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Scents of SMELL
By Diane Schlindwein

Homeowners who are dashing to the paint store to spruce up their houses needn't worry that a "new paint" smell will offend their visiting relatives and friends. That's because most people use latex paint, said Richard Scott, owner of Don Smith Paint Co. in Springfield.

"Latex paints have very little odor to begin with, and that dissipates very quickly. We do have a potpourri scent that people can add in, but it is not used very much," said Scott, noting that his store specializes in Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert paints. Latex paints also have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs - emitted as gases into the air), which is better for the environment.

"We do have people who add vanilla as a masking agent, but right now, as far as paint manufacturers are concerned, the news is all about environmentally friendly products," said Jim Allen, professional coating sales representative for Sherwin-Williams in Springfield. "Sherwin-Williams, along with other manufacturers, have been developing products that lower emissions to the environment and that are green friendly."

Since about 2001, California has had legislation to lower VOCs, followed by the East Coast about a year ago, Allen said. Both Scott and Allen say that within about a year, Illinois legislation will probably have passed that make stores sell only "green" paint.  

While environmentalists worry about keeping things "green," homeowners are usually just as worried about picking the right color. Allen said Americans can thank Martha Stewart for making it OK to put a little more color in our lives.

"I really think she kicked it off, along with HGTV. These days, people are not afraid to use color in their homes. For example, blues are really hot right now," he said. "We're also seeing a lot of people using the light greens and the cream colors."

Rochelle Wilson, Don Smith's color consultant, says she, too, has seen a lot of customers using creams and light greens, along with shades of gray. Benjamin Moore Historical Colors are still popular, she adds.

However, Wilson sometimes hesitates to name "hot" colors.

"People ask me about the trends, and I can name them," she says. "But I tell them to use whatever they like. After all, it is their home."

Picking a color can be difficult, Scott admits. "We have 5,000 colors here, but sometimes people still ask us to mix two together," he said. "And that's OK."

Both Allen and Wilson agree that most people are painting the trim in their homes white. "White on trim looks clean and crisp," Allen says.

"White trim is very popular now," Wilson said. "That's what we are seeing, too."

Customers have to choose from a variety of sheens, Scott says. "They can choose between flat, eggshell, satin, pearl (which is similar to satin), semi-gloss and high gloss paint," he says. "Just remember the higher sheen you go, the more imperfections you'll see." He says scrubbable flat paints are just as durable as the higher sheens.

No matter what color or paint they choose, Wilson said people naturally want their homes to look nice. "They are inside, looking at those walls and want to make a change," she says.

Although many people want to paint right now, the paint business for existing homes usually slows from mid-December to mid-January. "Those are our slowest weeks of the year," Scott said.

But Scott said he isn't worried. Business will pick up.

"By February, they are bored and want to do something new," he says. "Those late winter months are a good time to paint inside. Then they can be finished by spring, when it's time to spruce up the outside again."

 


 

Brightening up the outdoors

Although central Illinois weather is far too cold and wet to allow outdoor painting right now, that doesn't stop people from planning what they'll do come spring.

"On new construction, we don't see much painting," said Richard Scott, owner of Don Smith Paint Co. in Springfield.

"But when people do paint, we see a lot of dark browns and dark reds."

Jim Allen, professional coating sales representative for Sherwin-Williams in Springfield, said color often depends on the age of the home. "In Springfield, people who live in the Washington Park or state Capitol areas like to use the Sherwin-Williams Preservation Color palette. That is very popular."

Painting outside has become easier, Allen says. "Traditionally on a house, people used oil primer and two coats of oil paint." Now with the newer paint, like Sherwin-Williams Duration - they can cut labor by applying one coat of water based primer and one finish coat of paint. "This cuts both labor and costs," he adds.

"The whole key to painting outdoors is preparation," Scott said. "If you don't do it right, it will fade or bubble."

Still, do-it-yourselfers who are applying outdoor paint should always consult with a professional first, Scott said. Painting a home's exterior is a big job - one that homeowners probably don't want to repeat too often.  

 

Story published Friday, January 9, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 1 )

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