{52 Shades of White: How to Paint Like a Pro}

I heard somewhere recently that there are some 52 shades of white paint.  As crazy as that seems, I believe it, because I’ve spent many hours trying to pick the perfect shade and it’s no easy task sometimes.

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But talk about a good way to make the task of painting sound even more daunting than it might already seem to the average person who thinks white is white and there being more than one shade of it is a bunch of bologna.

Even if painting isn’t something that you really enjoy doing (unlike moi) there are lots of helpful products and tips out there to make it a really simple task that only requires doing it once. Making sure you prep the surfaces properly and using the right paint for the job will help to ensure your hard work lasts.

My mom taught me how to paint when I was really little and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed ever since. I’ve tried and tested plenty of different brands and paint products over the years to know what my favorites are and figure out which tips work best for me like where it’s okay (and not okay) to cut corners. I’m usually guilty (and my husband has no problem pointing it out) for being blind to something in its hideous state and seeing it for everything it could be with a fresh coat of paint instead. It’s my solution to everything in need of facelift and knowing that if it isn’t exactly how you want it after the first coat, there’s always the next coat!

Feeling like you have to get it right on the first try, that can be really intimidating and you can end up not being completely happy. Of course, it’s always NICE to get that perfect color on the first try, but when there’s a long list of factors that affect how a color will appear on your walls, it’s beneficial to know how to get a true representation of the final look beforehand, and what you can do if it doesn’t turn out just like you hoped.

All the Colors of the Rainbow… & Eight Million More

Your color options are endless, and by that I mean even the thousands of colors on the wall is never the be-all end-all in the world of paint. Some paint shops have incredibly advanced technology to tint a can of paint to a shade in between two that are close, but not quite it. They can literally scan a piece of furniture or a photo for that specific color you’re looking for and come up with the formula to give you the matching paint. They can tell you what would be one shade lighter or darker than a swatch you picked out and mix that up for you too, if that’s what your heart and design desires. It’s fascinating, really. My one and only local paint shop in Vegreville is Home Hardware which can (and has!) done all of these things for me many, many times.

Natura by Beauti-Tone

Paint has come a really long way over the past 10 years and is now more environmentally friendly and safer for us than it ever was before. Oil/alkyd based paints have been drastically phased out over the years because of the harmful fumes to both our health and the environment (and is even been banned in some places) and water or latex based paints have taken over paint store shelving.

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This is such a great thing! If you haven’t experienced the side effects of oil based paints, it’s not pretty. The smell is so intense, it can linger in your house for months and give you a crippling migraine for a week that’ll send you to the ER for paint relief. oye

 After that little setback painting our office, I didn’t go oil based again. Before my next paint project, I asked the experts at Home Hardware which was the least toxic paint brand and they hooked me up with Beauti-Tone’s Natura paint line which is a no VOC paint that’s virtually odorless, has no “side effects” to your home or your health, covers great like any other Beauti-Tone paint and is tint-able to any shade of any color. That was a few years ago and I’ve used it ever since. I was especially happy with my choice to switch to Natura when I got pregnant with Lyric and spent a lot of time painting her nursery without noticing so much as a whiff of odor or having to worry about inhaling anything that was toxic to either of us.

Now that I’m pregnant again I’m obviously sticking to the safer solution in the over-crowded world of paint, and almost have Lyric’s big girl room complete!

I had to paint over the red oil-based paint that I somehow let Davin talk me into doing years ago, which required a little more prep work than going over latex paint would have. Since oil and water don’t mix, I had to sand the red walls down a little bit with a pole sander that I borrowed from a painter that we work with all the time at Vantage. Then I had to wash the walls with TSP and rinse them twice, before I could apply the primer, to make sure it would adhere properly. It only took one coat of Natura Primer and 2 + 1 (for good measure) of Natura Paint on the red walls to cover it completely.

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Tips & Tricks

Here are my top tips for making your paint project straight forward and long-lasting:

  • Prep surfaces properly: give walls a quick wash with a damp cloth or research how to properly prepare surfaces other than walls previously painted with latex paint (oil based surfaces, metal, plastic, epoxy and glass surfaces might require some light sanding and a rinse with TSP to ensure proper adhesion);
  • Mask off any edges with Frog Tape (I skip this step 99% of the time because with an angle brush and a steady hand, it’s okay to cut this corner, just keep a paper towel handy for any slips of the brush);
  • Get the right tools for the job: I use angle brushes, the appropriate fabric roller (smooth, semi-smooth or rough surfaces) for walls, artist brushes and small 4” rollers for small surfaces or intricate lines;
  • Preview your color choice: Bring home four swatches of the same paint sample and tape one on all four walls, then look at them in the morning, afternoon and night to see how you like the color throughout the day because lighting will make a huge difference and a paint color could look nothing at home like it does in the store;
  • Color compare to your furniture: if you have large pieces of furniture or decor that you’ll be using the space that aren’t neutral, they can change the appearance of your new wall color a little bit. I always bring in those pieces to make sure they aren’t going to clash and will compliment each other nicely;
  • Get it just right: don’t be afraid to take your paint back to the store and ask them to re-tint it if it just doesn’t look how you thought it would (obviously I’m talking within a few shades, not changing your mind from purple to green). Sometimes it’s difficult to re-tint a dark shade to a lighter shade because of the amount of the lighter color that it would need, but it never hurts to ask, and it’s better than buying a whole new gallon or sticking with a color you’re not 100% happy with;
  • Consider the sheen: the condition the surface is in should influence which sheen you cover it with – a higher sheen will reveal more imperfections in the wall while a matte sheen will hide them better but won’t reflect the light as much and won’t wipe down as well to clean; Eggshell is good happy-medium for walls, while trims like casings and baseboards are usually done in semi-gloss
  • Store rollers and brushes properly: I’ve never been one to wash my brush or roller at the end of each day if I’m not done with that color, although some say that starting fresh is best. Home Hardware has some really good quality storage containers for both that let you save them for the next session without having to wash them clean and allow them to dry in between. A Ziploc bag with all the air squeezed out has also been known to do the trick in my house!
  • Log your paint: Home Hardware can set you up with an account and save in their system which paint colors you used in which room. It’s never a bad idea to have that information stored somewhere other than the side of your paint can which will inevitably get covered with paint. And don’t forget to take advantage of their collector’s card which gives you one free can of paint once you buy six 😉

Are you a pro-painter or is it something you avoid at all costs? I’d love to hear some of the tips & tricks that worked for you to make it a stress-free job!


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