A Little Painting Advice, Please

Painting Help Please

I recently graduated from college and am at my first job where I'm making enough money to splurge a little, but not too much. I'd like to decorate my apartment with some colorful shelves and such, but I don't know much about buying paint, and I'm afraid that if I buy anything too quickly I will spend too much. Do you (or your readers) have any tips about buying paint? I don't even think I would need a full gallon for the small projects I have in mind - how do I find smaller amounts of paint? What kinds of paint should I use for wooden shelves? Are there any books or web sites I can consult for tips on both painting techniques and decorative techniques? I'd appreciate the help.
Colleen, St. Joseph, Mo.

One Person's Mistake Is...

Check your local hardware stores for mistints (paints that are either denied on the spot or returned to the store because the previous purchaser didn't care for the tint). At my Home Depot hardware store I can buy a variety of colors (it changes regularly so if you don't see what you like at first keep going back) for $5 for a pint and $10 for a gallon.

I've painted two large bedrooms for $20. That's still cheaper than a gallon of their house brand! Also, if you know the colors you'd like, talk to the paint people to see if any of the mistints can be retinted darker. I have a friend who save $17 off the price of a can of paint that she was going to buy by just having a lighter color darkened!
Mimi R.

Check Yard Sales

Don't pay full price! Sounds obvious, eh? Ask around for paint from everyone you know, most folks have quantities in various colors and finishes left over from previous projects. You'll probably find something close to the color you want that way. You can also mix paint (keep latex w/latex, and oil w/oil) in any finish (eggshell, gloss, matte) to get the colors and quantities you want. Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette books have more info too. You can also usually pick up paint free at the dump, or at minimal cost at yard sales. If you don't see any out, ask! Folks will forget to put it out, and will love it if you take it away for free.
Anne from Maryland

Consumer Report "Best Buy"

Consumer Reports says that WalMart has the best, most economical paint. I've used it myself in our house to sponge paint,etc, and have found it to be just as good as Sherwin Williams, without the high price.
Christine D.

Ask for 'Sample Pots'

I can suggest going to a local paint store, and asking if they have sample pots. These can be purchased quite cheaply, and will reduce the need to buy huge tins of paint for smaller jobs.

The only problem you may run into is if the pots are too small for the job - but if you've got a few different coloured pots, you may even what to break with tradition and choose a different colour for each shelf etc...

Go For It!

For shelves I would use an enamel paint. If you are painting new wood, you might want to use a flat primer first. A low cost outside house paint (white)works good for primer. Let dry, then do the enamel coat. I like waterbase paint best. It is easiest for clean up and less smelly.

Most paint stores can mix any color you would like in quart sizes as well as gallons. If you want to match a color, take the item with you or go to the paint store and get an assortment of color chips then take home and match your bedspread, carpet or whatever.

HG-TV has some very good decorating programs. I have gotten many ideas from there. I am redoing the inside of a mobile home and I have sponge painted the ceilings and walls with fantastic results. It takes less paint. What I did changes color as the different levels of lighting hit it. Very interesting and not at all boring. It is mistake proof to do it.This can be done on shelves, furniture or what ever. You can make shelves look like marble if that is your choice.

All good paint stores, paint departments of hardware stores, Kmart and Walmart, Home Improvement stores have the paint, necessary tools and most have directions for decorative painting techniques. In our area the hardware stores, Walmart and Kmart also have the best prices and the paint is I think equal to the special paint stores for most home decorating purposes.

Paint for Free?

I work for the local Solid Waste District in my community. We have a room at our recycling center just made for this woman. We accept paint at no charge from the public on a daily basis. We check it out and the good stuff goes on the shelves. We make the paint that is good available to the public free of charge. We call it our paint swap.

Of course, the bad stuff is properly disposed of by our employees. Call your local Solid Waste District and see if they have a similar program or maybe you can ask them to start one!!
Janica F

We Did It!

My husband and I bought an older home with lots of dark paneling. Since we could not afford to hire anyone out to paint, I tackled the project myself. For wooden shelves, I would use a latex paint. You want to stay away from lead based paints - they are unhealthy. There are different types of paint - you'll want to decide if you want a "glossy" look or a "flat" look. Semi-gloss is the type of paint you'd find in your bathroom or kitchen - it has a shine to it. Flat is just that - flat w/o any shine to it. On our shelves in the den, I used a deep mauve paint - latex, flat. It worked great. If you have stains or mildew you will want to "kilz" your surface first - this ensures that your paint will last longer and stains will not show through. You'll also need to fill any holes with putty before you paint - this goes for nail holes or any other opening you want to paint over. You may find you spend more time "prepping" than actually painting! Although a gallon seems like a lot of paint, you may be surprised once you get started as to how much you really need. It is also essential to have the same color on hand when those inevitable nicks and bumps chip off the paint. Good luck and happy painting. It is very rewarding to see what a difference your energy and paint can make!!
Rosemary R.

Tint Just Enough for the Job

They seem to sell paint in quarts (usually not eneough) or gallons (usually too much). I've found that if you find a brighter/darker shade of the color you want and buy it in a quart size, you can buy a gallon size of white paint, and mix it youself in plastic containers or bowls. Just make sure the paint all has the same base (ie water or oil).

Do It Right First Time

The first rule that Colleen should follow is to prime all of the surfaces with a good quality primer. Oil based primer will give a better finish. She can paint over oil based primer with Latex paint, but an oil based will give a smoother finish. It's a little more work but the results will be worth it. Latex may clean up easier, but in my experience won't wear as well or hold the color as well as oil based. Better to do the job well once.
David D.

Don't Forget Landlords

Some landlords do not allow painting or wallpapering to be done in their apartments. One way to get around this is to wallpaper with fabric. Using liquid starch (available at grocery stores) in a wash pan, soak fabric (that has been cut to a couple inches longer than wall to allow for shrinkage) and slap on the wall. Use a squegee to flatten and push out extra starch. Align the next strip and continue until room is finished. After everything is dry, use a utility knife (or razor blade) and slice, at the ceiling and floor(or baseboards), off extra fabric. When you want to switch "wallpapers" or remove all together, simply pull off. Leaves no marks or residues on the wall.
Emilie Catherine M.

Advice From a Painter

A quart of good quality semi-gloss enamel will cover app 100 sq ft. That is an area 10 feet by 10 feet. I would recommend a latex or water based paint as they will clean up with soap and water and are fast drying. In a day or two you can change many small projects.
Gary the ex- paint man.

Web Resource

For painting techniques and instructions, try Painted-House.com Debbie Travis has a site that has house-painting projects with detailed instructions. She also hosts a show called the painted house on PBS, that is shown in my area. Check the listings in your area. She has great ideas for decorating your home with paint. If PBS doesn't carry her show, I believe she has videos. Also check with your library. Our library carries videos with all kinds of how-to information.
Terry Z.

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