So you've made the decision to paint the living room because you're just plain tired of looking at that bland old beige background every day.
You've also decided to make it a do-it-yourself project rather than hiring a contractor to do it for you.
Now, you're faced with some even more difficult decisions to make so you will actually end up with a room that's not hideous to behold, and that you can feel comfortable and relaxed in.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid creating a war-zone atmosphere in your living room, and to make it something you can tolerate — at least until your next inspired DIY painting project.
What paint to use?
The first thing to do is determine what kind of paint was previously used on your walls. If you don't already know, you can soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and then wipe it across a small area.
If your cotton ball shows paint residue after wiping, the paint is a latex paint, which means it's water-based. If there's no residue on the cotton ball, it's an oil-based paint.
While you may want to stick with that same type, there are some considerations you should take into account.
Latex paints are thinner and easier to use, will dry in just a couple hours, and require no primer coat. If you want to double your fun while painting, you can go with an oil-based paint that does require a primer and may take days or weeks to actually dry and set properly.
Oil-based paints are also more likely to chip over time, and they can be toxic if accidentally ingested. Latex paints will not chip, but they are more easily stained, so if you happen to throw a 'playful' cup of coffee at your spouse, the evidence will linger for quite a while.
If cost is a factor in your decision-making, latex paints will be a clear winner, since they're usually in the neighborhood of 40% to 50% cheaper than oil-based paints are.
Keep in mind that you will be buying a lot more than one gallon of paint, so the total cost will matter. When you're actually doing the painting, you'll probably notice a very strong odor from oil-based paint and a much lighter odor from latex-based paints.
Types of paint finishes
The finish or sheen of the paint determines how much light will be reflected and how much will be absorbed.
If you want your living room to be more bright and airy, you'll want a high-sheen kind of finish. If you're striving for a more subdued look, you'll probably want a low-sheen finish.
Paints that have a matte finish absorb most of the light they receive, and that will cause your room to look more somber. Semi-gloss and gloss paints reflect much more of the light that they receive, and that will create a brighter atmosphere in the room.
Satin paints also have glossier finishes because they have low levels of pigmentation and higher levels of resin. This is just the opposite of flatter paints like eggshell, which have lower levels of resin and higher levels of pigmentation.
Depending on the look you want to achieve in your living room, one of these finishes should fill the bill quite nicely.
Now all you have to do is decide on the color of the paint you want to use in your do-it-yourself project. Good luck with that.