Painting - 2/19 - Bob Vila

Category: Painting

How To: Whitewash Brick

Lighten and brighten surfaces in your living spaces with this easy-to-master painting technique that mutes the dark tones of red brick walls or fireplaces.

How to Whitewash Brick


Seems like just yesterday that the red brick in your family room looked perfect, but tastes change with time. Now you think it’s a little too dark and a little too red for the space. Your gut tells you it’s time for a change, but you’re intimidated by the thought of demolition and renovation. Rather than reach for the sledgehammer, grab a rag and a brush instead, and give your room a bright new look by following these instructions for whitewashing brick. While painting over brick with 100 percent latex paint will give the brick a solid, opaque color, whitewashing mutes the brick’s natural color with a translucent finish. The technique preserves the bricks’ natural, random variations, depending on how much paint is applied and how each individual brick absorbs it.

Start with a fireplace or an interior brick wall that needs updating. Once you get the hang of it, there is no limit to the brick you can tackle, indoors or out.

– Grease-cutting dish soap
– Salt
– Cotton rags
– Scrub brush
– Boric acid powder
– Gallon bucket
– Rubber gloves
– Ammonia
– Pumice powder
– Trisodium phosphate
– Protective eyewear
– Drop cloths
– Garbage bags
– Face mask
– Putty knife, wire brush, or paint scraper
– Painter’s tape
– Kraft paper
– White latex paint
– 5-gallon bucket
– Paintbrush
– Paint grate
– Paper towels
– Spray bottle
– Sash brush

How to Whitewash Brick with Paint


Whitewashing over dirty brick will not achieve the desired effect, so cleaning your brick and grout is the first order of business—and possibly the most intricate. Though brick is hardly a delicate-looking material, it can be easily damaged by harsh cleaning. Try the mildest method of cleaning first, and graduate step by step to more aggressive approaches until you find one that adequately addresses the dirt and soot.

Below, listed from mildest to harshest, are several cleaning options to consider. Whichever you use, apply the cleaning solution according to the instructions and then rinse it off with a clean rag dipped in warm water.

Dish soap: Mix one part mild grease-cutting dish soap and one part salt with just enough water to make a loose paste. Apply to the brick with a clean rag and, using a scrub brush, work the paste into the surface. Let sit for 10 minutes before you rinse.

Boric acid: Add about one tablespoon of boric acid powder to one gallon of warm water. Wearing rubber gloves, dip the scrub brush into the solution and scrub the surface of the brick.

Ammonia: Create a loose paste with one part ammonia, two parts mild grease-cutting dish soap, and one part pumice powder—which can be found in either beauty supply or arts-and-crafts stores. Wearing rubber gloves, use a clean rag to spread the mixture on the brick. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing.

Trisodium phosphate: Wearing gloves and protective eyewear, mix about ½ cup trisodium phosphate (TSP) into a gallon of hot water. Dip your scrub brush in the solution and scrub the brick. If stains remain after rinsing, you can scrub again, increasing the TSP to one cup per gallon of hot water. Exercise extreme caution as this is a very strong, abrasive solution.

STEP 2 (optional)
If your brick has ever been painted, there may still be chipping, flaking, or blistering paint left over on the brick that could cause your whitewashing to crackle. Now is the time to repair any damaged areas. If you suspect that the paint has been there for decades, it is possible that you are dealing with toxic lead paint, which needs to be removed by a professional. If, however,  you’re sure that’s not the case, move on to protecting the floor with a drop cloth—and yourself with goggles and a face mask—then prep a garbage bag to receive the old, dried paint you’re about to strip. Using a putty knife, wire brush, or paint scraper, carefully remove all the chipped or peeling paint from the brick.

Tape and cover the surrounding areas so you don’t get paint on anything but the brick surface you intend to whitewash. For brick walls, that would include adjacent drywall and floors. If you’re lightening brick around a fireplace, protect the mantel, floor, and other furnishings by taping kraft paper around the mantel’s edges. Also tape around and over the firebox or fireplace insert, and lay drop cloths over the flooring. If you have fireplace doors, tape them shut. Whitewashing bricks inside the fireplace itself is not recommended.

The importance of painter’s tape to this project cannot be overstated. Whitewashing may be easy, but nobody ever said it wasn’t going to be messy!

