Small Wall® Paint Resource Center

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The Interior Designer secret to selecting paint color. And, the preferred practice palette for all your paint color ideas.

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Paint Resource Center

Save time & money on your next paint project with our helpful hints from our paint resource center

Featured Color Specialist

How to Look Beyond Your Current Paint Color to the RIGHT Color

It's not as easy as it sounds to pick the right paint color for your walls. There are many things to consider that may impact how you perceive a new paint color, including your existing finishes and surrounding colors. If you don't take that into consideration when choosing a paint color, you may not be happy with the choice you make. It's difficult to look at a particular color on a strip of swatches and not be influenced by the other colors on the strip. The colors on either side of your chosen color impact how that color is perceived. Remember, those other lighter and darker colors on the strip are not going to be in the room you are painting.

You have to first try to perceive that new color in isolation, then perceive it in relation to what other colors will be in the room, as well as understand how different lighting conditions will impact it. The only good way to do that is to paint out a big sample and move it around the room to see how the color works with your existing finishes and on different walls of the room. Small Wall is perfect for that kind of flexible sampling, especially because of the convenient adhesive on the back.

Most people will put the paint sample right up against the old wall color, which dramatically impacts how they perceive the new color. Remember, the old color is going away! Putting a white board behind the new color you are testing will help minimize this problem. Compare the sample up against the trim, flooring, fabrics - whatever else that is staying in the room, rather than the existing wall color or anything else that will no longer be in the room. Then you'll be sure to choose just the right color for your space!

You can learn more about choosing the right colors for your home on my design blog,

Kristie Barnett Bio (Click for Bio)

For more Color Specialist tips and advice, click here.

Paint Tips & Advice

If you have a painting tip you would like us to share, please send it to us at We will periodically update this page with new ideas as we receive them.

  1. When selecting paint colors, NEVER sample color choices directly on your walls. Always use Small Wall® adhesive backed paint sample boards to allow you to see your color choices in different light and in the context of other colors. This will also help you avoid time-consuming prep work to cover your samples later.
  2. When trimming, grasp the brush like you would hold a pencil
  3. Don't dip more than 1/3 of the brush in the paint.
  4. When using a roller, fill the roller tray no more than ½ the depth of the paint well to leave yourself enough room to spread the paint evenly across the roller surface.
  5. Move your roller away from you first in an "M" or "W" shape, in approximately 2' - 3' square sections. Then fill in the voids. Roll at a speed that doesn't create spray
  6. Lighter colors will make a room look larger.
  7. Don't paint over wall paper
  8. If you are transforming a room from lighter to darker, use a coat of primer first. Primer is less expensive than tinted paint and will save you money, rather than painting an extra coat with the more expensive paint.
  9. Any areas that have been patched or which are bare dry wall must be primered first, as they will absorb a significant amount of paint.
  10. Keep a damp rag or a container of household wipes available to quickly clean up any drips or spills.
  11. When taking a break between coats, rather than cleaning your brush and roller, wrap them in old grocery store plastic bags and put a little tape on the handle to close the bag and keep your brush/roller from drying out. Always close the paint container tightly. Roller pans can also be preserved in a plastic bag.
  12. Fill holes with spackle before painting. If you have peeling paint, scrape it away and sand lightly at the edges to create a smooth transition. If the peeled area is relatively large (>2" square) you may need to skim coat and sand in order to completely hide the defect.
  13. If the surface you are painting is dirty, clean it first with a damp cloth and allow to dry before painting.
  14. If you are going to be using more than 1 gallon of paint, buy an empty 5-gallon paint bucket and blend the paint you will be using before painting, otherwise you may see slight color variations from gallon to gallon, depending on the lighting in the room.
  15. Flat paint hides painting imperfections the best. Each step up in sheen tends to make any imperfections more visible. Conversely, the greater the sheen, the easier the surface is to clean.
  16. Avoid using paint tape if possible. Use a good sash/trim brush with a beveled edge to trim and take your time. The result will be better and it will probably take you less time in the long run. If you are going to use paint tape, be sure to wait until the paint is dry before removing the tape. Remove it carefully so as not to peel overlapping paint from the newly painted surface. If the paint does begin to peel, score the edge along the tape lightly with a razor blade.
  17. Be willing to spend a little more for higher quality paint. It will cover better, go on easier and last longer.
  18. As with paint, spend a little more money on a good quality brush(es). Cheaper brushes tend to fan out more quickly and loose bristles in the paint, often leaving them on your walls. A quality brush can be cleaned and re-used for multiple paint jobs.
  19. Painting white on white is a challenge. When painting a ceiling white, try to find tinted paint, which goes on pink, or purple or blue, then dries white. This will help you keep track of where you have painted.
  20. Don't try to touch up a ceiling. If you need to paint it, paint the entire room. Ceilings collect dust and oil from the home's heating and air conditioning system and slight color changes happen quickly.
  21. Always transfer your paint to another container and paint from that. Keep the paint can tightly closed between fillings.
  22. Always buy more paint than you think you will need. Custom colors, in particular will vary from batch to batch. You can always keep left over paint for later touch up needs.
  23. When painting a bathroom, use a long reach min-roller to paint behind the toilet tank.
  24. When painting on a ladder, always use a ladder that allows you to reach the area to be painted without stretching, leaning or standing above the highest safe ladder rung. Take the time to move your ladder to reach that 'last little spot". Falling from a ladder, even a 3' stepladder, can result in serious injury.
  25. If you are using multiple colors in a room, above and below wainscoting or on the walls and ceilings, use the darker color lower and the lighter color higher. Ceilings should be at least three-shades lighter than the walls.
  26. Paint top to bottom to be sure you pick up any runs, splatters or drips.
  27. Multiple thinner coats are better than fewer heavier coats. Despite the manufacturers labels, few if any paints cover in one coat. This is particularly true for interior wall paint.
  28. Plan time into your paint job for prep work. This should include cleaning the surface to be painted, moving furniture out of the way, removing fixtures and hardware, laying down drop cloths. Also, make sure you plan adequate time for clean up after the job.
  29. Keep a list of paint used for each paint project - include the manufacturer, color and number, formula (if you have it) and the surface painted with that paint. The easiest way to do this is to keep your final Small Wall® sample with the color you chose and write all of this information on the back in permanent marker. This will also give you a sample to color match if the paint you used is no longer available and you want to use the color again.
  30. If you spill paint on your carpet, move quickly and use lots of water. Scoop up as much of the spill as possible with a large putty or taping knife, or anything with a distinct edge. Once the majority of the paint is up, blot (don't wipe or rub) the paint with a wet cloth. Continue blotting with clean water, changing the water frequently, until the paint is gone. Use a fan to dry the wet carpet and avoid mold.
  31. Add a little fabric softener to your water for cleaning brushes and rollers. Fabric softener will help release the paint better than soap and will condition your brushes and rollers for re-use. Avoid bending the bristles when cleaning your brushes.
  32. Hanging your brushes vertically to dry will help them retain their shape and will extend their life.

