Once the subfloor was installed and the load-bearing wall was finished, it was time to paint!
Choosing a Paint Brand
There are a lot of paints to choose from: Benjamin Moore, Para, Dulux, the Home Depot brand, and many more. I did a lot of research on which paint was best and everything I read confirmed that you get what you pay for. We choose Benjamin Moore because several people had confirmed its worth, and our local paint store happened to be a Benjamin Moore supplier.
Even within the Benjamin Moore family of products, there are different qualities available. Our paint store told us that the lower-end Benjamin Moore products were really no better than what you’d get at Home Depot, which was consistent with what I had read online. So the moral of the story is if you’re going to buy Benjamin Moore paint, buy the highest quality of their paints or there’s no point.
For our walls, our paint store recommended Regal Select, which is Benjamin Moore’s second most premium brand of paint. The most expensive and premium is Aura, which dries way too quickly for amateur painters like us. Our ceiling paint is Benjamin Moore’s Waterborne Ceiling Paint.
For our primer, our paint store recommended Para’s SuperStick product, which lived up to its name and did a great job covering our walls.
Choosing Paint Colours
I knew that I wanted white or grey-ish walls so it should have been fairly easy to pick a colour. Right?
Wrong. There are a gazillion shades of white and grey! We managed to narrow our choices down to 10 or 15 strips and brought them home to compare against our brick wall and in our light.
Once we narrowed it down to a particular grey, we went to our paint store to get a sample of the White Diamond.
When we painted the Chantilly Lace on the wall, it looked very white. However, because it was against the burgundy, I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was a real representation of the colour, so I bought some large Bristol board and painted the colour on there. And it was, in fact, too white. So, I went back to the paint store and went one colour darker: Iced Cube Silver. We thought this one was too dark, so the paint store gave us a shade in between.
For our trim, we wanted a fairly white white, so we went one step whiter on the paint swatch and got Chantilly Lace. This colour will be for all of our trim (doors, windows and baseboards) and ceiling.
Choosing a Finish
Once we chose our colours and brand, we had to choose our finish. There are several options from very matte to super shiny. I’m not a fan of shiny walls or trim (because it’s not 1994 anymore), so I favoured the most matte options.
Here is the range of sheen in Benjamin Moore paint, from most matte to shiny:
- Ultra Flat
Our ceiling paint was Ultra Flat, which is only available in ceiling paint, and is specifically formulated to hide imperfections. Our ceilings aren’t the most flat or smooth (especially with our patch jobs), so we had to get the most flat option out there.
Choosing a wall finish is a bit more complicated. We wanted something flat-looking, but also wanted to be able to wash our walls if needed. We chose the Ulti-Matte finish.
Alex and I debated over the shine of our trim. Alex wanted something super shiny and I wanted as flat as appropriate. We negotiated and landed on Pearl, which is the second shiniest finish and great for trim and doors.
We spent a lot of time sanding our walls. I mean, A LOT of time. We had some serious holes that needed patching from our electrical work, as well as smaller dents and holes that needed repair.
It took us about 2 weeks to fully prepare the walls for painting. I never want to sand anything again. EVER.
We also did a light sand over the entire surface of the room – including the walls and trim – to create a rough surface for the paint to adhere to.
When we were all done, we had some nice, smooth-ish walls to work with.
Cleaning the Walls
Once all the walls were sanded, they had to be cleaned. The previous owner was smoker, so we wanted to make sure we removed as much crap from the walls as possible. The ceilings weren’t visibly yellow, but there was definitely 20+ years of tar and other crap lurking.
Our paint store recommended TSP, or Trisodium Phosphate, as a cleaning agent. It’s powerful in removing dirt and grime off of surfaces and worked great on our walls. It’s a bit overkill for regular cleaning, but for a one-time super clean of our living room, it was great. We applied it with J-cloths and made sure to use rubber gloves. It left a light residue on the walls, so we had to do a couple of rinses to get it all off.
I found it pretty tough to figure out what painting supplies we should get. We knew we needed the fundamentals: painting trays, brushes, roller, tape and tack clothes. But it was tough to figure out the specifics. I read online that ⅜-inch NAP rollers were ideal for a smooth finish, so that’s what we got. We also got a 2-inch angled brush for cutting in and a 3-inch brush for painting trim. Because our trim was fairly detailed, we didn’t end up using the 3-inch brush much and just stuck with our 2-inch angled brush. The other amazing thing we got were these tiny little paint buckets. I don’t think they were more than $1.50 and well worth it.
Immediately after our walls were clean and dry, we started priming.
Given that our walls were dark burgundy and hadn’t been painted in more than 20 years (true story!), we had to prime. Our paint store recommended Para SuperStick primer, which was tinted to match our paint colour.
Priming took a long time. There were three of us working and it took us the entire day. Luckily we only had to do 1 coat. It wasn’t overly fun, but it was the first step in seeing non-burgundy walls in our house, so we were pretty excited.
We even primed the stairs and every individual spindle. This was also the last task of the day and everyone was hangry.
But at the end of the day, we had some nice primed walls! We only had to wait a couple of hours before starting the paint coats, but we let it dry overnight – mostly because it was late and it was time for beers.
Next came the fun part. Or at least the more fun part.
I found a few useful videos on painting methods on the Benjamin Moore website, which helped a lot in figuring out how to do this “professionally.”
We painted the room in the same way that we primed. We started with the ceiling and managed to get both coats done in one day. Painting a ceiling is crap work. It hurts. A lot.
Alex worked on cutting in and I followed with the roller brush.
I’m sure there’s a legitimate way of painting a ceiling, but I didn’t figure it out in the 4½ hours it took to paint the ceiling. So I chose the awkward ballerina method.
Look at our beautiful ceiling!
Next we painted the trim. As Benjamin Moore suggested, it made more sense to paint the ceilings and trim first so that we could then tape everything and paint the walls last. The trim was a bit tedious because of its detail. I did 2 coats on the yellow trim but had to do 3 full coats on the burgundy trim – even with the primer!
After the ceiling and trim was done, we masked the room to prepare for wall painting. Taping is important and time-consuming.
The walls took longer than I expected. I figured that we’d get all of the walls done in one evening, but no such luck. We did, however, get both coats done in 2 evenings.
All went well except for two things.
First, we had some blistering on the ceiling. When I pulled the paint away, you could see the original drywall exposed, so it was actually the original paint peeling away. We have to wait a few weeks before we can repaint the area.
The other problem was with our load-bearing wall. This damn wall. You can see the crappy mudding/sanding job and the pot lights only seem to highlight the problem. But, that’s what art is for!
Overall, the room looks great so we’re very happy.
Here is a recap of how long each step took us, not including all the mudding and sanding work we did:
|Cleaning Walls||2||N/A||2 people|
|Ceiling Painting||4.5||2||2 people|
|Trim Painting||3||2-3||2 people|
|Wall Painting||6.5||2||2 people|