BY ATHENA McKENZIE
When it comes to refreshing your home, a coat of paint can be transformative — but the process can also be daunting. To help you take the guesswork out of painting projects, three local experts share their answers to common questions, from how to choose the ideal colour for your space to how to tackle those tricky textured walls.
Q: What does one need to know about hiring a professional painter?
EXPERT: Matt Beyers, owner of Indelible Paint Works
Ask a lot of questions. A big one is who will be doing the work? It’s not always the person out doing the quoting. How many guys do you have doing the work? How long do you anticipate it will take? What products will you be using? You also want to get a feeling off the person. Do you want them in your house? If it’s a new build or a big renovation, the painters are there until every other trade is gone, so we’re in your home. It is a personal experience.
Know the difference between a quote and an estimate. A quote will be firm and the estimate is just an estimate. Your quote should be firm and it should outline everything that was discussed: everything that needs to be painted, how many coats and what the prep work will be. You should know what you’re getting before the painter shows up to do the work.
Don’t always take the cheapest quote. Good work isn’t cheap and cheap work isn’t good.
Pros do a lot of prep. We scuff-sand all the walls because it makes a nice surface for the paint; also when you do that, it’s easier to notice little dings and nicks in the wall. All those spots get patched, along with nail holes from paintings and any cracks.
In kitchens and bathrooms, if needed for grease or mildew, we will PSP clean them and then let that dry. Mildew can really eat through your paint. If there are any water or smoke stains, we will clean those, and those walls will need a really good oil primer so the stains don’t leach through the paint. This is all done to achieve the best end result.
Q: What are your best tips and methods for choosing paint colors?
EXPERT: Ivan Meade, principal designer at Meade Design Group
Don’t start with the paint colour. People always want to pick their paint colours first. They see a trending colour and want to use that. But it might not work in your space. You need to start with the other elements in the room. It’s easy to match paint to materials but much harder to match materials to paint. Finalize your materials — for example, your kitchen island counter and backsplash and even your floors — before you pick your paint colour.
Light is the key. You have to do an evaluation of the space. Do you have high ceilings or low ceilings? If you have natural light, what are the natural conditions? Light is the most important thing. If you face east, you will have a warm light in the morning. If you face west, you have orangey yellow light at the end of the day. If you face south you have light all day, but it tends to be more cool. If you’re facing north, you have little light exposure. It’s not just about the room. Start with natural conditions of light. And then look at the artificial light. Even light bulbs can affect the pigment.
Work with colour theory. I always point people to the colour wheel for choosing the palette for their space. A monochromatic scheme is composed of a single hue but can use varying intensities. An analogous scheme uses colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. A complementary scheme brings in colours that are diametrically opposite to each other on the wheel.
Don’t forget the trim. Another area where people make mistakes is with their wall colour and trim. They think they can just use white on the trim, but there are so many whites and using the wrong one on your trim can affect the end result. One trick is to paint the walls in a hue you like and then mix in 80 per cent white with that colour for the trim.
A really contemporary look is to paint the walls and trim in the same colour but with a different finish. For example, use a matte paint on the walls and a glossy on the trim.
Don’t use the tiny paint chips. To address these issues and to get an idea of how a colour will look in your space, get a sample and paint a large poster board. Paint chips are so small and make the colours seem much more intense. Be sure to evaluate at different points in the day and on different walls in the room.
Q: How do you approach a refresh of textured and wallpapered walls when you move into an older home?
EXPERT: Terri Heal, manager at Pacific Paint
Don’t get stuck on removing texture. There has been a trend for people to remove stiple or popcorn ceilings, and walls, but one thing to keep in mind is that many times, when a home was built with the specifications of having a textured ceiling, the quality of the drywall underneath is not quite up to snuff because the builders knew it was going to be covered. That’s a warning for ceilings and walls. You may reveal something less attractive. Also, the stipling was put there for acoustic reasons, not for decoration. It actually helps with sound reverberation, so if you remove the texturing, you are going to have more echo. If done by a professional plaster person, it is possible to skim coat all of the walls to get them looking actually flat.
Use the proper paint. The simplest choice in dealing with a textured wall is to paint it. There are no paints that effectively fill a textured wall. Reasonable quality paints will have a certain thickness of body but they are not intended as texture fill. Using paint with a flat or matte sheen will downplay the texture. A lot of people default to using an eggshell paint for washability, but that finish does have a slight sheen, so it may emphasize the texture or any flaws. Use a washable flat paint. A cheaper flat paint won’t have any washability and if you have an unwashable paint on a textured surface it will look awful in no time. Washable flat is important.
You can paint over wallpaper. Though the best case is to get the wallpaper off, you may not have that option. Some papers — including cheaper older paper and very expensive custom paper — are actually made with a papery material that is somewhat porous. Others are vinyl coated or actual vinyl (for washability) and that’s basically a sheet of plastic on the wall. The latter takes a lot more care and attention.
The safest route for any one of those papers is to prime it in an oil-based primer because the seam lines can be susceptible to water and that can make them come loose or pop up, creating vertical ridges every 20 inches. Even though oil is inconvenient and it stinks, the primer is neutral and you can then put any paint you want on top and achieve the look you want.