DIY or Contractor?

Should you tackle that painting job yourself or hire a professional?
Here are points to consider

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen


Like many consumers, you might have toyed with the idea of tackling a painting project yourself—maybe to save the costs of hiring a professional painter. But before you reach a final decision, there are important points to consider. And not all of them involve money.




First, it’s important to be honest with yourself: Do you have what it takes to produce a satisfactory end result? If you answer “yes” to most of the answers below, then a DIY painting project might be in your future. If not, it’s probably time to call a professional.


·         Patience: Patience—or endurance—is one of the most important skills in painting. Do you have the patience to plan the project from start to finish? To prepare the surface to be painted, such as washing walls, filling nail holes and gauges, sanding uneven surfaces, masking abutting walls and trim, and priming? To work slowly and meticulously until the project is complete? To wait for the paint to dry between coats? And to properly clean up your work area and tools?


·         Fine Motor Skills: You don’t have to be Van Gogh, but it’s helpful to have a modicum of skills. Can you properly hold and manipulate brushes and rollers? Can you lay painter’s tape in a straight line? Can you “cut in” corners and small areas? Lay on even coats of paint? Avoid major spills and splatters?


·         Strength: Painting can be physically demanding, although proper tools definitely help. But it’s worth asking: Do you have the strength to move furniture out of the way? To lay tarps to protect flooring and furniture? To pour paint into trays? Can you carry and climb ladders? And bend over for lengths of time?


Project Scope


Many DIYers have no qualms about painting a small room or focus wall. But what about larger and more complex projects, such as finishing kitchen cabinets or painting a two-story exterior? Before starting any project, do your research to understand its scope—products that are needed and steps involved. Watch YouTube instructional videos that show similar projects, do extra reading on the Internet and discuss the project with your local paint retailer. A paint retailer can help plot the project and can suggest everything you’ll need—which might include renting additional equipment, such as a power sander, pressure washer, paint sprayer or scaffolding.


DIY Budget


There’s no doubt that doing a project yourself saves money (unless you make a mistake that requires a do-over). But don’t go overboard by skimping on paint and tools. Purchase all the products you need—putty knives, spackle, sandpaper, brushes, rollers and trays, masking tape, tarps, stirrers and so on—so that you can work without interruption. And buy the best quality you can afford, to ensure a smooth application, beautiful end results and a lasting finish.   


How much can you expect to spend? According to, the average cost of painting a 10-by-12 room ranges from $200 to $300. To calculate the square footage of the paintable area so that you buy only the paint you need, add together the length of all the walls to be painted and then multiply that number by the height of the room (floor to ceiling). Generally speaking, one gallon of paint will cover between 350 and 400 square feet. Before purchasing paint, discuss the dimensions with your local paint retailer who can ensure that you purchase the right quantities.


You’ll additionally need primer if you’re painting over drywall or dark walls, and you may need an extra coat of paint, too, depending on the product you’re using. Remember: Better-quality paints provide better coverage. Depending on your project, it might be worthwhile to splurge on a high-end product that combines a primer and coating in one, or that totes its one-coat coverage benefits.


Professional Budget


You’ll need a larger budget if you plan to hire a professional painter, but you won’t have to lift a finger to achieve gorgeous results. When selecting a candidate, gather estimates from three or four painters and check references. Inquire about the paint brand they generally use, and if it’s not a brand you like or are familiar with, ask if they are willing to change. Make sure you understand the estimate they provide—does it include moving furniture, for example?—and ask for clarification if necessary.


Painters generally work by the hour, although they sometimes charge a flat fee for smaller projects. notes that the average cost of hiring a painter for a 10-by-12 room is $380 to $790, not including ceiling, trim or the cost of paint. The average cost of hiring a painter for a home exterior is $2,700 for a single-story home, but it’s not unusual to pay upwards of $6,000 for a multi-story home with multiple colors. And again, these costs don’t include products. Cost variations depend on the painter’s experience, how many coats and colors are required, the complexity of the project, etc.


One last note: If you want to hire a professional but are keen on saving money, consider tackling the surface preparation yourself. Some painters are willing to let you do this—as long as you’re fastidious in doing the work properly. Happy painting!

The Psychology of Color ~ Diane Franklin

The colors you surround yourself with can affect your state of mind.

The colors you surround yourself with can affect your state of mind.

Excitable red, calming blue, optimistic yellow, regal purple—it’s true. The colors in your life have an impact on mood—even to the point that they can stimulate or depress your appetite.


Nowhere is color’s impact more apparent than in your home, where the paint on your walls can quite literally bring you such emotions as comfort, cheeriness, serenity and wellbeing. The colors you select for wallpaper, flooring, draperies, bedspreads, cabinets, countertops and molding have similar potential to shift your mood. Here are some interesting tidbits about how the colors you use in your home can improve your state of mind.


Calming Colors


Several colors are associated with peace and serenity, thereby offering a welcome retreat from the stimuli of the outside world. Blue is among the most soothing of colors. Think of the gentle waves of the ocean, the sky on a cloudless summer day, or the eyes of a newborn baby. The emotions that blue evokes makes it the perfect color for a bedroom, a master bathroom or a quiet nook for reading and meditating. And if you have a beach house, a blue motif works well throughout the home as a compatible décor for your surroundings.


