If you’re like most of us, the “Great Recession” has probably had a major impact on both your spending habits and your lifestyle. You might be doing more of your shopping at discount stores, vacationing nearby (if you’re vacationing at all), and postponing plans to improve your home.
When it comes to home remodeling, however, you may not want to throw in the towel entirely. According to Debbie Zimmer at the Paint Quality Institute, there’s one project that’s still affordable for nearly everyone: interior painting. What’s more, it is one of the very few home improvements that can be done successfully even by those with little or no experience.
Zimmer shares, “When you consider the low cost coupled with the simplicity of repainting, and the dramatic difference that a fresh coat of paint can make in the appearance -- and enjoyment -- of any room, rather than postpone remodeling, you just may want to put this project at the top of your to-do list!”
Dollars and Sense
The economics of interior painting are hard to beat, especially when compared to other remodeling options. Let’s say your kitchen or bath is in need of an overhaul. You can spend $20,000, $30,000, or even more to entirely redo the space, or you can give the room a totally new look and feel for a small fraction of that amount by simply repainting.
Here’s the lowdown on cost: A gallon of the highest quality interior latex paint will cover approximately 400 square feet of wall space (about enough to repaint a typical 12’ by 15’ room that has a window or two). Add in the cost of some high quality rollers and brushes, and the entire makeover could be completed for less than $100, well within the most modest budget.
If you wanted to splurge, you could do an even more exciting makeover and still keep the cost in the $100-range. For example, you could purchase a second color of paint to apply to just one of your walls for added punch or drama. Or, you could choose to paint your windows and trim in a contrasting or complementary color to give your room a completely new appearance.
After giving it some thought, you might find that a fresh coat of paint is all that’s needed to get the new look you were seeking when you first considered redoing the room.
Of course, this type of rock bottom remodeling does assume that you’ll spend a little sweat equity on the project. The good news is that successful interior painting is a skill quickly learned and long remembered.
If you choose to move forward with repainting, take time to properly prepare the walls and other surfaces before picking up a brush or roller. This will help ensure that the new paint adheres well and that the finished job will be smooth, uniform, and long-lasting.
Thoroughly clean the surfaces by scrubbing them with a sponge and mild household detergent solution to remove accumulated dust, dirt and grime. Stubborn stains, like oil or grease, can be cleaned with a solution of equal parts ammonia and water; a bleach solution (one part bleach, three parts water) is effective in removing mildew. (Note: Do not mix ammonia and bleach together, as they may produce noxious fumes.) After rinsing off the cleaning solutions, allow the surfaces to dry completely.
If your walls are like most, they may need some minor repairs before painting. You can quickly remedy cracks or seams in wallboard or plaster with caulk, drywall compound, or spackling paste. If you use caulk, choose a top quality water-based all-acrylic or siliconized acrylic variety that can be painted; paint will not adhere to silicone caulk.
Assuming that you are also painting the windows or trim, inspect the surfaces for cracked, chipped or peeling paint. Should you find any, use a scraper to remove as much loose or peeling paint as possible, then sand the edges to a smooth finish. If any bare wood is exposed, spot-prime with an acrylic latex interior primer. Large holes in plaster or wallboard can also be easily repaired. For detailed instructions, visit one of the leading websites on paints and painting such as www.paintquality.com.
If you purchase a top quality 100% acrylic latex interior paint, you probably won’t need to spend time applying a primer to your walls. That’s because many of these paints act as both primer and paint.
However, in some circumstances, it may still be advisable to invest in a specialty primer as a first coat.
Specially formulated stain-blocking primers are made to protect the new coat of paint from “bleed through” of staining matter such as embedded dirt, grease, ink or crayon marks, rust, or smoke residue. If your walls are messy or marred even after cleaning them, you might want to consider applying this type of primer as a fail-safe before you paint.
Another specialty primer that is useful in special circumstances is a “vapor barrier” primer. These undercoats are often applied in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas that tend to be damp and humid. Their purpose is to minimize the passage of moisture through the walls to help prevent the failure of your exterior paint. Vapor barrier primers also help maintain a comfortable level of indoor humidity in colder months.
Remember that all latex coatings – primers or paints -- are much lower in odor than oil-based finishes, making them far more pleasant to work with and to live with indoors. Plus, they are much kinder to the environment.
While interior painting allows you to scrimp on your remodeling budget, one place you don’t want to scrimp is on the quality of paint you use, according to the Paint Quality Institute. True, the best quality paints will cost a few dollars more per gallon, but they’ll typically provide many more years of superior performance.
Compared to ordinary paints, top quality 100% acrylic latex interior paints are much easier to work with. They go on easier, resist spattering, and tend not to show brush marks.
These paints also have better “hiding” characteristics, which is especially important when painting over a darker color. That capability, and the single-coat paint-and-primer performance you’ll get with these paints will save you the time, work, and money that would otherwise be needed to apply a second coat.
Top quality 100% acrylic latex interior paints also are tougher and more durable than ordinary paints, which you’ll appreciate in high traffic locations or in any location where there are little ones around. These paints resist fading, yellowing, and staining, and even if they do get spotted or stained, discoloration can often be washed off without damaging the finish.