Paint with feeling

Paint is not just a two-dimensional concept – not anymore. While plenty of talk, retail space, and expertise are dedicated to the near-limitless spectrum of colours available, most manufacturers also offer a wide range of “textured” paints for their customers’ consideration. Typically thicker, and often with sand-like particles suspended in the formula, these paints are a smaller, but no less vital part of any paint or hardware retailer’s stock list. Importantly, these paints demand their own special application techniques, and awareness. Poorly applied, these paints can make an already difficult project, even trickier and certainly more expensive. But done right, the three dimensional element can add vitality and dynamism to walls and bring both indoor and outdoor spaces to life.

Of course, textured paints are nothing new for paint retailers. They have been around for years. What has changed in recent years has been the trend of homeowners seeking out unique new looks for their homes and outdoor spaces. Textured paints have, as part of this, become increasingly in vogue. “Australian homeowners are really experimenting much more with textures as well as colours,” says Bree Lynch, Dulux’s internal colour expert in Australia. “Texture paints give a range of new options for both indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Texture outside…

Texture has traditionally been an outdoor design tool, used to cover up imperfections in retaining walls or brickwork. But these days, its potential uses are almost unlimited. One new technique advocated by the team at Dulux is to add two-dimensional painting effects, such as striping, to existing textured paint. “Home owners can instantly transform and modernise outdoor entertaining areas by painting stripes on exterior surfaces such as an old brick wall, outdoor fire place or retaining walls,” Lynch says. “Introducing design elements such as textured paint effects add sophistication, character and definition to outdoor spaces.”

… and inside

The biggest movement toward textured paints for home decorators is not outside however – it’s on internal walls and features. Everyone from professionals to DIYers is now seeing the wide range of possibilities for using texture inside the home. A spokesperson for Haymes in Australia said the trend has been quickly taking off in the past few years. “People are really bringing their rooms to life with texture,” she told Australian Hardware Journal. In particular, there are a number of common situations where texture paints can really create a dynamic visual feast. As well as helping to hide imperfect walls, texture paints can also cover up uneven mortar walls, old panelling, or damaged drywall. It has also been used to cover up that old wallpaper that hasn’t been in vogue since the 70s. Other uses include creating a visual depth to otherwise crowded rooms. Textured paints that have small creases, bumps or other protrusions can help to offset the crowded nature of rooms that necessarily have a lot of furniture. They can also add the feeling of space to small, or unusually shaped indoor spaces, such as with alcoves.

Another recent discovery is that textured paints can also be used as unique accent borders. In this case, there’s no need to paint the entire room with texture, or even a single wall. Instead, a border of texture along the top of the room will give a feeling of more height and space, experts say. Decorators have also used textured paints to make the borders of doors, windows, and room entries stand out. “Anywhere that you can paint around to give it a sense of being surrounded by a border is a place where textured paints will shine.”

Plenty of care required

Texture paints will typically have some solid components within the formula (some paints require users to mix the “texture” in themselves, but most are supplied with these solid ingredients part of the paint itself). As a result, application is not always as simple as it is with standard painting. The paint is also usually significantly thicker, resulting in less coverage per litre of product. Customers need to be aware that they cannot, for example, use a paint sprayer with these types of paints. The additives will clog and potentially damage the equipment. Instead, painters will have to stick with the common roller and brush techniques. Some paints – those with higher amounts of solids as part of their formula – will require specific tools, such as a specially designed stiff brush, or purpose-made textured roller or trowel.

No matter what tool a painter uses, it becomes vital to keep an even amount of paint on both it and the wall. Any variation will stand out much more obviously than when standard paint is used, because the texture elements of the paint can become grouped together. If the roller becomes over-saturated with paint, or is too dry, the finish will not offer that important consistency. In keeping with this, it is usually best to apply the paint to the wall from top to bottom using a long, stroking action. Painters should not attempt to paint too large of an area at one time as the textured paint will dry before it is complete, leaving it impossible to touch up or smooth out. Surface preparation is also a vital consideration. While part of the design aspect of textured walls is that rough-and-ready look, users should take care to leave this job to the paint itself. Start with the surface as smooth as possible, and with a solid base colour pre-coat. Decorators can use textured paint on just about any surface; but whatever the base, that surface needs to be clean, and free of both peeling paint and large cracks or holes. Taking the time to sand and prepare walls properly will have a relatively big impact on the overall look of the finished project.
Good business

With the deepening design-based trend for textured paints and finishings, paint retailers and hardware stores with a paint focus are also getting in on the action. The movement has created renewed interest for painting and decorating ideas across the board, giving retailers the important opportunity to interact with customers, offering advice and building relationships. Adding texture to the already infinite spectrum of colours that decorators can choose from makes expert advice and a solid base of new ideas even more valuable. With that flows the potential for ongoing sales of paint (both textured and traditional), and, perhaps more importantly, volume sales of much higher-margin painting accessories, including brushes, rollers, protection equipment, and cleaners. Paint has always been a major breadwinner for Australia’s hardware operators; but if the trends and interest in design continues, it could become even bigger in the coming years.

Painters’ checklist

In order to get the full effect of texture paints, renovators, DIYers and professional painters need to take care with both the preparation and application. In particular, they should:

  • Seek out professional advice on the types and volumes of paint required
  • Sand down the wall properly before beginning
  • Avoid paint sprayers
  • Always keep an even amount of paint across the roller
  • Take care to apply paint evenly on to the wall
  • Paint from top to bottom using a long, stroking action
  • Paint small areas properly before moving on to other sections of the wall

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