Renovation Drill Down #3: Painting and Colour Selection

Welcome back to our home improvement series ‘drilling down’ into the finer details of renovation.

Having first covered Electricals and then Plumbing and Drainage, we thought it was about time to bring a little colour to the blog with a focus on paint.


Let’s start on the outside. Generally speaking, only extensions and additions create a pressing need to paint the exterior of your home – other renovations may not affect any external structures.

We strongly advise that external work – especially on an ‘addition’ involving a second storey – is best done by professionals. It’s extremely risky for you to be up on your roof painting external walls, windows or eaves.

We recommend giving your builder the details of the paint colours you have chosen for each surface (see: ‘Briefing the Job’ below) and leave it to the builder to get the work done for you.

Whilst ground floor extensions don’t carry the same level of risk of injury, our experience is that you will get a faster and better result if you leave it to your builder to arrange all the external painting for you.

If you like the idea of having a paint brush in your hand, most builders will be happy for you to take on the task of painting the internal walls and ceilings inside your new addition.

External wall cladding

There is a vast range of external cladding materials available in the residential housing market today.

Some, such as face bricks and PVC cladding, don’t require painting. You just need to make a selection from the available range and you can move onto the next item in your colour selection list.

Other cladding materials like WeathertexPrimeline and Scyon, or lightweight rendered finish cladding systems such as Insulclad do require a paint finish.

We recommend to our clients that they select quality tradeline paints such as Dulux and Taubmans and stress the importance of choosing exterior paints that suit local conditions.

You then won’t have to repaint the external walls every few years simply because you used a paint that couldn’t handle the heat, rain or cold conditions where you live.

As discussed in our recent drill down article on plumbing and drainage, you may wish to choose an external wall colour that blends with any new downpipes.

In our experience, this is particularly important with second storey additions where the location of downpipes are prominent and will stand out if a contrasting wall colour is chosen.

Smaller external surfaces

Eaves, fascia boards (which gutters typically attach to), barge boards (above gable roof ends or on the side of flat metal roofs) and cover battens all require similar consideration as above for the external cladding.

Window and/or Door Frames

Whilst there are several different types of window and door frame materials, the two most common by far are timber and aluminium.

With timber frames the choice of colour is only limited by your imagination… and budget!

Once again, choose a good quality external paint that can handle your local weather conditions.

With aluminium frames, the colour choice is far more limited, but many of the larger aluminium window and door manufacturers offer up to 20 or more colour options. Some, such as Wideline or Stegbar, also offer services such as colour matching.


Similar to window frames, these come typically as either timber or aluminium framed, so once again the advice above applies.

Roof covering

Whilst there are a variety of roof coverings, the most popular are concrete (cement) and terracotta tiles, or Colorbond metal roofs.

The websites of roof tile manufacturers such as Monier and Boral clearly detail the colour and profile offerings of their concrete and terracotta tiles.

Similarly, the Colorbond website has an extensive range of colours for you to choose from.

Balconies, Decking and Handrails

Where these items are constructed of timber, due care should be taken in the paints or stains used to protect them from the elements.

Keep in mind that you will need to repaint balconies, decking and handrails on a more regular basis compared to other external surfaces to be sure that timber rot doesn’t set in.

Moving Inside

Now let’s look at the typical internal surfaces of your renovation that will require painting or staining.

Here we assume that either you or a painter you contracted are painting the inside of your home rather than this being the builder’s responsibility.


Before the actual paint work can start in earnest there will be a small amount of preparation work required, even though all the surfaces to be painted or stained are new.

Firstly, all major internal linings such as walls and ceilings should be wiped over in order to remove any residual gyprock dust – you don’t want to be painting dusty surfaces otherwise you’ll likely experience unwanted flaking or peeling in the very near future.

Secondly, you want to ensure that the small nail holes created when the builder attached the skirtings and architraves are filled and then rubbed back to give a smooth even finish.

Taking these simple steps before you begin the process of applying undercoats and then the final paint finish will help to ensure the best possible long term outcome.

Ceilings and cornices

There is a wide range of internal paints that are specifically designed to be applied to ceilings.

You should pay special attention to the ceiling in your bathroom where mould or mildew can form due to the regular presence of steam from showers, baths or vanities.

We strongly suggest you use well regarded primers and sealers such as Zinsser to reduce the chances of mould or mildew.


Aside from the myriad of internal colours to choose from, there are some key considerations to think about when choosing wall paint:

  • We suggest you go for a matt finish rather than a glossier finish as this helps to avoid leaving a “shiny” patch if you have to remove a stain or mark from the wall. If you have young children, walls can end up with little hand marks on them on a regular basis!
  • Consider specialist wall paints such as Dulux Easyclean that facilitate the removal of common household stains.
  • As with ceilings, walls in bathrooms benefit from using a mould inhibitor like Zinsser as part of the painting process.

Skirting and Architraves

After preparation (see above), skirting and architraves are typically painted with an acrylic or enamel finish in either semi or full gloss or can be stained.

