If you own a home, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve wielded a paintbrush a time or two. And even if you haven’t, chances are that you will eventually.
It might seem like picking up a paintbrush and slapping some paint on the walls is the most basic, no-directions-needed, DIY project you can do, but it’s not. Plenty of painting fails will put that rumor to bed. It turns out, there’s a lot more to it than you might have imagined.
But which house painting principles do you really need to pay attention to? We spoke with the experts and asked them to dispel the myths most people believe — but definitely shouldn’t.
Dark colours make a room look small
Believe it or not, there’s really no rule that says you have to use light paint colours in small rooms. If dark colours are your thing, go for it — in moderation.
We have seen plenty of colour schemes, and moody hues can work.
If you use a dark colour for an accent wall, it can truly make the home look much larger by adding variation to the eye.
You need two coats of paint
If you ask anyone on the street how many coats of paint a typical wall needs, 9 times out of 10 they’ll tell you the answer is two. That’s just an unwritten rule of painting that we all blindly follow. Unfortunately, it’s not a rule you can count on.
“This is not true,” says Kayla Martin, owner of ACME Home Interiors. “If you apply primer and are using a quality brand of paint, you can absolutely get away with one coat of paint.”
On the other hand, others have seen it go the other way as well.
This depends on what type of paint product you are using and if the room is prepped for it. “Sometimes we’ve needed to do six coats of paint on walls that were previously a darker colour,” says Martin.
You don’t need primer
If you’re one of the homeowners who think primer is an optional step when painting, we’re sorry to tell you that’s just a myth.
“In order for your project to look like it was done professionally, you absolutely need to use primer,” says Martin. “It helps make the paint job look smooth and allows the paint to adhere to the wall.”
Using primer means you don’t have to clean the walls
Since dirty walls won’t hold on to the paint properly, your walls need to be cleaned with soap and water before you paint. But there’s a dirty rumor going around that a good primer makes that step unnecessary. Don’t heed it, Martin says.
“Painting on dirty, dusty, greasy walls will make it very difficult for the paint to adhere to the surface — even primer,” she explains. “Cleaning your walls will also help provide a professional look to your paint job.”
Your trim should always be white
It’s very common to see white trim on walls — no matter what colour the walls are — but home decor and DIY blogger Morgan McBride of Charleston Crafted says it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, extending your wall colour to your trim (both the top and the bottom) can make the walls look taller and emphasize the details in your moldings.
“It can make a huge impact!” McBride says.
Glossy paint is more durable
It’s long been said that glossy or satin paint finishes are best for rooms that get a lot of moisture, like bathrooms. They’re also often the paint of choice for walls that may get messy, like in kitchens or kid’s rooms, since they’re easier to clean.
But thanks to improvements in paint quality, McBride says most paints are now durable enough for those areas — meaning you can choose any finish you want and know you won’t be stuck with fingerprints or peeling paint just a few months down the road.
Don’t paint before you sell
It may seem like a waste of time to paint your walls before you move. After all, the new owners will probably just change the colours when they move in, right?
But Tonya Bruin, CEO of renovation company To Do-Done, says that’s usually not true: “This is always a good idea, as it increases the home’s selling value since a lot of people don’t want to invest any more time, effort, or money in doing it themselves.”