Category: Painting


How To: Cut In Paint

While a fresh coat of color can quickly update any room, the crisp lines where your walls meet trim or ceiling are really what set apart a stand-out paint job. Read on for how to achieve such a professional touch on your next project.

SHARES
How to Cut in Paint

Photo: fotosearch.com

Any professional painter knows that a successful paint job is only as good as the preparation that comes before it. That’s why it’s so important to cut in around trim, ceilings, and baseboards before you start rolling paint on the walls. Lucky for us, even the average DIYer can do this well with the right equipment, a little instruction, and some careful application of paint.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 2- or 2-1/2-inch high-quality angle sash brush
- Low-tack masking tape for tough-to-reach areas
- Paint
- Small bucket or pail
- Ladder
- Drop cloth
- 5-in-1 painter’s tool or spackling knife
- Damp rag

How to Cut in Paint - Cutting In Brush

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Even when you’re dealing with the small amount of paint required for cutting in, drips and spills can happen. So, begin by prepping the room, making sure that floors and other surfaces are protected. Always use a drop cloth, and move it as you work through the room. Use painter’s tape to mask only those awkward or tough-to-reach spots where you know you won’t be able to guarantee clean results without taping. Otherwise, avoid taping—it takes extra time, and unless the tape is properly applied, paint can seep underneath it or dry on top of it, creating a real mess upon removal.

STEP 2
Get ready to paint by loading the brush. Pour about 2 inches of paint into the bucket. Hold your brush with a pencil grip, with the longer side of the brush bristles in line with your pointer finger. Dip the brush into the paint, but be careful not to load more than 2/3 the length of the bristles with paint. Gently tap the brush against the side of the bucket to remove any excess.

STEP 3
Now it’s time to get some paint on that wall! Begin about an inch away from the area you’re cutting in, whether you’re working along the trim or down a corner. Holding the brush horizontal with respect to the floor and ceiling, paint a roughly 12-inch stripe on the wall, using a downward stroke if you’re painting at a corner, or a sideways stroke if you’re working along the ceiling, baseboard, or other trim. Now that you’ve used up some of the paint on your brush, turn your brush 90 degrees so that it angles into the wall, and go back to the beginning of your stroke. This time, using long, even strokes, cut in a thinner line of paint that gets right up to the trim or wall corner.

STEP 4
Once you’re satisfied that you have a cleanly painted edge or corner, again turn your paintbrush horizontal to the floor and ceiling, and gently sweep back over the area to erase brush marks and feather the outer boundaries of the painted area. Doing so will ensure a smooth, seamless finish after you’ve rolled the walls.

Continue to work your way around the room, gently overlapping sections to keep a wet edge. If you have an accidental drip or get paint on the trim or baseboard, wrap a damp cloth around a spackling knife or the long edge of a 5-in-1 painter’s tool, then run it along your paint line to remove any excess.

Cutting in does take practice, but taking the time to cut in neatly will make a huge difference in the appearance of your newly painted room.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Use a light touch. Applying too much pressure on your strokes will cause the paint to ooze out of your brush and drip.

Don’t load the brush with too much paint. This will result in drips and heavy lines on the walls, and you’ll risk getting the bristles of your brush caked with dried, crusty paint.

Use a high-quality brush. It’s well worth investing in a high-quality cutting in paintbrush. The better the brush, the less taping you’ll need to do, making the job go more quickly and with less frustration.


How To: Paint a Metal Door

Metal doors offer great benefits in security and weather resistance, but to keep their surfaces welcoming and rust-free, you have to keep up with the painting. Here's how to brighten up a worn, scratched, or just tired-looking metal door with a fresh coat of paint.

SHARES
How to Paint a Metal Door - Steel Entry Door Colored Yellow

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

Steel doors are wonderful at keeping the wind and weather out of our homes, and they’re remarkably durable—they can last a lifetime. The paint that covers them, however, will not last that long. So, if your house has a metal door, at some point you’ll be faced with repainting it. It’s not a difficult job, but as with any painting project, the final results will be directly impacted by your preparation. Read on to learn what steps you should take to give your metal door a makeover that will last.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Screwdriver
- Hammer
- Sawhorses
- Degreasing cleaner
- Bucket
- Water
- Sponge
- Towel
- Fine-grit sandpaper or sanding block
- Dust mask
- Safety goggles
- Painter’s tape
- Newspaper
- Exterior primer
- Satin or semi-gloss exterior paint
- Trim-size paint roller
- Short-nap roller cover
- Paint tray
- Small paintbrush or sponge applicator

 

How to Paint a Metal Door - White Steel Entry Door

Photo: homedepot.com

STEP 1
Before you get started, know that paint drying times and environmental factors can turn this into a multiday project. If you are able to securely lock your door with an exterior storm door, you can remove the door to paint it. (Note: You will not be able to rehang it until it is completely dry.) If you can’t secure your home without the door, you’ll need to paint it in place, which may wind up taking longer.

If you can remove the door without compromising your home security, place a screwdriver under the head of the hinge pin and lightly tap it with a hammer until you’re able to pull it out. Repeat with the other hinges, and remove the door.

