Picking the Right Paint For Your Remodel

Johanna Macalalag

Johanna Macalalag

October 28, 2018

Paint can make or break a room, so it’s very important to consider a few factors before buying (and re-buying) gallons of it! One time, I was refreshing a bathroom for a client and the paint we chose turned her bathroom a light shade of purple instead of grey! Yes, purple. It was a quick job so we just chose a color in the showroom based on some swatches and didn’t think anything else of it. About a week later, I got a panicky voicemail asking if the contractor applied the right paint because her bathroom was basically purple. Turns out, the lighting and the navy blue color of the vanity made the grey seem really purple. In light of that, I have compiled some advice on how to best choose the paint for your new space!

1. Sample Swatches

I cannot stress this enough, it is the most important step to choosing paint for any room.

In general there are too many factors to consider (lighting, room size, furniture color, floor color, etc) to be able to choose paint from a swatch. Although some designing wizards might be able to envision an entire room with only a small paint swatch, most people need to see a larger swatch on the wall.

If you don’t want to paint your wall, consider getting a poster board or a piece of drywall to paint and test out the color in different lightings, this way you could also compare different shades side by side. I would suggest having these swatches up for at least 24 hours so you can see the colors in all of the different lights of the day as well. A paint might look very different from Noon to Sunset.

2. The Sheen

Although subtle, sheen (how shiny it is) can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a space. Lucky for you, Pros have given us basic guidelines for where certain paints should typically go. Here is a breakdown for you in case you have never heard these words before!
Matte is how it sounds, it will have no shine, is VERY hard to wipe clean, it’s not as durable but is a bit better at covering up strong colors underneath

Eggshell and Satin are the most commonly used sheens for general spaces. These sheens combine durability, camouflage, and shine at a perfect combination. They are easiest to clean and don’t have an invasive glow to them.

Semi-Gloss is typically used for doors, trims and moldings and occasionally kitchen cabinets if you choose to repaint them.

Gloss is used in very few circumstances when semi-gloss isn’t shiny enough. You would see this in maybe a more modern application on Kitchen Cabinets, Doors, Trims and Moldings, but realistically it’s seldom used.

3. Lighting Sources in the Room

It’s important to consider what type of light will be in this room. Fluorescent or Bulb lighting will give paint a different tone than direct or indirect sunlight. A bathroom with no windows (maybe in a basement) will look very different to a living room with huge windows.
Direct sunlight should let your paint show its natural color
Indirect sunlight will give your color a warmer tone
Lighting inside (depending on the type) will give your color a cooler tone.

I would also note that darker paints make a room feel smaller, and lighter paints can make a room feel bigger. Dark blues or reds are only advisable in small accents or maybe rooms with vaulted ceilings and large windows.

4. Prime your walls (or get a paint + primer combo)

There’s two ways to do this, lucky for you, most higher end paints include a primer in them, but in certain cases, it is vital to prime your wall first.

If you have painted with an oil based paint, and want to switch to a latex based paint, you MUST prime the wall first.

When painting kitchen cabinets, you must always prime first. Most cabinets have been previously varnished, so even after they are sanded and treated, it’s always best to apply a coat of primer.

Also if you are repainting cabinets, and they were varnished before (even if you sanded and treated them), it’s still best to prime first to avoid the paint running.

5.Don’t skimp on cheap paint!

Generally a latex primer/paint combination is the best bet. Places like Home Depot and Lowes carry a wide variety of brands. In 2018, Valspar, Benjamin Moore and Behr ranked highest for interior paint recommendations*. It’s important, if you want your wall to look good, to spend the little extra to make sure your investment will last. Paint is something you see everyday, it should look good all the time, even after a few years of living there. Usually, applying one coat of high quality paint will cost you less than two coats of lower cost paint (plus save you the extra time!).

But, how much paint will I need? One gallon of paint will cover about 400 square feet. This is something like a small bathroom or maybe a hallway, depending on the size! Gilden provides a really handy paint calculator to use if you don’t want to do the math yourself!

Shopping options are limitless really. Paint brands usually have their own retail stores, although some people revert to places like Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace for their painting needs. Sometimes paint stores will also offer a free paint consult, for one of their designers to come to your home and help you choose the color that best suits your space.

6.Painting Vs. Other options?

Make sure that painting is actually the option you want! In the world of interior design there are so many choices for wall coverings that aren’t paint! There’s wallpaper (which is much better than it was in the 70’s), tile, wood, faux brick and plenty of others as well! It’s important to know what you want out of your space, and adjust your choices from there.

An experienced interior designer, like one of our Bamboo Pros, can help you make these creative choices when designing your space.

Since paint is one of the final steps of a remodel, often times it gets rushed through or overlooked. Make sure you take the time to consider these factors for yourself and your space. I hope these tips can be useful for your next remodel or DIY paint job!

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