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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Avoid Painting Pitfalls

So in the spirit of saving you some of the time (and frustration) that were a byproduct of our home-painting journey, here are some of the things you should never do when painting your home.

# Skip the tape or leave it on too long

I realize that lining all your trim, windows, knobs and the like with painter’s tape will feel like it is literally eating years off your life. But while it may take a decent chunk of time to do, it’s worth it. No matter how steady you think your hand is, you will never get the kind of clean lines and edges that come from using painter’s tape. I also didn’t realize that many brands recommend you leave the tape on for only around 15 minutes, and I definitely stretched those limits. The result of leaving it on too long? When I peeled it off, it took some of my freshly layered paint with it.

# Abuse your floors

It’s no biggie if I get a few drops on the floor, you’ll say. I’ll just spot clean later, you’ll say. I’m here to tell you that you’re going to want to ignore that voice in your head telling you to throw caution to the wind when it comes to protecting your floor during the painting process. I have old hardwoods, was not vigilant with the drop cloth, and I actually damaged certain areas of the floor trying to remove dried paint from its surface. Drop cloths are cheap — buy a bunch, and use them.

# Jump the gun

If you’re anything like me, you have very little patience when it comes to waiting the recommended drying time and would much rather skip ahead. But while shaving 15 minutes off the drying time of a first coat of paint or a layer of patching compound may not seem like much, it can make all the difference in the quality of the end result. If you rush it too much, you may even have to go back and start over again. And really, who has time for that?

# Forget to prime

Here’s the bad news (well, not necessarily bad, but potentially more expensive and time-consuming news): You’re going to need to prime pretty much any surface you paint. Can you paint without primer? Sure. You can do whatever you want. However, you’re much more likely to get a nice, even coat and a more saturated color if you prime first. So here’s the good news: There are many, many paints on the market now that have primer actually within the formula.

# Underestimate the importance of the right or wrong tools

I got very caught up in newfangled painting tools for a while, only to find a lot of them didn’t live up to the hype and weren’t worth the extra money I shelled out. Later down the road, I realized my money would have been much better spent on the right tools. This means paying a little more for better-quality tools, like brushes that won’t leave visible stroke marks when the paint dries or rollers that soak up so much paint they lead to a million drip marks.

# Neglect proper prepping

Obviously this includes using the aforementioned painter’s tape. There’s more to it than that, though — if you want the paint job you do to last and look decent, you’re going to want to put in some legwork. That means cleaning the walls (paint adheres better to a clean surface), filling in any nail holes and sanding down any particularly rough spots. And always, always remember to buy a simple lead paint testing kit before you get started on any major paint project.

# Pick the wrong finish and/or amount of paint

Once you’ve finally nailed down the color of paint you want, it’s easy to think your paint-picking job is done. That’s not entirely the case, though, since you still need to pick the right finish or sheen. This is important because certain finishes are much harder to clean and highlight imperfections. As a general rule of thumb, high-gloss paint is easier to clean and holds up well, but it will show flaws in your walls. Flat or matte finishes hide flaws but are much harder to clean. Eggshell and satin finishes fall in the middle of that spectrum. After you determine which is best for the space you’re painting, make sure you get enough paint for the job — sometimes differences in batches are perceptible.

# Let anyone scare you away from a color you really love

As long as you understand you may one day have to put in some more blood, sweat and tears to cover up that paint color you love so much, don’t be bullied out of picking a paint color you had your heart set on. We had several people question whether the dark greige we used on our bedroom wall would be too stark in contrast to our coastal-hued home, but we forged ahead and haven’t regretted the decision since. The best part about paint is that it isn’t permanent if you don’t want it to be.

Know about Type of Paint for Room of Your House

Before you can actually start coating your walls in whatever dreamy colors you chose, you need to select the appropriate paint finish or sheen for the room (or rooms) you are painting. This is the key to longevity and durability, so you’ll want to be prepared before you purchase your paint.

Here’s a general breakdown of the main rooms in your home and which paint finishes are ideal for those areas.

# The family room

As the name obviously implies, you likely spend a lot of time with your family in this room. Since this could very well include children or grandchildren, you still need to make durability a priority. However, because this is a room you’ll be entertaining in quite often, you undoubtedly also want to prioritize aesthetics. The solution? A satin finish, which boasts a beautiful luster but is still easy to clean. Word to the wise, though: Satin finishes are notoriously unforgiving of application flaws such as brushstrokes.