STEP 2
Begin by prepping the door for painting. Before you dig in, however, note that doors painted prior to 1978 are likely to have lead-based paint on them. If your door does have lead-based paint, follow EPA guidelines for removal. If you have any question, have the paint tested prior to beginning this project.

Once you’ve taken the door off its hinges, lay it across two sawhorses or on a large, flat surface. Wash the entire door thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then dry it with a towel.

STEP 3
Next, put on your dust mask and safety glasses, and go over the door lightly with fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding block to rough up the surface and remove any loose paint. Take off any removable weatherstripping, and apply painter’s tape over any hinges or hardware. Protect kickplates or windows that can’t be removed by taping newspaper over them. Once again, wipe down the entire door to remove all the dust from sanding, and allow the door to completely air-dry.

STEP 4
If your door has a smooth surface, just roll on your first coat of primer with a short-nap roller, and let it dry. If your door has recessed panels, start by using a small brush to paint the inside panels first. Then, roll the mullion (the vertical section between the panels). Follow up by rolling paint onto the rails (the horizontal pieces between the panels). Finish by painting all the outside edges. Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and apply a second coat, if necessary, the same way you did the first.

STEP 5
Paint the door with at least two coats of exterior satin or semi-gloss paint, following the same process you did for the primer and being sure to leave the recommended amount of drying time between coats. If you have to paint the door while it’s on its hinges, plan to work over a stretch of days when there is no rain in the forecast. Prep the door one day, and then start your first coat of primer bright and early the next morning. If you start early enough, you should have time for the paint to dry before you close the door for the night. Get going on the second coat the first thing the next morning, with the goal of its being dry by nighttime. Continue in this fashion until you’ve applied as many coats as are necessary.

STEP 6
After the paint has dried completely, carefully remove the painter’s tape and replace any hardware or weatherstripping you removed. Then, rehang the door.

It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint on a door can really lift the spirits of an entire facade. If you allow time for careful preparation and sufficient drying, your rejuvenated metal front door will look great and welcome visitors for many years to come.


How To: Test for Lead Paint

Used in most homes before being banned in the late 1970s, lead paint still exists undetected in many places. Before digging into any renovations on an old home, run this important test to protect your health.

SHARES
How to Test for Lead Paint - Old Windowsill

Photo: fotosearch.com

There’s nothing quite like the joy of living in a home with character, craftsmanship, and history within its walls. Yet, while remodeling an older house is a fun and worthwhile adventure, it’s important to note that most homes built before 1978 contain—or once contained—paint made with lead, which we now know can cause a host of health problems, especially for children. Originally used for its fresh appearance, quick-drying properties, and resistance to moisture, lead-based paint was proven dangerous decades ago and its use was quickly discontinued. However, in many places, these original coats of paint are still present on walls, windowsills, and baseboards today. As a result, testing for lead paint is a critical step for anyone moving into an old home in the modern age, especially when renovations are on the horizon. Ensure your home is safe before settling in by following this guide.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Store-bought lead test kit with swabs and confirmation card
- Utility blade or small, sharp knife

How to Test for Lead Paint - Cracked Lead-Based Paint

Photo: flickr.com via Bart Everson

STEP 1
Two common types of DIY lead test kits can be found in most hardware and paint stores: rhodizonate-based kits and sulfide-based kits. The type you choose will depend on the color of paint you’re testing. Rhodizonate kits are known to give false positives on red and pink paints, while sulfide kits are known to give inaccurate results on dark paint.

Once you’ve chosen the type of test that promises the most accurate results, you’ll find that most kits of either kind facilitate several tests for less than $100, which is considerably cheaper than hiring someone to perform the test for you.

STEP 2
On each wall, windowsill, or baseboard where you’re testing for lead, choose spots where the paint seems to be at its thickest (particularly if you suspect there are additional layers of paint underneath). Here, use a utility blade, or small, sharp knife to make a quarter-inch incision, slicing through the surface paint and revealing all the previous layers beneath it.

STEP 3
Most lead test kits come with swabs that require precise handling in order to use each one correctly. Generally, the swabs must be pinched in two designated areas in order for the solid and liquid chemicals inside to mix together. Next, you’ll open the swab to reveal the soft tip and press down on the incision made in the paint for the length of time specified on the test’s packaging (usually a few seconds). Apply pressure in a circular motion to make sure the swab has ample contact with each layer of exposed paint.

STEP 4
Now, look for a sign. Many popular rhodizonate-based test swabs will turn red if lead is present, although red paint (even traces of it from a previous layer) can create a false positive. Sulfide-based kits will turn dark grey or black, which of course can create a false positive when dark paint is already present. Even if you choose the correct test kit for your visible paint, additional testing may be required depending on the colors you find underneath.

STEP 5
Should your swab comes back clean, you’re likely in the clear, but double-check your work to be safe. Most test kits come with a confirmation card, which you can use to make sure the chemicals on your swab are reacting properly. The card comes with traces of lead on it, which will cause the swab to change color when it comes in contact with the paper. Now, if your swab remains colorless, you’re out of the woods.

