Brush up on painting, the easiest, most economical way to change your home's look and feel, both inside and out.
1. Inside or out, it's smart to try out colors before painting. Buy a quart, paint it onto cardboard, and hang it on the wall to see how it looks with its surroundings and in various lighting situations. Test decorative finishes the same way.
2. A home's setting should affect color choices. Shady areas make colors appear darker; lively colors can be too bright in well-lit areas. To play down a two-story home among single-story houses, paint the upper half or dormers a darker hue.
3. Painting in cool weather? Use low-temperature exterior paint, which can tolerate temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit within 24—48 hours of painting. Most paints handle temperatures only as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. The right paint brush is as critical to a good paint job as quality paint. For oil-base paint, China bristle paint brushes, which leave few brush marks, are a good choice, but the bristles might break when used on rough surfaces. For acrylics and high-quality latex paints, nylon paint brushes are best. Nylon-polyester blends and 100-percent-polyester brushes work with any paint. Expect to spend at least $9 for a quality 3-inch paint brush.
5. For the best paint application, select a roller cover with the appropriate nap size. In general, the rougher the surface, the longer the nap required.
6. Front doors, the center of onlookers' attention, deserve special thought. In general, doors with high-gloss paint finishes look dramatic and punchy, while those with natural wood finishes are welcoming and warm.
7. When stored properly, a can of paint lasts three to five years. Store paint between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid placing cans on concrete floors, where they rust more quickly. Write on the can or a piece of tape to indicate the color of the paint, date of purchase, and how much paint remains in the can.