Select paint’s color, finish on its look, location

"Better ask twice than lose your way once." Danish proverb


I promised you more info on paint, and here we go.

Last time I looked at some of the most frequently asked questions of Pratt and Lambert. Today, I’m covering a few more of the most common ones. I hear these questions a lot and I’m sure you have thought about them as well.

How do colors affect a room’s size?

This question is interesting and does get asked a lot. Pratt says that, "Strong, warm colors like reds, oranges and yellows tend to close a space. These colors are known as advancing colors because they jump out and meet the eye. Conversely, receding colors like blue, green and violet tend to make a room look larger because they stand back visually. However, the darkest values of the receding colors, like navy blue or hunter green, also tend to have a diminishing effect on a room’s size."

Regardless of the rules, remember that the space is yours. Pick the color you like and go with it.

How do I determine the amount of paint I’ll need for a particular job?

In Pratt’s answer there was a lot of math. Its more user-friendly answer was that a gallon of paint will usually cover 400 square feet. So when buying paint, remember that math and also figure in how many coats you think it will take. Keep in mind that darker colors are harder to cover, and actually you should probably use a primer as the first coat and then apply the actual paint. Your paint store also can help you with amounts.

The next question dealt with ceilings.

What color should I paint my ceiling?

Ceilings are usually painted light colors like white or off-white. The lighter colors will heighten the ceiling; dark colors will lower it. You decide the effect you want.

Some of the most frequently asked questions and some of the most confusing answers deal with types of paint finishes and where to use what. Pratt offers the following.

"Flat finishes have no shine, making them ideal for hiding minor surface imperfections.

"Eggshell or velvet finishes work in just about any room. They are easier to clean than flat finishes and offer a soft glow that warms up any room. (When I first heard about eggshell finish, I was confused by eggshell the color. It is, however, also a finish.)

"Satin or semigloss finishes are easy to clean and are good for highlighting architectural details. They work well in kitchens, baths and on doors and trim.

"Gloss finishes are shiny and scrubable, so they are perfect for doors, trim and specialty uses. Alkyd, or oil-based paint, penetrates wood better than latex (water-based) paint and won’t stick when you keep your doors and windows shut for the winter. For the bulk of most jobs, latex (water-based) paint is the better choice. It dries faster and doesn’t yellow."

Another plus with water-based paint is that it’s so much easier to clean up; soap and water will usually do it. I’m very familiar with this particular tip.

Here is another tip that I learned from a professional painter many years ago. I have tried it myself and it does work, even though it is a little nonconventional. When the painter finished his work for the day, rather than spending lots of time washing out rollers and brushes, etc., he wrapped them in plastic and put them in the freezer. Yes, that’s right. I was quite frankly dumbfounded, but the next day he brought then out and in about five minutes, voilá, they were ready to use. So if you’re game, try it sometime. There’s nothing to lose.

Painting is a lot easier and cleaner than it used to be — primarily because of the advances in paint and the tools that are now available. Edgers, nondrip rollers, paint catchers, better tape and all matter of products will help you. But there’s a price; by the time you buy the paint, brushes, rollers, pans and the new fancy helpers, your simple paint project is eating more of your budget. So pick wisely when in the paint store.

I’ve also found that folks who work in the paint departments are some of the most helpful in home stores. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about applications, amounts or anything else you are unsure of.

Make painting a fun project and while you’re having fun, you’re adding value to your home. What a great combo.


Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to

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