Brush up on paint choices: Make the most of every gallon with these tips<p></p>

Published Sept. 8, 2014

Painting a home seems like a simple task: You select a color and start the job. But beyond color, you'll need to think about chemicals, environmental factors and sheen. We talked to paint experts for tips on how to do a better job of figuring it all out so you can have the best paint job possible.

Choose the right sheen: If you're painting a high-traffic area such as a hallway, it's best to stick with a flat sheen, said Kristen Chuber, business development manager for PaintZen, a New York company that pairs certified painters with people who need painters. "It's easy to keep whatever is left in the gallon on hand, and you can touch it up and blend it right in," Chuber said.

Eggshell sheen is a little shinier and is easier to wipe down, but finger prints might show up a little more, she said. Chuber suggested that trim get a semigloss, while kitchens and bathrooms get satin or pearl because they have more shine and are more moisture resistant than the other sheens.

Volatile organic compounds: Also known as VOCs, these organic chemicals are emitted from the paint and may cause health problems that range from dizziness to cancer, and are more dangerous for children, pregnant women and the elderly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors VOC levels in paint. If you use paint with low VOCs, you can sleep in a room the same night that it was painted, Chuber said. Benjamin Moore has a line of zero-VOC paint that is odor-free, though it is about $20 more per gallon than comparable low-VOC paints, such as the Natura (About $65 per gallon,

Don't neglect the tint: Even if the paint is low VOC or zero VOC, the tint mixed into the paint may have VOC, said Darryl Whalen, owner of Healthy Painting LLC, a green painting company based in Seattle that focuses on sustainability.

"If you have a tint with a high VOC in it, and it's mixed into a paint with low or zero VOC, then it won't be low anymore," Whalen said.

So ask the store if the tint is low or zero VOC before it's mixed into the paint. Ideally, he said, the tint should have zero VOC.

Get decent painting gear: The paint job will look better and you'll save money in the long run if you spend a little more to buy decent gear, said Todd Rittmann, owner and operator of The Paint Doc, based in Chicago. "If you're going to paint at all, don't buy the cheapest roller frame and cheapest brush," Rittmann said. "It will look better if you have quality equipment."

If you have a bigger paint tray, you'll spend less time filling it up. If you have a sturdier roller frame, you'll spend less energy squeezing it out because it acts like a big sponge and absorbs all the energy, Rittmann said. If you buy a good brush, then the bristles will be finer, it will hold more paint and there will be less dipping and less fixing of the lines — and you'll be more accurate, Rittmann said. He suggested using Corona brand Cortez or Excalibur angled brushes.

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He also recommended buying a sturdy painter pole so that you will spend less time crouching down and standing up — even if you're just painting a hallway, you can use a 1-foot pole to help. "I do all my painting with a pole," Rittmann said. "If I'm doing squats all day, I'm going to be cashed at the end of the day."