Prepare your whitewash: a 50/50 solution of water to white latex paint, stirred to an even consistency. If you find as you are working that you want the brick to be less white, add more water to further dilute the white paint. Conversely, if you want a whiter look, try a higher paint-to-water ratio. Take a moment to test a small, inconspicuous area with whitewash of several different paint-to-water ratios until you get the desired effect. (It might be a good idea to let the test area dry before you continue, so you’ll know what the dried whitewash will really look like.)

It’s time to whiten, brighten, and lighten! Techniques for whitewashing brick vary greatly, but these two tried-and-true methods work for even beginner DIYers:

• Dip a brush into the thinned paint, and remove excess paint on a grate before applying so you don’t end up with a wall covered in drips. Begin to whitewash the brick in small sections, starting with the grout lines and then working your way to the faces of the bricks. Keep to one manageable two-foot-square patch at a time, because you’ll want to be able to quickly blot the bricks with a wadded-up paper towel so the surface looks washed, not painted. (Blotting or dabbing the paint instead of simply wiping creates a more natural texture.) Continue working in small sections until whitewashing is complete.

• Fill a spray bottle with water and, without leaving drips, lightly mist the brick area to be whitewashed. While the bricks are moist, lightly load a wadded cotton cloth with thinned paint and wipe it on the damp surface. If the mortar is deeply recessed from the brick, load a sash brush with a small amount of thinned paint and use a dry-brushing technique to reach both the mortar and the edges and ends of the bricks. After you’ve whitewashed all the bricks that can be painted with a rag, use a dry brush to fill in hard-to reach places. If a spot has too much color, mist it thoroughly and blot up the moisture along with some of the paint.

No matter which method you choose to whitewash brick, keep in mind that brick is a very porous material that will soak up the wash. It’s possible that after the first coat the paint will appear more opaque than you would like. Don’t be concerned about this. Over the next few hours, the bricks will absorb the paint and begin to show through.

Let your handiwork dry overnight, then return to bask in your whiter, brighter living space the next day. Any lingering paint smell from your diluted whitewash solution can be erased with this unexpected grocery item.

Solved! Here’s How Long Paint Actually Lasts

We all have at least one old gallon of paint in the garage. But should you hold onto a can that's only half-full? And will it spoil if you leave it in storage? Here's how to know if you should crack open that can or if you'll have to make another trip to the store.



Q:  We stored some leftover paint from our living room remodel a few years ago, and now our toddler has decided to use one of our living room walls to showcase his art skills in permanent marker. We’d like to roll a fresh coat over that wall, but is that old paint still good? How long does paint last?

A: It might be OK. There’s not quite a hard-and-fast rule for how long paint actually lasts, but you can figure out if it’s time to throw it away based on a few important clues. Depending on whether or not the can was opened, where you stored it, and what kind of paint it is, you may still be able to use it.



If it’s unopened, it’s probably still usable. Unopened cans of paint last for years when stored correctly. Unused latex and water-based acrylic paints last up to 10 years, and the shelf life of alkyd and oil-based can be as long as 15 years. Since unopened paint hasn’t spent much time exposed to air, it still has the same ratio of liquids and semi-solids, although the ingredients have probably separated over time. But if you stored the can in the garage or shed where it froze or was exposed to extreme heat, even fully sealed contents could be ruined.

Test it to make sure. Pry open the can and blend the contents thoroughly with a paint stirrer. This can take five minutes or more, so don’t rush it. Dip a brush in the paint and brush it onto a piece of cardboard. If the paint goes on smooth, you’re in luck! Go ahead and roll that wall. If it contains grainy lumps that you can’t stir out, exposure to extreme temperatures have probably changed the paint’s chemical makeup beyond salvaging.

Even if it’s opened, there’s still hope. Because opened cans of paint are exposed to air, they often develop a thickened skin on the top that should be removed with a paint stick before attempting to stir the paint left in the can. If the remaining paint blends smoothly, it’s good to use in your next paint job.

Look for lumps. Like unopened cans of paint, opened cans can also suffer from exposure to temperature extremes. The difference? Lumps in a partially used can don’t always mean that the paint is unusable. A few in a gallon that’s otherwise smooth may indicae that some of the thickened skin on the paint was stirred into the good paint underneath. Before using the paint, pour it through a paint strainer (available at paint stores for a couple of bucks) to remove the lumps and proceed as planned.

Take a whiff. A foul or rancid smell, or the presence of mold in the can, means bacteria has contaminated the paint—it’s time to throw it away. Dispose of spoiled paint in accordance with your local toxic waste disposal ordinances.

