Updated: Jan 4
You may be thinking that it's just paint, and you would rather spend your decorating dollars on something more impactful than painting the walls. Right?
I get that a lot. Most of my projects are here in Katy Texas, where the new construction building boom is stronger than ever. The homes I visit for consultations are either brand new or have been built within the last few years. With that, most clients are ok with the paint colors that came with the house. Sometimes, they even chose the color themselves with their homebuilder, so it is one of the toughest objections to overcome when I suggest that we should paint.
There are some compelling reasons why repainting your builder grade walls will enhance the overall look of your newly designed space, and you will find that it is a necessary investment
Home builders are notorious for adhering to a strict budget when it comes to building their homes. They often don't allow upgrades for good reasons. They have a set formula and process for building their homes, and any deviation from that could result in loss of time on the build, as well as loss of profits. This means that as a homebuyer you can get a nicely built home, but it is not customized for you. Your neighbors will have some variation of your home, and even if the builder has selections of materials and finishes that you can choose from, they are typically extremely limited.
There are some semi-custom builders who will allow some customization, but that usually comes at a much higher cost than you could get it for after market, and this is because they are working outside of their set formula and process. This often means weeks of delays, because the process from selection to approval of a custom option means weeks added to the timeline
So you can see when it comes to painting the walls, builders are mostly working within a set formula, and often times your day to day lifestyle is not factored into that formula. They have to paint the walls, and they will paint the walls, but exactly what are they putting on your walls?
Compelling Reason #1
Did you know that most paint companies have varying grades of paint formulas and finishes? Just like you can get a budget car versus a luxury car, you will find the same with paint. A top grade paint will likely cost you a lot more than a lower grade paint. This can range from $20 a gallon to over $100 a gallon. That is a vast difference, and obviously why one would be a better quality than the other. Builders are usually on the lowest end of the quality spectrum. You may not know this, but most builders expect you to paint your home interior when you move in. They do. It is one of the many reasons they use the most basic formula and finish, which most paint companies actually call builder grade finish.
The finish is often watered down a bit. I am not accusing a builder of cutting corners, but the reason they do this is that it is easier to spray on a thinner paint. It is much more cost effective for the painters to go in and spray everything on. They just cover themselves up and then spray walls and ceilings the same color. Another thing to note is that it will cost you more to choose a white ceiling. A different color ceiling from the walls (and not necessarily because it is white) means more work for them to paint the walls separate from the ceilings. They now cannot just spray everything on; they have to use brushes, so more time, which results in more money for them
Builders also use a flat finish to paint your walls for a reason. Flat finishes hide imperfections a lot more than a paint with any sheen in it. You will not readily notice the flaws in the texture or the bow in the sheetrock application with a flat finish. This means that while you are excitedly doing your walk through, you will miss any imperfections in the walls
What does this all mean to you? Well, it means that your paint was not chosen to work hard in your home. It might be ok if you aren't touching your walls ever, and even then, you need to read compelling reason #2 below to see why you still need to paint your walls. But you and I know that with kids and pets and life, the walls will need scrubbing at some point. Your builder grade paint was not meant to be scrubbed. If you do, it will wipe off.
Not only that, once it wipes off, you will maybe run to the garage or attic to grab the extra can the builder leaves you to do a quick touch up. Well, you will also notice that the builder grade paint does not touch up well, even if it is from the exact same can. The paint in the can over time performs differently than the day it was first used. It's like a science experiment going on in the can over time and it will never match the wall color again.
Compelling Reason #2
Paint finishes affect how furniture look in your home. I have done a space where it looks great, but I can tell that had we just changed the finish to a subtle sheen it would have been so much better. A flat finish (and maybe it's just me) seems to pull energy from the room. It does not catch the light as a finish with a slight hint of sheen does, and it certainly does not envelop the room the same way. I have done flat or matte finish on walls many times, and that's different. A great quality flat or matte finish will enhance a certain scheme, especially when it is a very dark or saturated color.
A builder basic flat paint tends to make the space feel a bit unfinished to me. It is just that subtle hint of sheen in an eggshell or satin finish that makes the difference and makes for a great backdrop.
Compelling Reason #3
Paint is the easiest and even the least expensive way to change the look of a space, add personality and enhance the mood you are trying to create.
If for example you are going for a spa-like, relaxing mood, then your paint color could be something like a cool but soft blue or aloe green. Yes, you can do that with other materials like tile and wallpaper, but paint is the easiest and cheapest, and certainly can be a great DIY project.
You can use paint to add an accent wall to create a focal point. Paint can help to cozy up a room that may feel too vast or out of scale. Paint can help create a more cohesive feel in a space with choppy layout.
You can even do interesting applications with paint, like stripes, stenciling and color blocking. Paint can help to enhance other design features in the room like wallpaper. Paint can be the basis for a great faux finish technique
Don't just settle for the builder basic color and finish. You don't even have to paint all at once. In my builder basic home for example, I painted each area as I was ready to renovate them. It is a year and a half later and my laundry room is the only room left to be painted. I even carried the same color throughout most of the open areas and only used specialty colors in the bedrooms. I did most of the walls in eggshell, trim in satin and ceilings in flat. For really dark colors like the Hale Navy shown above in my son's bedroom, I did a high quality flat finish.
Here are some of my favorite pale grays from Benjamin Moore. Grays are still pretty much the trend as they have been now for the last few years. Now you have no excuse to not paint your builder grade walls.
Feel free to book a Color Consultation if you need any help choosing a color palette for your home
Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!