Painting Inside and Out

A change in season is a great time to tackle the home projects you’ve been putting off all summer long. Maybe your living room needs a splash of color or your home’s exterior is in ready for an update. Whether the project is big or small, you can be sure a fresh coat of paint is the answer.

“Painting really is the one thing you can do for you home that’s inexpensive yet still makes a huge impact,” says Barbara Richardson, Director of Color Marketing Services for Glidden Paint. “It doesn’t take much to shake things up when you’re using paint.”
Richardson should know—she’s used paint as her go-to supply for some surprising do-it-yourself projects. For example, when she moved into a new home a few years ago, she was faced with an outdated set of kitchen cabinets and a small budget for home improvements. Richardson decided that re-painting the cabinets would do the trick.

“I grabbed my sister to help me,” she recalls. “It took us hours but we laughed and reminisced the entire time and felt so accomplished when we were done.” Another plus? Their collaboration yielded a fresh idea. The two painted Richardson’s upper cabinets in a coffee-colored hue and the lower cabinets in black. “I love how they turned out,” she said. “It was such a fun way to incorporate color in a new, modern way.”

And what about choosing the right paint colors? Richardson suggests being aware of trends, but try not to make them your one and only goal. “You need to be happy with your choice, you need to design your home for your needs and your family’s needs,” she says. “And that means finding the colors that speak to you.”

Many paint manufacturers, including Glidden, provide paint palette brochures in-store, which give shoppers an idea of how one color will work with others in an entire room. “Paint palettes have a more complete range of colors so you will see a more cohesive, overall look,” she says. “It helps to take the strain out of choosing colors and leaves shoppers more confident in their choices.”

Test-driving paint colors at home is another smart idea, especially when you’re tackling larger projects such as the entire interior or exterior of your home. If you’re doing the work yourself, bring home a few sample jars of paint and try them on the wall. If you’ve hired a professional painter, ask him to do it for you.

Tony Pitti, a professional painter with more than 30 years of experience and president of Gold Brush Painting on Long Island, provides this service for all of his clients. Pitti will take the time to paint several 2 x 2 or 2 x 3 patches on the wall so that his clients can see the colors in the space, live with them and finally, choose what feels right.

Such attention to detail is so important when hiring professional painters. “When you’re hiring a professional, it’s their experience, knowledge and quality-of-work that you’re looking for,” says Pitti. “Homeowners need to ask the right questions to ensure they are hiring the right person.”

First up? Make sure they are licensed and have insurance. “Accidents happen—paint gets spilled or a light gets broken, if there’s no insurance, it just makes the situation worse,” says Pitti.

Another important area to grill prospective pros about? Preparation. How a professional preps the home for painting is a huge indicator of how the job will turn out.

For exterior jobs, a power-washing is a must, followed by a thorough sanding and a coat of oil-based primer. “A proper power-wash consists of first using a mildewcide to kill any mildew,” says Pitti, “Then, it’s time to wash away dirt, grime and loose paint with a high level of water pressure.” (Pitti uses 4,000 pounds per square inch of water pressure!)

For interiors, especially new construction, skim coating—spackling every inch of the walls and trim—is key. “You have to start with a smooth, consistent surface to ensure a quality paint job,” says Pitti. Also, he recommends using oil-based paints. While many homeowners shy away from it because of the odor and the longer drying time it requires, Pitti says it’s the only way to get a hard, durable, ceramic-like finish that gleams.

If you’re still not sure about the perspective pros, even after a thorough interview, ask around. “So many of my clients rely on word-of-mouth recommendations,” says Pitti. “Professional painters are a dying breed, there are too many out there that don’t provide the quality of work they should be for the amount of money homeowners are spending.”

While prices vary by project, Pitti does say that a quality paint job should last a homeowner anywhere from 8-10 years, anything less than that and you’re throwing money away.

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.