A fresh paint job is a powerful entity. Just a couple of coats in the right colour and finish will bring together all the elements of your home with a new level of polish. Dated furniture transforms into vintage, a cluttered corner becomes a beautiful vignette and after a weekend of cathartic brushwork, your arms may begin to resemble Michelle Obama’s. If the impeccably painted walls you’ve admired in other homes could talk, they’d tell you that similar results are within reach: it just takes a little know-how to achieve your desired result.
Choose the right paint
The paint you pick largely depends on what and where you’re painting.Oil-based enamel
Pros: Like a good French manicure, oil-based paints are hardwearing and gloss over a multitude of imperfections. They work wonders in heritage homes, doing original architectural details justice.
Cons: Being solvent based, they are high in the airborne chemicals that often cause painters headaches and are linked to asthma and allergies due to volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
Cleaning and disposal: Hazardous chemicals, such as paint thinner and mineral turpentine, are required to thin the paint and for cleaning brushes and rollers. If you do go down this route, open windows, take lots of fresh air breaks and sleep somewhere else for the night. Also, call your council or visit recyclingnearyou.com.au to dispose of leftover paint, mineral turpentine and paint thinner responsibly.
Try: Haymes’ ‘Newlife’ enamel range; visit haymespaint.com.au.Water-based acrylic and enamel
Pros: Fast drying and easy to use, water-based options are where most paint companies are introducing their best advances, with low-VOC formulas combining with easy-to-wash surfaces. There are now even water-based gloss and semi-gloss enamels (such as Wattyl’s Aquatrim and Resene Paints’ Spacecote), which are almost as reflective and resilient as their oil-based counterparts.
Cons: Not all water-based paints are low VOC, so read the fine print. For a low-VOC option, you want no more than 5 grams per litre after the paint has been tinted and including any undercoats.
Cleaning and disposal: The clean up is easy – simply wash brushes in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Paint solids will fall to the bottom
and can be thrown out with your normal rubbish, while the water can be reused on the garden and the tin can be recycled.
Try: Resene Paints’ ‘Spacecote’ enamel range; visit resene.com.au.Natural paints
Pros: They may have come into favour during the green revolution but natural paints aren’t new nor makeshift. Made from chalk, plant
and mineral extracts, milk and clay, the velvety-soft results add richness to new homes and reinstate the aged patina of heritage
homes. The surface is porous but it won’t flake or chip; instead it will wear away evenly over time.
Cons: You may need to apply several coats more than its VOC-bearing counterparts to achieve the finish you desire, and painting on hot days is not recommended.
Cleaning and disposal: Hands, brushers and rollers can be washed in the sink and leftover paint can be stored for future touch-ups
without hazard if it hasn’t been contaminated and is stored airtight.
Try: Porter’s Paints’ ‘Milk’ or ‘Interior Distemper’ (chalk-based) ranges; visit porterspaints.com.au
Select a fabulous finish
The right level of sheen will provide the atmosphere you want.Matt
Pros: Non-reflective and easy to apply, matt (or flat) paint will smooth over imperfect walls and will be easy on the eye, even when saturated colour is chosen.
Cons: A matt finish will seem somewhat lifeless in rooms with little natural light and is best contrasted with high-shine trims or a dazzling view.
Matt paint won’t enhance dirt or scuffs but can’t be easily cleaned.
Try: Wattyl ‘Interior Design i.d’ Contemporary Matt; visit wattyl.com.au.Satin and low-sheen
Pros: With just a hint of lustre, satin picks up just enough light to
enliven a dark space and the five to 10 per cent shine grants the
creative licence to introduce deeper, darker hues. Also, it wipes
clean with no more than a damp cloth.
Cons: The luminosity is so subtle it can almost be overlooked, but beware the stark glare brought on by pure whites in satin and sun-soaked spaces.
Try: Dulux ‘Wash & Wear 101 Advanced’ Low Sheen; visit dulux.com.au.Semi-gloss and gloss
Pros: With shine comes durability and an impenetrable barrier to stains. Gloss paints with an 80 per cent sheen level will protect and highlight woodwork while semi-gloss paints with 15 to 25 per cent reflectivity will help a bathroom sparkle into the future.
Cons: Gloss paints are mostly solvent-based but even the water-based options tend to be higher in VOCs than lower-sheen paints.
Try: Taubmans ‘Endure’ semi-gloss range; visit taubmans.com.au.Pearlescent
Pros: Pearlescent paints, such as Dulux ‘Design’ Pearl, add personality without overpowering. The shimmery finish, in combination with
soft mood lighting, is a winner in master bedrooms.
Cons: Reflective paints show up every brushstroke; patience, a steady hand and perfect crisscross brushwork or roller technique are vital.
If your walls aren’t in pristine condition, the shimmer will highlight flaws.
Try: Dulux ‘Design’ Pearl or Murobond’s water-based ‘Aqua Glaze Pearl’; visit murobond.com.au for more details.Chalkboard
Pros: The choice of the childbearing style set, chalkboard paint turns a wall into a talking point which offers a functional benefit, too – use it to write your shopping list, or for simple creative expression! Porter’s Paints’ Chalkboard paint now comes in a rainbow of hues, so it can suit any space.
Cons: Once you grant your family artistic freedom over your walls, the overall feeling can become chaotic. Reserve chalkboard paint for spaces such as the kitchen and playroom.
Try: Resene Paints ‘Write-on Wall’, a clear topcoat that produces a whiteboard effect on a wall.Metallic
Pros: Combining exciting shades with luxurious lustre, metallic paint spells opulence, and gives you an opportunity to do something really special.
Cons: These specialty surfaces are at their best as a joyful little twist to lighten up a scheme. Think the inside cavity of a cabinet,
the kickboards in the kitchen and/or the bedhead.
Try: Dulux ‘Design’ Metallics or Porter’s Paints’ ‘Liquid Zinc’, which replicates the muted patina of a zinc finish.Colour clues
Ensure the colour and finish you have envisioned is the one that ends up on your walls. Colour changes in varying light, according to the amount used and the other colours nearby. Trying a paint in-situ is essential, so try test pots on each wall or make your own large swatches with painted cardboard. Live with sample colours for a couple of days to experience different light levels. “Choose carefully, but don’t forget it’s only paint and you can easily paint over it,” advises Melanie Stevenson of Porter’s Paints.Master your technique
Preparation is paramount, says Nick Taylor of Taubmans. “Clean and dust down the surface with a mild detergent and sand where necessary. If painting over a dark or vibrant colour, apply one or two coats of a sealer, primer and undercoat such as Taubmans 3 in 1,” he says. Start early to ensure you don’t run out of natural light. “Start from the top to guard against streaks or drips over already painted surfaces,” says Nick.
“Work on the ceiling first, then down to the walls before moving on to the doors, trims, architraves and windows.”