Thinking of tackling a DIY painting project this season? Before you start, get primed for the job with some of the best tips for making your paint job go smoother. What you paint (and in what colour) is up to you, but we’ll tell you how to choose the type of paint, how to prep different surfaces for painting, and techniques for getting the job done right.
Tired of the fumes from the paint you’re using? Go with the natural varieties instead, such as mineral paint, milk paint, and chalk-style paint. These types of paint release no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or noxious vapours, which is especially handy for painting inside on rainy days and with the windows closed.
Here are our top choices for no-VOC paints. Mineral paint- Good for painting kitchen cupboards because of its smooth, solid finish. Milk paint- Comes as a powder that you mix with water; good for floors and antique furniture. Chalk-style paint- Not to be confused with chalkboard paint; good on metal and glass, no priming needed.
Make your job a lot easier with the right tools. Large surfaces, such as floors and walls, are much easier to paint with a long-handled roller. For large-scale projects of awkward sizes, use a handheld paint sprayer. You can fill it up with any paint and it becomes spray paint.
Found some old wicker furniture that needs a new paint job? First, scrub it down with degreaser and a soft brush, then hose it off with water and let it dry in the sun. As it dries, the wicker will tighten up, giving it new life and priming it for paint.
When painting wicker or other furniture made with natural fibres, you need to get into all the nooks and crannies. Smush your brush into the weave, then swipe it smooth. Use at least two coats of paint. Let it dry, then protect it for outdoor use with a coat of beeswax polish, and let it cure for a week.
Did you know you can paint your woodstove or barbecue? Most steel and cast iron stoves are painted, which means that you’re free to repaint them however you like—just so long as you use a high-temperature paint. Most fireplace retailers sell woodstove spray paint, such as Stove Bright, that comes in a surprising array of colours (Shimmering Rose, anyone?).
When painting woodstoves or barbecues, abrade the surface lightly with sandpaper or steel wool. Then follow the directions on the can of high-temperature spray paint, and be careful not to spray on too thick (one can should cover a stove and pipe). It’s designed to use indoors—just make sure to crack open a window.
Got an old paddle to paint? First, clean the wood and sand it by hand. You can paint the whole thing one colour, or use tape to block out a design, then fill in with acrylic gloss spray paint. A dry old paddle will absorb more paint, so it may require a few coats.
If your painted paddle is for hanging on a wall, protect exposed wood with tung oil. On a paddle you want to use in the lake, apply four coats of marine-grade spar varnish instead. Each coat dries in about 12 hours. It’ll protect paddles from sun and water damage.
Painting an old wooden floor is a budget-friendly way to give a whole room a new look. Start with a thorough wash, using a degreaser such as Spray Nine to make sure the surface is clean. Sand with 80-grit sandpaper, then use a small roller to apply two or three coats of milk paint or chalk-style paint, with four hours of drying time in between.
To protect your painted floor, finish it with a topcoat of acrylic, water-based floor finish. This will seal the surface and protect it from scuffing and scraping in high-traffic areas. If “scuffed” is the look you’re going for, use sandpaper to scrub down through your first two coats to the bare wood before finishing.
To keep a log cabin for a few lifetimes, you need to maintain the log surface every four to five years. If it’s been longer since you last tended to your walls, you’ll need to take them through a four-step process, starting with stripping. Strip it with a corncob blaster to remove the old finish without ruining the logs or using harsh chemicals.
Sand your log walls with 300-grit sandpaper if you like walls so smooth you run pantyhose across them without snagging. Or, for a handcrafted look, skip the stripping process and gives the walls a light sand with coarse sandpaper. Paint it with two coats of log finish. Light or dark is up to you, but you’ll need some tint to prevent UV damage from sunlight. Finally, protect it with a clear topcoat. Once logs are properly finished, you simply have to wash and repaint this layer every few years.
Painting an old chair? You’ve got to clean it first. Remove grease, wax, and dirt by washing the chair with trisodium phosphate (TSP), TSP substitute, or detergent and water. Although it’s the least green option, TSP (at hardware and paint stores) does work best. Let the chair dry overnight. Sand it thoroughly with 120-grit sandpaper, so paint adheres.
Apply primer, but never in a thick coat; you’ll dull woodwork details. The paint—latex or alkyd—can be any sheen except matte, which scuffs easily. Use a quality 2″ angled sash brush to apply two or three thin coats, not one thick one, and let each coat dry fully. Wait for a humid day: Paint will dry slowly, letting brush marks even out and settle.