Whether you’ve been living in your home for years or you just moved in, you may be feeling the temptation to spruce things up a bit. One great way to bring new life to a room or to your whole home is with fresh interior paint. A fresh coat of paint can make a room look shiny and new. It can even cover up some slight imperfections in the walls. And if you choose a paint color that is different from what was already there, you may not just revitalize a room; you might completely transform it. But before you dive into your next paint job, there are a few considerations and tips we’d like to offer.

Brighten up Your Home with New Interior Paint [infographic]

Interior Painting

When it comes time to paint your home, there are a few steps you will have to take.

First, you will have to make the most critical decision of the whole process: Will you do it yourself or hire professionals? To make that decision, you will need to consider a few factors. Important points to consider include:

  • What is your budget?
  • How much time do you have?
  • How much experience do you have?
  • How important is it that the job is done perfectly?
  • Do you have help, or are you going it alone?

DIY vs. Professionals

Budget can be a primary deciding factor in the choice between DIY and professional painting. If you’re trying to save every penny, doing it yourself is almost always cheaper. You’ll have to make all of the decisions yourself, take time to purchase the paint and other materials, and of course, you need the confidence that you can do the job right. But just in terms off dollars and cents, you can’t beat the price of DIY.

We’ve all heard the saying that time is money. If you’re deciding whether to hire professional painters, the time to money equation is crucial. You may save actual dollars doing it yourself, but you will definitely not save time. People spend money on all kinds of time-saving expenditures. If you have the money to spend but not a lot of time to spare, professional painting is probably the best choice. If you have flexibility with your time or just lots of time to spare, you could consider saving cash by doing it yourself.

Your level of experience should play a significant role in your decision to do the painting yourself. It is quite possible to save money by doing the job yourself, but only if you think you can do it right the first time. One reason people hire professionals to do things for them is that it saves them time. A good example would be hiring someone to clean your home or purchasing pre-made dinners. In both cases, you could probably clean or cook for yourself, but there is a value in not having to spend time on those activities. But sometimes you hire a professional for their expertise. For example, you might bring your car to a mechanic or your pet to a veterinarian because you simply don’t have the skills necessary to do the job yourself. The same is true of painting. If you’ve never painted a room before and aren’t sure you can do it right, hire professionals. Hiring someone to do something you can’t do is money well-spent.

To decide whether you feel confident in your skills, you may also want to consider how important it is to you that the results are perfect. If you are painting your formal dining room or a heavily-trafficked area like a living room, you may not want to risk DIY mistakes. But if you are painting a garage, a utility room, or another area most people won’t spend much time, you may be okay with the idea of some imperfect lines or other small mistakes.

Finally, you should consider whether DIY really means going it alone, or if you could recruit some outside help. If you have the help of a friend or family member who is more experienced than you, you may be more willing to forgo the professionals. But if you are staring down a solo project, even if you know what you’re doing, you may not want to tackle the project alone.

Picking a Color

Whether you plan to paint your home yourself or hire professionals, the next most important decision is what color you will use. Unless you are also hiring an interior decorator, picking colors will be up to you. There are a few tips that can help you choose the right colors.

Matching the Decor

Don’t pick colors for an empty room. You have lots of choices of paint colors. Any paint store, or even a home improvement store, will offer hundreds of colors and shades. Furniture, on the other hand, comes with far fewer color options. There are plenty of considerations in selecting room furnishings, many more than just color. Also, you probably already own most, if not all, of the furniture you plan to put in your newly-painted space. So it’s much easier to look at your decor and pick a paint color than to pick a color and then try to find furniture to match.

Take a look at your furniture and think about what colors go well with what you have. If you have brightly-colored furniture or just a color palette that includes a few different colors, use a more neutral color on the walls. Neutral colors don’t have to be just white, gray, or beige. First of all, there are dozens of shades of white, gray, or beige. But sticking with neutrals will avoid bright, clashing colors.

If you are painting a room with neutral features, you can go for a bolder, brighter paint color. A great example of a room with neutral decor is a bathroom, where most of the fixtures are white. A bathroom or powder room is a great space to explore some bolder colors.

