Get 2013 off to a flying DIY start by painting one or two of your home’s rooms a different colour, says Julia Gray
This is a good time to start thinking about how you’d like to improve your home in the year ahead.
One of the easiest changes to make is to paint a room’s walls, but something so simple can seem daunting when you go into your local DIY store and see the vast array of paints there.
A wall colour you don’t like is hard to live with and as there are so many different colours and finishes to choose from, it’s important to try the paint first, preferably applying a little to all four walls so you get the full effect.
Printed colour charts aren’t accurate, so don’t rely on them, and the same is true of paint colours viewed online.
If you can’t find the perfect colour in the off-the-shelf ranges, try those available on in-store paint-mixing machines, where there are thousands of choices. Again, get a tester first to be sure of the colour.
Sometimes, only a specialist paint will do. For kitchens and bathrooms, it pays to use kitchen and bathroom paint because, depending on the range, it’s designed to be wipeable and steam, stain and mould resistant.
Kitchen and bathroom paints used to have a sheen, but now you can get matt ones, which is a much nicer finish, especially if you have less-than-perfect walls, as matt paint is more forgiving of imperfections.
Crown’s kitchen and bathroom range is a good one to use because not only does it include some great colours - I love on-trend Slate Grey (£17.98 for 2.5ltr, B&Q) - but it can be used on wood and metal as well as walls, which is really useful.
Lots of other specialist paint ranges are available, including ultra-tough ones for rooms that take a lot of punishment, and chalkboard, metallic and (nice) textured paints.
Both Crown and Dulux do feature wall ranges, and Dulux makes a range that’s said to reflect twice as much light as conventional emulsions - Dulux Light & Space (from £22.98 for 2.5ltr, B&Q) - to make rooms feel lighter and brighter.
Once you’ve found a paint you like, the next problem is how much to buy. The paint tin will have information on coverage, but it won’t necessarily be accurate, so don’t depend on it.
You can use an online paint calculator to work out how much paint you need for a room - these calculators take into account things such as the size of the walls, windows and doors - but the amount will differ depending on the paint and the state of the walls.
More paint is needed to cover textured wallpaper and lumpy and bumpy walls than smooth, perfect ones.
And if the walls are newly plastered, painting them as they are will use up a lot of paint because new plaster is very absorbent - always seal it first with plaster-sealing liquid or watered-down emulsion. You can also use Polycell 3 in 1 Problem Wall Primer (£27.49 for 2.5ltr, Homebase), which seals and stabilises absorbent, flaky and powdery walls.
If you’re painting over dark-coloured walls with a pale colour, you’ll save time by applying a basecoat emulsion first, which should cover most of the original colour so you don’t have to do endless coats of topcoat.
Basecoat emulsions can also cover hairline cracks, patchiness and stains - Polycell 3 in 1 Basecoat (from £21.98 for 2.5ltr, B&Q) does this - so although they’re not particularly cheap, they can be worth their weight in gold.
When buying any paint, it’s obviously better to have too much than not enough - most stores will refund unused tins, although not from paint-mixing machines (unless faulty).
Sometimes the same colour can change slightly between batches of paint, especially with paints that use natural pigments, so not buying enough in the first place could be a DIY disaster in the making.