Store paint the right way to extend its shelf life. Paint is expensive, and it can be tough to match custom colors years later. Whether you want to save a partial can of paint for touchups or you ordered too much and have a few untouched gallons on your hands, you’ll get the best shelf life possible if you store paint indoors, preferably away from extreme temperatures and sunlight. To store a half-empty can and make the paint last, place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and then use a tap the lid back into place with a hammer. While you’re at it, mark the date and color name in marker on the side for easy future reference.

How To: Paint a Popcorn Ceiling

Give that tired textured surface a fresh new coat with these steps.

How to Paint Popcorn Ceiling


The popcorn effect—so called for its resemblance to America’s favorite fluffy snack—is the result of loose particulate materials mixed into paint and applied to a surface, usually with a sprayer. A common treatment for ceilings from the 1950s through the 1980s that offered a bit of noise reduction, popcorn ceilings lost appeal in the late 20th century, largely because the aggregates used often contained asbestos, now banned as a carcinogen. Plus, the texture proved to be a formidable dust catcher, difficult to clean and repair.

Since removing a popcorn ceiling is messy at best, and a costly headache if asbestos is indeed involved, you may have decided to live with one in your home. But rather than grin and bear it, why not paint it? A fresh coat will instantly lend a lighter, brighter look sure to open up the room. Though not an especially challenging project for the DIYer, painting a popcorn texture properly requires certain tools and techniques. Read on for details, and you just might learn how to paint popcorn ceiling into good favor once again!

– Ladder
– Painter’s tape
– Plastic sheeting
– Drop cloths
– Dust mask
– Protective eyewear
– Flathead screwdriver
– Feather or microfiber duster
– Vacuum with dusting brush attachment (optional)
– Paint
– Angled paintbrush
– 5-gallon bucket with screen
– Long napped roller cover (3/4-inch nap)
– Paint roller with extension handle

Prep your room carefully, since the texture of a popcorn ceiling is bound to cause a good deal of splatter when you roll on paint. Tape plastic sheeting around the walls and cover the floors with drop cloths. Also cover and mask any ceiling fixtures with plastic and painter’s tape.

How to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling


Prep the ceiling edges to ensure you’ll be able to achieve a neat edge where the ceiling meets the wall. Don your dust mask and protective eyewear and, using a flathead screwdriver, gently scrape about 1/4 inch of the popcorn surface off the ceiling all along the edges.

If your house was built before 1977 (the year asbestos was banned from textured ceilings), get the ceiling tested first to ensure it’s safe to work on. If it contains asbestos or lead, you’re better off leaving it alone, or having professionals handle the work.

Use a feather or microfiber duster—or your vacuum with the soft bristled dusting brush attachment—to banish dust from all nooks and crannies so that it doesn’t speckle the paint you apply to the popcorn ceiling.

Pull out the paint! Popcorn and other textured surfaces require more paint to achieve full coverage, so plan to use twice as much of the supply as you would on a flat ceiling.

Cut in around the ceiling edge with an angled brush. Load the brush with plenty of paint but apply with a light touch. Once the textured aggregate gets wet, it tends to peel off, so don’t overwork any area; just gently apply paint and move on. Plan to do a second coat if you don’t get full coverage in one pass of painting a popcorn ceiling.

Since you won’t want to be bending to refill your roller more than necessary to paint popcorn ceiling, use a long napped roller cover to load on plenty of paint in one swoop. And, rather than a roller pan, get the sort of 5-gallon bucket with a screen or grid—that’s what pros rely on to ensure the roller is sufficiently loaded with paint. Load the roller fully, and apply to the ceiling in one direction only. Make just one pass.

Allow the first coat adequate time to dry per the manufacturer’s recommendation, and then roll a second coat, again in one pass only but in a direction perpendicular to the first coat. These two coats will give you the most even uniform coverage across the whole ceiling—minimum overhead for maximum color refresh.

How To: Spray Paint Metal

Spray your way to a whole new look with the right paint and these tips.

How to Spray Paint Metal


Metal furniture and ornaments are popular because they’re durable, but the longer a piece lasts, the older its look can become. Fortunately, everything from chairs and lamps to shelving and hardware can be spruced up with a fresh coat of spray paint. Generally speaking, the best spray paint for metal is hard-wearing enamel. Its oil base makes it somewhat slow to dry, but it stands up to cleaning and use well; many enamel paints are rustproof, too. Read the label or ask your retailer if suitable for your project. Then stock up: The average 12-ounce can should yield 8 to 10 square feet coverage, but if your retailer has a good return policy, consider buying more than you think you need. It’s easy to underestimate, and you don’t want to run out in the middle of a project.

