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Whites and Tans Join Shades of Gray for Home Paint Jobs

These are the favored colors for a makeover paint job.

[Updated: Feb 04, 2021 ] Apr 04, 2020 by Marc Rapport
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One of the fastest ways to update your home is with a fresh coat of paint. Whether indoors or outdoors, fresh paint can breathe new life into your space. And for those trying to sell their homes, it's also an easy, fast, affordable way to update and increase the value of your home before it goes on the market.

But before you run out and buy paint and brushes, it's important to consider not only paint color choice but also the type of paint to use for your project and whether to tackle painting projects yourself or call in the professionals.

Time to look cool

For years, cool grays have led the list for interior decorators and DIY-designers alike; however, according to a survey of interior designers conducted by, these colors may soon go the way of shag carpets and fake wood paneling.

So then what colors should potential sellers consider painting their homes before putting them on the market in 2020? According to the survey, homeowners should consider a palette of cool neutrals, such as whites and tans as well as the classic cool gray.

To help in planning for tackling a whole-home painting project, it can be helpful to consider a color palette for your entire house, rather than tackle projects room by room. Doing that helps ensure a cohesive look throughout the house, which can impress buyers in pictures and in person.

Potential sellers should also consider the style of their home. For example, cool, coastal colors could look out of place in a Spanish-style home, while bold, dark jewel tones could make an open-concept modern home feel small and confining.

Type of paint

So, once you've picked out your paint colors, you're ready to tackle your project, right? Not quite. Now that you've decided on colors, it's time to decide on paint type. For interior painting projects, there are two options to choose from: latex-based paints and oil-based paints, and choosing the right type of paint for your project can mean the difference between an easy and impressive update and a home improvement horror show.

Oil-based paints provide excellent coverage with fewer coats and tend to hold up better over time than latex-based paints; however, oil-based paints can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can cause some side effects for those exposed to them.

Here's an article from Green Home Guide that explains VOCs in the context of environmentally safe "green" paints in general, and another from The Spruce that lists paint brands that contain little or none of them.

Latex-based paints also tend to be easier to work with and can be cleaned with soap and water. Latex-based paint has its own drawbacks, though. It can require more coats for good coverage and may not be able to be used over oil-based paints without priming first.

The bottom line

For many, whether to tackle a project comes down to cost. And with painting, the decision may be whether to hire a professional or tackle the project yourself.

As for cost, professional painters typically charge between $2 and $4 per square foot for most projects; however, this often covers the cost to prepare a room for painting, move furniture, clean up, and move furniture back.

For homeowners who want to tackle painting projects themselves, figure on $30 and $60 per gallon of paint, plus supplies. These prices also increase if you're considering adding a textured wall or other painting effects.

Bottom line: Repainting a home's interior is an easy, cost-effective way to update a house and add value to it before putting it on the market. Choose colors you can live with or that sellers would want to, do the work or hire it done, then stand back and admire the change.

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