Category: Painting

How To: Paint Home Exteriors with a Sprayer

Use a paint sprayer on exteriors to make quicker work of a large and otherwise time-consuming project.

Next time you tackle a big exterior paint job, try using a power sprayer. Start at the bottom and work your way up, so you apply paint to the underside of clapboards or shingles. Use even, steady strokes that overlap. And apply a thin coat first as a primer. Allow to dry and apply a final coat the same way, from the bottom to the top. For trim paint, use a brush.

For more on paint, consider:

Choosing a Paint Sprayer
How To: Use a Paint Spray Gun
5 Common Painting Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

How To: Use a Paintbrush Properly

Anyone can paint. But to achieve the best possible results, you must know how to use a paintbrush properly.

Any painter will tell you, good brush technique is key to a neat job. Hold the brush with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Dip about a third of the brush in the paint, getting rid of the excess. Keep the brush perpendicular to the surface, using light strokes to avoid lap marks.

For more on paint, consider:

How To: Clean Paintbrushes
The Perfect Paintbrush—and How to Choose It
Paint Guide: 10 Essentials for Successful House Painting

Paint Your Home the Colors of Downton Abbey

Followers of "Downton Abbey," which began its fourth season yesterday on PBS's "Masterpiece," are as captivated by the historic interiors depicted in the series as they are by the story lines of the characters.

Downton Abbey Paint Colors - Drawing Room

The drawing room from "Downton Abbey" inspired one of the colors in a new Kelly-Moore Paints line. Photo: WGBH

Inspired by Downton Abbey, a new collection from Kelly-Moore Paints will now enable fans to live among the dusty grays and muted pastels they have loved seeing in the hit series. “We were getting inquiries from people trying to locate particular paint colors they’d seen on Downton Abbey,” says Mary Lawlor, manager of color marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints. “That gave us the idea to develop colors inspired by the amazing settings portrayed on the show.”

With a great deal of historical research and some help from Downton devotees on the Kelly-Moore staff, the company has created 19 hues, each one capturing an element of the glamour and grandeur of the show’s backdrop, an enormous and opulent estate in the English countryside. Some colors take their cue from the drawing room, where the aqua-green walls are softened by details of rose, ivory, and gold. Meanwhile, other colors reference the masculine, sophisticated oxblood and carnelian reds of the library. Several of the characters’ bedrooms, not to mention the servants’ kitchen, sparked additional shades.

Related: 12 Must-See Home Improvement Flicks

Downton Abbey Paint Colors - Bedroom

Jitterbug (HLS4211) recalls the ethereal blue of Lady Grantham's bedroom. Photo: WGBH

In the eyes of today’s viewer, the colors in Downton Abbey evoke a bygone era. But in their time, these hues were in fact quite modern. “By the early 1900s, the dark, opulent look of the Victorian interior that had prevailed for decades was beginning to feel oppressive,” says Allison Kyle Leopold, a journalism professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the author of numerous books on historic design. “The new century would be all about lightening up and simplifying, and a cleaner palette of bright colors and pale hues was a big part of that.”

For Mary Lawlor and others responsible for the Kelly-Moore Paints product line, it was no mean feat to develop new colors based on historical examples. The challenge was to come up with solutions that, even as they remained true to the Edwardian Era, also managed to fit seamlessly into 21st-century homes. Well, it may not have been easy, but Kelly-Moore did it.

Take, for instance, Jitterbug (HLS4211). This ethereal blue would look as welcoming in a contemporary bedroom as it does in Lady Grantham’s. Likewise, Rapier Silver (KMW65) calls to mind the utilitarian kitchen on the show, but it echoes the grays that are currently so popular in interior design. “Although these colors are rooted in the past,” Lawlor points out, “they are thoroughly usable in today’s homes.”

On January 5, the fourth season premiers on PBS’s “Masterpiece.” If you haven’t yet watched the show, consider this: The fans of Downton Abbey are so devoted that many are apparently seeking to re-create the look of its interiors in their own homes. So there must be something to this early-20th-century period drama, right?

For more, visit Kelly-Moore Paints, here.

Quick Tip: Low-VOC Paints

In the form of low-VOC paints, manufacturers provide a healthy and eco-friendly alternative to their traditional paint formulas.

Low-VOC paints are a safe and efficient option for your next project. Paints with low VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, have very low levels of toxicity and are odorless and non-flammable. They’re a great choice for indoor projects, especially where ventilation is limited. Best of all, they clean up easily with water.

For more on painting, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Low-VOC Paints
Fresh Coat: 10 All-Natural House Paints
A New Line of No-VOC Paints for Nurseries

Quick Tip: Painting Masonry

Though brick, stone, and concrete require special considerations, even a beginning do-it-yourselfer can paint masonry with ease.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re painting masonry. Like any other surface, masonry needs to be prepared thoroughly before painting. Make sure any loose and flaking paint is removed, then coat with masonry conditioner. After 24 hours, a coat of primer is important before the finish coat to ensure even coverage and a beautiful end result.

For more on painting, consider:

How To: Paint Brick
Quick Tip: Cold Weather Painting
Bob Vila Radio: Painting Masonry

How To: Sponge Paint

Of all the many different faux finishes, easy-to-master sponge painting may offer the path of least resistance to a beautifully texturized wall.

A decorative paint finish is a good way to customize an interior in only a short time. Use a latex glaze mixed to the color of your choice. Dip a natural sponge into the paint mixture and apply firmly to the wall. Drag down the wall, creating the design you want. Always work top to bottom and in one direction. Latex paint will dry within an hour, and you can apply an over-glaze for a beautiful satin finish.

For more on painting, consider:

How To: Rag Paint
DIY Wall Stenciling
10 Reasons to Go Crazy for Chalkboard Paint

How To: Stain Wood Shingle Siding

Staining cedar shingles not only enhances their beauty but also fortifies them against threats posed by the elements.

Here is a helpful tip if you are thinking of staining some cedar shingles. To protect new shingles, apply a penetrating stain. Stain soaks in and protects the wood from the weather, and it won’t crack, peel, or chip. Brush liberally along the bottom edges of each course and then over the face of the shingles with a generous coat of stain. Start at the top courses and work your way down. For an authentic, weathered look, use a transparent stain.

For more on finishes, consider:

Paints and Finishes
How To: Stain Wood Furniture
8 Ways to Age, Distress, and Add Shine to Your Next Project

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.