– Medium- and fine-grit sandpaper or steel-bristle brush
– Cloths
– Drop cloths
– Masking tape
– Mask
– Goggles
– Rubber gloves
– Paint thinner
– Primer (optional)
– Spray paint

Step 1
Proper surface prep is essential for spray paint adhesion, so sand or brush off all loose paint and rust spots. Because shiny objects seldom allow paint to bond well, use the metal brush and sandpaper to lightly scour and dull the surface till it looks lightly scratched, almost like brushed nickel. A very lightly scoured surface will help paint bond; don’t be overly zealous or you’ll get gouges or scratches.

How to Spray Paint Metal


Step 2
Wipe thoroughly with clean, dry cloth to remove any dust, dirt, and debris. You may need a water-dampened rag to remove stubborn crud, but ensure metal is 100 percent dry before painting.

Step 3
Prepare your work location, which ideally will be outdoors and protected from wind. Not only can wind blow leaves and pollen onto your project, it can literally push your paint around, causing uneven results. If working indoors, ventilate the area well, opening doors and windows. Move all furniture from the area or cover with drop cloths, and also protect floors with drop cloths or newspaper for as much as 10 feet around your work zone for large projects. Using masking tape, tape off areas of your piece that you want to keep unpainted.

Step 4
Get your mask, gloves, and goggles on and test your spray paint to ensure it provides a thin, fine mist. Shake the can vigorously for 45 to 60 seconds and spray onto a cardboard box or the bottom of your project. If you see spitting or uneven spray on a new can, return it for a replacement. Spitting can mean a malfunctioning nozzle, but it also might be a bit clogged; if dealing with a can of paint you’ve had for a while, try cleaning the nozzle with warm water. If that doesn’t resolve matters, dab lacquer or paint thinner onto the nozzle with a rag, then wipe it off and test it again.

Step 5
If your paint doesn’t include primer, follow the painting techniques in Step 6 with a paint primer and allow it to dry thoroughly before repeating Step 6 for your first color coat.

Step 6
These techniques will ensure smooth, even results. Repeat with as many as three applications, working in light, even coats.

  • Always begin and end spraying off your project, by simply spritzing the air beside it, to ensure that once paint hits the target, you’re shooting a steady, even, misting spray.
  • Holding the can a foot from the painting surface, aim the light, fine mist on the object and sweep side to side or up and down to coat the width or length of your project. Each time you complete a single pass or row, stop spraying and give your can a quick shake for 5 to 10 seconds, then start spraying off the item before you do another pass. For every new spray, overlap with the last row of paint. Briefly shake the can regularly throughout the process.
  • If painting larger items, like bookshelves or an iron fence, step along sideways toward the direction of your spray. If you only move your arm, you may not maintain the same density of spray.
  • Pausing even briefly, or hovering, while spraying can create drips or spots. If this happens, remove all excess wet paint with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth. If you don’t notice these drips until after the drying process, sand them down with a fine-grit paper and dry-wipe the dust off.

Step 7
If you get paint on anything accidentally, use the label-recommended paint thinner or cleaning agent and a rag to clean up as soon as possible, before paint dries or cures. Then allow your project to dry thoroughly. Drying time varies by paint type, coat thickness, and even weather and humidity—it could take anywhere from three hours to overnight. Just be sure to wait 24 hours before using spray-painted items.

How to Spray Paint Metal




All of the Expert Painting Advice from
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Crackle Paint

Transform drab wood furniture with this authentic-looking “antique” finish.

How to Crackle Paint


A coat of latex paint will add color to plain wood furniture—but not much else. To really beat the blahs, consider treating tables, chairs, picture frames, or other decorative items to a crackle finish, a mottled veneer that gives off a vintage vibe. Produced by manipulating two different shades of paint, it’s an easy and elegant effect to achieve with the right tools and techniques. And though the process of crackling paint can be relatively quick, its artful results will leave people thinking that the aged patina took decades to develop!

