Category: Painting

Quick Tip: Avoiding Paint Spills and Splatters

Here's a no-mess painting tip to help you minimize accidents during the course of your next painting project.

Make neater work of your next touch-up project. Applying paint from a quart can will get messy, especially if you’re moving around a lot. Put the can in a larger bucket with a handle. Any spills or drips will fall into the bucket, and you’ll be able to set it down anywhere or take it up a ladder without worrying about the mess.

For more on paint, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Timesavers
5 Common Painting Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them
Bob Vila’s Top 12 Painting Tips

How To: Paint Wood Paneling

If your wood-paneled walls seem dark and dated, painting is a great way to brighten them up. Follow these simple steps to achieve a professional-looking, up-to-date finish.

How to Paint Paneling


In a room with wood-paneled walls—particularly if that wood is a veneer—your instinct may be to start fresh, either by tearing out the paneling or by concealing it behind drywall. Both of these options, however, involve avoidable expenses that may be difficult to justify if you are trying to keep costs to a bare minimum. So long as your paneling has stayed in decent condition over the years, perhaps the least expensive way forward is to leave the paneling in place and paint over it.

That may be easier said than done, partly because solid-wood paneling so often has knots, the kind that appear invincible to paint coverage and leave the well-intentioned homeowner feeling a bit trigger-shy. Just as often, there’s a wax or varnish to deal with, and do-it-yourselfers know that sanding can be not only taxing, but really messy. And then there’s veneer wood paneling: Isn’t there something about its hard, almost plastic-like surface that looks like it simply wouldn’t take paint very well?

Related: How To—Paint EVERYTHING

How to Paint Wood Paneling - Roller


The truth is that, regardless of whether yours is solid or veneer, it’s pretty easy to paint wood paneling. If you’ve ever painted a piece of wood furniture, then you’re probably already familiar with the few simple steps that make up the process. Follow these guidelines and you ought to achieve professional-level results.

Start by thoroughly washing the wood-paneled walls with a solution of TSP and water. Next, proceed to lightly sand the walls using a technique aptly known as “scuffing”; the goal here is to create a good mechanical bond between the paneled wall and the initial coat of primer that you will soon be applying.

Today’s primers are so good that you can probably skip the sanding, but I think it’s worth doing. Even though it takes only 20 or 30 minutes, scuffing gives you long-lasting insurance against chipping paint. Just be sure to wear a dust mask and, for health reasons as well as cleanliness, wipe away dust with a damp rag as you go.

Having finished scuffing the full width and height of the paneling to be painted, you can then move on to giving the surface its initial coat of primer. I prefer Zinsser’s (for solid wood, use a water-based product; for veneer, use a shellac-based one). Two primer coats are normally sufficient. Note that while it’s not strictly necessary to do so, you can have the primer tinted to match the shade you eventually plan to paint the wood paneling.

Finish by applying your chosen paint. Lightly sand the surface between coats; expect to do two or three. In order to avoid ending up with the orange peel–like texture that roller-applied paints sometimes produce, opt to use a foam sponge roller cover (inexpensive and easily purchased at your local paint supply store or home improvement center). Keep a paintbrush handy for cutting in at corners and dabbing away drips.

Once you are done, stand back to admire the difference painted wood paneling can make in a room!

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