When Ryan Browder started his painting business in 1994, Navajo white was the standard wall color and nobody had any idea what a VOC was.
Much has changed since then, and Browder Painting continues to evolve with the times. The San Luis Obispo company performs interior and exterior painting, custom stain work, and decorative finishes
such as antiquing and color washing. It also handles carpentry, drywall repair, waterproofing and power washing.
“White is out,” according to Browder, who owns the company with wife Jennifer. With the proliferation of paint hues, paint formulas and painting gadgets out there, confusion is perhaps the biggest trend among those considering a new wall color.
Many turn to a professional like Browder to streamline the process. But for those who decide to go it alone, he offers some sage advice. For instance, he believes that most people are too hasty when choosing a paint color.
“A lot of times people don’t understand the effect lighting is going to have on paint,” said Browder. “Sitting at your kitchen table, it looks like one thing, but outside it may look like another.”
Once you’ve narrowed down your color choices, he recommends purchasing a quart of each paint color, applying at least a 2-by-2- foot sample on several walls and observing those samples for a full day. See how artificial and natural light transforms the color. Notice how the hue changes from morning to evening.
If living with paint samples on the wall is unthinkable, you can paint a piece of paper or cardboard and tape it to a wall. Some paint stores will offer a piece of painted paper called a “brush out” with the purchase of a quart of paint. The drawback, warned Browder, is that wall texture can also alter the look of a paint color.
If a customer is completely at a loss for color ideas, Browder will often have them scan magazines. If they’re looking for exterior colors, he recommends driving around local neighborhoods.
“Just find a home similar in style with colors that you like,” he said. “I’ve knocked on many a door and asked them what color paint is on their house.”
As for type of paint, Browder Painting uses primarily high-end, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints.
“In general, whatever the paint company, if you buy the top-of-the-line product it’s going to be more durable,” he said, “but there may be cases where a little lower-end product will be easier to apply.”
The best solution, he said, is to find a paint store you trust and ask a representative what type of paint is best for your job. While you’re at it, ask them which brushes and rollers you should use —cheap ones will create more imperfections.
Once you have your paint in hand, the next potential stumbling block is application. According to Browder, the top mistake of novice painters is underestimating the prep time it takes before the first brushstroke. Trim needs to be cleaned, sanded and primed to prevent peeling. A good quality tape needs to be used to protect areas such as woodwork and trim.
You might be tempted to fall back on one of those as-seen-on-television painting gadgets. Browder has tried most of them and isn’t impressed.
“We don’t believe in painting gadgets,” he said. “It’s all about doing the prep work, using good quality tools— and a lot of elbow grease.”