Top coat: the expert guide to painting your house perfectly – from walls to floors to radiators | Homes
ÖOver the past year you may have thought idly about repainting all or part of your home. With the lockdown, you may have decided that now is the time. If so, you are not alone: paint companies are still delivering and sales are brisk. But is this really the time to tackle a project like this? And can you succeed even if you’ve never done it before? We asked the experts for the best way.
Before you start
The good news is that painting your own house can save you a lot of money as the labor makes up most of the decorating cost. The bad news is that there is a reason painters are expensive. Painting is difficult.
The biggest mistake beginners make is thinking too big, according to Joa Studholme, author of How to Decorate and color curator for Farrow & Ball paint company. “My main advice is to start small,” she says. “If you have a small hall this can be a good start. There you can indulge your fantasies of doing something pretty strong and bold, which you might want to do right now, but then you don’t have to watch it all day. “
Painting an entire room is sure to keep you busy, but if you’re new to it you probably won’t find it terribly therapeutic. “I do it where I think, ‘Oh, I’m going to paint this and it will be really calming,’” says Studholme. “And painting is actually stressful. Smaller things are much better to do. “For beginners, she suggests starting with your front door or the legs of a table. “Paint the inside of a closet a fun color and that will make you smile every time you open it,” she says. Once you have an idea of what it means, you can walk into a room.
Lockdown seems like fertile ground for ill-advised decisions, but Edward Bulmer, interior designer and head of the Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Company, says there may never be a better time to choose colors. “When you think about it, it’s not often that we can look at our rooms at any time of the day,” he says, “and in changing weather and probably in full use when you have your family nearby.”
You can still order sample pots from many companies, including Bulmer’s and Farrow & Ball (delivery times may be a little longer, but none of us go anywhere). Instead of putting it on the wall, paint a generous piece of card – A5 or larger – or a piece of old wallpaper. “Then put it on the wall around the room and look at it in different lights,” says Studholme. “You may feel like a real idiot, but that’s the best way to judge what it’s going to look like.”
If you don’t know where to start, let the colors of other surfaces in the room guide you: floors, countertops, tiles, and large pieces of furniture. “A decision you haven’t already made,” says Bulmer. Work with what you have.
Tools and accessories
At the very least, you’ll need a scraper, tape, some sandpaper, filler, plenty of stamens, a decent brush or two, and a roller and tray. “We recommend a medium-pile roller, not a foam roller,” says Bulmer. “It will help to lay the paint in a bit more like you would with a brush.” As for paint, the amount needed varies depending on the type, but five liters of emulsion cover about 60 square meters. Emulsion is for walls and ceilings; Egg shell for woodwork. Cheap paint is likely a bogus economy because it doesn’t go that far. “One of the expensive ingredients in paint is titanium dioxide, which is the basic white pigment,” says Bulmer. “Usually you use less of it to make a color cheaper so you have less coverage.”
“Preparation is everything,” says Studholme. Professional painters prepare a room much longer than they paint. Move all the furniture to the center of the room and cover it with dusters. Scrape off loose old paint. Fill cracks and nail holes and sand flat. Sand to create a key (a sticky pad) for the new paint. Mask the edges of the carpet. Apply primer to your walls and don’t worry too much about how it looks. It’s only there to create a stable painting surface.
When painting a ceiling, paint the edges and other tricky parts first. Photo: Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy
If you are making the blanket this should be done first; You can get up there with either a ladder or a roller on a pole. Before doing this, use a small brush to paint the edges where the ceiling meets the wall or other architectural features. You can mask the edges with duct tape if you are not sure. Then roll. Expect to get away heavily speckled.
Start by carefully “cutting” the top edge where the wall meets the ceiling with your eye with a brush. Do the same along all of the wood edges (you may be a little more inaccurate here because you will be painting the woodwork later). If that part sounds daunting, Studholme has a simple solution that is also in vogue: paint everything – walls, ceilings, woodwork – the same color. “It’s so much easier for decorating your home and it makes the room look bigger,” she says. It’s by no means a radical idea. “There is a historical precedent for this. Georgian rooms were often painted in one color. “
When it comes to rolling your walls, the most important piece of advice is to keep going. “This is really the only trap,” says Bulmer. “Modern emulsions are nice and quick drying, but it also means you have to start and move on. Don’t start, stop, answer a call and have a cup of coffee. “A stop-start approach gives a streaky finish. Paint a single layer at a time and let it dry overnight. In most cases, two coats should be enough.
Real care is required here: painting windows, door frames and skirting boards with beautiful straight edges and without dripping or splashing on your freshly painted walls. Not once, but three times because you need a primer plus two top coats. It’s fiddly, but there’s still room for some creativity here. “One trick is to paint the spindles on your banisters dark,” says Studholme. “It’s pretty tedious, but it’s pretty fun and it makes a big difference. It creates that satisfying dark core, a backbone through your house. “
Use duct tape to cover areas before painting any woodwork. Photo: Grafner / Getty Images / iStockphoto
“I love a painted floor,” says Studholme. “With painted floors, the rule is that they always look much lighter than expected. Nobody notices how much light falls on a floor. If you paint a floor light, it will reflect the light in your room. “It’s just the cheapest way to cover a floor there is.
You need a sturdy, hard wearing paint. There are special floor colors, and some experts even recommend boat colors. It’s a big undertaking – you’ll have to completely empty the room – but it’s not that technically challenging. “Painting floors is easy,” says Studholme. “Gravity helps. However, you will need to let it cure for a few days before walking on it. “If you are stuck in two rooms during lockdown, now may not be time to limit yourself to one. You also need to think about which part of the room you will end up in, or you will literally paint yourself in a corner.
The factory finish of a modern radiator does not need to be painted. However, if it’s intrusive, you may want to hide it. In this case, a light sanding process and an oil primer followed by the “eggshell version of the wall,” says Bulmer. There is such a thing as radiator paint, but it may not be the color you need. The radiator should be cold when painting and then left off for 24 hours afterwards so the weather forecast may play a role.
Once you’ve completed the project, Studholme suggests that you record all of the colors and finishes you’ve used in case you need to repaint parts later. Store leftover paint in a cool, dry, frost-free place, ready for touch-up or other small projects. “Last night I climbed a ladder and painted a square around the mirror over our fireplace,” she says. “I thought it would be nice to have some color there. It probably took me eight minutes and I can color it again tomorrow if I don’t like it. “
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