Painting is one of those inexpensive improvements that can transform a home in a matter of hours. And yet, it’s a home maintenance project that many of us just keep putting off.
A new study by the paint brand Glidden reveals that 84 million Americans intend to paint a room in their home in the next year. “Intend” is the operative word, however. The majority agree that painting is easy, but admit they’ll procrastinate anyway. Many people stall because they’re stressed about things like choosing a color, doing prep work, cleaning up, and knowing exactly how much paint to buy.
So if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the prospect of painting, rest assured that you’re not alone. But if you have been putting it off, we have some tips to help motivate you to deal with the most annoying parts of the job, so you can accomplish your project once and for all.
Don’t put off prep work
The idea of having to wrestle with the arduous task of preparing the area to be painted is a stressor that keeps many people from embarking on a painting spree.
“If less prep were required, 76 million people would be more likely to start the paint project,” says Luke Klein, senior brand manager at Glidden in Pittsburgh.
But skipping this step can result in a major DIY flop. Mark Eichelberger, senior product manager of architectural paint at Sherwin-Williams, says you have to remove loose paint, thoroughly clean the surface, and sand any glossy surfaces until they’re dull.
“Skipping the prep work can lead to a number of failures, such as lack of adhesion, poor hiding, poor sheen uniformity, and uneven surface appearance,” he says.
Make cleanup a cinch
Once the paint is on the walls, homeowners are faced with what some consider another daunting task: how to clean paint brushes and supplies.
If you’re using latex paint, Klein says you can use warm soapy water to clean your tools. However, with oil-based paint, you’ll need more than that.
“A solvent—like paint thinner, mineral spirits, or acetone—should be used,” Klein says. Always dry your brushes by laying them flat or hanging them with the bristles facing down.
Disposing of paint is its own separate beast. Never, ever, pour it down a drain or storm sewer. Keep some extra paint on hand in case you need to do touchups—it should be good for two years. For the rest, Klein says, contact your local environmental regulatory agency for paint disposal instructions. Some paint-supply stores will also accept empty or partly used paint cans for disposal. If you have a goodly amount of unused paint, a charity like Habitat for Humanity or even a local theater group might be able to put it to good use.
Choose the right amount of paint
Some folks tend to purchase too much paint, while some don’t get enough to finish their project. What’s the best way to estimate what you’ll need?
The typical rule of thumb is to bargain on 1 gallon for every 300 to 400 square feet, says Jenny Burroughs, senior product manager at PPG Paints.
“However, some paint formulas and wall textures may require more specific amounts,” she adds.
Refer to Burroughs’ approximations below:
- 1 gallon: bathroom
- 2 gallons: average-size room (up to 800 square feet). This is the most common amount needed.
- 3 gallons: a large room or a couple of average-sized rooms (up to 1,200 square feet). Consider purchasing an extra gallon of paint for a room with vaulted ceilings.
- 4 gallons: several average rooms (up to 1,600 square feet)
Focus on the end result
Do you have trouble making decisions? Well, we have some bad news: You’ll be faced with many choices during the painting process. Which shade of gray suits this room? Will I still like this color when it’s on the walls? Should I rearrange my furniture to match my new paint color?
Visualizing the end result—how the space will look when you’ve finished painting—can help you get through the decision-making process.
“When you have a clear idea of the end result, it’s a little bit easier for you to get started,” says Klein.
Luckily, the dreams of your freshly painted pad don’t have to be all in your head. This is 2019, after all! Most paint companies have online paint visualizer tools that show you exactly how the color will look on the walls in your home. Sherwin-Williams lets you upload a photo from your house and virtually paint the walls, and Glidden’s Match My Color online tool allows you to upload a photo to match a color of your choice, like your favorite shirt.
So why delay? Get that painting project underway!