The one job most of us do ourselves is paint.
For example, I repainted the walls along the staircase after nicking them with a Morris chair we move upstairs each winter so the Christmas tree has a spot in the living room.
I touched up a window frame here, a wall there, and plan to give the exterior of the house a fresh coat of paint in the spring — May is always a good month, although late September to early November is ideal.
I’ve been using paints without volatile organic compounds exclusively for three years now, and they appear to do the trick.
While choosing paint should involve thought and investigation, too many of us just run to the home centre, pick a colour and start slapping it on.
Even the familiar is not necessarily a good choice.
“When choosing paint, don’t assume a leading brand you swore by last time will do just as well this time around,” said Bob Markovich, home and yard editor for Consumer Reports.
“Our tests found paints can vary year to year — and a bigger name does not always equal a better product,” he said.
In Consumer Reports’ tests of interior paints, Clark+Kensington, available only at Ace hardware stores, was tops in satin and semigloss finishes.
While new formulas have improved some paints, others performed worse than they did just a year ago in Consumer Reports’ tests.
Compared with earlier versions, the Behr Premium Plus Satin Enamel wasn’t quite as good at hiding and became dull when cleaned. Some paints, such as Olympic One Flat Enamel, improved at hiding. Better hiding also helped move Valspar Signature matte and semigloss up in Consumer Reports’ ratings, joining Behr in besting Benjamin Moore, which costs roughly twice as much, among flat and semigloss paints.
You can check out the complete test results in the March issue.
Here are some Consumer Reports tips for choosing paint.
Since colours often look different in different lights, Consumer Reports suggests buying a sample, painting a patch and living with it for a day or two before buying more.
Here are three more things to consider:
1. Go online before hitting the store. Manufacturer and retailer websites and Facebook pages offer a wealth of tips on choosing colours, including photo galleries of finished rooms and calculators to help consumers figure out how much paint they need.
2. Find the perfect colour. Certain hues are specific to a brand, but retailers can often match colours. Paint-colour formula books and colour-matching computer technology mean consumers don’t have to rely solely on the skills of a salesclerk, though one with a good eye and mixing equipment with clean nozzles may be able to match colours, too.
3. Match sheen to surface. The best low-lustre satin and eggshell paints offer easy hiding and durability, making them ideal for most surfaces. Flat paints hide flaws better but are less resistant to stains and smudges, so use them in low-traffic areas.
Semigloss works well for trim and other surfaces that don’t need to be wiped frequently, because repeated cleaning will dull most finishes.
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