– Sandpaper (various grits from 80 to 150)
– Orbital sander (optional)
– Clean cloth
– Paintbrushes
– Primer
– Latex paint (two shades: one gloss, one flat)
– Paint roller (optional)
– Painter’s tape
– Sponge
– Crackle medium or school glue
– Hair dryer (optional)
– Clear, water-based polyurethane sealant

In order to remove aberrations and prep the surface for paint, it’s crucial to sand wood that you intend to crackle. Starting with unfinished furniture? A light sanding with 150-grit or finer sandpaper is all it takes to smooth it. If there’s already stain or lacquer on the piece, remove the color and sheen with an orbital sander and 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the sanding dust with a damp cloth.

How to Crackle Paint


Apply a thin, even coat of primer to the dry piece; use a paintbrush for smaller pieces and spray primer for larger surface areas. Let dry according to manufacturer’s instructions.

You can use latex paint of any level of gloss for the base coat color, but a semi-gloss or satin is ideal so that the cracks of color shimmer in the light. Moving in the direction of the grain, brush paint over the surfaces and joints of the piece and then allow the base coat to dry overnight.

The crackle medium can take one of two forms, each with a different application technique:

• For a goof-proof finish, choose commercial crackle medium sold at craft stores. Tape off any surface areas you don’t want to crackle paint. Then, apply a thick layer of the milk-white substance over the painted piece, using a sponge to create small cracks, or a clean paintbrush or roller for larger cracks. The crackle medium rolls on clear, so work from the top down or bottom up so you’ll know which surfaces you have yet to cover. Let dry for at least one but no more than four hours.

• For a less expensive—but equally effective—old finish, enlist the aid of a school glue like Elmer’s when practicing how to crackle paint. Keeping the piece level with the floor, brush a thin layer of glue over it to create hairline cracks, or a thicker layer for larger cracks. Proceed to Step 5 while the glue is still tacky. If you’re crackle-painting a small project, you can coat the entire piece in glue before applying the top coat; larger pieces will require you apply glue to one surface at a time so the glue doesn’t cure before it is crackled.

Using a clean paintbrush, apply a top coat of flat latex paint in a different color over the dried crackle medium or tacky glue until the piece is fully coated. Choose a shade of paint that contrasts with the base coat color.

• The top coat will shrink, crack, and reveal slivers of the base coat almost instantly after the paint is exposed to the crackle medium. Avoid retouching painted areas so as not to wipe out the cracks. Let the crackle finish air-dry overnight.

• If you’re using school glue, cure the top coat and glue with a hairdryer on the hot setting. Hold the dryer two to three inches from the surface and blast in one area until the degree of “crackliness” suits your style, then move on to another spot. Continue until the entire piece is crackled and the glue is fully cured.

Apply a clear coat to furniture pieces that will get a lot of use to protect the finish and make it last, or let the crackle finish go without sealant to play up its distressed glamour.

After practicing on a single decor accent, you might find you’re ready to put those newfound skills to use giving a new-old finish to more forgotten furniture throughout the house!

How to Crackle Paint



All of the Expert Painting Advice from
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Remove Paint from Clothes

Found a splotch on a favorite garment? Never fear! Here are the right removal methods, no matter whether the accident was oil-, acrylic- or water-based.

How to Get Paint Off Clothes


It’s bound to happen. You’re just going to do a bit of touch-up or you accidentally brush up against a still-wet project. Next thing you know, there’s paint on your clothes. Don’t panic! First, find out if the offender is latex, acrylic, or oil. To test, apply rubbing alcohol to a clean white rag and dab the stain: If paint appears on the rag, it’s latex; if not, you’ll need help from paint removal agents. While delicate fabrics like silk don’t always fare well in the paint removal process, denim and other cottons often turn out as good as new. So try these treatments, and you might be able to wear that paint-besmirched shirt on your next night out of the house!

– Clean rags
– Spoon
– Butter knife
– Paper towels
– Liquid dish detergent
– Liquid laundry detergent
– Clean sponge or white cloth rags
– Packing or duct tape
– Rubbing alcohol
– Nail polish remover
– Toothbrush
– Turpentine or paint thinner
– Disposable plastic container
– Cotton balls

Removing Latex Paint from Clothes

Follow these tips for water based-paint, whether wet or dried.

How to Get Paint Off Clothes


Step 1: Act fast if paint is still wet! Place a pad of clean rags or paper towels directly under the paint to keep it from transferring to another area of the garment. Then, scoop off wet paint with a spoon or butter knife, rinse under warm running water, and blot carefully with a clean, dry rag or paper towels. (If you can’t peel your clothes off just then, get rid of the excess as best as you can and wet the area with water until you can take off the garment.) Turn inside out and run warm water through from the back.