 

IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR LEAD…
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a specific set of steps to take if the paint in your home tests positive for lead. Since scraping and sanding painted surfaces can release lead dust and create an airborne health hazard, it’s important to take these steps seriously and follow them to the letter before beginning any renovations:

• Using the EPA’s locator, find a certified inspector or risk assessor to conduct a thorough testing throughout your home.

• Review the written report provided to you upon the testing’s completion, and ask for your inspector or assessor’s recommendations on whether you should seek an abatement professional to remove all lead completely or come up with a strict maintenance plan to prevent exposure.

• If abatement is recommended, the EPA’s locator can also help you find a lead paint abatement specialist. Once you’ve hired a certified professional to remove lead from your home, they must notify the EPA at least five days before beginning the abatement process. Depending on how much time you’ve spent in the home already, blood tests may be needed in order to determine your family’s level of exposure and whether any medical response is in order.

• If a long-term maintenance plan is recommended rather than abatement, you’ll be given a set of instructions that include regular inspections and, in the case of renovations, working only with lead-safe certified home contractors who know exactly how to perform their work in a way that’s safe for all involved.

Rest assured that the patience required to accurately ensure your home is lead-free is always worth it in the end. After all, “safety first” isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a must for keeping you and your loved ones healthy and happy in a home of any age.


How To: Paint a Bathtub

Renew your loo by putting a fresh, clean coat on your worn-out old tub.

SHARES
How to Paint a Bath Tub - White Clawfoot Tub

Photo: fotosearch.com

The focal point of a full bath is often its tub, which ought to be pristine and gleaming. If yours is pitted, chipped, or scratched—or sporting an old-fashioned color that no longer suits your style—you can spare yourself the bother and expense of ripping it out and replacing it. Options include putting in an acrylic liner for upwards of $300, or re-glazing the original yourself with special epoxy paint, using a kit available at any home center for about $25. Painting the bathtub can be a bit tricky, but with the following steps, patience, and care, you’ll get a porcelain-like finish that will last three to five years.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Caulk removal tool
- Bleach
- Abrasive cleanser
- Sponge
- Acetone or paint thinner
- Epoxy putty or tub repair product
- 400 and 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
- Clean towels
- Masking or painters’ tape
- Tub refinishing kit (which includes epoxy paint)
- Medium-sized paint buckets with covers (2)
- Paint stirrers
- Brushes and/or paint rollers
- Caulk and caulking gun

How to Paint a Bathtub - Painting Tools in the Bathroom

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Ready the tub: Start by removing the old caulk. (Note: If you don’t have a specific caulk removal tool, a spackling knife or 5-in-1 painter’s tool can sub in here.) Then carefully remove the drain hardware and any fixtures in the bathtub itself, using the correct tools and procedures for your situation.

STEP 2
Ventilate the space by opening windows and running fans. Then wash the bathtub with 10 percent bleach in water solution. Rinse well, and follow with an abrasive cleanser like Comet or Soft Scrub. After thoroughly rinsing, wipe a solvent such as acetone or paint thinner over the entire surface to remove any remaining grease or cleanser residue.

STEP 3
Fill any scratches, chips, or gouges with epoxy putty or tub repair product for a like-new surface. Let dry completely and then sand these areas smooth. Next, sand the entire bathtub with wet/dry sandpaper, first with 400 grit and then going over it again with finer 600 grit. This will rough up the gloss so that paint easily adheres.

Rinse the bathtub thoroughly with water and wipe it dry with clean towels or rags. Allow the tub to air dry fully—it must be free of moisture prior to painting.

STEP 4
When prepping for paint, use masking or painters’ tape to protect the tile and fixtures around the bathtub. Then make sure your room is well ventilated and don your respirator or mask (epoxy paint is really stinky stuff).

Now, mix the paint in the tub refinishing kit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many kits use a two-part epoxy paint that you’ll need to combine prior to application. If that’s the case, pour each part into one bucket to mix, then transfer half of that mixture into the second container to save for the second coat; cover tightly to prevent it from drying out. 
The mixing phase is crucial so don’t play fast and loose with the directions!

STEP 5
Paint the bathtub, starting at the top in one corner and working your way across and down to the other side. Apply in a thin, even coat, being careful to smooth out any drips as you go with your roller or brush. Epoxy paint has a self-leveling property, so don’t be concerned if you see some bubbles or brush marks—these should disappear as it sets.

Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and apply the second coat in the same way you did the first.

STEP 6
Epoxy takes time to fully cure, so heed the manufacturer’s instructions on drying time. Don’t use the tub until the paint has fully cured—even if it feels dry to the touch. Once cured, remove the tape, re-caulk the tub and re-install the fixtures and drain hardware.

Going forward, maintain the bathtub as you would any porcelain surface, with your choice of cleanser. But right now, run yourself a nice, warm bath—you deserve it!


Solved! What to Do About Peeling Paint

When your bathroom paint begins to crackle and peel, any number of factors may be at play. Read up to learn what can spell trouble for painted walls and how to rescue your failing paint job.

