Category: Painting

Quick Tip: Cold Weather Painting

Painting in cold weather no longer presents a problem, thanks to the common availability of more advanced paint formulas.

Colder weather doesn’t have to be an issue when doing exterior painting. While most conventional paints must be applied above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, cold weather paints are designed to resist moisture, frosting, and blistering in temperatures as low as 35 degrees. They’re safe for most any surface and can be applied with a roller or brush.

For more on painting, consider:

Is Stripping Paint Really Necessary?
How To: Avoid House Painting Problems
The Perfect Paintbrush—and How to Choose It

How To: Rag Paint

Add a texture with warm and lively visual interest to walls and surfaces, using the faux finishing technique known as rag painting.

Here’s a way you can get a designer look for your painted walls. With a roller, apply an oil paint glaze over an already dry base coat. For your glaze, mix two parts oil-based paint with six parts glazing liquid. Lift off the glaze with a rolled-up rag. You can repeat this process with different colors for a layered look.

For more on finishes, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Faux Painting
10 Creative Uses for Chalkboard Paint
8 Ways to Age, Distress, and Add Shine to Your Next Project

How To: Paint Brick

Painting tired or out-of-place brick, whether inside or outside your home, is an inexpensive, fairly quick route to an updated—or just cleaner—look. Before you get started, however, expect to do some prep work.

How to Paint Brick


There are a host of reasons that homeowners choose to paint brick:

• If a brick fireplace is out of sync with the decor of a room, it’s less expensive to paint it than it is to replace the brick with another material.

• A coat of light-color paint can alleviate the feeling of heaviness that a brick wall can impart.

• If a home’s brick exterior needs a makeover, painting it can give the property a fresh look, boosting curb appeal and perhaps even resale value.

Although any DIYer can paint brick, there are certain precautions and procedures to follow to ensure color success.

Before painting brick, always clean it thoroughly so that your application of paint better adheres. Dirt and efflorescence should come off with soapy water and some diligent scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush. Need something stronger? Try trisodium phosphate (TSP): A half-cup mixed into a gallon of water ought to do the trick. (If you happen to own, or are willing to rent, a pressure washer, consider using one, especially if you need to clean a relatively large expanse of brickwork.) Where you encounter mildew, apply a solution of one part bleach to three parts water; after letting it soak for half an hour, proceed to scrub the area with a wire brush. Never use acid cleaning solutions, any of which might compromise your paint job.

If the brick has been installed recently, allow it to dry and acclimate for at least a year before painting it. If the installation has already been in place for years, check the mortar for signs of damage. Repair small cracks with acrylic caulk. With more pronounced issues, repointing the brick may be necessary. Whether or not you make any repairs, remember that brick must be completely dry for the paint to adhere successfully. After cleaning, delay painting for a period of at least 24 hours.

Depending on the area of the surface you wish to paint, use a brush or roller—or a paint sprayer—to apply a coat of latex primer. Put additional coats on those sections that have been affected either by efflorescence or mildew. Whether you add one coat of primer or a few, let the primer dry completely before going any further.

How to Paint Brick - Multicolor Wall


When it comes to paint (as opposed to primer), many favor the use of elastodynamic paint for brick. It features (as the term implies) a high level of elasticity, which makes it excellent for filling cracks as well as preventing them. Plus, elastodynamic paint performs well in all weather—not only precipitation but also high humidity.

If you cannot find or don’t wish to use elastodynamic paint, don’t hesitate to opt instead for regular acrylic latex exterior paint. In fact, for exterior brickwork, acrylic latex may be the superior choice, because it’s designed to stand up against mildew and to quickly evaporate any moisture that it absorbs.

The easiest way to paint brick is with a paint sprayer, but if you are covering only a small area, such as a fireplace, brushes or rollers are sufficient; in fact, for those with no experience operating a sprayer, these low-tech painting tools are recommended. If you plan to use a roller, choose one with a thick nap to ensure best results on brick, which is riddled with nooks and crannies and surface irregularities.

For interior and exterior brick, many experts recommend semi-gloss or gloss paint; either type accentuates detail and, compared with other paints, is easier to clean as time goes by.

So long as the brick is in decent condition, you have another finishing option: stain. Quicker and easier than painting, staining highlights (rather than conceals) brick’s unique texture.

