Selecting The Right Paint For Your Job

Selecting the Right Paint For Your Job

An interior I painted in Kansas City. Selecting The Right Paint For Your Job

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 21st 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, but I’m not sure. 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, yet 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.

One thing that’s very popular lately is buying extremely expensive paints made in the UK, Australia and the like, ones often promoted by interior designers, probably for the profit margin. They may have fancy names but I simply have found good American brands to be the best in the world. And that’s not to mention how worthless such brands can be, given their poor storage life. The lids in particular are flimsy, don’t seal well, easily rust and get glued into place.

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. Even Behr Paint is fairly decent and in wide use now because it’s sold through Home Depot. On the other hand, high quality paints often go further in coverage and perform better with time anyhow.

One of my favorites over the years has been Pratt & Lambert. They are a top-of-the-line company who have especially excelled in the elegance of their colors. A limited line of P & L is now available at Pacific Palisades’ own Anawalt Hardware in a very affordable $50 range. I would encourage you to take advantage of that.

On Finishes

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 mildewcides, UV protectants, flexible acrylics 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. 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 lately, 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 new patching is sufficient to guarantee proper one coat coverage and protection. All the same, I would encourage two finish coats as a matter of course. Brushing and rolling jams the paint into the surface more than spraying, thus protecting it and leaving a thicker film. If I do spray, it’s usually on a larger job but I back roll and brush it into the surface anyway.

I have found that power washing a house is usually unnecessary and often an add-on contractors like to charge, but sometimes it’s necessary. In any event, I am happy to do whatever you 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. Colors coordinate when they complement each other and are only recognized when they’re placed 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 play off of when choosing 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.

Really sophisticated 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 here except your own. It’s your castle and your 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 aim to be ultra-patient with my customers when it comes to color selection. I know how frustrating it can get and yet how important it is to get what you want. So a little extra time at the first is no problem with me.