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Paint expert debunks 14 common decorating misconceptions

There are many misconceptions when it comes to painting and decorating. A lot of people may have preconceived ideas about what they think is correct or what can/can’t be done. From painting your rooms all the same colour to not being able to paint in the cold, these myths can cause great confusion. 

With that in mind, Michael Rolland, DIY expert at The Paint Shed is here to make you forget what you think you know about painting and decorating, debunking some of the most common myths you should be aware of. 




Myth 1: You don’t need a primer

Some people believe that they can save a lot of time and effort by not using paint primer and instead using multiple coats of paint. However, doing this could lead to the paint peeling and wearing further down the line. Priming is an incredibly important step to getting a professional finish, it helps the paint stick to the walls, enhancing the shine and blocking future stains. Paint primer will keep what you painted looking better for longer, saving you time and effort in the long run. 

Myth 2: Small rooms should not be painted dark colours

There is a misconception that painting a small room with dark colours will shrink the room - this is not true. Dark colours don’t always lead to small, dark spaces. Dark colours can be a good idea for poorly lit rooms and smaller rooms because you are playing to the limitations of natural light rather than fighting it. Combined with the right textures and finishes, opting for dark paint in a small room can often create a cosy, calm space with a moody undertone. 

Myth 3: Paint never goes off 

The majority of the time you will end up with spare paint at the end of a DIY project. A lot of people will put the lid back on the paint can and store it either in the garage, shed or loft. It’s important to remember that all paint does eventually go bad. Open paint can last around 5 years on average if properly stored and sealed, however, most brands will recommend using the paint within 6 months of purchase to avoid any deterioration in the paint quality. 

Myth 4: You can’t paint in the cold

Painting in cold weather is trickier than other types of painting projects and most manufacturers advise that you paint in areas that are at least 10 degrees. Painting when it is cold can cause various effects on the paint and its application. For example, water-based paints or those labelled as ‘latex’ can freeze at lower temperatures. This shouldn’t, however, stop you from painting in colder temperatures, with a well-heated home there should be no issues, just make sure the temperature stays between 10-30 degrees. You can also stop the issue of freezing by adding a freeze-resistant paint additive to the paint to help.

No matter the temperature outside, it’s crucial you keep the room you are painting well-ventilated. This includes opening windows and doors or purchasing a fan. This will limit the lingering smell and allow the paint to dry faster.

Myth 5: All walls in a room should be the same colour

When it comes to painting walls, you may have heard people say you have to paint each wall the same colour for it to look good but this is far from the truth. In fact, most interior designers will advise against this, especially if it is an open-plan room. Although painting all your walls the same colour will be easier and cheaper, the amount of colours you use is really up to you and that can be as many colours as you want, as long as they complement each other. A good example of this is painting three lighter-coloured walls and one darker-coloured wall. This will give your home that extra bit of character.

Myth 6: It doesn’t matter what type of paint you use

Not all paints have the same finish, some are oil-based whilst others are water-based. You must do your research when choosing the best paint for your surface. Different paint finishes work well on different surfaces and areas of your home for example an Eggshell finish is a great option for high-traffic areas such as a hallway or kitchen due to its stain-resistant qualities. 

Myth 7: You can paint over mould 

Unfortunately, mould isn’t a feature that can just be painted over and forgotten about like a scuff or other mark on a wall you might create by accident. While painting over mould will temporarily hide its ugliness, it won’t resolve the issue by itself. Mould will continue to grow unless properly treated and eventually reappear, bringing the same problems as before. 

Rather than hiding the mould problem by painting over it, you need to ultimately work out and fix what is causing it. If simply left untreated and covered up with paint, the mould will regrow working its way through the walls and ceilings, eating through the coatings of paint and you will be left back in the same situation as before. Only once the surface you are looking to paint on has been made free of the dampness and mould issues, you should apply a new coat of paint without the worry of black mould reappearing due to dampness.

The Paint Shed

Myth 8: Your ceilings should always be white 

Many people think a white ceiling is necessary for a cohesive room design. Although white ceilings are traditional, many people can’t think of a good-looking room, without the ceiling being white, this is an outdated myth. A white ceiling is a good choice if you’re seeking a classic design and don’t want to draw attention to the upward in the room, however, painting ceilings darker is becoming more popular. If you’re after a bolder and riskier look, then a darker ceiling can make a room feel cosier and more intimate. 

Myth 9: You should hire a professional

A lot of people can find painting and redecorating their homes a daunting task. They may be tempted to call in a professional. However, anyone can paint and it can be a very simple process when armed with the correct tools and techniques. There are many videos and guides online which will walk you through the process. 

Good quality tools are key to achieving a professional finish at home, quality brushes and rollers will give you a smooth application and top finish, while top quality decorating tape can help stop the bleeding of paint and help with creating crisp, clean lines.

Painting your home can be a fun activity for you to do with your partner, friends or family. That’s before you take into account the amount of money you will be saving.

Myth 10: The colour of your walls won’t affect the value of your home

A fresh coat of paint on your house's exterior and interiors can go a long way to impress potential buyers.

Our research revealed that certain colours may cause potential buyers to put in a lower offer when the time to sell comes along, and some would be put off altogether. The study revealed that 4 in 10 Brits (39%) would offer less for a house they were interested in purchasing based on the colour scheme alone, and nearly 1 in 5 would be put off from making an offer completely. 

When asked how much less they would offer the seller of the property due to an undesirable colour scheme, nearly 9 in 10 UK residents would reduce their offer by between £1,000-£5,000, and 11% would offer between £6,000-£10,000 less. More surprisingly, however, are the three in 100 that would offer over £20,000 less just because of a lick of paint.

Myth 11: Adding essential oils to paint will make it smell better

You may have seen the tips and tricks going around on social media that say you should add essential oils to your paint, however, this is not a good idea. Most modern paints have lower fumes and less odour meaning that they smell better, to begin with. 

Some essential oils don’t mix with the paint properly which could cause application issues, this would also go against the manufacturer's warranty of using the paint ‘according to label directions’. The best way to minimise indoor paint is to keep the room well-ventilated and open a window. 

Myth 12: Art should be placed high up on the wall

Perhaps this myth comes from shows such as Downton Abbey, where grand pieces of art are hung high for everyone to see. However, art doesn’t have to be placed high up on the wall to look good. For example, you could have a wall of art with pieces of work scattered all over the wall. Some people have even started putting pieces of art on their ceilings. 

Myth 13: Scatter cushions should always be an odd number 

Many sofas are catered for three people, that’s why the odd number scatter cushion myth has been created. Your living area can look just as good, with two cushions on each side of the sofa, instead of the classic three or five cushions lined across. Just note that too many cushions can leave your living room looking cluttered, and they may even make the sofa less comfy. 

Myth 14: You can’t mix different patterns 

You don’t have to go for the same plain walls, let your creativity shine. Depending on the colours, different patterns can work together, just make sure they don’t clash. Something we are seeing more and more of is three patterned walls with one feature wall, this is a change from the usual three plain walls and one feature wall in a room.

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