Preparing brick for staining is no different from preparing it for painting. In either case, clean the surface thoroughly, allowing it to dry completely before moving forward. If you do not intend to stain the mortar, then seal it off with painter’s tape. (You can also use this trick if you decide to paint after all.)

With the brush that comes in the staining kit, test the stain on an inconspicuous part of the brick installation. Darken or lighten the tone by adding pigment or water, respectively. Once you have a mixture that imparts a color you like, spread on the stain by moving the brush in a uniform direction. Alternatively, for a more even application, use a clean rag to wipe the stain onto the brick. Spread the stain as thinly possible, wait 24 hours, and then add a second coat. Along the way, remember to wear goggles and gloves.

How To: Stencil a Wall

Stencil a wall, whether at its borders or across the entire surface, for a personalized look in any room.

You can hand-paint your own stenciled border. Use painter’s tape to mark off straight edges; you’ll find the tape prevents under-bleeding. Cut your stencil out of contact paper, then blot it on your t-shirt or sweatshirt. Doing this makes it less sticky, so when you peel it off, you won’t damage the wall paint. Seal first with an acrylic matte medium, let dry, then dab on acrylic paint with a sponge brush. When dry, peel off for a perfect stencil every time.

For more on finishes, consider:

How To: Stencil a Floor
Stenciled Floors: The Best of Today’s Designs
8 Ways to Age, Distress, or Add Shine to Your Next Project

How To: Paint Plywood Floors

For projects where hardwood, tile, carpeting, or other flooring options just won't do, let a few simple coats of paint come to the rescue.

Painted Plywood Floors

Photo: JProvey

For our newly renovated attic, we’d wanted solid wood flooring, but that idea, it turned out, wasn’t practical: The attic floor is out of level—so much so that it’s actually wavy. Back to the drawing board we went. Laminates were out of the running, because we feared ending up with the spongy feel common to many floating floors. Other materials merited consideration, but wall-to-wall carpeting seemed like the answer.

It wasn’t long into our search before we realized that nice carpet costs a lot. In perusing hundreds of samples, we compared weights, studied density, thought about textures, scrutinized colors, examined backings, puzzled over padding, and became really confused by the sheer variety of fiber types out there. Plus, we found it nearly impossible to compare sellers accurately, because different companies have different pricing schemes.

Related: How To: Stencil a Floor

Finally, we opted for a “green” carpet, a product derived largely from recycled plastic bottles. The attic conversion had proved such a long and challenging process that we were comforted by the knowledge that installing the carpet would be quick and painless. But then we got the estimate: $2,000! That’s when we ditched the idea of wall-to-wall carpeting and headed over to the paint department of the home center.

We decided to prime and paint the plywood floor, strategically placing area rugs to cozy things up. The total cost? About $250—50¢ per square foot—and that includes paintbrushes and rollers, wood putty, and other small items. Note that our project started out with good-quality plywood, but if yours is in bad shape, add a new layer of 3/8-inch A-C plywood. For a space likely to witness a lot of wear, choose hardwood plywood.

- Palm sander and 120-grit disks
- Wet/dry vac
- Putty knife and patching compound
- 12-inch roller frame and at least two roller covers
- Extension pole
- 3-inch paintbrush
- Primer
- Porch and floor enamel


Painted Plywood Floors - Patching

Photo: JProvey

First, make sure the plywood flooring is firmly attached to the joists below. Then fill all the nail holes and joints in the surface with patching compound. At this point, it’s smart to ensure that the space in which you are working has adequate ventilation (in other words, set up a fan in the window).


Painted Plywood Floors - Sanding

Photo: JProvey

Sand the plywood to whatever smoothness you want. For a larger area, we might have gone through the trouble of renting a floor sander, but here it took about as much time and was cheaper to use a random-orbit sander, fitted with 120-grit disks. Complement the palm sander with a wet/dry vac in order to minimize dust. For a low-mess job, run the vacuum intermittently as you finish sanding sections of the floor surface.


Painted Plywood Floors - Priming

Photo: JProvey

With a paint roller attached to an extension pole, apply two coats of primer to the plywood floor. Everyone has his own favorite primer; mine is pigmented shellac, because it dries quickly and provides a good base for the top coat. Depending on the size or layout of the room in which you are working, it may be more convenient—or in some cases, strictly necessary—to prime the floor one section at a time.