Step 2: Liquid dish detergent is great against paint, as long as the garment is color-safe. (Test an inconspicuous area like an inseam by rubbing in detergent and rinsing it. If the item isn’t color safe, use liquid laundry detergent.) Apply detergent directly to the stain and work up a lather with a clean sponge or cloth. Work on the area with clean sections of cloth, and move the padding underneath occasionally as well.

Blot to check your progress, and repeat as needed. Then launder as usual. If the paint had dried and remains steadfast despite your efforts with detergent, allow the fabric to dry and proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Again, gently scrape off the now-dried excess with a butter knife. Or firmly press a piece of packing or duct tape onto the paint, then lift it off, repeating until no more comes off.

If the paint residue remains on color-fast fabric (see Step 2), you have one more option: Apply a small amount of rubbing or denatured alcohol (or as a last resort, nail polish remover) to the stain, and work at it with an old toothbrush. Blot with water and repeat as required, then launder as usual.


How to Wash Paint Off Clothes



Removing Oil and Acrylic Paint

You’ll be working with chemicals, so be sure to do so in a well-ventilated spot.

Step 1: Scoop off excess wet paint with a spoon or butter knife. If the paint has dried, use the butter knife to scrape off as much as you can. Turn the garment inside out and place a pad of cloth or paper towels under the stained area to aid in blotting.

Step 2: Pour a paint removal agent such as a paint thinner or turpentine into a small plastic container—ideally something disposable, like a yogurt tub, for easy cleanup. Soak cotton balls or a clean rag in the paint remover and dab at the stain. Switch out for fresh cotton balls or an unused section of the rag as they pick up paint, moving the pad underneath occasionally, too, for a clean blotting surface.

For a truly stubborn stain, pour a bit of removal agent directly on it and scrub gently with a toothbrush, front and back, to free the fibers of paint.

Step 3: By now, the garment should be practically stain-free. Place a fresh dry cloth or paper towel pad behind the area and blot to absorb the removal agent.

Step 4: Heeding the label’s recommended laundry detergent, apply a bit of detergent directly to the area and lightly rub it in as a final spot treatment. Wash and dry as usual, and wear the garment proudly. Whether or not you chose to disclose its former paint stain is up to you!


Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.

The Dos and Don’ts of Spray Painting

Grab a can and shake up your decor with these practical tips.

Spray Painting Tips


When you need a quick, cool upgrade that doesn’t cost a bundle, spray paint is hard to beat. A host of exciting new hues and finishes have taken spray paint to the next level, and you can use it on all sorts of surfaces, from concrete blocks and stepping stones to wood, plastic, or metal furniture. But getting pro-quality results does take a bit of skill, so read on before you spray away!

DO Choose the Right Location

As with any painting project, you’ll need to work in a well-ventilated spot. If the weather is pleasant, you can take it outside, but beware of breezes. Wind can mess with your ability to get good coverage, and it can blow dirt onto your piece, which will be difficult to remove and will mar the finish. If working indoors, open all windows for cross ventilation, or consider painting in the garage, near the open door.


Spray Painting - 7 Do's and Dont's - Bob Vila


DON’T Slack on Prep Work

Prep is key to any successful paint job. So, depending on the material you’re painting, do what’s necessary to mend any scratches or holes, then sand to smooth out rough spots. Wash your piece with mild detergent solution, rinse with water, and allow it to dry thoroughly.


DO Practice Protection

There will be overspray, so cover the surrounding area with drop cloths or newspaper. If you’re working on something small, contain overspray by setting the piece inside a cardboard box. Perhaps more crucial is protecting yourself. Aerosol paint can get into eyes and lungs, so wear goggles and a dust mask or respirator. Gloves are a good idea, too, and remember that overspray on the floor can stick to the bottom of your shoes—remove footwear and check your soles before leaving the area to avoid tracking paint.


DON’T Rush It

For optimal, even coverage, apply spray paint in several thin coats. Don’t worry if you can see through the first or even the second coat. Patience is a virtue here.


DO Use a Sweeping Motion

Waving the can randomly will result in uneven results. Instead, hold the can six to eight inches from the surface and use even, horizontal strokes, sweeping from left to right, then right to left. Be careful not to hesitate in any one spot or you’ll get drips.


DON’T Have a Heavy Trigger Finger

To avoid glops and spots—and to conserve paint—spray in short spurts rather than a constant stream. Listen for brief bursts of air coming from the can, as opposed to a long, steady hiss.


