Interior painting primer

Essential interior home painting tips, tricks, and how-to secrets from the pros.

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Ask any decorator worth her Ghost chair and she’ll say that nothing changes a room more dramatically, quickly and economically than paint. Getting primed to paint the interior of your home doesn’t need to be chore, and the right advice makes all the difference. Painting used to be simpler when there were only two choices: oil, or water-based latex paint, and never the two twain shall meet (or it resulted in an unfortunate crackle effect).

A volatile point

Now there are other effects to consider: consumers are wary of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in paint, which contribute to greenhouse gases. Manufacturers have responded with eco-friendly low-VOC and zero-VOC options such as Benjamin Moore Aura and Sico Ecosource, paints that are just as tough wearing and similar in price to conventional paint. For the ultimate in green, Boomerang Recycled Paints salvages and reprocesses paint, and you can also donate your unused paint to them.

Let the chips fall

The formulation is up to you, but there are some steps that everyone should follow when painting. Teensy paint chips are way too dinky to base your decision on. The colours will be more intense on the wall; buy a pint and paint a sample board. Prop it against the wall and watch how the light affects it.

It’s all in the technique

Start by washing the walls, ceiling and trim then rinse; it will help the paint adhere better. Sand down glossy surfaces and buff with a tack cloth to remove dust.

Patch any fissures, then apply a coat of primer (they come in latex or oil formulations). Primer is like foundation for your face, allowing the paint to go on smoother and last longer, and it’s absolutely necessary on wood or other porous surfaces that will suck up the solvents so the paint won’t cure properly.

Experts always advise applying the paint by roller in a W pattern, it will cut down on drips. Buy a good quality brush for trim and areas around windows, doors and mouldings – the edges will be sharper – all important when doing detail work. Natural brushes are designed for oil paint, they go limp in latex (use synthetic bristles instead).

Tip: wash new rollers before you use them, it will cut down on lint resulting in a smoother texture.

Latex vs. oil

Oil paint is more glossy and viscous than latex, making it tough and durable, perfect for high-traffic areas like baseboards and trim. It has a strong odour and brushes will need to be cleaned with solvents. Keep in mind that oil paint can take up to a day to dry. Latex paint is water-based, so brushes and rollers can be rinsed with water, and the colour holds up well to exposure to bright sunlight. It dries in about six hours, but often requires two or three coats for complete coverage.

Click here to find out how to pick the perfect paint colour.