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(S UNITED STATES
( ) DEPARTMENT OF
S.0- d- -
Issued October 1978
Slightly Revised March 1980
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
Stock No. 001-000-03874-5
Information for this publication was compiled under the director of
Robert G. Yeck, Staff Scientist, SEA-AR, National Program Staff, Beltsville,
Maryland 20705; T. E. Bond (retired), SEA-AR, Rural Housing Research
Unit, Clemson, S.C. 29631; and Glenda Pifer, Housing Specialist, SEA-
Extension, Washington, D.C. 20250. Most grateful acknowledgment is given
the National Paint and Coatings Association, 1500 Rhode Island Avenue,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, for many constructive contributions to this
publication. Appreciation must also be expressed to Dr. William C. Feist,
Chemist, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison,
Wisconsin 53705 and William T. Cox, Agricultural Engineer, SEA-Exten-
sion, Washington, D.C. 20250 for their review and assistance.
Mention of a proprietary product
in this publication does not constitute
a guarantee or warranty of the
product by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and does not imply its
approval by the Department to the
exclusion of other products that may
also be suitable.
Surface Preparation ..................
G general ..........................
Plaster, Drywall and Masonry
W ood Surfaces ....................
M etal Surfaces ....................
Paint Selection ......................
G general ..........................
Kinds of Paint ....................
Paints for barn walls .............
Paints for wood siding ...........
Paints for woodtrim, windows,
shutters, and doors ............
Paints for masonry ..............
Paints for galvanized iron .........
Paints for aluminum .............
Paints for concrete or wood porches
and steps .....................
Choosing Colors .....................
Estimating Quantity ..................
A application .........................
G general ..........................
Equipm ent ........................
W hen to Paint ...................
Number of Coats ..................
Safety Precautions ...................
How to Paint .......................
Using Natural Finishes and Stains .....
W hitewashing .......................
G general ..........................
Surface Preparation ................
M ixing ...........................
For general woodwork ............
For brick, concrete, or stone ......
For plaster walls .................
C oloring ..........................
C leanup ............................
Paint Failures .......................
Blistering and Peeling ..............
Prevention and correction ........
Cross-grain cracking ...............
Prevention and correction ........
M ildew ..........................
Prevention and correction ........
Intercoat Peeling ..................
Prevention and correction ........
Excessive Chalking ...............
Prevention and correction ........
Related Publications ................
T able 1 .............................
T able 2 ............................
This publication supersedes Home and Garden Bulletins No. 155, "Exterior
Painting," and No. 184, "Interior Painting in Homes and Around the Farm."
Painting-Inside and Out
Some people enjoy painting the
house; for others it's a chore. But it
must be done occasionally. One
reason is for appearance. Another
important one is for protection of the
Delay, when repainting is needed,
can mean extra work when you
finally do paint. Old paint that blis-
ters, cracks, and peels will have to be
removed before the new paint can be
If you wait too long, there could be
costly damage. Moisture may reach
the interior where it can cause dam-
age. Some metals rust when not pro-
tected; others develop a corrosive
wash that stains surrounding sur-
Take time to do a good job when
you paint. For an attractive, long-
lasting paint job, you need to-
Properly prepare the surface for
painting. Even the best paint won't
last on a poorly prepared surface.
Read the paint container label!
Choose the correct coating for the
Use good quality paint. It gives
longer and better protection.
Apply the paint correctly.
Improper application can be as dam-
aging as a poorly prepared surface.
Preparation of the surface-
cleaning and patching-may take the
most time in painting, because it is of
major importance in the job. Even
the best paint will not adhere well to
an excessively dirty or greasy surface
or hide large cracks or scratches. It is
especially desirable to scrape peeling
paint and cover it in old homes where
original paints may have had a lead-
base and as such are a hazard for
small children who naturally some-
times put these chips in their mouth
and eat them. Ingesting lead-base
paints can be very harmful or even
In general, a surface that is to be
painted should be firm, smooth, and
clean. With oil-base paint, the surface
must also be completely dry. If nec-
essary, latex or water-base paint can
be applied to a damp-but not wet-
surface. Ideal conditions, though, are
dry surfaces. Check the paint-can
label for additional or special
instructions for preparing the sur-
Scrape off-or otherwise remove-all loose paint before you repaint.
