There are few home improvement jobs that give quite the same instant hit of joy as getting a fresh lick of paint. It’s relatively simple and not too costly - assuming you’re not painting the whole house.
According to experts, choosing the right colours can even affect your mood. In a 2018 study researchers found that pastel colours such as light green, lilac and blue can make us feel calm, while brighter colours such as yellow, orange and pink can induce an upbeat and excitable mood, so it’s no surprise that we turn to paint for an endorphin hit.
After months confined to our homes, many of us have had a look around and decided that it’s a good time for a freshen up; as a result, painters and decorators are in demand on MyBuilder, with painting jobs up 40% this past month.
Tranquil colours are on the up
It seems that not all colours are created equal. Towards the end of 2019, Pantone - the company known for its colour matching system - predicted that “Classic Blue’ would be the colour of the year for 2020, with experts describing it as a “dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era." Little did they know at the time, quite how significant this new era would be and how important a feeling of stability and calm would become.
After years of scandanavian inspired all-white and grey dominating the UK’s interiors, 2020 is seeing homeowners embrace more colour, with tranquil blues, deep and earthy greens, and rich jewel colours creeping in.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, serenity is a strong theme. As many of us have been connecting with the natural world during lockdown, these influences are being reflected in our homes. Stone, sand, clay and warm grey hues can balance the stronger tones and create a sense of grounding.
Prepare for success
A new paint job can achieve satisfying results, but it’s still important not to cut corners if you want a finish that’s going to last. Like any job, preparation is key, so don’t assume you can pull off that hideous wallpaper and find a pristine wall ready for undercoat.
In fact, pulling away wallpaper can often reveal some nasty surprises, especially in older houses. Blown plaster and large cracks will need to be properly filled and in some cases, may require a wall to be completely replastered. As with anything, there’s a sliding scale when it comes to preparation - if your walls are in relatively good condition and weren’t painted many moons ago, some minor filling, sanding and cleaning may be enough. If you’re planning on applying wallpaper, then minor cracks can be covered with a good lining paper first.
Ask a tradesman to inspect your walls and give you an idea of the amount of prep that’s needed so you don’t get any surprises.
Another word of caution - touching up marks can often leave walls patchy - especially if they were last painted some time ago. If you decide to tackle it yourself, don’t be surprised if a small bit of touching up turns into painting a whole wall or even a whole room to get a finish you’re happy with.
When considering paints, buy the best quality you can afford as it will mean your decorator will need to apply fewer coats - ultimately saving your time and money. Cheap, thin paint is a false economy and won’t give you lasting results for years to come.
When it comes to paint for woodwork, water based paints stay whiter for longer but oil based varieties are generally more hard-wearing. Bear in mind that oil based paints take longer to dry, so your tradesperson will need to work around drying times.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of a painting makeover is choosing your colours and all the major paint brands will offer colour swatches for you to take home; it’s always a good idea to narrow down your favourites before buying some tester pots.
Although it’s a tempting way to save money, getting a colour match with a cheaper paint brand can be hit and miss - the colours rarely exactly match the original colour when based on a bit of paper or card. Again, if you do decide to go down this route, get a tester pot first.
It’s a good idea to get two or three different swatches - or even better sample paint - onto the walls in different areas of the room and look at them at different times of day so you can see exactly how the colour looks in different light.
Grey can be really hit and miss - there may be more than 50 shades, but it’s a colour that also changes in light very dramatically.
When it comes to the finish, if you want a surface that’s easier to clean, go for something that’s moisture resistant - it will have a sheen that’s easier to wipe. If you don’t, then a matte paint is the way to go, but marks will show up more.
As with paints, if you want a great finish, don’t scrimp on other material like caulking, the flexible filler that is used to fill small gaps; the cheapest variety will inevitably crack so, as ever, if you want to be sure you’re going to get a great finish that will last, discuss this with your tradesperson who will take that into account when pricing up the job.
It’s a good time of year to tackle outdoor paint jobs as with less moisture in the air, paint will dry quickly between coats.
The principles are the same as painting indoors - good preparation can make all the difference. If painting over existing paintwork or dirty surfaces, make sure you clean off loose paint, dirt and algae which builds up over time. A clean and dry surface is essential to achieve lasting results. A word of warning - jet washers can damage weakened brickwork and loose pointing, so if that’s your chosen method be careful or you’ll get more work than you bargained for.
For more information about pricing and what you can expect to pay for painting jobs, check out our pricing guide.
To see questions posted by other homeowners that have been answered by professional tradespeople, visit our Ask A Tradesman page.
For more advice on hiring painting and decorators, read our detailed guide.