# The dining room and/or living room

If you have an open concept floor plan, your dining room and living room share the same space and, accordingly, paint too. Even if that isn’t the case, though, dining rooms and living rooms typically call for the same finish: eggshell, which falls somewhere on the sheen spectrum between satin and flat. It is fantastic for camouflaging imperfections inherent to your walls, but alternately, it also tends to show any scuffs. If your living room and family room are one and the same, you should err to the side of caution and go with a more high traffic-friendly finish like satin.

# The home office

What finish you use in your home office is a matter of use, yes, but also of personal preference. Since it is presumably a space in which children will not be playing, you could get away with using a flat or matte. This will save you a few bucks, since the high pigmentation requires fewer coats. But if you aren’t the gentlest of souls when it comes to rifling through files or bumping the wall with the back of your office chair, you may want to opt for eggshell, which is slightly more durable.

# The kitchen

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the shine in a paint, the more durable it is. In a highly used area like the kitchen, where you’ll be dealing with routine splashes and splatters from food, beverages and grease, you want a paint that is super durable and easy to clean, which means high gloss is the way to go. The caveat is that high-gloss paint highlights imperfections, so if you have an older home with charmingly flawed walls, you may prefer the look and relatively low maintenance of semigloss.

# Bathrooms

While high gloss will also work for bathrooms, where easy cleaning is similarly ideal, you may find the look a bit too shiny — especially in smaller spaces such as powder rooms. Plus, if the bathroom is rarely used, you might not even need the extreme durability of high gloss. In this case, semigloss is your best bet. It will still be easy to clean and, like high gloss, still protects against moisture and drips.

# Bedrooms

This is a multipronged answer depending entirely on who will be spending the most time in your home’s bedrooms. For the master bedroom, where sticky little fingers won’t be trailing along walls and generally putting them through the wringer, a flat or matte finish will offer superior coverage and therefore save you money by minimizing required coats. Plus, because they soak up light as opposed to reflecting it, these finishes are extremely forgiving of any imperfections in walls. In kids’ rooms, you’re absolutely going to want something a little more durable (aka immune to washable markers and yogurt-coated fingerprints) — think satin or semi-gloss.

Make Windows Look Great using This Tips

make-windows-look-great-at-homeWhatever style of window you choose, the right plant in the right place adds the perfect finishing touch, says TV gardener David Domoney

New windows in a home really go a long way to upgrading the property. A window isn’t just about security and guarding against the elements, it’s also about lending beauty and attractiveness to the building.

There are a series of things you can do horticulturally to enhance new windows and doors by getting the right plants to coordinate with the style of the property and windows.

# Timber window

Window boxes would work well, again as big as you can get, as they hold more soil and therefore can hold more water, with a self-watering device on the outside.

I’d pick low-maintenance plants so that you don’t have to be opening the window to care for them all of the time, especially for any that you might put under upstairs windows. Then I’d use buxus balls on the inside with trailing ivy between them to give it that classical look.

The front of a property can look great with gorgeous timber windows. Adding climbing plants to the outside of a home like that would work really well. I’d plant a wisteria to grow up to the right side of the door and the left of the downstairs window and then across the house.

You can get a variety of different colours such as whites and pinks, but I would go with the classic purple, the Wisteria sinensis, which would look a treat and give a stunningly cosy feel.

# Sliding sash window

The thing with quite neutral windows such as these is to embellish both the inside and outside.

With windows like this I’d look to frame the exterior on the left and right using bay trees with a single clear stem and a topiary ball top. These would give it a real classical feel.

Underneath the window in front I’d also put a large window box. I wouldn’t mess about with lots of colours, I’d use vibrant vermillion-red geraniums.

On the inside windowsill I would put beautiful white phalaenopsis orchids, the moth orchid, to the left and the right. The contrast of the white with the red geranium would make the window look really classy.

# Modern grey window

Windows situated where there’s working space for a desk or home office work really well to brighten a functional space and open it to nature. However, it’s always nice to add some horticultural embellishment inside the building too, giving an element of foreground to the greenery and enticing you to look out and see a wider world of garden.

I would place on the right hand of the windowsill a low, not more than 25cm tall, chamaedorea palm in a nice white container.

Then suspended from the top right of the alcove I’d put a hanging container, either a macramé or a suspended pot. In it I would have tradescantia, a beautiful variegated-leaf plant that will hang down.

So you’ve got the palm going up and the plant trailing down, which would soften the corner and set off the framework of the window.

# Casement uPVC window

These windows (main picture) often look lovely, but to stop them looking clinical a splash of colour and greenery can really make a difference.

In the right-hand corner I would put a yucca. A three-stemmed yucca with clear stems and groups of sword-like foliage coming from the top of it would really add a touch of softness and warmth to the room.

I’d definitely put a window box on the outside too, and plant it with pink and white flowers to complement the frame and to be an interesting contrast to the green yucca.