Katie Holdefehr for Real Simple on tips to pick the right interior color paint that you’ll be happy with.
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Here’s how to get it right the first time.
If you want to avoid painter’s remorse, choosing the right paint requires more than just selecting a paint chip (although that part’s important, too). Before you commit, there are a few more factors to take into consideration, such as the light each room in your house receives and how the color looks in both natural and artificial light. Plus, you’ll want to measure the space beforehand to know exactly how many gallons to get. If you end up changing your mind, you can always repaint, but whenever you want to get a paint job done right the first time, this is the technique to follow. Here are six things you should do before picking out interior paint.
Test Samples Throughout the Day
Most of us know that if you really want to be sure you love a color, you’ll need to not only pick up a paint chip, but also a jar of sample paint (or a stick-on color swatch). Because colors look different throughout the day as the light in the room changes, you don’t want to just brush on a color and make your choice—but observe it over time. How does the color look in the morning versus the afternoon? And how does it look at night once natural light is replaced with artificial light? If you still love the color in all of these scenarios, only then do you know you have a winner.
Brush Samples Right on the Wall
If the walls you’re painting are plaster, have any texture to them, or are covered in wood paneling or intricate molding, it’s a good idea to brush a paint sample directly onto the surface. Textured surfaces reflect light differently than smooth ones, changing how the color is perceived. If you have a new home with perfectly smooth walls, painting a sample on a board that you can move from room to room should work, but if you have older walls with lots of texture, painting directly on them is the way to go.
Find the Right Finish
Once you know what color you want, there’s still one more decision to make: what finish to get. In general, the higher the sheen, the more durable and easy-to-clean the painted surface will be. However, high gloss surfaces show dirt. To find a happy medium, opt for an eggshell or satin finish on most interior walls. Semi-gloss is the go-to on trim and baseboards, since they face a lot of wear and tear.
Measure How Much Paint You Need
Sure, you can probably take an estimated guess whether you need one gallon or two, but if you want to avoid another trip to the paint store, measuring the room beforehand can help. Using a paint calculator, enter the height and length of each wall in the room, plus how many doors and windows there are. The tool will calculate exactly how many gallons you’ll need to buy. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to run out to the store covered in paint.
Decide if You Need Primer
Not every paint project necessitates primer, but if you’re going from a dark color to a light color, it’s a good idea. Primer works to cover the original color more effectively than paint, so you won’t have to roll on five coats. If you’re painting kitchen cabinets or a piece of furniture, primer can help the paint adhere to the surface, preventing chips and scratches later.
Invest in High-Quality Tools
When it comes to painting, a high-quality brush and roller cover make all the difference. The cheapest brushes will lose bristles as you paint and leave obvious brushstrokes behind, while a low-quality roller cover will shed bits of fuzz onto the freshly painted wall. To prevent this, invest in good brushes and roller covers, then learn how to clean them properly so you can use them for many more paint projects to come.