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Save money by buying more expensive paint
February 27, 2011
We moved across the country, found a cool rental house, and painted it.
And by painted it, I mean that when we moved in, every room was a different hideous bright color, and we wanted to cover those walls with something nicer ASAP. I really hate painting, so I try to get it done as quick as possible with minimal fuss.
We’ve now painted every room in our house. We experimented with different qualities of paint, taping vs. not taping, good brushes and cheap brushes, cheap rollers and nicer rollers. Here’s what we learned from our experience.
The Painting Process in a Nutshell
- Pick the color: multiple opinions makes this difficult
- Get ready to paint: moving everything around makes the room an obstacle course
- Detail work: Painting all those pesky edges and corners
- Actually painting: which can take days!
- Touching up: this can take additional days or weeks because you’ll keep noticing those “spots you missed”
Before & After Photos
Do all the prep work first.
Pull out all the nails, fill all the holes and cracks with spackling paste, and clean all of the molding before you even think about opening the can of paint. Use painter’s tape to tape everything you need to tape.
Kristen and I have different opinions about taping; Kristen likes to tape “just in case”, and I think taping never works as well as I expect it to. A good brush and a steady hand are way better than carefully taping everything in the room only to have paint bleed over. Kristen also took care of all the cracks in the baseboard molding using some wood filler, and then we painted the baseboards with a fresh coat of white paint, which made the whole room look brand new. Since the wood filler only cost $2.99, I would recommend never skipping this step!
The type/brand of paint matters.
We painted 3 of our rooms (the kitchen + 2 bedrooms) with Martha Stewart paint. It’s nice paint with lots of color options and sells for around $26/gallon at Home Depot. But what we found is that the Martha paint usually needed two coats and some additional touch ups here and there. For a 10′x12′ room we needed 1.5 gallons, and for a 12′x12′ room we needed 2 whole gallons.
For the main portion of our house (and the room we painted last), we decided to try Behr Premium Plus Ultra, which claims to be a paint and primer in one. It’s around $30/gallon at Home Depot depending if you get the eggshell or flat finish.
I was of the opinion that “paint is paint”, so why should we purchase one of the pricier brands? On a whim, I decided to get a few samples ($2.94 @ Home Depot) of the Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint and try it out around the living room. To my surprise the paint covered up our disgusting yellow walls without a second coat! It’s hard to tell in the photo below, but even the lightest shade of gray didn’t require a second coat of paint in order to cover up the yellow paint underneath it.
These little paint samples were also useful for helping us choose a final color since we were having trouble envisioning what the color would look like in the room (those little color sample cards just don’t cut it sometimes). It’s such a big portion of our house that it was worth $10 for us to take our top 3 colors for a test drive.
We decided to buy 2 gallons of the Behr paint and only used a little over 1 gallon to finish the living room (12′x15′) and used the rest to finish the weird little hallway in the middle of the house.
- Get the best paint you can afford, like the Behr Premium Plus Ultra. Honestly, it’s worth the extra $5/gallon.
- Splurge for one nice 2″ chiseled tip brush to do the edges — the rest of the brushes can be cheap.
- Buy a painting starter set (something like this) so you have a tray plus basic brushes/rollers.