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Tips from factory owner Andrew Raker: Quality paint makes it easy to color your world

2012-04-09 | Sarah Platanitis, MassLive

Category: MassLive

While the eagerly awaited season for team Do-It-Yourself has officially arrived, there are important things to consider before transforming a room with a fresh coat of paint.

“Buying the wrong paint, picking the wrong colors, cutting corners and not having enough materials or tools are the most common mistakes that DIYers make,” said Andrew Raker, president of Clark Paint Factory in West Springfield.

Raker knows paint. Every day he carries on the tradition of his family’s paint-making business that started in 1945 when his grandfather, Milford Raker, purchased the Clark Paint & Varnish Co., which had been founded by Fred Clark in 1928.

“We can definitely guide you on how to paint your own home,” said Raker, proud that the company his grandfather purchased continues to make its own brand.

The store, known by many shoppers for its custom wood stain matching, makes its own interior and latex line and carries consumer and commercial paint lines including Benjamin Moore, Pittsburgh Paint, Pratt & Lambert, Cabot Stains and Insl-X.

“It may be hard to justify an expensive $56 gallon or two when you’re on a budget, but purchasing premium paint can actually save you money,” said Raker.

“A gallon of high-quality paint will cover a room in one coat for most colors and two coats for reds and yellows. Cheap paint may cost less, but it usually takes three coats to do the job. Considering labor and materials, it’s a huge savings in the long run.”

Raker said qualities to look for in a tint are how well it covers a wall and ease of application. He said a high durability rating is important for those who anticipate having to scrub away stray marks or a child’s crayon masterpieces.

Worried about the noticeability of brush marks that are left behind? Ask about a paint’s leveling properties.

“Better quality paints are usually self-priming and mildew resistant. We sell more ‘green’ acrylics now than ever because they are more environmentally friendly and have lower VOCs,” said Raker, referring to harmful volatile organic compounds that can exist in paints that are now regulated by the federal government.

Sampling programs and high-tech websites may have shifted paint buying habits in last few years, but picking the wrong color is still good cause for anxiety.

“Color looks totally different in the store than at home. Magazine photos and manufacturer websites with suggested color schemes are just a great place to start,” said Raker, remarking how most people end up back with their first color after consulting with friends and family and seeing a myriad of hues that they don’t like.

“It’s key to have the same people mix the same colors for consistency. We have a computer that tracks colors and high tech tinting equipment versus the old pump style,” he said.

Raker said his factory’s oddest color match was when his mother was asked to match Robert Goulet’s violet-blue eye color after he performed in West Springfield.

Raker also noted the importance of good tools for DIYers in maximizing the paint’s application. A good roller cover or fine bristle brush can help apply paint smoothly. Painters tape and an edge guide, as well as good lighting, can save on headaches.

“You want to avoid having to run out so make sure you have everything that you need. You can always return what you don’t use,” said Raker, who recommends having enough fillers, putty, sandpaper and scrapers on hand to make surface prep and patch-ups a breeze.

Marie Crane-Yvon, an interior decorator and painter from Westfield who frequents Clark Paint Factory, sees “refreshing” color trends for spring 2012, such as Wilmington tan, greens, golds and warm gray-blues.

“Benjamin Moore has a new line called Color Stories with paints that are made of four to five pigments, each from palettes and complementary colors. The colors are moody and they tend to play with the light in the room in a different way so a golden brown couch will pull those colors from the wall,” she said.

Historical colors, or the fashionable colors from decades past, are always popular choices. By tradition, they are also made with multiple pigments to add dimension and depth to a room or house exterior.

“A thimbleful is a bucketful. I love a sunny bright yellow kitchen, but picking the darkest tint on the paint chip would be almost too intense. Go lighter on the walls. If you love bright canary yellow, it’d be great for a towel or cushion. It’s the same with reds, too,” Crane-Yvon said.

“When you play it safe on your walls, you can have fun with your accessories and not feel like you have to take the room apart. You don’t want to paint for spring, you paint for the whole year, then decorate for spring,” she said.

So, DIYers, consider this: a well-chosen color, like a pair of khakis, can go with anything. And a top-quality paint can make a home look like a million bucks.

To learn more about Clark Paint Factory, 966 Union St., West Springfield, visit or call (413) 733-3554.

For more information about Crane-Yvon Interiors, visit or call (413) 977-1121.

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