Old Becomes New
Feel like a fresh start or just want to freshen up a room for spring? Painting a room (or rooms!) is the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to improve your home's appearance. Paint and materials for painting a 12- x 12-foot room start at $50 to $100. Depending on what supplies you already have, it could be substantially less. Bang for buck, it's hard to beat paint to liven up a room.
Preparation Is the Key
Take your time, and a new coat of paint will put a smile on your face for years. Rush the preparation, and you'll recognize your drips, runs, and sloppiness every time you enter the room. Patch nail holes and cracks with spackle, and sand it smooth later. Move furniture. Clean walls, ceilings, and floors with soap and water. Use drop cloths. Remove outlet/switch plates. The time you put in on prep will pay off!
Look Out for Lead
Lead-based paint can be hazardous to your health, plain and simple. More significantly, it is a major source of lead poisoning in children. So if you are sanding or prepping an older home for painting, be aware that lead is found in paint in about two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and in one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960. If you live in such a home, there are do-it-yourself test kits; however, for peace of mind, you might want to hire a professional to do an in-home test. Alternately as a middle ground, you can mail out a sample to have a laboratory test your home’s paint. Get more information, see Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Latex vs. Oil-based Paint
If you're a novice, go with water-soluble latex. It's easier to apply and clean up. Latex is also nontoxic, dries in one to two hours, and has less odor. So if you feel like letting the kids help out, stick with latex -- but remember that interior rooms still should be well ventilated. Oil-based paints are better for sealing stains, adhering to metal or dirty surfaces, or for use in high traffic areas. The downside is they take up to 24 hours to dry, have strong odors, and require mineral spirits or turpentine to clean up. Oil-based paints are a flammable, hazardous material requiring careful disposal. Flat vs. Gloss
Paint is available in a number of finish gloss levels, and flat is basically no gloss. Manufacturers often use percentages to describe a paint's finish; thus flat is around 0-9% gloss (a dull surface) and 100% gloss is reflective (mirror like). Gloss is more durable, easier to clean, and more resistant to staining. Gloss also takes more preparation time because the finish will show imperfections more than flat. Flat is easier to touch up. Walls and ceilings are usually painted flat, while wooden trim and doors are usually painted high gloss.
What Is Eggshell? Do I Have To Be Careful?
Not really. Eggshell is one step up from flat. It is a compromise that is sometimes used to give painted walls a bit more longevity. Walls painted with eggshell finish will handle light marking (think kids and pets) and clean up well with warm, soapy water. Depending on your needs, you might step up to a satin finish for even more durability.
Yes, there is such a thing! While the first generation of environmentally friendly paints of the 1990s were a bit disappointing in their durability, that isn't so with the latest products. Today’s low-toxic paints contain few, if any, volatile organic compounds (gases) that may have adverse health effects. (For more information, see the EPA website. ) By using natural plant dyes and resins instead of potentially dangerous chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde, these new paints make for a safer home and healthier painting environment.