SHARES
Peeling Paint - What to Do About It

Photo: fotosearch.com

Q: We painted our bathroom a few months ago and are already noticing areas where it’s peeling. How can we fix this—and prevent it from happening when we tackle the bedroom?

A: When a recent paint job starts looking old before its time, various culprits may be to blame. Usually, unsightly peeling, cracking, and flaking occur when the surface hadn’t been cleaned, prepped, or primed properly. It’s also possible that you didn’t allow adequate drying time between coats, which can cause severe cracking known as “alligatoring.” Or perhaps that bargain brand you bought wasn’t such a bargain: Poor-quality paint tends to be less adhesive and flexible, and therefore notoriously prone to peeling. Plus, this being a bathroom, moisture—which can impair paint’s adhesive properties—might have contributed to the problem. Fortunately, you caught it early, so you can probably do a patch job rather than repaint entire walls. The steps below outline how to go about it. But be forewarned: It’s crucial that you get your surfaces in shape and use the appropriate product to ensure smooth, long-lasting results in your bathroom fixes as well as the fresh paint job in your bedroom.

Peeling Paint - How to Prevent Paint from Cracking

Photo: fotosearch.com

Purge the peeling. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to check for a leaky roof or plumbing concern that may have contributed to the peeling in the bathroom and could wreak havoc with your repair attempts. Once you get that squared away, get cracking on those cracks! Protect the floor with a drop cloth, and have a receptacle handy to catch the refuse. Gear up with goggles and a face mask, because tiny flakes of paint are sure to go flying. Then—using a putty knife, wire brush, or paint scraper—carefully remove all the chipped or peeling paint from the walls and ceiling.

Prep the surface. Using a putty knife, apply quick-setting patching compound in a thin, even layer to fill any cracks or holes. Let dry thoroughly, repeat if necessary, and then allow to dry overnight. Next, sand the area until it’s smooth and blends in with the rest of the wall. Use very fine grit sandpaper or a shop vac with a sander attachment for easy cleanup. Feel with your fingers for any ridges or uneven spots you may have missed. Finally, clean the area with a damp sponge, wipe again with a dry cloth, and let dry completely. (Remember: You don’t want any lingering moisture when you begin to prime and paint.)

Take time to prime. There are excellent paints on the market with built-in primer, but as you’ve already experienced a peeling predicament in the bathroom, go the extra mile and use an oil-based primer with stain-blocking properties to gain an extra edge against humidity. This kind of primer also guards against mildew and water marks.

Repaint the patches. Once the primer is dry, you’re ready to repaint. If you’ve got enough paint left over from the original job, great; if not, see if you can purchase a sample can. Use a bristle or sponge brush (or a roller for large areas), starting inside the patched areas and feathering outward. Err on the side of stingy. You never want to glop paint on, and that’s especially important with a retouch job. Let dry, and wait 24 hours before using the shower in this bathroom.


All You Need to Know About… Painting Appliances

Get a new look for less: Save thousands of dollars by painting—not replacing—your perfectly good (perhaps slightly outdated) appliances.

SHARES
Painting Appliances - Budget Kitchen Update

Photo: homedepot.com

Wishing for a way to refresh a kitchen or laundry room without sinking thousands of dollars into a renovation? If your outdated appliances are still in good working order despite some small signs of a little wear and tear, consider this familiar store-bought solution: paint. Just as a fresh wall color can invigorate any space, so, too, can a brush of bold color or coat of stainless steel completely transform your current refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, or dryer. Painting your appliances can cover up the scratches, update the finish, and even extend their lifespan—all without breaking the bank.

 

Pick the Right Paint

Yes, sprucing up your appliances can cost as little as $20, thanks to the power of paint. Depending on the appliance and its condition, you might need only a small bottle of specialized paint for touch-ups or an entire one-quart can for complete coverage. For long-lasting results and household safety, choose paints appropriate to your project.

• One option—good for unifying the color of your appliances and hiding nicks or discoloration—is to cover with appliance epoxy paint. Application couldn’t be easier for this self-priming paint, with options to either brush or spray, and you’ll find all of your standard appliance colors available.

• For appliances that do tend to heat, like the oven or radiator, you’ll need to purchase a specialty heat-resistant product that is designed to withstand high temperatures.

• You won’t find appliance paint in much more than a standard white, black, or silver, so if a splash of color is the goal, widen your selection to the wall of spray paint for a stand-out appliance in an otherwise ordinary kitchen. Because these aren’t specifically engineered to cover appliances, you’ll want to top with an enamel gloss protective spray. (Alternatively, try a chalkboard paint—black or any other hue you’d like to mix—and start jotting your memos directly on the fridge.)

 

Painting Appliances - How to Paint a Stand Mixer

Photo: dwellbeautiful.com

Before You Start

You’ve carried home your paint cans, but before you begin, remember: Safety first! Start by unplugging the appliance from the wall. Then, spread out a drop cloth and/or plastic sheets  to protect your floors and surroundings.

