In a seller’s market, something as simple as slapping a fresh coat of paint on your house gives you better curb appeal and can increase your home’s value. But there’s a fine line between the look of a professional painter and the quick and sloppy job the neighbor kids may perform. The key to painting like a pro is simple in conception: smooth, even strokes that disappear into one seamless surface. But achieving this polished look comes from following a few simple guidelines.
The Power of Primer
While wandering the halls at the hardware store browsing for the perfect color, you might pass by the cans of primer with an uninformed shrug. The elusiveness of primer remains to most a seemingly unnecessary part of the painting process–kind of like flossing your teeth, brushing them, and using mouth wash. But primer is the key that will save you from putting on more coats than Ralphie’s kid brother in A Christmas Story. It creates a blank canvas for your paint job, sealing porous surfaces and neutralizing whatever colors you are painting over. Primer is essential for achieving that smooth, professional look–and it only costs around $10 a gallon.
Brush v. Roller v. Sprayer: What to Use and When
The paint sprayer, easily the most awesome tool that comes to mind when starting a painting job, gives you both the power of speed and a smooth finish. It diffuses the paint into small particles and showers your walls evenly like a light Seattle rain in May. It is a professional-grade piece of equipment, and requires both patience and some serious equipment. It’s best to use this puppy outside where the stakes a lower and you don’t have to worry about leaving paint stripes and light splatters on your carpet.
The most popular, and far more economically feasible, option is the roller. It allows you to cover a ton of ground and it’s simple enough to use that you can recruit the whole family to help out. The trick to achieving the even finish of a professional job is to lather the roller and paint the entire height of the wall. Don’t let your roller go dry; the extra pressure you apply to compensate for a drying roller generates ugly paint buildup and obvious stripes that scream “amateur effort.” Be sure to maintain what the professionals call a “wet edge.” This is where you overlap the edges painted just previously to create a consistent spread of the paint over the entire wall. The roller is a perfect tool for both the interior and exterior painting of your home.
Although seemingly elemental, the paint brush is an indispensable tool for every paint job. It gives the painter maximum control for the finer edges that are unreachable with both the roller and sprayer. It is perfect for trim and tight corners that require a more delicate touch. Be prepared! With a brush you run the risk of dripping worse than your nose with a nasty cold. Aside from droplets of paint peppering your carpet and flooring, a hard, dried glob of paint is the most unwanted decoration that can result from painting a room. Avoid excess paint on your brush by scraping your edges directly on the paint tray.
Color Me Perfect
Finding the right color is subjective; although some might say the color of your house is a reflection of your personality, that should not engender anyone to decorate their space in lime green and florissant orange. Traditional colors are tradition for a reason; be sure to check out this guide for choosing the perfect color for both the inside and the outside of your home.
Once you’ve found the perfect color, take in the ancient axiom: all paint cans are not created equal: the colors in each can, even if bought and mixed at the same store, can look slightly different from one another–and no one wants a mosaic when looking for uniformity. Try tossing all that paint into a sealable bucket and mixing it all together. This will give you a consistent color that you can then spread with confidence over your home.
Meet Tape and Tarps, Your New Best Friends
The importance of tarps while painting indoors should go unsaid. They are a God-send to preserve flooring and furniture and keep you from accidentally achieving that horrendous 90s paint-splatter look. Tape too gives you a buffer when the work hours run long. Use it along the trim as to not bleed paint over the work you’ve already done (a second aspect that should go unsaid: wait for your paint to dry before putting tape over it!).