Planning and Estimating
Whether you're painting one room or the entire inside of your home, the job will go more smoothly if you have a plan. If you start your planning after you get to the paint store and try to finish the job the same day, you risk having a badly painted wall and some disappointment. The place to start planning is at a desk or table where you can make notes and consider all your options.
Colors come first
The first goal is to choose the color scheme for the room, and your choices should result from a consideration of several factors. First determine the purpose of the room and the mood or feeling you want to create in it. For example, the atmosphere in your bedrooms is probably best served with quiet and understated color. The kitchen, which is often the center of family activities, can be brighter and feature bold colors. A living room can be either calm or lively, depending upon how your family uses the room.
Then consider whether there are features of the architectural style of your home you want to enhance with the color scheme. An Arts and Crafts style home, for instance, takes much of its hand-hewn character from earth tones on the walls and natural wood trim, stained and varnished. If you are starting from scratch and planning a complete makeover, including new furniture, choose colors and furniture together so they complement each other. If you're not changing the furniture, pick colors for walls that don't clash with the furnishings. These are just a few things to think about. Chapter 1 has further information on color selection.
With color choices out of the way, look at the condition of the walls and make notes about problems that need fixing before you start painting. Sketch the walls of each room you plan to paint and note holes that need patching, cracks that need repair, and loose paint that needs scraping and sanding. Note other preparation steps on your sketch, such as "remove baseboards" or "replace light fixture," so you help yourself stay organized without overlooking any preparation step. Measure each room and mark the dimensions on your sketch.
From the list, make a plan
The notes you make will form the basis for a materials list and an organizational plan. First list quantities of prep materials, such as caulk, sandpaper, cleaning agents, and replacement trim you'll need. Then calculate the amount of paint the job will require (see below), as well as brushes, rollers, and other tools. If you need rental equipment, such as ladders or spray equipment, put them on the list too. Break up the tasks -- caulking, replacing trim, scraping, sanding, and priming -- into manageable time frames and write them on a calendar.
- Multiply the length of one wall x its height to find the area of one wall.
- Add areas of all walls together to find the total wall area.
- Multiply the width of a window or door x its height to find the area of the window or door.
- Add the areas of all windows and doors to find the total window and door area.
- Subtract the total window and door area from the total wall area to find the wall area to be painted.
- For triangular areas multiply the height x the width at the base and divide the result by 2 to find the area of the triangle.
- Add the area of triangle to the total wall area (less windows) to find the total area to be painted.
To estimate the quantity you need, divide the total area by the coverage of a gallon. Multiply by 2 if you plan to apply two coats. Buy a little excess paint to allow for spillage and future touch-ups.Air conditions
Humidity and temperature affect the way paint flows on and bonds to the surface. The best conditions for interior painting are moderate humidity and temperatures -- late spring or early fall in most parts of the country. You can add conditioner to paint to improve its flow and run a humidifier if the air is really dry.Green paints
With increasing concern about the effect of chemicals on the environment and human health, paints have become more environmentally and health friendly in the past few years.
Lead, chromium, and mercury have been removed from almost all consumer paints, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been eliminated from spray-can paints. Manufacturers are also working to reduce and eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) -- petroleum solvents used to thin and clean up oil-base paints, small amounts of which are also used in latex paints. Many of these compounds are hazardous to people and require proper personal protection.
In addition, VOC vapors escape into the atmosphere, and in a complex chemical reaction, they produce ozone, a component of smog.
Today, most latex paints contain no more than 10 percent solvent, and many contain only 4 to 7 percent. And the solvent content of oil-base paints has dropped from 50 percent to about 20 percent. Some paint manufacturers have also developed no-VOC lines in response to demands for safer, less noxious paints. Anyone with health or environmental concerns should ask their paint supplier about these environmentally friendly paints.
Water-base paints have improved so much in recent years that many professional painters now consider them superior to oil-base paints for most uses. They exhibit greater colorfastness and better adhesion and allow the surface to breathe better. Water cleanup makes them easier to work with and releases less solvent into the environment.