Before the scrubdown, protect nearby plants by misting their leaves and saturating the surrounding soil with water, pulling them away from the house, and shrouding them in fabric drop cloths. (Plants will cook under plastic.) Lay more drop cloths along the base of the walls to collect any falling paint debris. Walls should be wet down before getting scrubbed, then washed with a gallon of water mixed with 1 cup chlorine bleach and 1 cup of either a concentrated, phosphate-free cleaner, such as a trisodium phosphate (TSP) substitute, or Jomax House Cleaner. Working in sections, from the bottom to the top, will avoid streaks. Be sure to rinse walls well before the solution dries. Wood siding and trim should be ready to paint after a day or two of dry weather.
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to pre- pare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth costs $15). The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard floors, so rosin paper ($10 for 400 sq. ft. at home centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hard- wood. Tape the sheets together and to the floor to provide a nonslip surface.
Keep in mind that color can impact the way a room appears in many ways. Light colors may help brighten a darker space. Cool colors will recede visually from the eye, and make a small space appear bigger. Warm colors contract visually, which can make larger spaces appear smaller or more cozy. Combining cool and warm tones in one room - like with accent walls - can visually change the shape of a room, making rectangles look more like squares.
If you are unsure about what colors will work best in a space, you may wish to hire an interior decorator to help. Decorators can look at your furnishings, the size and shape of a room, and the amount of light it gets to help you determine the best shades for the space. Design services cost around $50 to $200 an hour, and can help you find the perfect colors for your home.
A number of factors help determine when you should paint your home’s exterior. These include your local climate and weather conditions, the age of your home, and the type of siding used. A high-quality finish in ideal conditions could last 10 years. But if your home takes a beating from the elements, you may need to repaint as often as every three years. Most homes can be on a 5-8 year interval. If you’re not sure if your house is due for a refresher, watch out for signs of deteriorating paint, such as fading and chipping.

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