DO Allow the Paint to Cure Completely

Spray paint does dry quickly, but it usually requires at least 24 hours to cure completely. Resist the urge to move your piece or replace any hardware you’ve removed until you’ve reached the curing time indicated on the can. A scratch or fingerprint late in the game will be difficult to fix.


All of the Expert Painting Advice from
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Paint Stucco

When your rough-textured walls fade or get dirty, treat them to a DIY redo.

How to Paint Stucco - On a House Exterior


Stucco is a particularly popular exterior finish for homes in the Southwest, but it can also be found texturing interior walls all over the country. Created by layering a cement-and-plaster compound with a variety of plastering tools, its rough appearance is both visually appealing and rather low-maintenance—a favorable combination for homeowners. When stucco appears dingy, it needs little more than a hosing off with warm, soapy water. A new coat of paint can offer an even greater refresh, though, and it’s one project most homeowners can tackle with confidence, provided that the surface is in otherwise good condition (no chips or cracks). To achieve a finished job that looks like it was done by a pro, follow these guidelines for how to paint stucco.

– Drop cloths
– Masking or painter’s tape
– Stiff brush
– Vacuum with dust attachment
– Degreaser or mildew cleaner (optional)
– Power washer (optional, for exteriors)
– Masonry caulk
– Caulk gun
– Putty knife
– Stucco patching compound
– Synthetic paintbrush
– Large napped paint roller
– Primer (exterior masonry or acrylic interior)
– Acrylic paint (exterior or interior, based on location)

How to Paint Stucco - Gray Stucco


Prepare the surrounding area. Put drop cloths on the floor and furniture that can’t be moved, and tape trim.

Clean stucco surfaces of dirt and dust. For most exterior stucco, this simply requires a thorough going over with a stiff brush or push broom. Interior walls may be more easily vacuumed using a dusting attachment. If your walls have grease or grime or mildew build-up, apply an appropriate cleaner, following manufacturer’s directions. Deeply grooved exteriors can be power washed, if necessary, to get dirt out of the crevices. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry completely for 24 hours before you begin to caulk and repair.

Fix any small cracks with masonry caulk. Cracks larger than 1/16-inch-wide will require a patch. Remove the loose stucco with a putty knife, and repair with stucco patching compound. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s suggested curing time on your patching compound. You may need to wait for up to 10 days before you can paint.

Prime with a high quality acrylic primer, using a synthetic brush to cut in, and a large napped roller to roll it on. Acrylic primers and paints are preferred because their binders mean better adherence to the uneven stucco finish. A large napped roller makes for easier application into all the nooks and crannies.

You’ll probably need more than one coat for complete coverage. It is better to apply two thinner coats than one thick coat, to avoid paint pooling in crevices and causing drips. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on drying times between coats.

Due to its texture, a stucco finish has a much greater overall surface area than a flat wall, so you’ll need more paint than you think to achieve adequate coverage. If a gallon of paint says it gives you 400 square feet of coverage, assume you’ll cover 200 square feet of stucco. Apply paint as you did primer, with a synthetic brush for cutting in, and a large napped roller for rolling the walls. Roll on one to two coats, as necessary, and follow the manufacturer’s guidance with regard to drying time between coats.

How to Paint Stucco


It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to revitalize a tired, dirty stucco finish. A good quality exterior paint job should last 15 to 20 years; indoors, it should last as until styles change and you tire of the color. So, enjoy it while it lasts!

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Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Remove Paint from Plastic

These four paint easy removal methods prove successful in any DIY situation, leaving your plastic pristine.

How to Remove Paint from Plastic


Nothing spoils the satisfaction of a paint job like drips and splatters on plastic surfaces, such as light switch covers, handles on uncovered appliances, step stools, and outdoor furniture. Hey, accidents happen—even to the most conscientious DIYers—so don’t despair. While it may take a bit more effort than a simple swipe to remove paint from plastic, especially if the paint has dried, the techniques below have proven to banish evidence of this common home improvement slip-up.

– Mild dish soap
– Water
– Small bucket
– Clean rags or paper towels
– Paint scraper
– Razor blade
– Work gloves
– Vegetable oil
– Nail polish remover with acetone
– Facemask
– Rubbing alcohol

How to Remove Paint from Plastic - with Vegetable Oil


OPTION 1: Wash it off. It’s always best to address painting mishaps as soon as they occur. So if you spot a fresh spill, fill a bucket with warm water and dish soap, grab a clean rag or paper towels, and wash it off. Once the paint is gone, hose down the item or use a clean, damp rag to rinse.