Remove all hardware (you’ll paint that separately) and give the appliance a thorough cleaning. A little ammonia works wonders to clean off any grease and oil buildup so the paint adheres properly. Just be sure to crack open a window and move some fans into the space for proper ventilation, as those fumes can be caustic. Leave these precautions in place if you plan to spray-paint indoors, or take this time to move the appliance outside before you clean and paint so that you won’t inhale any of the fumes.

Next, rough up the surface of your appliance. While it may seem counter-intuitive to creating a fresh clean look, it helps the paint to bond to what’s likely already a slick, glossy surface. Rub a piece of steel wool in a circular motion across the entire surface of the appliance. High-gloss finishes may require an extra pass with 150-grit sandpaper or sanding block to really scratch up the surface and eliminate the shine. A clean, matte feel is the perfect canvas for a fresh coat of appliance paint. Take a damp cloth and wipe away all of the dust so it won’t interfere with your paint job.

Now, strategically place painter’s tape to cover up logos as well as non-removable knobs and buttons. And speaking of cover-ups, you should mask your face to keep from inhaling fumes. While you’re at it, protect your skin with a long sleeve shirt and pants, especially if you’re using a spray can—this do-it-yourself project gets pretty messy!

 

The Painting Process

Once your appliance is properly prepped, spray, brush, or roll on the product of your choice. If you go with a spray can method, keep the nozzle at a constant level and at an even distance (approximately 12 inches from the surface) for best results. If you’re using a brush or roller, use slow and even strokes to fully coat the entire appliance. If you notice the paint (particularly epoxy) bubble up, no need to panic; in most cases it will even itself out.

Once you’re done with the first application, plan to apply a second or third coat for a smooth, even finish. When spray painting, you’ll most likely need 2 or 3 coats to ensure the surface is evenly covered, and one coat of enamel gloss protective spray if you chose to work with something other than specialty paint. Wait 15 minutes between applications, and when your satisfied with the results, allow your appliance to dry for 24 hours before touching—that includes hauling your masterpiece back inside. Painters who use a brush or roller may only require a second coat to give the appliance a smooth, even finish.

While painting your appliances is not a permanent fix, it does offer you additional time to budget and save for those replacement appliances you’ve been dreaming about all along.


How To: Paint Baseboards

Are your dingy, scuffed, or chipped baseboards getting you down? Perk them right up with a fresh coat of paint. Here's how.

SHARES
How to Paint Baseboards

Photo: fotosearch.com

Of all the many types of molding installed to put the finishing touch on a room, there’s none more common than baseboard. Whether simply or elaborately profiled, baseboards perform two important roles in a room: They create a pleasing visual transition between the walls and floor, and they conceal the often imperfect perimeters of a flooring installation (hardwood boards with uneven edges, for example, or vinyl sheeting that curls up at the end). Although baseboard molding is an essential component of a truly polished look, most people don’t give it a second thought—that is, until the baseboard gets scuffed, or the paint starts to chip or look tired. Fortunately, renewal requires only a fresh paint job, a project that virtually anyone can do, although there are a handful of important considerations to bear in mind. Read on for the step-by-step details.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Semi-gloss paint
- 2-inch angled paintbrush
- Drop cloth (or plastic sheeting)
- Spackle
- Medium-grit sandpaper
- Microfiber cloth
- Painter’s tape
- Paint guard (or large drywall taping knife)

How to Paint Baseboards - Detail View

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Painting a baseboard is a fine illustration of the rule that preparation makes the difference between a subpar job and a satisfying, professional-quality finish. After you’ve protected the floor by laying down a drop cloth or taping down a layer of plastic sheeting, it’s best to begin by inspecting the baseboard molding for any nicks or dings. If you find any, patch those areas with spackle and allow the spackling compound to dry. Next, sand the baseboards, including the areas you repaired, using medium-grit sandpaper. Finally, vacuum the baseboards before wiping them down with a damp cloth. Before proceeding, be sure to wait long enough for the baseboards to dry completely.

STEP 2
Adhere strips of painter’s tape along two seams—where the baseboard molding meets the wall, and where it meets the floor. Do your best to eliminate any space between the painter’s tape and the chosen floor protection, be it a drop cloth or plastic sheet. Now, stir the paint before dipping in your small (approximately two-inch) angled paintbrush. Cover the bristles about two-thirds of the way, then tap or dab the brush against the inside lip of the paint can to clear the excess away, not only from the sides of the brush, but from the tips of its bristles as well. Repeat each time you load the brush in order to ensure the tidy and precise application of paint.

STEP 3
Leading with the short edge of the angled brush, start to apply paint to the baseboards. Work slowly, in one-foot sections, and whenever possible use long strokes in a single direction—don’t brush back and forth over the same area. Are you dealing with an intricate trim profile? Pay special attention to the contours, taking pains to push paint into the recessed portions of the molding. To achieve crisp lines along the edges, you can use a specialty paint guard (or, alternatively, a wide drywall taping knife), which you can hold where the molding meets the wall or floor to prevent any wayward strokes from landing beyond the baseboard itself.

Plan on doing two coats, possibly three. For the smoothest possible finish, sand between coats and clean up any dust or debris created during the sanding process. Also remember that if paint ends up any place you didn’t intend it to go, the wise course is to address the error immediately. Simply wipe up any drips or smudges with a damp cloth before the paint has the opportunity to dry.

