If you just bought a house, painting it is no doubt high on your to-do list. Painting before you move in is the easiest way to get the job done because you won't have furniture and decorative items in the way.
However, some people prefer to live in a new home first to see how natural light affects the space.
Regardless of when you decide to paint, there are lots of things to consider before, during and after you put brush or roller to wall.
If you can visit the house before the deal closes, take measurements (so you can figure out how much paint to buy) and lots of photos to help you come up with a colour scheme. Some paint companies offer apps so you can add different colours to your photographs. They also offer calculators so you can figure out how much paint to buy.
Colour can be used to solve problems, with lighter colours making rooms look larger and darker ones doing the opposite.
"If you have a long and narrow room, you can consider painting the end walls a darker shade than the long, narrow walls. The darker colours will recede and create an illusion of width in this instance," say experts at Sherwin-Williams on the company website.
Contrasting colours can be used to highlight architectural features, such as mouldings. Or unsightly architectural features and mouldings will visually disappear if they painted the same colours as the background, says Home Hardware's website. "A boring room will come alive with colour-blocking to create a beautiful feature wall."
Another Home Hardware trick is to paint the ceiling colour down the wall by one foot from the top and finish it will a narrow moulding to make the ceilings seem higher.
Sherwin-Williams says light affects colour dramatically. "Fluorescent light tends to be cool lighting and brings out more green or blue in a colour. Incandescent light (light bulbs) brings out more of the red or warmth in a colour. It is important to view colours in daylight and at night because they will look different."
Rather than go with a small paint chip, paint a larger test swatch on the wall to be sure you're happy with the colour. Some paint companies, such as Benjamin Moore, offer pint-sized samples.
"Your colour will look more intense on the wall than on a paint chip. If you are feeling unsure, simply go one shade lighter," Home Hardware suggests.
If you see a colour you love, Benjamin Moore has a Colour Capture app that "lets you capture inspiration colour with your phone's camera and instantly find its match from Benjamin Moore's 3,500 plus paint colours," the company says.
Another consideration is the level of gloss, such as high gloss, semi-gloss, flat and eggshell. Glossy paints will show more imperfections than flat paints but stand up better in high traffic areas.
You may also want to choose a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) product to keep your space healthier. Some paints also contain anti-microbial ingredients to fight mould and mildew growth.
Will you choose a latex paint? Latex tends to resist cracking, chipping and yellowing. It has a low odour and is water based, so clean up is easy with water. It is quicker to dry and is ready for a second coat faster than alkyd paint, says CIL's website. Alkyd paint "applies similar to a latex paint and has low odour and VOCs. When dry it has the durability of an oil-based alkyd."
The type of paint you choose may depend on the existing paint. "Painting latex over oil (or alkyd) can result in peeling and flaking," says CIL. How do you know if the paint is latex or oil? "First do the nail polish test to find out what you're dealing with. Using acetone-based nail polish remover and a cotton pad, rub the paint a little. If the paint comes off, it's latex and you are good to go. If it's oil, make sure to choose a 100-per-cent acrylic latex paint. Acrylic adheres well to most surfaces, including oil paints and will give you smooth long lasting results."
Do you need to prime? Some primers are useful in covering dark colours or blocking stains. For example, Kilz2 latex sealer/stain blocker has a mild odour, is mildew resistant, hides colour, blocks stains and promotes adhesion. It also seals porous surfaces, the company says.
Paint companies have their own primers. Check for the features you want.
Other things to remember:
Brushes are available with synthetic and natural bristles, with synthetics lasting up to five times as long as natural bristle brushes, says Dulux. Synthetics are suited to water-based paints. "As a rule of thumb, the larger the area you are painting, the larger the brush you should use," Dulux says. For example, two or three inches is suggested for cutting in, while a one- or two-inch brush will give more flexibility when painting things such as doors and baseboards, the company says.
"Rollers are ideal for painting large areas, particularly ceilings. They are quick and easy to use. There are several types of rollers to suit different paint jobs: foam, mohair or sheepskin, available in short, medium and long pile. Your choice depends upon the sort of paint you are using. Foam rollers are not recommended for normal latex paints as their spongy texture creates air bubbles in the paint film, which can then burst, leaving a cratered, range peel effect," says Dulux. "Deeper pile rollers do not necessarily apply more paint to a smooth surface. The longer the pile, the more pronounced the surface texture (stipple) becomes."
Prepare your project -- you will have to prepare walls by cleaning and patching, then taping off areas you don't want painted. "If using masking tape to protect a surface when painting, remove the tape as soon as you can," Dulux says. "You will get a cleaner edge and there is less chance the tape will bond to the surface it is protecting and become difficult to remove."
There are a lot of things to consider before you run out and buy gallons of paint and invite your friends to help out. Plan ahead.
If it's all too much, you can always hire a professional painter.
Consumer Reports suggestions include getting at least three quotes (in writing), checking references and credentials, obtaining a detailed written contract and ensuring you have a copy of the painter's insurance. It also says, "Don't make a large down payment and withhold the final payment, typically 10 to 15 per cent, until you are fully satisfied with the job."