OPTION 2: Rub it off. If soap and water are ineffective, chances are the paint has begun to dry. Now it’s time to hit the pantry for some vegetable oil, a benign, typically skin-safe substance that can help soften and lift paint. Put some oil on a clean rag and rub the spill, using a bit of elbow grease. Once the paint begins to “give,” employ a paint scraper and proceed to Option 3. If vegetable oil fails, don a pair of work gloves and try nail polish remover containing acetone. Pour on enough to cover the affected area, then rub and wipe with a clean rag or paper towels, repeating as necessary until paint is gone.

OPTION 3: Scrape it off. Your weapon of choice for unwanted dried paint on a flat plastic surface is a paint scraper. Starting at any corner or edge of the spill, apply the scraper as if sliding it underneath to gently “lift” off the splotch. Be patient and maintain constant, steady pressure; attack it too vigorously and you could mar the plastic. On a contoured plastic surface like a chair, use a razor blade in the manner described above. Just keep the blade at an angle to avoid damaging the piece, and remember safety at all times.

OPTION 4: Scrub it off. For truly stubborn paint spills on plastic, turn to isopropyl alcohol. It will remove without melting plastic the way harsh paint thinners can, but you should nonetheless wear a face mask to guard against inhaling fumes, as well as work gloves to protect your skin. Pour alcohol over the unwanted paint and scrub firmly with a rag. You may need to be persistent until paint begins to disappear. Just keep at it and your patience will be rewarded with a clean, paint-free surface. No one will ever know you had a painting casualty!

All of the Expert Painting Advice from

Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

How To: Paint Laminate Countertops

Restore your work surface and give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look with this simple paint project.

Painting Laminate Countertops - Outdated Kitchen


Let’s face it: Laminate isn’t the most high-end countertop material out there, and when it starts showing signs of wear it can really make your kitchen look shabby. But if new countertops aren’t in your budget right now, show your current ones some love with a paint job to extend their life for a few more years. There are several kits on the market—including those that replicate stone or granite—or you can simply use acrylic interior paint in the color(s) of your choice. The two keys to professional, lasting results are careful preparation and proper sealing. Here’s a plan for your counter attack!

– Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
– Painter’s tape
– Rags
– Degreasing cleaner
– Gloves
– Protective goggles
– Dust mask or respirator
– 150-grit sandpaper
– Palm sander
– Primer
– Paint rollers
– Laminate paint kit or interior acrylic paint
– Countertop resin
– Blowtorch (optional, but recommended)

Painting Laminate Countertops - Dark Colored Countertops


Whether you’re redoing the cabinets in the bathroom or the kitchen, start the job by prepping your space correctly. Protect all cabinets and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheeting held with painter’s tape. Then open all windows and operate fans to ensure you’ve got adequate ventilation. Some of these materials are extremely stinky!

Scrub the surfaces you’ll be painting thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner to ensure all dirt and grease is removed. Let dry.

Put on protective gear (goggles, gloves, and a dust mask or respirator) and go over the entire surface lightly with 150-grit sandpaper to help paint adhere. Thoroughly wipe your counters clean of dust and debris with a slightly damp rag. Let dry.

Prime patiently. Apply a thin, even coat of primer with a paint roller, following manufacturer’s directions. Allow adequate drying time and then apply a second coat. Let dry.

Now, break out the paint. If using a paint kit that emulates stone or granite, follow the directions for blending the paints and apply, allowing adequate drying time between layers. If simply using acrylic paint, roll on a first coat, let dry and then give it a second coat.

Seal to finish. Countertop resin will ensure lasting results. Stir and mix the product according to manufacturer’s directions. Carefully pour the resin over the painted surface and use a fresh foam roller to distribute it evenly. Watch for drips along the edges and wipe off any that occur immediately with a damp rag. Also keep an eye out for any bubbles that may appear as the resin levels out: Pop them as soon as they appear by aiming a blowtorch at them, holding it a few inches away. If you have no torch, try banishing bubbles by blowing at them through a drinking straw. Allow the resin to thoroughly cure according to manufacturer’s specs.

To maintain your “new” countertops, skip abrasive cleaners and scrubber sponges and clean daily instead with a rag or soft sponge and mild dish detergent. Once a week (or at least monthly), wipe down with a small amount of mineral oil and a clean, soft cloth. Your surfaces will look super for several years to come—you can count on it!