1. It’s human nature to paint our walls. Cave paintings in Europe and Southwest Asia date back 32,000 years. Fast-forward a few thousand years, and you have the gorgeously frescoed walls of Pompeii. Now, a few thousand years later, we’re obsessed with color on our walls.
2. All paints are not created equal. Don’t buy the cheapest paint you can find. A higher price point means the paint is more likely to leave your brush smoothly and evenly, requiring fewer coats. And higher-quality paint will stand up to stains, scuff marks and scouring for years to come.
3. Most paints come in a spectrum of finishes from matte to glossy, and while glossy is more robust, it’s also far less forgiving. It reflects light instead of absorbing it, highlighting the imperfections in both your paint job and your wall. But consider using a glossy finish on trim for a practical touch of glam, says Kristi Dinner of company kd in Denver. Eggshell—forgiving and durable—is a happy medium for most surfaces.
4. When it comes to color, “Be fearless,” says Dinner. Find a color that you love and paint it in an unexpected place; try a bold color on the ceiling of an enclosed space or on the back wall of a bookcase for a 3-D effect that is oh-so-21st-century chic.
5. Ask for help. Paint aisles with trillions of two-inch color squares can be overwhelming, so here’s a trade secret: hire a color consultant, a pro who knows what color goes where and why and how.
6. A paint job is only as good as the prep job, so take the time to scrutinize your walls; make sure cracks are filled, holes are puttied and texture is consistent. If you’re covering a dark color with a lighter one, tint the primer with the finishing color. It will reduce the number of coats you need.
7. No matter who paints your walls, every home should have a few basic supplies for the inevitable touch-up. Buy an all-purpose synthetic sash-angled brush; Purdy makes some of the industry’s best. For bigger jobs, invest in a lamb’s wool roller—it won’t spatter your paint, as the cheaper ones tend to do.
8. Everybody’s talking about Benjamin Moore’s earth-friendly paint Aura. Think high-performance paint in brilliant colors with low volatile organic compounds—those nasty gases emitted by the chemicals in some household products.
9. When it comes to storing your paint, use an airtight container and put it in a cool, dry place, where it will last for years, says Carl Minchew, head of Benjamin Moore’s product development. Label the paint with specifics such as where you used it and when. (You can thank us later.) When it’s all used up? Recycle your empty paint cans, so long as they’re dry.
10. Paint coats our lives. Everywhere you look, you’ll find something cloaked in some form of paint. The idea that such a thin film can protect, interest or even wow us—well, that makes paint the chicest coat of all.