In the end, like so many other do-it-yourself home improvement projects, painting baseboards isn’t a complex undertaking. It requires neither great skill nor years of experience, only patience, persistence, and the willingness to stay on task.


Is Milk or Chalk Paint the Right Finish for You?

Learn how two popular paint products can each achieve such a wide range of style—from distressed color washes to bright opaques—and how to choose the right one for your next project.

SHARES
Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint - Choosing a Finish

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s not how you start, but how you finish, as the adage goes. But when it comes to painting, the materials you choose at the start of your project are key in determining the (paint) finish on your home interiorsexteriors, and furnishings. That means you need a clear idea of what you want and how you plan to achieve it before execution. So what is one to do when interested faced with two wildly popular decorative paints that, on the surface, seem rather similar? Such is the case for milk and chalk paint: Their comparable appearance often leads to a muddled understanding of their characteristics, uses, and application techniques—leaving many DIYers with a glazed-over expression about which to use. Brush up on the facts about these two unique products to learn which is best suited for your next paint project.

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint - Milk Paint Finish

Photo: milkpaint.com

BASICS
The confusion between milk and chalk paint can be chalked up to their numerous and beneficial shared traits. Both are fast-drying, environmentally-friendly, easy-to-use paints that can be applied to either indoor or outdoor surfaces to confer a solid or distressed ivory hue—even mixed to produce custom colors.

Milk paint considerably predates its lookalike, all the way back to colonial times due to its easily-sourced, all-natural ingredients. These include limestone, clay, pigment, and the milk protein casein from which the paint derives its name. Most often sold in powder form, milk paint tends to cost less than chalk paint, but it must be manually mixed with water before application, lending it an overall thinner texture.

Chalk paint, on the other hand, is a thicker paint made from calcium carbonate, talc, and pigment. Named after its characteristic chalk-white undertones, this extremely fast-grip paint is familiar in look and feel to matte white acrylic paint. Chalk paint was only developed in the ’90s by renowned industry expert Annie Sloan, and is generally sold today premixed in standard quart cans. No measuring and mixing required at home, but the convenience runs more expensive than milk paint.

USAGE
Both milk and chalk paints stick to myriad surfaces, from wood, masonry, drywall, and plaster to metal and glass—a DIYer’s dream. And with either medium, you can achieve everything from a thinned wash to an opaque coat.

But because milk paint cracks, flakes, and distresses more easily, it is ideally suited for farmhouse-style kitchen cabinets and vintage furniture like antique dressers. As milk paint must be manually mixed and stirred before application, it can lead to a more unpredictable distressed finish—sometimes sloughing off in a fine powder, other times chipping away and lending winsome appeal to period-style pieces.

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint - Chalk Paint Finish

Photo: chalkpaint.com

Chalk paint, on the other hand, has a more easily controlled and consistent matte appearance that is apt for use in reviving outdated furniture, metallic accents like lamps and coat racks, and fabrics. While chalk paint does not self-distress as readily as milk paint, you can sand it manually to achieve a soft, distressed finish.

TIPS
And now for arguably the best news: Neither milk nor chalk paint require either sanding or primer unless the surface in question is uneven or slick, in which case lightly sanding the surface is desirable before painting. You need not shy away from one or the other because of the effort involved.

To create a non-distressed, uniform finish of milk paint, add a bonding agent to the paint for improved surface adherence. Otherwise, skip the bonding and allow the milk paint to self-distress. If spraying on for even easier application, milk paint should first be mixed, stirred, and strained.

Chalk paints generally have such a strong grip that a bonding agent isn’t needed, although it can be added if desired. After preparing the surface and paint, use a brush, roller, or (when thinned) sprayer to apply either paint.

In the end, whether you choose milk or chalk paint to reinvent your furnishings, consider sealing it with wax after 30 minutes of dry time for a winning—and lasting—finish.


5 Paints You Can Make Yourself

There’s no need to shell out the big bucks for your next painting project. Instead, try one of these five recipes to mix up your own paint—and the perfect color—from scratch.

SHARES
Homemade Paint - Five Types of DIY Paint

Photo: fotosearch.com

The next time you’re faced with a painting project, don’t head to the hardware store straight away. Whether you’re coloring a piece of furniture or an exterior wall, there are plenty of homemade options available for you to consider—many of them cheaper than store-bought counterparts and chemical-free. But that’s not all: Mixing up your own homemade paint offers more control over the finish so you end up with one that’s more in tune with your décor needs. Check out five varieties you can craft to brush up your DIY game.

Homemade Paint - DIY Chalk Paint

Photo: etsy.com via brasshipposhop

CHALK PAINT
If you want to achieve an easy-to-distress matte finish and you like the sound of less work—no primer or sanding required before your first coat of paint—check out chalk paint. It’s slight grit and forgiving texture make it a prime candidate for painting wood pieces in a distressed style. To make your own, simply stir up 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris in 1/3 cup of cool water until it’s completely smooth. Then mix that solution with 1 cup of flat latex paint. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t store and reuse chalk paint, so, depending on the project, adjust the amount you mix up accordingly and use it as soon as it’s ready.

