Published on June 21, 2019

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Design by Gaby Gargano | Photography by Allyson Lubow

We love a good DIY, especially when it leads to the transformation of a rather snoozy spot. That said, as confident as we may be in our craftiness, there are some projects better left to the professionals, and painting certain surfaces is one of them.

We preach about the impact paint can have on a room—not to mention your mood—and champion the dramatic effect of a painted ceiling or vibrant color-blocked wall. But when it comes down to putting the more complex ideas into action, things can get challenging.

Sure, there are projects you can easily tackle yourself—we recently became obsessed with cheeky door frame designs—but as they say, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We caught up with the pros at Paintzen to get the lowdown on six paint projects that are best reserved for the experts.

Kitchen Cabinets

Painting a flat surface sounds easy enough, but before you take a brush to the cupboard’s veneer, consider the type of paint you’re using. With all that goes on in the kitchen—the heat, the spills, the splatter—it’s important to select a high-build primer (this is where working with a professional makes a difference) and top coat durable enough to withstand the wear and tear, advises Paintzen senior director Meghan Stewart. 

“Make sure that the sanding and priming phases are done correctly,” she says, “otherwise this DIY project can easily turn into a financial disaster, leading to having to replace [the cabinets].”

If your cabinets have molding or other detailing, you’ll definitely benefit from an expert’s help coating the surface—the last thing you want is uneven paint globs on your freshly updated cabinetry.

Two-Tone Walls

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Design by Chasing Paper

When you can’t make up your mind on the color to paint a room, you can go for two—preferably in the form of a rad color-block. What’s not so rad? Having one hue drip down onto the other—your inability to color between the lines presenting itself at the most inopportune moment.

A pro will have the right tools for the job. “You’ll need a laser level and the right kind of tape,” says Stewart. “Walls are delicate and easily damaged by the incorrect tape being used to create lines.” Here, a very steady hand can go a long way.

Doors

Similar to cabinetry, doors are yet another surface best left to a seasoned painter due to their detailing. Plus, streaks are never a good look. According to Stewart, doors are very susceptible to damage and dirt since they’re constantly being opened and closed, so a durable, cleanable product is also crucial.

Exteriors

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DESIGN BY GABY GARGANO | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALLYSON LUBOW

You only make a first impression once, and a poorly painted house facade is not the way you want to do it. “Exteriors pose all sorts of logistical hurdles,” says Stewart, “from extreme heights to difficulty maneuvering around trees and shrubs.” Aside from the obvious safety concerns, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the highest-quality paint—along with hiring a pro who can handle the intricacies involved.

Floors

We love the idea of a painted floor in lieu of the standard wood plank or the colorful tile route. However, there are a lot of factors to take into account here, the type of paint and the surface you’ll be painting being two integral components. Considering the fact that you’ll be walking all over this project, you want to make sure that the work can withstand high traffic.

Ceilings

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Design by The Studio by One Kings Lane, Photography by Joe Schmelzer

The ceiling is one of the most labor-intensive spots to paint, especially if it’s beyond a normal height, says Stewart. The higher it is, the more strenuous and time-consuming the project will be. And let’s not forget the condition the ceiling is in. “If it’s wavy or older plaster, a very precise cut line will need to be made to make sure that it appears straight,” she adds. “And sometimes, you even need to make your own beginning and end points to achieve that cohesive look.” All that to say: Hire it out.

Do you have a paint project you hope to tackle this summer? Sound off in the comments below!

Need more paint inspiration?
The Paint Colors Leading the Trends This Year 
Three Bold Paint Colors That Are Impossible to Get Wrong 
How to Paint Your Small Space