A Fresh Coat

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

January 2, 2009 5 min read


Bright paints can wake up your home for pocket change

Vicky Katz Whitaker

Creators News Service

You don't have to spend thousands to improve the look of your home. A coat of paint may be all that's needed.

And if you decide you want to redo those pasty pastel interior walls in a deep shade of aqua, spicy red or lime green, you won't be alone. Nor will you be if you opt paint the exterior "tobacco brown," "Mediterranean olive" or "sunset gold."

"With all of the wonderful resources out there, people are learning how to pull off richer colors in their homes," said HGTV Design Star 3 winner Jennifer Bertrand and host of "Paint Over! With Jennifer Bertrand." "Interior color choices have evolved to where homeowners are choosing bold colors." And when it comes to the exterior, "gone are the grays, whites and safe choices."

But, she added, that doesn't mean lighter colors are completely out-of-fashion. "There is something to be said for a color as simple and pure as white. I absolutely adore color and yet, I have chosen to go back to white high gloss walls and I allow my artwork to be my punches of color."

Ann McGuire, color consultant for Valspar Paint, concurred. "People are experimenting with bolder, richer colors. This reflects the attitudes about our homes. We aren't painting so much to please the next homeowner. We are painting them to please ourselves. And now that we will be staying home and entertaining more and more there, we want it to be beautiful and a place we are excited to be in," she said.

Still, it's not unusual to fear color, said Jackie L. Jordan, color marketing director for Sherwin-Williams. "People are still a little afraid of color, although they are getting more brave, so they tend to go too light and end up with something that really does not make a significant change in a room."

Trouble choosing the right color results from being unable "to make the leap from color chip to wall," said McGuire. She recommends obtaining trial sizes of colors, painting them on boards and moving the boards around the room to see the colors in various lights.

The same concept can be used for the exterior, said Doug Vogel, trade sales marketing director of Iowa-based paint manufacturer Diamond Vogel Paints. "Buy a quart and paint a section of your house. Look at the color at different times of the day and in different lights. Look at how the color coordinates with the shingles, neighbors homes and other things around it."

Choosing materials based on price is a big mistake, Jordan said, a view echoed by other paint experts. Cheap paint may prove more costly in the end, she explained, because beyond a lack of washability, stain resistance and overall durability, "economy" priced paint usually takes more time to apply because it requires more coats.

Sheen is important too. Very high gloss finishes may be easier to clean, but it can also highlight imperfections, Jordan pointed out.

In most cases, you don't need special tools to paint. Nationally-recognized do-it-yourself and painting expert Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man," dismisses most of what he terms "the gimmicky items out there that are supposed to make the job easier." If you're going to do your own painting, he said, all you need is "a good brush, roller frame and cover and some good paint to get a quality paint job completed and save some money."

Synthetic brushes are best for latex, and natural brushes for oil, he said, "but here too, you get what you pay for. Good quality brushes will cost between $15 and $25 but they will hold paint well and offer great flow as well as a lifetime of use when taken care of."

In a market once dominated by oil-based paint, latex paint has become the standard -- not only for its ease of application and durability, but also because it is "eco-friendly," containing little or no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs that release solvents into the atmosphere. Oil based paints have been banned in several states, mostly in the northeast, since 2005.

For a stream of ideas on colors and techniques, check out websites such as sherwin-williams.com, valspar.com, hgtv.com and yourcolorsource.com.

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