 

Homemade Paint - DIY Chalkboard Paint

Photo: Zillow Digs home in New York, NY

CHALKBOARD PAINT
Not to be confused with chalk paint, chalkboard paint turns any old wall into a fun way to jot reminders to self and notes for family or guests—an especially trendy upgrade in the kitchen or entryway. No need to limit yourself to black here! This recipe works for any color of your choosing.

To mix up your own paint, fill a plastic bucket with a ratio of 2 tablespoons non-sanded tile grout to every cup of flat-finish latex or acrylic craft paint, depending on the scope of the project. (You might choose the latex for a wall but mix up a smaller batch with acrylic to paint on smaller housewares like the inside of a medicine cabinet, for example.) Mix thoroughly to remove any and all clumps. Apply with a roller or paint brush in a nice, even coat, then—after it dries—smooth the entire wall with a fine sandpaper and wipe away the dust with a slightly damp cloth.

 

Homemade Paint - Milk Paint Desk

Photo: etsy.com via GreenhillLaneDesigns

MILK PAINT
For painting over furniture with an aged and almost translucent finish, milk paint should be your go-to. The texture tends to be a bit thinner than other paints, which creates a beautiful vintage effect when layered over wood. (To cover non-porous surface like glass, metal, or plastic, mix in a bonding agent.)

Start by squeezing a lemon or lime to get 1/2 cup of juice, and mix that with a quart of skim milk in a pot to curdle overnight. (For larger projects, you can increase the quantity following the same ratio.) The next day, pour the liquid through the sieve lined with cheesecloth in order to fully separate out the curds from the whey. Rinse off the curds in water to keep them moist, toss them into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in dry color pigment, which can be found online or at an art supply store, until you get your desired hue; stir all together. Apply immediately to your wood, leaving it no time to spoil, and paint on an extra coat than you think is necessary—it’s sure to dry lighter than you expect. Don’t worry about any lingering odor while you work: That will go away as soon as the paint dries.

 

Homemade Paint - Flour Paint for Exteriors

Photo: fotosearch.com

FLOUR PAINT
Best for giving a matte finish to exterior walls, this easy-to-make paint is not only cheap—it’s non-toxic. Ready a batch sizable enough for your outdoor project by starting 7 quarts of water over high heat on the stovetop; while waiting for the pot to come to a boil, combine 23 ounces of white flour with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water in a separate bowl. Then pour in each of the next ingredients in the following order, with 15 minutes of stirring and cooking between additions: first the flour-water mixture, then your coloring pigments and 9 ounces of iron sulfate, and lastly 1 quart of linseed oil. Pull the large pot off of your heat and stir in about 3-1/2 ounces of (colorless) dishwashing soap while it cools. When the paint is cool to the touch, you’re good to get to work with the rest of your DIY paint job.

 

Homemade Paint - DIY Fabric Paint

Photo: fotosearch.com

FABRIC PAINT
As you may have experienced with prior house-painting or furniture-painting jobs, regular paint easily adheres to clothing and its hard, impermeable finish withstands many washes. That’s all well and good, but occasionally you may be interested in intentionally adding a paint-on design or coloring over old upholstery without leaving your fabric stiff.

To create your own flexible fabric paint, simply mix the acrylic paint of your choice with an acrylic medium (also found at most craft stores) in equal parts. A medium thins your acrylic so that it goes on your fabric with a softer, more malleable texture. Apply to your heart’s content. Then, 24 hours after it dries, help your design survive future machine washing by heat-setting the fabric paint—swiping a dry iron on medium heat back and forth over the paint for three minutes should do the trick.


How To: Stain Cabinets

If you love everything about your wood cabinets except for their color, forget about spending a small fortune to replace them with a brand-new set. Instead, refinish the boxes, doors, and drawers with a stain that brings out the natural beauty of the material. Here's how.

SHARES
How to Stain Cabinets

Photo: fotosearch.com

Of all the reasons to appreciate solid wood cabinets, there may be none more appealing than their virtually endless changeability. That is, if you ever tire of the cabinets’ appearance, you can always refinish the wood, transforming the overall look of your kitchen or bath in the process. Of course, the size of the project depends on a number of factors. But generally speaking, you don’t need to be an expert to stain cabinets successfully. With only a handful of basic tools and materials—and in many cases, the willingness to make a mess and clean it up—almost anyone can achieve pro-quality results, without having to hire a contractor.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild detergent
- Clean cloths
- Plastic sheeting or drop cloths
- Protective gloves
- Chemical stripper
- Scraper
- Palm sander
- Fine- and medium-grit sandpaper
- Wood conditioner
- Paintbrush
- #000 Steel wool
- Wood stain
- Polyurethane sealer

STEP 1
The process always starts out the same way, even if your cabinets are new and unfinished. Remove the cabinet hardware (including the hinges) and set the doors aside. You can leave the cabinet frames in place, but take special care to protect the rest of the room with drop cloths or plastic sheeting. Once you have prepared the work area, give the cabinets a thorough cleaning. First, rub them down with a clean cloth and mild detergent, then follow up with plain water to eliminate soap residue. Note: There’s one situation when it’s not necessary to spend time cleaning at the outset. That’s if the existing cabinets are painted or stained and, rather than use a chemical stripper, you’d prefer to scrape and sand away the existing finish. Here, you can skip the cleaning and proceed directly to the second step.

