So many people find this SO stressful-but it SO doesn’t need to be! Here are my tried-and-true steps for choosing the right paint color for your walls:
Don’t choose the paint color first
Yes, you read that right. I know that sounds crazy because that’s what this entire post is about, but hear me out: Chances are that you are not starting your room from scratch, so you will already have several furniture items in the room, not to mention the color of the floors. So work with what you already have. It is much easier (and cost-effective) to choose a color that works with what is already there, rather than the other way around.
Take advantage of test samples
Once you’ve got an idea of which colors you want to use, be sure to paint test samples on the wall(s). I know that the urge is to just go out and buy the color you like once you’ve decided and get started-but resist! Colors in a photo or online can, and most likely will, look completely different when they are actually put on the final surface. Also, make sure that you paint a large enough area that it will give you an adequate representation of how the color will look when it covers the entire wall. Be sure to view it at different times of day; a color in the morning will look different from when you are in the room at noon or in the evening. Keep the test areas up on the wall for at least a week so that you can be certain about your decision. Pro tip: A bonus of getting paint samples is if you do end up using the color, you have extra paint to do any touch-ups in the future without having to buy an entire new gallon.
Pick the right finish
Don’t be intimidated by all the different “sheens.” Once you learn the differences, you’ll know which type is the right finish to choose for the project at hand. Here’s a primer (pardon the pun):
- Flat/Matte: No shine. Good for ceilings and low traffic areas.
- Flat Enamel: No shine but easier to clean than straight flat/matte. Good in low traffic areas or if you like the look of a matte wall but have kids or pets.
- Eggshell Enamel: Slight shine and relatively easy to clean with a damp cloth. Good for moderate traffic areas like living rooms and bedrooms.
- Satin Enamel: More shine and easy to clean with a damp cloth. Good for high traffic areas like kitchens, or spaces that might experience a higher amount of moisture like bathrooms.
- Semi-Gloss Enamel: Shiny. Use if you are painting something like kitchen or bathroom cabinet faces. It will take the wear and tear and stands up to moisture like nobody’s business.
- Hi-Gloss Enamel: Shiny. Use this for the most high-traffic, high-touch projects (e.g. stair railings or painting dining chairs).
Prep your walls
So now that you’ve selected your color(s) (finally!) there is just one more step that you need to take: prep those walls! Whether you are hiring a professional (who should know to do this already) or if you’re painting your room yourself, this last step is KEY. I have done my fair share of DIY, and have painted enough walls to know that if the base isn’t smooth, holes filled, cracks dealt with, etc., then the final product will suffer. Take the time to get that foundation right, and you will avoid disappointment. Prepping is the least sexy part of the process, but you’ll thank me for it later.