Painting Walls & Interiors – Information Sheet

Ready to pull out the rollers and brushes? This page is loaded with tips and inspiration to help you get the job done (including a gallery of ideas and recipes). Have fun!

RollerHow To Tell If Oil Or Latex Was Used: Pour some non-acetone nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol onto a clean rag and scrub the surface. If the paint is stripped then it’s latex, if the surface is unaffected it’s oil.

Can You Apply Latex Over Oil (and vice versa)? It’s possible if you prime the area first or sand the surface really well so the paint can grab onto the surface and adhere. Debbie Travis says no–unless you prime the area first with an alkyd primer.

What Kind Of Brushes To Use: If working with Latex, choose a synthetic bristle brush (nylon/polyester). For oil based, natural bristles will work well. Buy good quality brushes, cheap is not the way to go (they lose hairs more easily and don’t do as good a job).

Are Budget Priced Varieties OK?: Buy the best quality (and brushes) that your budget allows, these are two things you don’t want to go cheap. Cheaper ones tend to not wear as well nor stretch as far, meaning you’ll have to buy more per job as well as paint more frequently. I learned this the hard way.

What Shades Work Best: Light shades for smaller rooms (to help them look bigger), darker shades for a more enclosed feeling so a large room won’t feel so overwhelming.

What Finish To Choose: The higher the sheen, the easier it is to spot imperfections in the surface (the gloss reflects light). Varieties with a higher gloss sheen are easier to scrub and wash, these are good for trims, kitchens and bathrooms. A flat is good for ceilings and eggshell finish is good for most walls. For hallways and entrances, a satin finish will provide a bit better scrubbable surface than eggshell.

How Much To Buy: Calculate the square footage of the room you are doing, then check the paint you are wanting to buy. The can should specify how much surface area it will cover. You can also try this tip from

Prep: Wash surface first with TSP so it’s as clean as possible. TSP also acts as a deglosser, this helps the fresh coat adhere to the surface. Make sure to rinse the cleaner off and allow to fully dry before applying a new coat. If surface is a high gloss, do some sanding first before applying a new coat. Also make any necessary repairs (filling nail holes, dings, scratches) and sand as needed.

Glossy Finishes: Sand the surface first so the new coat will adhere to the surface. Washing in TSP as well as applying a coat of primer also help.

Which Order To Work In: Ceiling, then walls, then trims and frames.

Cut In First: For a neater job, do your cut-in work first then cover the rest of the area with rollers. For some tips on cutting in, here’s a helpful video:

Taking A Break: Wrap all brushes, rollers and trays with plastic wrap so the paint won’t dry out before you can start again. This trick will keep it wet for several hours to overnight. Also see this tip for easy cleanup (#16).

Keep A Project File: Save the chip samples used in each room for future reference. This comes in handy if any repair work is needed or it’s time to redo the room but you want the same color, you’ll be able to purchase the exact shade needed.

Leftovers: Seal some in a glass jar (baby jar or small mason jar) to keep on hand for touchup work as needed. Check with your local recycling center on how to safely dispose of the rest.

Another Handy Resource: Lowe’s Library.

Gallery of Ideas
Herringbone Pattern: Details and pictures are provided showing how they accomplished the design, you’ll need lots of tape for this project!

Pizza Box Stencil: A pizza box is cut into a large circle then used as a template.
Gingham: A potter’s rib (with teeth cut) is pulled through yellow glazes (first vertically and then horizontally). Both text and video tutorials are available.

Working With Stencils: A tutorial for working with stencils for a painted wallpaper effect. Includes a free template to download (pdf).
2 Shades & A Chair Rail: (slide 5) No step-by-step tutorial but here’s an idea to use two different shades of the same color then separating them with a chair rail.

Ceiling: Here’s how it looks with the ceiling also done (slide 13).
Chevron Strips: Similar to the herringbone design, includes directions for how to mark off with tape.

Striped: No tutorial but simple enough to figure out.
Magnetic Patterns: Here’s a nifty idea for the playroom, magnetic paint is used for the center of each pattern (no tutorial).

Grid Tutorial: Here’s a fun accent idea that does need some tape work but it’s well worth the effort.
Flat & High Gloss Technique: Here’s a neat idea, a flat is used for the background then the design is done with high gloss in the same color.

Laminate Furniture

Here’s a tutorial from

Let me be the first to tell you this: With the right preparations, you CAN paint laminate furniture and it WILL look good. You just need to follow the following steps

I’m not really fond of laminate furniture and do my best to avoid it but sometimes the pieces just have to do (budget reasons). The good news is that you can personalize and update it without too much difficulty.

The tutorial shows you how to sand the laminate first, apply primer with a foam brush then allow the primer to dry for several days (she explains why in the tutorial). Next apply your paint, reassemble the pieces and voila! a nice looking piece of furniture for your home (that doesn’t break the bank).

Please visit the site listed above for complete details, nice job!

*First published September 3, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

CanIf you’re not sure what this is, see

This has been used for several centuries and has proved to be very durable. Many antiques have survived to this day with their original coat intact. The rich colors are just as vibrant today.

1870 Formula:
From 1870:

1 Quart skim milk (room temperature)
1 Once of hydrated lime by weight (Available at building centers. Do not use quick lime, as it will react with the water and heat up. Hydrated lime has been soaked in water then dried.)
1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler.

  • Stir in enough skim milk to hydrated lime to make a cream. Add balance of skim milk. Now add sufficient amount of powder pigment to desired color and consistency (Pigment powder must be limeproof). Stir in well for a few minutes before using. For best results continue to stir throughout use. Apply with a cheap natural bristle brush. Allow project to dry sufficiently before applying next coat. Extra may be kept for several days in the refrigerator, until the milk sours. Double or triple the recipe. Allow to dry thoroughly 3-4 hours before use. For extra protection, give a coat of oil finish or sealer. Color may change – test in inconspicuous area.

Basic Version:

Another recipe including tinting suggestions found here

For approx. 1.5 Gallons

One Gallon Skim Milk
Two Cups Builders Lime also called Hydrated Lime (Do NOT use Quick Lime)
One Quart Linseed Oil (the boiled type)
1/2 Cup of Salt
Dye (Color) add in as needed

  • Strain with cheesecloth or fine mesh screen wire
    Use within Two Days of mixing

The pioneer recipes all had two things in common, Milk and lime. When combined they form a natural binding agent that is, in some ways, unmatched by today’s modern coatings. Color can be added with any natural substance ( rust, berries etc.) or water soluble dye. The classic red barns are most likely the result of an abundance of milk and the availability of red pigments in the form of rust (iron oxide). Livestock blood was also added to milk to produce blood paint.


The best for last? Here’s a fantastic tutorial from Appropedia. Lots of pictures and details provided, nice job!

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    • Deb Eck

    I am wanting to paint my bathroom walls, but they are vinyl covered drywall. Any suggestions on how to prep and paint? I was told that all I needed to do was to make sure I used a good primer first, and then paint, but since it has a very strong pattern, I am concerned about coverage. Any suggestions would be helpful!

    • Cindy

    If the vinyl is not removeable, then indeed, a high quality primer should work. Talk with your paint person at your hardware store. They should be able to recommend a product that will be successful. You may need to do two coats if the pattern is as strong as you say…but it is worth it to have a well painted wall. Be sure to use at least a satin if not a semi-gloss for the bathroom. A high gloss wil be more durable and washable.

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