Another color that lifts your mood is green. Just think about days spent in your garden or walking through a local park. The greenery of the grass, trees and foliage helps you feel more refreshed and can actually alleviate stress. Using green in your decorating—whether paint on the walls, an area rug on the floor or plants near your windows—is a great way to feel better about life.


Other colors that offer soothing qualities are neutrals such as gray, beige, taupe and off-whites as well as pastels such as light pink, soft yellow, mint green and a whispery lavender. Warm wood tones also offer a sense of coziness and serenity.


In the Pink


Are you looking for a color that reduces negative emotions? One color that has been scientifically proven to do so is pink. In fact, color researchers in the 1970s conducted an experiment using pink to calm angry and antagonistic behavior among prison inmates. They painted the walls pink, which produced a calming effect (though the effect did lessen once the inmates got used to the color).


In small doses, pink can be a wonderful color in many areas of the home—not just for baby girl nurseries but for older girl bedrooms, powder rooms and guest bedrooms. If you want to tone down the pink, you can pair it up with other colors like gray, teal, bright red or orange.


An Appetite for Color


Ever wonder why fast-food restaurants use so much orange and red in their signage and décor? Why, to stimulate your appetite, of course. Those marketing experts don’t miss a trick!


Color researchers have known for years that reddish hues are more conducive to a healthy appetite. Conversely, blue is an appetite buzzkill. Good thing to know if you’re dieting! But it’s also good to know when considering colors for your kitchen or dining room. If you want your casserole surprise to delight the taste buds of family and friends, any other color but blue is the way to go.


Size is Relative


Color psychology isn’t only about hue but also about lightness and darkness. Light colors can make a small room feel more spacious, whereas dark colors can make a cavernous room seem smaller and cozier. Your eye plays a helpful trick to change your perception of the space, but the colors also evoke a certain psychological feeling that can change your mood when entering a space where the size might otherwise be confining or intimidating.


Excite Your Surroundings


Being calm, peaceful and serene is all well and good, but sometimes you need a little excitement in your life. Red is a color that experts associate with energy, excitement and passion. Orange is similarly a color that pumps up the energy in a room. For your home, you might want to use these colors in small doses for accents, accessories or focal walls. Or you may wish to get bold by using the colors in an area where a lot of energetic activity is taking place, such as a rec room or a man cave.


A word of caution, however: It’s best to avoid the most intense of these colors if you’re prone to stress, since colors like red have been clinically proven to increase adrenaline.

5 ways to spruce up your apartment


You’ve discovered the perfect apartment—or at least as close to your ideal as you’re likely to find. Now it’s time to make it your own with equal dashes of functionality and flair. Even in a small apartment, you can go big on style. Short of knocking out a wall or replacing the kitchen cabinets, you have plenty of options to add personal touches.



1. Make a statement with color. Set the tone with a palette that unites and accentuates. One idea is to start with a prized possession—a comfy chair or gorgeous table lamp—and build your color scheme around it. For a smaller space, a couple of light-and-bright shades with a darker accent color may work best. Painting the walls might not be an option, but you can paint your furniture to bring the décor together—or in a range across your chosen palette to delineate distinct areas in an open-concept layout. Removable wallpaper, murals, and decals can also add dramatic statements. New peel-and-stick products are easy to apply (and remove), and they range from realistic brick and barnwood finishes to eye-catching geometric patterns and whimsical prints.  


2. Define your living space. If most of your apartment is one big room, then you can simultaneously embrace the open space and stake out entry, dining, living and sleeping spaces with strategic placement of furnishings. To create a welcoming entryway, position a hall tree or a tall shelving unit refashioned for functionality: Replace the upper shelves with coat hooks around a mirror and place square baskets in the lower shelves to store hats, sunglasses, and shopping bags. A cupboard or buffet can help define the dining area, extend kitchen storage, and provide a serving surface. A swag light over the dining table will set this space apart from the living area with its own distinctive lamps. Area rugs can also designate zones, complement color themes and (bonus!) hide worn carpet or floorboards. In a studio apartment, position your couch or a couple high-backed chairs with their backs to the foot of the bed to delineate the sleep space.  


3. Add smart storage. Shelving choices abound to reduce clutter and set off your décor, from tall industrial-style metal units to wooden bookshelves to floating shelves on the walls to display framed art, photos, and small knickknacks. Look for coffee tables with storage shelves or drawers. Stick a wicker hamper or stackable wood boxes in a bare corner to store linens. Let no space go wasted.


4. Dress up the windows. Make the light through your windows a focal point of your living space with colorful curtains or a curvy valance to cover bland miniblinds when they’re not in use. With a simple rod and curtain hook rings, you can hang any type of fabric. Base plant choices on the available light to create an indoor garden, and position your table or desk accordingly if you’ve got a room with a view.


5. Nurture your inner neatnik. The smaller the space, the more quickly messes can pile up. To live comfortably in a small space—and show off the style you’ve worked so hard to achieve—develop the habit of putting things back where they belong and decluttering regularly. You may not be able to call your apartment spacious, but with a little planning and ongoing maintenance, you can declare it just right.