Backdrop Fuels My Urge to Stress-Paint Everything in My Apartment

Photo credit: Backdrop; Bridget Clegg
Photo credit: Backdrop; Bridget Clegg

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There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.

On Trial: Backdrop paint and supplies

Tester: Bridget Clegg, full-time WFH art manager for and part-time apartment DIYer

The Brief: Since March, I've had the luxury of doing my job from the relative comfort of my Brooklyn apartment. On a clear day, I can see every nook and cranny of this 450-square-foot 2-bedroom from my makeshift kitchen table desk, so like many others I decided that the time had come to paint my dingy bedroom walls. So I turned to the cool kids of the painting world to see what could be done.

Backdrop came on the scene in 2018 as a direct-to-consumer startup promising to smooth out the challenges of painting your own space by sending you paint and supply bundles to get the job done. I've tried painting the old-fashioned way before (begging my landlord for some white paint and then making three separate trips to the hardware store for supplies I forgot I needed), so I'm qualified to say that Backdrop's Essentials Kit is convenient, albeit pricier, than standard hardware store buys. For $45 you get two rollers, two roller covers, a tray with three inserts, a 2-inch brush, tape and a handy rag.

As for selection, the online paint color catalog has 50 shades — enough to spark your imagination without feeling overwhelming. I found the user-submitted photos that are tagged to each shade helpful for figuring out how the paint looks in different lights, but you can also order swatch stickers to test before you buy. Even though years of New York pollutants, palo santo smoke and rearranging wall art has left my walls looking shabby, I still liked the light grey color I painted on them years ago. Backdrop's West Coast Ghost, aptly described as "super light gray with blue undertones," seemed like the best match to keep that vibe.

Photo credit: Backdrop
Photo credit: Backdrop

I used Backdrop's quantity calculator to plug in my room measurements and landed on two $59 gallons. An Essentials Kit and a pair of dented, but still cute cans arrived a few days later in a large box. Once I spackled old holes (spackle bought separately) and wiped down walls, I got to work sticking the painter's tape provided around my moldings, using the 2-inch brush to cut in, and both the large and small rollers to apply the paint.

The color darkened into the shade I expected as it dried. It's dry to the touch in a half-hour, and the first coat had almost enough coverage. To be safe, I waited the requisite 3 hours before applying a second coat to smooth out stray brushstrokes. I ended up using every tool in the Essentials Kit, including the thoughtful rag for drips, and only needed 1 gallon of paint.

Backdrop paints boast low VOC, low odor, and green certification so the faint new paint smell dissipates quickly. I let the room air out for 24 hours before attempting the scariest part of the whole experience: putting nails into freshly painted walls! With my art, shelves and mirrors back up, I now proudly keep my bedroom door open to peep my accomplishment from my kitchen table desk throughout the day.

Closing argument: While you can find cheaper paint and supplies at a hardware store, the convenience of the Backdrop model (especially during a quarantine) can't be beat. Even though I think it's fun to peruse paint chips in a store, I enjoyed trusting Backdrop's curation this time around.

From the color selection to the pulling off of painter's tape, I felt confident that I'd be able to nail this DIY project. Unfortunately, all I see now are other walls in my apartment that need the Backdrop treatment!

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