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Article: Color Your Life with a Signature Room Look:
Guidelines for Painting Rooms in Your Home

(ARA) - Sooner or later, you’ll need to repaint that room -- the one that has become outdated, must be converted to a new use or needs to be redecorated.

Doing so is an opportunity to realize your dream décor, whether it’s a complete makeover or simply creating a certain feeling you want through new colors, says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s “Helpful Hardware Man” and national home improvement expert.

“Painting is one of the most economical ways to make a noticeable difference in your home. Instead of investing in costly new furniture and accessories, homeowners can spend minimal dollars to paint their walls and ceilings to create a fresh change in their surroundings,” says Manfredini.

In fact, in Ace Hardware’s national “America’s To-Do List” Study, 66 percent of 1,000 homeowners surveyed said they paint because they grew tired of their current paint scheme. About one-fourth change hues to keep up with the latest decorating trends or to accommodate a change in how the room is being used.

Even for those painting for the first time, the work should not be daunting, says Manfredini. He offers the following advice that will help you create your signature look in a room.

The Perfect Color

Manfredini says all the details of a room together, including furnishings, woodwork, lighting, accessories and color, are what make it appealing and inviting.

Ideas for color schemes abound. He suggests homeowners gather examples from sources such as magazine photos of rooms that appeal to them, to schemes they see featured in model homes.

View colors in context of the overall feel of a room and determine why they appeal to you. Is the look contemporary or traditional? Is the room dark or light? Are the colors warm or cool? Playing with color is one of the most exciting aspects of painting, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Blues, grays and greens are soothing, while reds, oranges and yellows are warm and vibrant. Light colors can brighten a room, while darker shades have a “cozying” effect.

Take samples to your hardware store for a paint match. Samples can include chips from a paint manufacturer, wallpaper, a piece of upholstery or drapery, a magazine article or photo.

The Right Paint

Oil-based paint usually serves as the better choice when you need durability for surfaces that take a lot of abuse, such as trim and doors. It also levels better than a latex paint with fewer visible brush strokes.

If you are painting a wall and ceiling, latex is best and a roller works much better than a paintbrush. It’s faster and leaves a smooth, matte finish.

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Tools You’ll Need

The real secret to a good paint job lies in the paintbrush or roller. Quality brushes have bristles that are firmly attached to a metal holder, and the more bristles it has, the more they’ll stay in place. Buy the best brushes you can and clean them when you’re finished to ensure they’re ready for the next paint job. For latex, invest in a roller with a hard core that doesn’t yield. It might cost more than a cardboard-cored roller, but they offer more painting mileage and are easily cleaned with soap and water.

Your hardware store consultant can advise on other tools you’ll need. Among the most common are a scraper, solvent for oil paints, drop cloths, crack filler, sandpaper, masking tape, extra paint bucket and roller tray.


A good paint job is at least 50 percent preparation. Be sure the surfaces are clean, dry, dull, smooth and sound. Dirt, grease, wax, oil, soap film and mildew prevent paint from adhering properly, resulting in uneven texture and poor color distribution.

Wash the surface with soap and water, rinse well and allow it to dry. Mildew can sometimes look like dirt. To remove it, apply a solution of one part bleach/three parts water and allow the solution to stand for 20 minutes. Then scrub away the mildew with a soft-bristle brush, rinse the surface and allow it to dry. Be sure to wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when working with this solution.

If the surface to be painted is dull, paint will go on more evenly and adhere better, so lightly sand finishes -- especially glossy ones -- before applying paint.

It is also wise to inspect the surface for any bumps or dents. To avoid surprises, shine a bright light at a low angle across the surface to spot any problem areas. Fill in any holes, dings or mars with spackle, and remove peeling flakes with a paint scraper.

Use masking tape where two paint colors come together and where trim meets the wall or ceiling.

Apply a primer. Primers help seal the surface for improved color and sheen uniformity.

Applying the Paint

When using a brush, dip the brush into the can to load the bristles not more than half way with paint. Touch the loaded brush lightly to the wall surface at several points to apply spots of paint, and then use long leveling strokes to smooth out the spots. Finish each area with back and forth motions and zigzag strokes.

When painting with a roller, start by making several crisscross strokes on the area to be painted. Then work up and down to spread the paint evenly, but not too thinly, over the area.

Use a special trim roller or brush in corners and for trim work.


Special waterless hand cleaners remove both latex-base and oil-base paints easily and quickly. These waterless hand cleaners will not irritate your skin like many solvents.

Wash latex paints out of a brush or roller with clear warm water.

Clean brushes used with oil-base paints with regular paint cleaner or some type of solvent. Clean the brush thoroughly, then wrap it in wax paper and store it for future use.

For more advice on painting, you may ask Manfredini directly by logging on to and clicking “The Helpful Hardware Man’s Corner” icon. Simply type and submit your questions. Manfredini’s answers are sent to the e-mail address of each individual who posed the question, within 48 hours whenever possible.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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