​The homify guide to white wall painting

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Adding a fresh coat of paint to a space is the most economical way to spice up a room – and most interior designers will agree that it is also the easiest. Unlike adding wallpaper, painting a room is easy, rather quick, and can be turned into a great DIY project for the weekend (especially if you invite a friend over with some nibbles to keep you company). 

Paint is a very flexible material that can be used to create various different textures. And out of all the colours in existence, white is the most favoured choice for interior walls – pearl, porcelain, snow, egg shell… these are just some of the hues categorised under the colour “white”, and although not everybody can distinguish the one from the other, we people with an eye for detail know the difference.  

But even with a huge range of white hues and different paintbrushes available, there is still a hitch that many of us face: achieving an even tone on a wall. So, get ready for our usual handy batch of tips and tricks to help you accomplish that certain pale hue with preciseness.

Stock up on paint

Like fabric, paint is prepared in batches. What looks like a simple white hue to you is in reality a complex collection of colours for paint manufacturers. That is why every batch of paint differs from the previous one, even if it differs by 0.001%.

To avoid seeing this difference splashed across your wall, rather buy all your paint at one instance. But calculate the number of coats of paint your wall will need before you start buying. And measure your wall beforehand and give your measurements to your friendly neighbourhood paint shop for expert advice – and then buy a little extra that can be used for touch-ups.

homify hint: The total number of colours the human eye can see is about 10 million. However, the perception of colour varies from one person to another, so there can be no single number that is true for everyone. The number of different colours each individual can distinguish also varies dramatically according to the conditions; it drops to zero in low light conditions, in which only the rod cells of the retina can function, as the cone cells of the retina are required for colour vision.

Which white is right?

As we've said before, white is not just white – therefore, choosing the right shade of white is crucial to giving your room the right look. 

White can be both energising and calming, depending on the tone you go for. When selecting a shade of white paint, you could compare pure whites to being cold and refreshing, and ivory tones to being warm and calming. 

Crisp whites are also bolder than warmer white shades. Pure whites are ideal for rooms like the kitchen and study, while warmer tones of white will fit better in bedrooms, children’s rooms and living rooms. 

Thus, before choosing your shade of white, determine the vibe for the room which you plan to paint, as well as its function.

Get your gear sorted

modern Bedroom by Livarea
Livarea

Novamobili Kleiderschrank Intono einfach in der Wusnchfarbe streichen

Livarea

Before you attack that wall with your paintbrush, make sure you have (and are dressed in) an old set of clothes you don’t mind getting paint on. The rest of the paint equipment can be categorised as prep- and paint materials. 

A vital element for your paint job is a drop cloth to cover the floor and catch any stray drops of paint, especially if you plan on colouring that ceiling too. Newspapers strewed across the floor work equally well, as long as you use layers. 

To prep a wall, make sure you have a spatula and spackle handy, along with a metal paint scraper, sandpaper, and a mild soap and water solution. Lastly, masking tape is a vital painting tool to tape off areas you do not want to paint (such as separating the wall from the wardrobe). 

Priming the wall with primer is a necessary step. To paint, make sure you have your paint, a flat paintbrush, a roller and a paint tray. For tricky areas like corners, angled paintbrushes are sometimes used.

Wall prepping 101

The amount of prepping your wall requires will depend on your wall’s condition. Walls with cracks and nail holes will require a spatula and spackle to smooth over. A metal paint scraper and sandpaper are then needed to scrape off the existing paint. This is a very important step when painting a white wall, so don’t take it lightly. 

For the next step, which will be to remove any grime and dirt, a mild soap and water solution is used. Allow the wall to dry completely before applying a primer coat.

The best time to paint

mediterranean Houses by Cenquizqui
Cenquizqui

Cochera doble

Cenquizqui

Don’t wait until the dead of winter to paint that wall / room. Painting in cold temperatures may interfere with the paint molecules’ ability to bond, which can give your wall an inconsistent look when it dries. 

Spring or mild summer is the best time to paint, with a temperature reading exceeding 5°C. White walls should also be painted when the humidity is low, which will allow the paint to dry evenly. As an extra precaution, switch some fans on when you start painting and keep them running until the paint is nearly (or almost) dry.

Colour mixing

It has happened numerous times (and will happen again) that the paint manufacturers are unable to give somebody the exact shade that they require. In these cases, paint mixing will become a DIY project. 

Craft colourants are available in a wide variety of shades and can help you transform your base paint colour to the shade you want. But be sure to mix in only a small amount of colourant at a time. Before you commence with the entire wall, paint a small patch on the wall first and allow it to dry. Then look at it in both natural sunlight and artificial lighting before finalising the shade.

Where to start

Before dipping your brush in paint, remove any loose bristles by rolling the brush back and forth on your hand or arm. Then start painting at the ceiling line with horizontal strokes to get a straight line. Afterwards, paint vertically until you reach a height accessible to the paint roller. 

When painting corners, it may be easier to use the narrow side of the brush (or use a smaller one). We recommend painting one wall at a time and not letting this coat of paint dry out before you start painting with the roller.

Painting the wall

To achieve an even finish on your walls, loading the roller properly is prime. Dip the roller into the paint tray and roll it back and forth to cover the surface evenly with paint. Then use the edges of the paint tray to remove excess paint.

The roller should be filled with paint just short of the paint dripping. Painting in a ‘W’ motion without lifting the roller from the wall ensures that the paint is spread evenly. When the roller stops sounding wet (and you will hear from the sound), you know it is time to reload the paint. Let each coat of paint dry for at least two hours before applying another coat (suddenly the idea of company with some snacks doesn't seem so bad).

When it comes to touch-ups

 Artwork by DrewnianaŚciana
DrewnianaŚciana

Mozaika drewniana

DrewnianaŚciana

However hard it may be to resist, do not touch the wall while the paint is drying. Only once it is completely dry may you check to see if there are any patches visible. 

For touch-ups, use the same applicator you used to paint the surface in the first place. This will help to maintain the wall’s texture. Remember to use as little paint as possible and apply small amounts at a time.

Finishing up

modern Nursery/kid’s room by MARIANGEL COGHLAN
MARIANGEL COGHLAN

Recámara infantil basada en Harry Potter

MARIANGEL COGHLAN

Once all your walls have received their even coats, allow the fans to help them dry. When the paint is semi-dry, cautiously remove the masking tape without allowing it to peel the paint. 

Once you’re 100% certain that the walls are dry, remove the drop cloth or newspapers.

Lastly, have fun decorating your room against your new white (or off-white) canvas! 

From white to just about anything else, see: The Surprising Impact Colours Can Have On Your Home.

Which room are you dying to paint in a white hue? Share with us in the comments, below...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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