Yes, there’s always a lot of maintenance to do at the cottage, but of all the chores on your list, none has the potential to make as a noticeable a difference as a fresh coat of paint.
Of course, what product you choose depends on where the paint is going, so to get the expert’s perspective on what paints you absolutely need at the cottage, we spoke with Sharon Grech, a spokesperson for colour and design for Benjamin Moore & Co.
“A lot of people don’t think about ways to give new life to an old piece of furniture, and stain is a great way to do that,” says Grech, who has a tiny off-grid cabin near Lake Joseph in Seguin Township. “Say you’ve picked up a Muskoka chair from a flea market, if the wood is in good shape, you can use a semi-transparent stain to bring out the beauty of the wood.”
And while paint is a great option for sprucing up an older piece in a fun colour (see alkyd paint below), a solid-colour stain is ideal for new, never finished pieces. “A product like Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat solid stain can be tinted to any colour,” Grech explains. “You’ll get the texture of the wood plus opaque colour in one step — it’s a project you can do in a weekend.”
“At the cottage, you often end up with hand-me-downs, but you don’t have to keep things the way they are,” says Grech. “Painting is one of the easiest ways to transform a piece.”
Alkyd, a super-durable oil-based paint is perfect for wooden furniture or outdoor accessories like planters that you want to have opaque colour with no wood grain. Use a primer to blur out the wood grain, then follow with a coat (or two, or three) of paint. Several thin coats are better than one thick one. Remember, alkyd paint can give off nasty fumes, so make sure you have plenty of ventilation or work with a ventilator.
Chalkboard paint is a fun addition to a kitchen, a kid’s room, or an out-of-the-way wall that can double as an art space. And, contrary to the traditional black or green chalkboard of yore, chalkboard wall paint can be tinted any colour to blend seamlessly with the rest of your decor. Grech suggests using chalkboard paint close to your main door, and keeping your to-do list there — perfect for opening or closing the cottage.
Keep a chalkboard wall clean with a damp cloth — cola, lemon oil or one part vinegar to six parts water can all help keep your chalkboard smudge-free.
Your cottage likely spends a fair amount of time without the benefit of fresh air, so mildew can be a real problem, especially in areas with high humidity like the kitchen and bathroom. “Ventilation often isn’t great at the cottage, so a paint that resists humidity is ideal,” says Grech. “A pearl finish will also make it easy to clean.”
If you’ve got a set of vintage metal garden furniture in the shed crying out to be fixed up and used, a good rust-inhibiting paint and primer will be your best friend. Take off any existing rust — Grech suggests using steel wool, while really rusty pieces may need a wire brush first — then use a rust-inhibiting primer followed by paint. Some products act as paint and primer in one (use one coat as a primer, and the next coat as a topcoat), making the job a little quicker.