Paint the town red (or blue, or green…)

How often have you heard the advice that a fresh lick of paint is the best thing you can do to update your property, or present it in the best light for sale or lease? Lisa Davis runs through the case for picking up a brush and getting stuck into it.

Paint is super hip right now. Think dipped stools and striped garden pots, then multiply by the movement towards DIY and customisation, and picking up a brush has never looked so good.

With vibrant hues back after decades of whites and neutral tones dominating our walls, boutique paint manufacturers have been positioning themselves as colour specialists and working with stylists and designers to keep up with trends. The Instagram accounts for brands like Dulux, Haymes and Porters, for instance, have thousands of followers. Their websites are full of helpful tips as well, with galleries and DIY videos and guides, so check them out if you’re looking for decorating inspiration or just a place to start.

Technology has also played a role in paint’s resurgence. There’s a lot of new products on the market, from temporary paint (peel it off once you’re sick of that design), to chalkboard or magnetic paints (great for kids), to special products you can apply directly onto rusted metal, water-stained ceilings or worn-out outdoor timber surfaces — or even to repair cracked render.

Create a point of difference

Paint can be an invaluable tool in creating a “wow factor”, something that can make people fall in love with your home. Emotive buyers pay more, so this is worth considering.

A cherry-red front door or an ombre-painted staircase can be the injection of life an otherwise-boring area needs; while a limed wall by a Tuscan-inspired courtyard, or a metal-look wall by an industrial-style kitchen can really help create a mood in a way that few other decorative touches can.

Save money and resources

Painting can also save you money. While painting cabinetry in the kitchen or bathroom, rather than replacing it, may have been advice that you’ve heard before, there are other places where paint can be used to extend the life of something.

Dated tiles in the bathroom? Paint them! Lilac bathtub? Paint it! Floral 80s laminate? Brown 70s splashback? Beige ceiling fan? Horrible light fittings? Paint, paint, paint.

You can even give yourself environmental brownie points, since you’re continuing to use something rather than sending it to landfill.

Don’t forget that you can paint your furniture, as well. Several paints currently on the market will go straight onto furniture without needing to sand or prepare the surface in any way. So whether it’s a cheap laminate bookshelf from your student days in an unforgivably 90s grey, or a clunky old table that you inherited from your grandparents and have accidentally covered in wine and coffee stains, a quick coat of paint can cover a multitude of sins as well as update the look of a piece.

The same goes for old outdoor pots, or lamps, or even photo frames. Call it “upcycling” if you want to feel fancy.

What should I paint?

The street appeal of a property should not be underestimated. When a buyer or renter first sees your property, industry experts estimate you have between 15 and 60 seconds to create a good first impression. When preparing your property for sale, there are a few places that a good-looking paint job can be invaluable. Nothing makes a property look more run down than peeling, poorly applied or scratched paint.

If you don’t want to have to go to the trouble of completely repainting the whole exterior of the home, consider just redoing doors and windows, since their paint is especially prone to looking tired quickly, and just touching up anywhere else that needs doing (your agent should be able to advise you).

Tips for beginners

• Good quality brushes will not only last longer, they will give you a smoother final surface with less visible brush strokes and fewer bristles stuck in it.

• Different paints and treatments need different preparations before you start to paint. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, whoever sells you your paint will most likely be a font of knowledge. Pick their brains as much as you need to.

• Take appropriate care if sanding lead-based paint.

• Never, ever muck about with asbestos.

• Work in an area with adequate ventilation.

• Always stir paint thoroughly before starting.

• Let paint dry properly between coats.

Photo: Annie Sloan.