Getting consistent color on small paint jobs is usually easy, since the paint typically comes from just one can. But it can be an entirely different kettle of finish on big projects where several gallons of paint are required.
A friend recently encountered this problem when painting a large entrance hall with a cathedral ceiling. When the job was done, he noticed several areas where the color and finish looked slightly different than the rest.
Color and sheen inconsistency can be due to a number of factors, but experienced painters know how to sidestep these issues. If you are about to undertake a large interior painting project, here are some ways to avoid the same fate as my friend:
Get off on the right foot by purchasing all your paint from the same store at the same time; and be sure to buy a little more than you think you’ll need. This will help ensure that all your paint will be the exact same color – and, more often than not, the extra paint will come in handy either now or later.
“Isn’t color mixing computerized today?” you might ask. It is, but the calibration of the equipment can get out of whack, and even a slight deviation from formula can produce a different hue. There’s also a chance for human error of one type or another, such as using two different types of base. Buying all at once minimizes these risks.
Next, plan out your project so you don’t have to switch to a new can of paint in the middle of a wall. Even very subtle can-to-can differences in color can be noticeable on the same wall, but not at all noticeable on different walls. The reason is that the color on every wall looks slightly different anyway depending upon the nature and amount of light it receives, so use that to your advantage.
Further, as you are painting, don’t use every last ounce of paint in the can; instead, leave a small amount and note which walls or surfaces you painted with that particular can. Then, when you go back in at the end of the job to touch up your misses and thin spots, use the same can of paint that you used before.
Another point: Be sure to apply the same number of coats on every wall or surface within the room. Extra layers of paint add depth and richness to color. If you “cheat” by applying one fewer coat in that dark corner thinking no one will notice, or try to “economize” here and there, the overall consistency of the color may suffer.
Even when you do apply the same number of coats throughout the room, color connoisseurs know that it’s important to apply paint in the same way to achieve a totally uniform appearance. That means following good painting protocol: making every finishing stroke in the same direction (straight down towards the floor), and using consistent pressure rather than trying to “stretch” your paint here and there.
Following these simple procedures when undertaking a large interior painting project can keep you from suffering the same frustration as my friend. It’s true that experience is the best teacher, but when it comes to painting, why learn the hard way when you can learn from others’ mistakes?