Picking the Right Neutral

To find the right neutral, always look at the darkest shade on a color strip. You won’t necessarily use that shade, but the darkest shade makes it easiest to see what color a neutral really is. Some neutrals are really a shade of green or blue, while others may be shades of yellow or brown. Pay attention to what family your neutral belongs to. Pick a neutral the complements the existing decor in a room.

Looking at the darker shades will also make it easier to tell is a neutral color is warm or cool. Pick cooler colors to make a space feel larger and more open. Use warmer colors to make a space feel cozy and more intimate.

Whichever neutral you choose, you don’t have to paint the whole house a single color. If you have a large space, like an open concept floor plan, select your main color, and then select another color that is a couple of shades lighter or darker on the same color strip. Pick an accent wall or an adjoining room to use your secondary color. It will help break up the space and give a little more depth to your interior design.

Test Your Color Choices

Most paint stores and most brands offer test cans for just a few dollars. If you think you know what color or colors you want, bring home a test can. Buy a few different shades or colors to help narrow down your final choice. Paint your test color or colors onto a few walls. Make sure you paint an area large enough to see how the changing light in a room affects the appearance of the paint. You want a color that looks good at different times of day as the sun moves and also at night with artificial light.

You can also paint your tester colors onto pieces of poster board and hold them up to your furniture to see how they match, complement, or contrast. You want to avoid exact matches, but you also want to make sure nothing is going to clash.

Understanding Sheen

Paints don’t just come in colors; they come in sheens. Your choices range from flat matte to high-gloss enamel. In general, the shinier a paint is, the more it will highlight imperfections in the wall. So if you are trying to hide flaws in your wall, aim for the least sheen that makes sense for the space.

Flat matte paint has no shine at all. It is also the most difficult type of paint to clean. You can use flat matte paint in low-traffic areas where you’re not concerned about scuffing or stains. Bedrooms are one example of an area to use flat matte paint. You can also use it on ceilings since there is very little chance you will get any dirt on your ceilings.

Flat enamel paint is not quite as matte as flat matte. It has almost no noticeable sheen, but the most significant difference is that it is easier to clean. It should still be reserved for low-traffic areas but might be preferable if you have children or pets who could dirty your walls.

Eggshell enamel paint is only slightly shiny and is a better choice for high-traffic areas of your home like living rooms. Most scuffs and marks can be safely wiped off of eggshell enamel paint. If you have children or are just worried about dirty walls, you can find paints that are specially formulated to be easier to clean.

A satin enamel paint has a noticeable shine and works well in high-traffic or damp areas. It can usually be easily wiped cleaned. The ease of cleaning and durability make it ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.

Semi-gloss enamel paint looks shiny, but it is not quite high-gloss. This kind of paint is suitable for areas that will be handled a lot, like cabinets. It is also great for trim. If an area will be hit with a lot of moisture, semi-gloss paint is the most durable option.

Hi-gloss paint is shiny. It is also extra-durable. This is the paint you should use on hand railings or painted furniture.

Finding the Right Painter

If you have decided to go the professional route, your next and final big decision is who you are going to hire to paint your home. When it comes to painters, there is a very wide range of skill levels and professionalism.

Some people who advertise themselves as painters really have no training and only limited experience. They may be able to get paint onto your walls, but will likely leave a lot of imperfections. Expect uneven edges, painted-over trim, and more than a little mess left over. As consumer investigators, we’ve seen plenty of homeowners who hired painters they didn’t know much about and ended up with more trouble than they bargained for. And on top of that, these fly-by-night painters wouldn’t make it right, or sometimes just disappeared.

If you want your home painted right, the best way to go is with an experienced professional. Real, reliable painters come with years of experience, proper tools and training, and are bonded and insured. That’s who you want painting your home. It may cost a little more, but paying for a real painter is money well spent.

To find a reliable, professional painter in your area, try one of these TrustDALE certified painters. Every painter in the TrustDALE Circle of Excellence has undergone Dale’s 7-point investigative review and is also covered by Dale’s trademark $10,000 Mak-It-Right™ Guarantee.

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