How to Stain Cabinets - Brush on Wood

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 2
Unless your cabinets are raw wood, the existing finish must be removed before you can apply the new stain coat. There are two ways to go about it. If you’re only dealing with a few cabinets, it may be simplest to handle the job the old-fashioned way, without resorting to a chemical stripper. But if you’ve got a number of cabinets to refinish, a chemical stripper can save you a great deal of time and energy. Stripping products have improved over the years, but it remains important to pay close attention to any warnings included with your chosen product, be it a liquid or gel. Ventilation is a must, and manufacturers typically also recommended that do-it-yourselfers wear the appropriate protective gear (gloves, at minimum). Also, remember to cover any surfaces you don’t want to strip (painter’s tape is handy for the purpose). Once you’ve properly prepared, apply the stripper according to the included instructions. Normally, stripper takes about a half hour to set in. After that, the finish ought to come off easily with a scraper. But bear in mind that with a stubborn finish, it may be necessary to use multiple applications of stripper.

STEP 3
Once you’ve taken off the old finish, move on to sanding the cabinets with 80- to 120-grit sandpaper. If you have access to a palm sander, capitalize on its ability to make quicker, easier work of what would otherwise be a taxing, time-consuming step. As you would in any other project, sand in the direction of the wood grain until you have the cabinets surfaces are smooth and even. Along the way, you may wish to repair any imperfections (cracks or scratches) that you notice in the wood. Finally, finish up by sanding the cabinets again, this time with 150- to 220-grit paper. Vacuum the sanding dust, and before you continue, wipe down the wood with a moistened cloth to pick up any lingering debris. Let the wood dry.

STEP 4
The staining portion of the project begins, not with stain, but with wood conditioner. Conditioning helps ensure that the stain adheres evenly and looks its best. Much like stain itself, wood conditioner goes on with a paintbrush. If the cabinet and doors feature inset paneling and other details, opt for a small brush capable of reaching all the little nooks and crannies. By the same token, if all the cabinet surfaces are flat, you can safely stick with a wider brush. No matter the style of the cabinets, completely coat their surfaces with a thin layer of the conditioner. Once the cabinets are dry, lightly scuff them with #000 steel wool.

How to Stain Cabinets - Kitchen Full

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 5
Now it’s time to apply the stain. Unlike paint, the appearance of any given stain partly depends on the type of wood to which it’s being applied. For that reason, it may be wise to test your chosen stain somewhere inconspicuous before you apply the product all over. Reserve your judgment until the test stain has dried. Assuming you like what you see, go ahead and apply the stain using either a paintbrush or a clean, soft rag. Work in the direction of the grain and aim, not only for complete coverage, but for a light, even coating. As you go along, you may notice one or another section looking darker than the rest. Don’t worry: You can lighten things up by rubbing off the excess stain with a fresh rag. Once you’ve coated every cabinet surface, wait for the stain to dry. That may take a day or two, depending on the humidity. During that time, be careful not to let dust or dirt land on the cabinets. Once the stain has fully cured, assess whether or not you need a second coat. If you were envisioning a lighter color, you may be able to get away with one coat. Otherwise, expect to apply at least two coats. Between coats, don’t forget to lightly scuff the cabinet surfaces with steel wool. Repeat the process a third time if the stain color still hasn’t darkened enough to match your taste and expectations.

STEP 6
Today, some products combine stain and polyurethane for one-step finishing. If you happen to have used such a stain-sealer hybrid, well, congratulations—you’re finished. If you opted for a traditional stain, you don’t strictly need to seal the cabinets, but considering the inevitable wear and tear, it’s probably a good idea. Polyurethane sealer goes on with a paintbrush, and as is the case for stain, two thin coats are much better than a single thick coat. Before applying the initial coat of sealer, consider that polyurethane tends to accentuate any surface imperfections. If your cabinets aren’t perfectly smooth, you may wish to sand them down again. After sanding, use a moistened cloth to remove all the dust. Once the cabinets are clean and dry, stir the polyurethane and apply it in long, overlapping strokes. So long as you concentrate on keeping the application thin, the sealer isn’t likely to pool or drip. Next, wait for the sealer to cure—and while you’re waiting, take pains not to let any dust or debris settle on the drying cabinets. After the recommended dry time has elapsed, return to the cabinets and, for the smoothest-possible finish, sand the cabinets one more time (or lightly scuff them with steel wool). Remove the sanding dust, and once the cabinets are dry, apply the final sealer coat.

STEP 7
Re-hang the cabinet doors and put the knobs or pulls back in place (or seize the moment and install replacement hardware). Then stand back and relish the upgrade you’ve given to your old cabinets, and how, in turn, their new look has imbued the rest of the room with a new and exciting character.