Painted wood cabinet
Jason Bernhaut

Working With Wood

Step 1: Start by checking for mildew or peeling paint from previous coats. You’ll have to clean and repair the surface as best you can to ensure a long-lasting, quality paint job. Fill in any holes with patching compounds or spackling, wait until it dries, and sand over with a fine grain. Clean the surface with warm, soapy water.

Step 2:In many cases, you’ll need to use special primers to seal the wood before painting. Wood is like a sponge soaking up solvent from the paint, causing it to dry prematurely. Also, without a primer, several layers of paint may be required to get an even color. And remember, paint with the grain!

Painted metal fixtures
Colin Peterson

Heavy Metal Painting

As with any material you want to paint, start with a clean, dry surface.

Step 1: Thoroughly sand and repair any signs of corrosion, peeling paint, or rust. Use a scraper or wire brush if necessary. (Don’t forget to wear eye protection and a good dust mask.)

Step 2: Clean the surface with a detergent-and-water solution.

Step 3: Remember to use a primer! This will allow the paint to stick to the metal. If there’s rust, use a rust inhibitive primer. If the metal is ferrous (metal made from iron-like sheet metal, wrought iron, or castings), use a suitable primer. For galvanized metal (gutters, downspouts), wash and rinse thoroughly before painting to clean off any zinc chromate on the surface. Finally, be sure that the paint you’re using is suitable for using on metal.

painted wooden floors

New Floor, New Look

A new-looking floor is only a few steps away. Nearly any flooring surface can be painted, from concrete or wood to tile or sheet vinyl.

Step 1: Of course, start with a clean surface and prime it according to the material you’re painting. Oil-based paints work well with floors since the oil resins tend to adhere better than water-based paints.

Step 2: If you feel creative, liven it up with stenciling, stylish borders, or patterns. But you’ll need more than just paint to hold up to years of heavy use. Finish off your sparkling new floor with thin coats of clear urethane to keep it looking new.

Light blue painted ceiling
Southern Accents, Andreas von Einsiedel

The Roof Over Your Head

Tricky and often tedious, painting a ceiling can be a challenge. Make sure you have all the materials at hand, especially a paint roller with an extension handle (this is your new B.F.F.). An extension handle is much easier than standing on your toes or on a stepladder the whole time. For drywall, use a roller with a smooth nap; for textured ceilings, use a thick-nap roller to get full coverage over all those bumps.

Step 1: Remove all the furniture you don’t want dripped upon, and use drop cloths. Use painter’s tape to mask around the trim.

Step 2: Prime the ceiling, and it’s likely that you’ll only need one coat of paint.

Step 3: Start painting a cut-in line with a brush where the ceiling meets the wall, then while the paint is still wet, start using the roller until you’re done. Presto, new ceiling.

Repainted dresser
Rob D. Brodman

Old Furniture Made New

In these lean times, everyone is trying to save money. But you don’t have to sacrifice style! Paint your furniture, and start over with a flourish -- and with money saved in your pocket.

Step 1: Repair any defects with wood filler. Painted or varnished furniture will need to be lightly sanded (with the grain), cleaned, and primed with the appropriate primer.

Step 2: If the furniture has a wax surface, you’ll want to completely strip it so that no residue remains when you start repainting it. Remember oil and water-based paint can be applied over oil-based primers: the reverse is not true.

Painted porch railing

Painting a Railing Right

Step 1: Start by scrubbing all crevices and corners thoroughly with a wire brush until loose paint or rust is removed. Use a damp cloth to remove all grit and dirt. Then clean with soapy water and allow to dry.

Step 2: Place a drop cloth under the railing. Since wrought iron is a ferrous metal, you’ll need a suitable metal primer that will offer rust proofing. (Choose a primer as close to your final color as possible.) You can brush or spray paint.

Step 3: Finally, find a good quality exterior metal paint. Start application at the top and work down, brushing upward as you go. Watch for runs, and check your work from all angles to make sure you have good coverage.

Painted deck
Jean Allsopp

Deck Do-It-Yourself

Tired of a rather ordinary looking stained deck? Paint it! Deck paint will not only hide the natural grain and texture of the wood, the added color livens a home while also protecting the life of the wood.

Step 1: Start by performing any repairs to the deck. Then clean and dry the wood. Apply two coats of primer using a roller.

Step 2: Choose a paint designed for decks and porches so it will handle the foot traffic for years. Several thin coats are better than a few thicker ones. Finally, think about the environment: Don’t paint when it’s excessively windy, wet, or cold. And enjoy your new deck!

White brick painted home
Laurey W. Glenn

She’s a Brick, House

Step 1: Save your elbows, and clean the brick with a pressure washer. The better you do the prep, the better and longer lasting your paint job. You can also prep difficult stains with a scrub brush and a small amount of laundry detergent mixed with water. Remove ALL loose paint (if there is any), and repair any missing mortar.

Step 2: Prime the brick and mortar with an acrylic masonry primer. Caulk any gaps to keep water from getting under the paint and prematurely ruining your work. Remember: oil-based paint over water-based paint, but never water over oil without priming first.

Step 3:Finally, rent or borrow a paint sprayer for the final exterior coat(s). Elastomeric paint is an excellent exterior finish (and works for wood or stucco too), as is a 100% acrylic house paint.

Some good exterior paints to try:
Aura ® Exterior
Behr Elastometric

chalkboard in a kitchen
Roger Davies

Get Inventive, and Have Fun!

There are a host of creative ways to use paint to freshen your environment, be it at work, home, or a weekend retreat. Paint a fun mural on the wall of a child’s room or alongside a staircase. Turn an old unused table into a game tabletop by painting a chess/checkerboard pattern, or if you’re a card player, decorate with that theme.

Add a chalkboard to your office, along a kitchen wall, or in your children’s study area for note keeping on a handy wipe-off writing surface.

Find a pattern or example that you like, and create your own painted faux area rug or geometric pattern on any hardwood floor. (Or go for it, and experiment with stencils.) And while you’re on the floor, be inventive: trompe l’oeil doesn’t have to stay on ceilings and walls. Keep with the season and celebrate spring by building and painting flower boxes. There’s no end to what imaginative ideas you can try.

-- By Todd Keith

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