paint to buy can be a bewildering experience to the average consumer. There are so many brands to choose from, so many lines within a brand, and so many types of paint to deal with. Most interior and exterior jobs are pretty straightforward however and don’t require specialized knowledge or products. In this article I’ll give you some broad overall considerations to keep in mind.
Since the turn of the century the price of paint in general has seemed to skyrocket. I suspect the only reason for it is due to merger mania wherein larger paint manufacturers have been buying up smaller ones and then jacking up the prices. I cannot do much for you on that except to promise to try to get a contractor’s discount and pass the savings on to you.
Selecting The Right Paint Brand
Having said all that it is an obvious fact that you pretty much get what you pay for in the paint you buy, but not always. I have found over the years paints that were very pricey yet quite average in quality. On the other hand, some inexpensive paints perform beautifully with nice leveling, glide, strong adhesion properties, good hiding power and less splatter or mess. There are so many brands, types and lines involved that it is almost impossible to summarize it all but this is where a professional’s experience comes in handy.
Generally speaking, your larger, full service paint manufacturers provide the best mix in terms of available colors, quality, specialty coatings and convenience of location. I have liked working with Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore and Dunn-Edwards in this regard. I have been less impressed by companies like Pittsburgh and Glidden although they do seem to be a little better lately than they use to. Behr Paint is in wide use now because it is sold through Home Depot. I’ve found it a pretty decent paint considering its lower price. Other companies like Pratt & Lambert have beautiful color choices as do designer brands but you do pay for it. On the other hand, high quality paints often go further in coverage and perform better with time anyhow. But in painting there are no rules. You are the rule maker and whatever makes you happy is right.
The importance of this factor is much greater when it comes to exterior paints which have to be much more substantial, along with added ingredients such as mildewicides, UV protectants and the like, depending on the product. Keep in mind too that your “hotter” colors such as reds, oranges and yellows fade a lot more quickly in the sun. This holds especially true for oil based exteriors which deteriorate rapidly no matter what the color. Try to avoid them outdoors whenever possible.
Generally speaking, the higher the sheen the better the protection and the slower the deterioration rate as well. Sheen refers to the amount of shine or lack thereof, ranging from flat and flat matte, through eggshells, satins, semi-glosses and gloss paints. Because the surface of a flat paint is rougher and duller, they tend to oxidize and fade more quickly in the elements, although quality here can make a big difference. On the other hand, not many people like a shiny exterior although I have seen some that were tastefully done. I’ve heard it’s a style more popular in Europe, especially interiors.
Why Prep Is All Important
In exterior painting especially, prepping the surface is of utmost importance. That can include scraping, sanding, dusting, caulking, patching, glazing, priming and other operations. At Palisades Paint, I have always insisted on good preparation; it brings out the perfectionist in me. I caulk liberally and make sure to smooth it in because sealing off the surface from the rain, the heat and the cracking and splitting it causes is of the utmost importance.
Normally spot-priming where necessary is sufficient to guarantee proper coverage and protection. I rarely spray paint the house unless the customer insists on it since it’s more likely to just sit on the surface. Brushing and rolling jams the paint into the surface, thus protecting it and leaving a thicker film. If I do spray it’s only to save time on a specially large job and then back roll and brush it into the surface anyway. Spraying often only has a cosmetic effect though it makes better money for the contractor.
I have found that power washing a house is usually unnecessary and often an add-on contractors like to charge, but I am happy to do whatever you would like. As I said, there are no rules in painting, only your rules. If you like a color, a brand or a way of doing something, then that’s right for you.
How To Pick Color Combinations Like a Pro
One last things about colors again. The important thing with colors is to match them side by side, not just assume you’ll “pick out a nice gray from the samples” for instance. This principle is especially true with interiors. Colors coordinate when they complement each other and are only recognized when they’re side by side. You’d be amazed at how many colors you’ll find in a shade when another color swatch is beside it. If you’re picking out interior colors, try to take a fabric, picture, pillow or some other item that you would like to “set off” when you choose a color. Lack of forethought here can result in disappointment or added labor costs later on. The help of a professional interior designer here can be immeasurable; they really have an eye.
I once had a customer in Kansas City who had moved into a large new house that was almost all white except for the dining room which was maroon! She brought in a friend and former employee of mine who had spun off into specialty finishes and who did a marvelous job. When she brought me in to finish the regular painting, what impressed me the most was the color combinations she picked out herself. Every room had a different scheme and mood and the combinations were bold to say the least, but they all worked because she had such an eye for color coordination.
Real decorating tends towards different colors and themes for each room. One color throughout the entire house is considered too much of an apartment look though again, there are no real rules in decorating except your own. It’s your castle and you have a right to have it the way you want.
A Simple Tip For The Combo You Want
As I mentioned in a previous article, when it comes to exterior colors a good technique is to jot down the address of a house with a color scheme you really like (obviously one not too close to you!) and then let me match them. There’s no substitute for large, living examples of color schemes to help you decide what you’re looking for.
And of course, I will be glad to help you with the colors if you would like. I also have color wheels we can use or you can borrow. I have them from Dunn-Edwards, Sherwin-Williams and Behr, or I can borrow one from your favorite company. As always I try to be ultra-patient with my customers when it comes to color selection. I know how frustrating it can get and how important it is to get what you want, so a little extra time at the first is no problem with me.