What you need to know about paint


Painting. It’s the first task homeowners put their hand up for when it comes to anything DIY. While it’s widely accepted as the easiest trade, let me level with you – paint ain’t just paint!

There are many types of paints out there. Low sheen, flat, gloss, semi-gloss, water-based, oil-based, low- and non-VOC (volatile organic compounds). You need to know what goes where and why you’d use one over the other.

In my experience, a good paint job can mean the difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful one.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to get some professional advice from a tradie or even your local hardware or paint store before you end up painting yourself the same colour as your walls.

There’s more to choosing paint than deciding between pretty colours. © Getty

We’ve all indulged in that fresh-paint smell and enjoyed the fact that the house feels new again.

That smell is the off-gassing of VOCs being released into the air. And, guess what? In paint, they’re not good for you!

Read more: How to paint wood like a professional

VOCs in paint are harmful to the environment and also to your health. Different VOCs have different health effects with a number of studies suggesting asthma might worsen in some cases.

Think twice about painting around kids – paints high in VOCs are harmful to the environment and to humans. © Getty

I recommend you always ask for low-VOC or even non-VOC paints when selecting your colours.

Given non-VOC paints are newer than your average paints, in some cases, they might cost you a couple of extra bucks. In my opinion, they’re well worth it.

Read more: 6 mistakes to avoid when painting

Keep your lungs clear when sanding and painting by wearing face masks. © Getty

Here are a few tips to help you reduce your “eco paint-print” next time you decide to pick up the brush:

  • Save yourself money and only buy what you need. Sounds simple, right? Allow one litre of paint per 15m2 of wall and then top up the balance as you need it.
  • Buy brushes with timber handles that will break down or brushes with handles made of recycled plastic that can be recycled at the end of their lifetime.
  • While you’re waiting in between coats or overnight, wrap your brushes in plastic or cling film as this stops them from drying out.
  • When complete, brush out as much of the paint on the brush as you can. Half fill a bucket with warm soapy water and use some elbow grease to remove any remaining paint residue.
  • Donate any leftover paints to family, friends, local community centres or Google local recycling programs who will take it off your hands.
  • Don’t wash your brushes or tip your leftover paint down the drain. Instead, leave the tin open and let the paint dry out or tip some sawdust or cat litter into the can to help absorb the remaining paint. There are also now sachets that can be added to paint to harden it. Perhaps purchase this at the same time you’re buying paint to ensure the clean-up is as quick as the project itself. With the paint removed, the tin can be disposed in the recycling bin.
  • To clean up oil-based paints you’ll need some turps (mineral turpentine). Sit the brush in a closed container of turps until the paint particles settle out. Remove the clear liquid (which can be reused) and when ready to dispose, add an absorbent – like cat litter or sawdust – to the remaining residue and let it dry completely. Unlike water-based solids, these can’t be disposed of in the bin so do your research before you start painting to ensure you know how and where you can get rid of it. It may be easier to take the can to your local recycling centre.

Don’t forget your drop sheets. © Getty

Finally, don’t forget your drop sheets. It’s worth investing in good-quality cotton ones if you’re doing a larger project.

If you’re going to use single-use drop sheets, make sure you dispose of them in a soft plastic recycling bin at your local REDcycle collection point. Happy painting.

Read more: How to paint a room on your own

This article was originally published as What you need to know about paint by www.realestate.com.au and is written by Dean Ipaviz.

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