  • The Road Painter: A man was given the job of painting the white lines down the middle of a highway. On his first day he painted six miles; the next day three miles; the following day less than a mile. When the foreman asked the man why he kept painting less each day? He replied "I just can't do any better. Each day I keep getting farther away from the paint can".
  • Mrs Blandings chooses color: (click to watch video)
  • Paint the Porch : A not so bright guy, wanting to earn some money, decided to try to find some handyman-type work and started canvassing a wealthy neighborhood. He went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for him to do. "Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?" The guy said "How about 50 dollars?" The homeowner agreed and told him that the paint and ladders that he might need were in the garage. The homeowner's wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, "Does he realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?" The homeowner replied, "He should. He was standing on the porch." A short time later, the guy came to the door to collect his money. "You're finished already?" the homeowner asked. "Yes," the guy answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats." Impressed, the homeowner reached in his pocket for the $50. "And by the way," the guy added, "that's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."

If you have a "Green" painting suggestion, please send it to us at We will periodically update this page with suggestions from our readers.

  1. When selecting paint colors, purchase the smallest sample sizes available from the manufacturer to minimize waste.
  2. Sample color on a reusable surface like Small Wall, which can be re-painted multiple times, reducing environmental waste. Poster board and cardboard can't be recycled once they have been painted.
  3. Use latex paint wherever possible. It is less harmful to the environment than oil based paint, and can be cleaned with soap and water, rather than having to use harmful chemical cleaners.
  4. Calculate how much paint you will need before you start to paint. Buy enough paint to complete the job and to have enough left over for touch up painting at a later date. If you have significantly more paint than you will need for later touch up work, see if you can donate your excess paint to a local charity organization.
  5. Never pour unused paint down the drain, or put liquid paint into the garbage. For latex paint, allow any paint to be discarded to cry completely before disposing of the cans. Shredded newspaper or kitty litter can help accelerate the drying process. For oil based paints and thinners, contact your community about hazardous household waste disposal and follow their instructions.
  6. If possible, find a paint recycler to take unused paint.
  7. Many paint manufacturers now offer low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. VOC's can cause respiratory, skin and eye irritation, headaches, nausea, muscle weakness and more serious ailments. This is particularly important in spaces with less than adequate ventilation.
  8. Buy quality brushes and rollers that can be cleaned and re-used, rather than cheaper "disposable" products.
  9. If your paint project will take more than one day, wrap your brushes and rollers in plastic bags and seal with some tape to reduce the amount of cleaning waste.
  10. If you must use a paint stripper, look for products that are biodegradable and non-toxic.
  11. Paint manufactured before the 1970's contained lead. If you suspect a room or surface was painted prior to the 1970's, paint directly over the old paint, do not sand or scrape the surface. Lead paint is toxic if it is inhaled or ingested. If sanding or scraping is required, only hire a contractor certified in lead abatement.
  12. Using manufactuer sample size paints and Small Wall paint sample boards together can help you sample small and save big (click to watch video).