The choice is typically influenced by the finish on the skirting and architraves in the remainder of your home.


With timber windows you will need to decide whether you would like to stain or paint the window frame.

If painting, as with skirting and architraves, people usually settle for an acrylic or enamel finish in semi or full gloss.

In the case of aluminium windows, whilst you won’t have to worry about the aluminium frame itself, you will have to paint or stain the architrave that surrounds it.


If you are building a first floor addition, you are likely to be painting or staining a new staircase as these are usually made from timber.

It’s worth breaking down a typical timber staircase into its basic components before talking about the paint or stain finishes:

  • the handrail,
  • the balusters (vertical components that attach the handrail to the rest of the stair structure),
  • the treads and risers,
  • the stair stringer (housing on either side of a flight of stairs to which the treads and risers are fixed).

Pine is a cost effective timber product, widely used for staircases. It’s very important to note that pine’s wide natural grain means it doesn’t offer much in the way of a natural grip.

In fact, uncovered pine treads no longer conform to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) regulations. The most common solution is to simply carpet the pine stairs.

Whilst there is nothing stopping you from staining the rest of your pine staircase, our experience is that most of our clients choose to paint the staircase. This is because the naturally wide grain of pine doesn’t really enhance the look of the wood.

Another popular timber used is in staircases is maple. This has a narrower grain that naturally reduces slipping, and the treads can be left uncovered provided they are painted or stained in accordance with BCA requirements.

Check with your builder or paint specialist if you are not certain what is required to ensure your maple treads comply.

The other benefit of narrower grains of timber such as maple is that they are aesthetically pleasing when stained rather than painted.

Some of our clients even choose a combination of painting, staining and carpeting their maple staircase: painting the balusters and stringers, staining the handrail and carpeting the treads.

A handy hint is to stain the handrail. A painted rail tends to show finger marks that naturally come from the many hands gripping it. Staining hides the natural hand oils that get left behind each time someone goes up or down the stairs.

Briefing the Job

If you have asked your builder to take care of painting, be very specific when advising them of your paint selections.

Your ‘brief’ should include the paint manufacturer (Dulux, Taubmans etc), the paint name, the exact colour, whether it’s full or half or even quarter tint, and the finish (for example, matt or gloss).

Saying you want the colour to be “white” without any additional information isn’t being specific enough – there are countless shades of white available in the marketplace!

If you want to use a colour that matches an existing wall, we strongly advise you to do the research for yourself to be confident you’ll get the exact colour you are expecting.

Paint retailers such as Bunnings have colour matching services based on samples you supply, and they will give you free sample pots to take home to see how the colour looks on your wall and in different light conditions.

Other Considerations: Painting Old vs New Surfaces

As an additions and alterations specialist, Addbuild not only builds new rooms for our clients but can – and does in many cases – undertake renovations to existing parts of our clients’ homes.

In the case of a new first floor additions, this can be as simple as accommodating the new staircase in an existing part of the house downstairs with some minor alterations. However, it might also involve extensive renovations within the existing structure.

Regardless of the extent of the renovations to the existing home, we often assist clients with any remedial painting (internally or externally) they may wish to undertake as part of an overall addition and renovation project.

The one important difference between painting new surfaces compared to renovation painting is that the starting condition of new surfaces is already known and therefore preparation work is typically minimal.

So a builder should be able to easily and accurately determine the cost of preparing and painting new surfaces.

Painting existing surfaces can be more difficult to determine “sight unseen”, so typically requires the builder’s painter to attend the site to inspect existing surfaces so that the degree of preparation involved can be gauged.

So depending on the degree of preparation required, the cost of renovation painting may well be significantly higher when compared to painting a similarly sized “brand new” surface.

The best approach is to discuss any possible renovation painting with your painter or builder on site so they can determine exactly what’s involved and provide you with a more accurate quotation.

Colour Trends and Colour Palettes

Choosing a new colour scheme for your home is one of the pleasures of any renovation, but it can also be something of a stress as there are so many colour variations to choose from, and you may not feel that you have an ‘eye’ for the job.

You can find a wide array of advice online, with some sites offering different colour palette combinations to choose from, as well as advice on which colour is suitable for a particular room.

As mentioned in our article from earlier this year on 2019 renovation trends, Dulux has an annual ‘colour forecast’ guide that is also a useful reference point.

As a builder, we don’t pretend to be experts on colours. Our advice is to look around the internet until you find something that you love and use a site like Pinterest to collect your ideas together.

We hope you have found these tips and ideas on choosing paints (and stains) for external and internal finishes useful. If you did, be sure to also read our other articles about Electricals and Plumbing and Drainage.

If you’re thinking of adding another room or another floor to your home and want to discuss your plans in detail, Addbuild is Sydney’s leading home additions and extensions builder offering experienced design and DA approvals services through to completion. Feel free to contact us by calling (02) 8765 1555 or by using our online form.