Help me paint my apartment
July 12, 2007 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Apartment therapy: I'd rather not spend much time when I move out to mask my paint job in order to return its color to an institutional off-white ick. Which colors are the easiest to mask with minimal priming / effort? And how much will it cost?

My apartment walls need to be white when I move out, as they are now. In order to maintain my own sanity and to personalize an otherwise bland space, I'd like to add some color for now. Which colors of paint should I use / avoid? And how much will it cost? And will it be worth the effort? What am I missing? Can you idiot proof my plan, below?

Obviously, black and red seem out of the question, but is there a way to see a palate of colors that all seem to meet this criteria and are complimentary to each other?

Methods and Materials:
My first inclination is to leave the ceilings white and just paint the walls (I love this look). Additionally, at least the bathroom and probably the kitchen will need special oil based paint. I will need a roller and a brush, some tape plastic throws and several trays.

My apartment is under 500sq ft, so I am assuming that a gallon and change of paint will probably do the entire space (one coat minus ceilings). Ballpark total for paint and tools = $100 now + $150 (prime included) when I move out for everything.

Does this seem like a reasonable estimate / plan?
posted by |n$eCur3 to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How long are you staying? Just a year? Watching my mother try to repaint her basically white walls back to really white assures me that this would take a lot of work.

I think some kind of art, temporary wallpaper, or fabric would be a better solution for you. Something with bold colours will bounce colour onto any white wall that still shows.
posted by anaelith at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you DO paint, here are the two rules:

1. Find the color you like. Then go three spaces up on the swatch card. It ALWAYS comes out darker than you imagined.

2. When you repaint back to white: Get the highest-quality white primer you can afford. I tried repainting one apartment with cheap white primer and wound up doing FIVE COATS and still having it show through. Since then, I've primed with just one coat of good primer, and that's probably all you'd have to do.
posted by ImJustRick at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

If your kitchen or bathroom are currently alkyd or oil, then you can use latex paint on top as long as you prep correctly:

Contrary to popular belief, you can paint over oil or alkyd paint with latex paint.

To do so the walls should be cleaned, painted with a super adherent acrylic primer, then latex paint can be applied.To test if the paint on the walls is oil or alkyd some stores carry inexpensive test kits, or you can use methyl hydrate (gas line anti-freeze) or non acetone based nail polish remover.

To test, apply a small quantity to a pad and rub vigorously on the painted surface. If the surface remains shiny it is oil/alkyd; if the paint is stripped it is latex.

If you test the paint and it's latex, just paint over it with latex semi-gloss (after a good sanding, of course).
posted by maudlin at 3:47 PM on July 12, 2007

In my experience, one coat of colour on white walls is unlikely to be satisfactory: two is more reasonable. For a 500 sq. ft. apartment with multiple rooms, that would be at least three gallons of paint (and then three gallons of primer). If you aren't going to be living there for at least a few years, I wouldn't bother.
posted by ssg at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2007

I painted my way through college with my own company. And, I've lived in institutional white apartments. Paint is the cheapest decorating you can do - it's roughly 4 cents per square foot per coat. Very satisfying, if you're a color person like me.

For my money, go ahead and paint. Here's a fun place to try out ideas: Behr Paint. There's an Explore Color page that is a great tool. Benjamin Moore has a color viewer, too.

Maybe think about just an accent wall? Although, I've tried painting just one wall, and it depressed me to see my new wonderful color against the awful dirty white (which is almost certainly Duron Antique White in almost certainly every apartment in the known world.) It also depressed me to see my bright, clean paint job against the hideous trim and woodwork, but I got over it.

If the walls have been painted with a flat paint, you shouldn't need any sanding or primer. NOTE: If you are painting a medium to dark color, you will need to use a primer! Two coats of regular paint won't cut it, and you'll be bitterly disappointed. You won't save any money by skipping the primer, and you'll piss off the cat. (Don't ask.)

Get a good primer like Zinssers or Kilz. Use blue painter's tape to tape off trim and woodwork. Cut in around the ceiling in no more than 3 foot sections and paint the wall below immediately - keep a 'wet edge.' Check out the painting tips at the Behr site.

When you repaint, sand your walls well to rough up the surface. Wipe with a tack cloth (a sticky piece of gauze made specifically to pick up dust from sanding.) If you painted a deep color, you'll need to use a primer... sorry. But, a primer and one good coat of Duron Antique White should get your deposit back!

It worked for me.
posted by Corky at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2007 [5 favorites]

1. Find the color you like. Then go three spaces up on the swatch card. It ALWAYS comes out darker than you imagined.

This is so not true. 2 of the colors of paint I chose for my new house turned out *way* lighter than I expected, especially because once in the past a paint color did come out darker.

The best thing to do is find a paint color that you can get a sample can/jar of. Paint a decent sized square on the wall to make sure you like the color.

And don't paint it adobe orange - the previous owners did that to my family room and it took 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to cover it so it could be light blue.

I do think it's worth your while to find alternatives to painting, like the temporary wallpaper or lots of artwork hung on the walls. It seems like it won't be a big deal to repaint when you move out, but moving is almost always an incredible pain in the ass and you will underestimate how much time everything takes and you will sorely regret making yourself paint on top of all of it.
posted by tastybrains at 5:56 PM on July 12, 2007

How about making your own big art? Buy (or make) a frame, then stretch a colorful canvas or wild print and staple it on the frame. You might even find an old screen door or window frame; try to recycle for Mother Earth's sake. Or do what a thrifty friend did: She made a large frame out of salvaged lumber, found a bedsheet whose print she loved, and stretched and stapled it. Had gigantic art and didn't have to paint the walls. Oh, another thrifty friend found an ugly painting at a yard sale, glued paper (torn into bits and pieces) of various prints and textures all over it to cover the painting, then sealed with gesso or some glossy finish.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 6:10 PM on July 12, 2007

You can use fabric and liquid starch to make an easily removable wallcovering.
posted by candyland at 6:22 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ooooh! Big Art! Try having some fun with Rasterbator!

I've made a whole wall of art by stapling velcro strips to the wall and attaching foam board covered with Rasterbated images to the velcro strips. It's really easy to do large walls, and it's easy to change out when you get tired of it. Staples leave teeny, tiny holes that don't even need to be filled when you leave!
posted by Corky at 6:23 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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