A Primer in Painting, Colour Selection and Art Finishing

A well-planned paint job can add texture and dimension to your surroundings. Choosing the right color or color story can tie in your existing furnishings, update them and create a real flow in your home. Here’s an overview to give you some basic guidelines to help you get started.

Who Will Do the Job?

The first step is determining whether you’re going to hire someone or do this yourself. Hiring someone means you have to get a referral from someone you know and trust or you get at least three recent references from a contractor. Prices and workmanship will vary widely, so make sure you interview the contractor thoroughly to get an idea of how they work.

The home reno market is still hot and contractors are busy – busy enough to turn work down, double book and hold up your job. Communicate your time lines and make sure you are clear about what you want and when you want it. Most contractors want to get the job done so they can move on to the next project. The more prepared everyone is up front, the more likely the job will run smoothly.

Preparing to Paint

The second big step is site preparation – and this applies to both the contractor and the do-it-yourself homeowner. Make sure the walls are smooth. Any bumps are cracks or rough spots need to be plastered, sanded and thoroughly wiped off. Take all pictures and hooks off the walls and fill in all holes, however small.

Tape, cover and protect your floors and furniture. Make sure the contractor treats your rooms and furnishings with the same care that you would. Use a good quality primer over the existing paint. It will even the tone and punch out the color on your walls.

Testing for Color

Many people pick their paint color by looking at a chip or by taping that 1″x 2″ piece of cardboard on the wall. The more cautious put a stroke on the wall and look at it at some point during the day. Then, after the job is finished they look at it and say to themselves “That’s not the colour I picked. It looks awful.” To truly test a color in a room, paint an entire wall – primer plus two coats – and look at it in the morning, afternoon and night. Make sure it’s what you want.

When it comes to colour you have to consider what you like first. You’re going to live with it. Don’t pick something that’s “in” if you don’t like it. Second, look at the colours you have in your home in your furniture and art. Consider choosing a hue or tone that’s common in the furnishings or a good complement to them. Finally, unless you really like painting, pick something that will last for a few years.

Finishing Touches

A basic guideline for paint finishes is as follows: satin oil-based paint on trim, doorways and windowsills. It’s more durable and much easier to clean. Avoid anything glossier than an eggshell sheen on the walls. Too much gloss highlights any imperfections in the wall and can look a little too sparkly. Use flat coats on ceilings.

Faux finishing has received a bad rap, and for good reason. Most of the do-it-yourself jobs are amateur, dated and not all that attractive. Faux finishing had its first big boon in the early 1980s, where sponging, ragging and stenciling were replacing traditional wallpaper. Home decor and customized painting has changed dramatically since then. Classic tones and muted finishes complement streamlined and traditional or minimal modern furnishings.

Just as furnishing and paint styles reflect classic and streamlined styles, so does artistic finishing. One of the most exciting new trends to emerge is a simple plaster style applied to all ceilings and walls.

This finish is ideal for new homes as it’s treated on new drywall. It’s achieved by applying a skim coat of lime plaster over drywall. This creates a smooth glass-like plaster with a pearlized finish.

This is then treated with a tinted wax to give it some depth and further protected with a clear topcoat. The finished product is a stunning warm space in linen, cream or off-white. It’s easy to touch up and will last for years.