Older homes often have a charm or coziness that newer homes can’t replicate. Plus, they come with well-loved details like built-in shelving, original wood floors or quirky architectural details.
But every old home needs maintenance, updates or a refresh every few years or so. Paint is one of the best ways to give an old home new life while still retaining the integrity of the home. Painting an old home, however, is often accompanied by its own set of challenges which can range from small (tricky corners and trim) to large (replacing and repairing damaged walls or wood).
Whether you’ve just moved and are daunted by tackling paint projects that haven’t been touched in decades or have lived in your home for a while and need a color update, these next few tips will help make your older home painting project more manageable. Read on for our best old house painting tips and ideas.
How to prepare for painting an older home
Know the Extent of Your Prep Work
You’re likely excited to pick a color and see your room come to life, but like all of our paint advice, we want you to always consider prep first. An older home usually requires a different approach to prep than a newer home.
Think through any areas that might need a deep clean or primed before painting. Ceiling painting in particular can be overlooked at this stage in the process. Older popcorn ceilings might need removed, smoothed, primed and painted. Or some ceilings may not have been cleaned in years, which means new paint may not adhere properly.
Look at areas that look like they have water damage or other types of damage. Both interior and exterior areas that are damaged will need to be fully repaired before painting. Old homes are often full of surprises when this step is taken so be prepared. A reputable painting company will make sure that all repairs (especially where water, mildew or rot is concerned) are fully completed before painting.
Consider things like trim and doors. You might want to re-paint worn areas or strip and stain or re-stain. These parts of older homes are key to their character. To keep trim, woodwork and doors looking beautiful in the years to come, they’ll need to be prepped meticulously.The exterior of older homes may have many layers of paint built up. You will need to decide if you will be OK with cratering, ridges and different levels of paint under the final product. It is common to just scrape the loose paint off leaving an alligator skin effect on your final painting surface. You can see an extreme example of this in the picture below.
Another option for exterior paint build up is to have all the old paint stripped down to bare wood, primed and painted so all surfaces look nearly new and relatively smooth. This is a very time consuming, labor intensive and expensive process so your budget will drive the decision process.
Use the Right Paint and Tools for Old Homes
Older homes often have surfaces that newer homes don’t. Plaster walls, exposed brick, wood paneling and exterior architectural blocks are common in older homes. Using the right paint and tools on these surfaces (plus the right paint and tools for the room itself) is important to ensure the longevity of the project.
For example, a high gloss paint will highlight imperfections on the surface of older walls. Or, the wrong paint (and poor prep) on brick and ornamental trim can make the job take longer.
The right paint and tools are paramount to any interior or exterior paint job, and even more so in older homes. Always check with a paint professional when painting unconventional or non-drywalled surfaces. It will save you time and money in the long run.
Think Through Color Choices
Call us biased, but we think old homes deserve a little respect when it comes to choosing paint colors for both the interiors and exterior. This is not to say that you must stick with that avocado green in your vintage bathroom. But we do think that older homes retain more of their character and charm when colors in keeping with the home’s era are used.
We love classics in an old home. A crisp, fresh white in an old home looks anything but boring. In fact, it can help beautiful trim work stand out more. We also like using classic accent colors to bring out detail work or lines on porches, eaves and gables. The right charcoal grey on the exterior of an old home can update it from shabby to stately. And updating that avocado green to a more modern sage can bring new life into an old washroom.
You can, of course, choose bolder colors and make them work with older homes. But we advise choosing colors that play well with the age and vibe of the home and that bring out the home’s good bones.
Hire a Professional Painter for Older Homes
Old homes really need the expertise of a professional to get the best painted finish. Professional painters and painting companies not only understand the challenges of painting in older homes, they also understand how to problem solve when they are—inevitably—surprised by something they just haven’t seen before.
Prep work for old homes can be especially difficult. Poor prep work on an exterior will mean needing to re-paint sooner (sometimes literally within 1-2 years), which will cost far more time and money than doing it correctly in the first place. In fact, a good professional paint company may use more than half of the entire project time preparing a surface to paint. Trust the process; this time could be difference in hundreds of hours and dollars.
Professional painters also know which paints, tools and set up equipment are right for the surfaces in your older home. Plus, many companies have paint color professionals who can help you choose colors for your project so your home retains its original character.
Older Home Painting: Get Expert Help Today
Our professional paint experts are ready to update your older home’s interior and exterior while retaining its character and charm. Contact us today for a free painting quote.