Painted Plywood Floors - Save Cleaning Time

Photo: JProvey

We coated our plywood floor in enamel paint, which comes only in a satin finish. If you want a semi-gloss or glossy look, you can use that type of paint, but you must protect it with a layer of water-based polyurethane. When it comes to applying your coats, a 12-inch roller speeds the job, while a 3-inch brush is good for cutting in at corners. If you pause during the process, wrap your painting tools in plastic to save on cleaning time.


Painted Plywood Floors - Completed

Photo: JProvey

Apply the paint as evenly as possible, as if you were doing a wall, allowing each coat to dry completely before continuing. Finish off sections with smoothing strokes, rolled in the same direction, before the paint dries (the roller should be moist but not loaded with paint). Allow the paint to cure for several days before moving in furniture, but in most climates you can walk on your new floor, in socks, within a few hours.

Quick Tip: Applying Primer

For best results when adding color to a surface indoors or out, applying paint primer is an essential first step.

To get the best color performance from your paint, use a tinted primer first. Usually available in three shades, gray-tinted primer produces deeper results than either white primer or primer that has been tinted to the base color. It’s great under bright colors, because it insures coverage and improves “hide” with fewer coats.

For more on painting, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Paint Primer
Bob Vila’s Top 12 Painting Tips

Quick Tip: Prepping Wood for Paint

Best results are typically achieved by those do-it-yourselfers who take the time to prepare wood for painting properly.

Here are some steps to follow when preparing new wood for painting. First, countersink any finish nails. Then fill any nail holes and imperfections with a fast-drying wood filler. Caulk all the cracks and seams, smoothing out the caulk with your fingers. Sand smooth with fine sandpaper and seal any knots with a clear shellac (to prevent resins from bleeding through your finish paint). Now you are ready to prime and apply your finish coat.

For more on painting, consider:

Exterior Paint 101
Bob Vila Radio: Interior Paint Prep
Paint Makeovers: An Expert Tells All

How To: Paint Brick

Painting brick involves a special approach that differs slightly from that used to coat drywall or wood.

Painting bricks requires some special considerations. Wet down the surface first to ensure better paint adhesion. Use a latex-based masonry paint and apply with a very thick-nap roller. Apply the paint generously allowing the excess to fill all the nooks and crannies found in most masonry surfaces. Overlap your strokes to ensure complete coverage.

For more on painting, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Masonry
The Perfect Paintbrush—and How to Choose It

Bob Vila Radio: Spray Painting

Working on a small project in need of some color? Spray painting can help you finish the job.

You don’t have to invest in a power sprayer to try your hand at spray painting—start with a spray can and a small project to perfect your technique. You’ll need some space to work, preferably outdoors where you don’t have to worry about fumes. If you must work inside, be sure to open lots of windows.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SPRAY PAINTING or read the text below:

Spray Painting


Spray painting creates what’s called overspray—that’s the paint that comes out of the can but doesn’t reach the object you’re painting, but rather lands on the area right around it. That means you’ll need a large drop cloth to protect the surrounding area. If you’re painting a small object, you can place it inside a cardboard box to contain the overspray.

The key to good results is to spray lightly and evenly back and forth across the surface in a thin coat. Cover the entire object without leaving a seam that will show later. Multiple thin coats will get you a better finished product than you’ll get by spraying too much at once—that’s what causes unsightly runs and drips. It may take a bit of practice, but it’s worth taking a little time to develop your technique.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

How To: Work with Chemical Paint Stripper

When other methods fail, you can use paint stripper to chemically remove an old or unwanted finish.

Where stripping paint is concerned, there’s just no easy way out. Here are some tips. Cover the floor under your work. Wear gloves and eye protection. Use disposable brushes and don’t even try to clean them. Be good and generous with solvent. Scrape first with a putty knife, then follow up with superfine steel wool. And always work in a well-ventilated area.

For more on paint, consider:

Quick Tip: Stripping Paint
Bob Vila Radio: Paint Stripping Tips
Stripping Paint to Reveal Original Detail (VIDEO)