Grease or grime must be removed
for good paint adhesion. Oil and
grime may be removed by washing
surfaces, other than drywall, with a
detergent solution, ammoniated
cleansers, or mineral spirits.
Kitchen walls and ceilings are usu-
ally covered with a film of grease
from cooking that may extend to the
walls and ceilings just outside the
entrances to the kitchen.
Bathroom walls and ceilings may
have excessive grime.
Plaster, Drywall and
Clean and dust all surfaces thor-
oughly before you apply the first coat
of primer or paint. On masonry sur-
faces, remove dirt, loose particles, or
effloresence with a wire brush. "Efflo-
resence" is a white powdery condition
that sometimes occurs on masonry or
brick as a leachate from water seep-
Newly plastered walls should not
be painted with oil-base paint until
they are thoroughly cured-usually
about 2 months. Then, a primer coat
should be applied first.
If it is necessary to paint uncured
plaster, apply one coat of a latex
paint or primer. Latex, or water-base,
paint will not be affected by the alkali
in new plaster and will allow water to
escape as the plaster dries. Sub-
sequent coats of paint-either oil-
base or latex-can be added when the
plaster is dry.
Unpainted plaster readily picks up
and absorbs dirt and is difficult to
clean. The one coat of latex paint or
primer will protect it.
For new drywall, a latex primer or
paint is recommended for the first
coat. Solvent-thinned paints tend to
cause a rough surface. After the first
coat of latex paint, subsequent coats
can be of either type.
New concrete should weather for
several months before being painted.
Fresh concrete may contain consid-
erable moisture and alkali, so it is
best to use specially formulated coat-
ings which are alkali-resistant. Port-
land cement masonry paint may also
Patch any crack or other defects in
masonry surfaces. Pay particular
attention to mortar joints.
On old plaster and drywall sur-
faces, the first step is to inspect the
surface for cracks and chips. Fill
small hairline cracks with spackling
compound and larger cracks with
special patching plaster. Follow the
directions on the container label
when using the patching material.
When the patch is completely dry,
sand it smooth and flush with the
Nailheads tend to "pop out" in dry-
wall and ceilings. Countersink the
projecting heads slightly and fill the
hole with spackling compound. Sand
the patch smooth when it is dry. It is
desirable to prime all newly spackled
or patched spots, particularly if you
are applying only one coat.
On all masonry surfaces it is
especially important to remove dirt,
loose particles, and effloresence with
a wire brush. Loose, peeling, or
heavily chalked paint may be
removed by sandblasting. If the old
paint is moderately chalked and oth-
erwise "tight" and nonflaking, coat it
with a recommended sealer or condi-
tioner before you repaint with a
The finish on kitchen and bath-
room walls and ceilings is usually a
gloss or semigloss. It must be "cut" so
that the new paint can get a firm
hold. For best results, rub the surface
with fine sandpaper or steel wool.
New wood siding and window
woodwork, doors, and baseboard
preferably should not contain res-
inous knots or pitch streaks. But if
they do, clean the knots and streaks
with turpentine and seal with a good
knot sealer. The knot sealer will seal
in oily extractives and reduce staining
and cracking of the paint in the knot
If there are any bare spots in the
wood, prime them with an under-
To prevent future staining by rusty
nails, set nailheads below the surface,
prime them, and caulk the hole.
Loose wood siding should be fas-
tened with nonrusting-type nails.
Prime and caulk all cracks. Sand the
area smooth after the compound
Remove all rough, loose, flaking,
and blistering paint. Spot-prime the
bare spots before repainting. Where
the cracking or blistering of the old
paint extends over a large area,
remove all old paint down to bare
wood. Prime and repaint the old sur-
face as you would a new wood sur-
face. Sand or "feather" the edges of
the tight old paint before repainting.
Smooth any rough spots in the
wood with sandpaper or other abra-
sive. Before applying paint, wash off
any dust or residue that is left on the
surface from cleaning or surface
Old paint may be removed by sand-
ing, scraping, or burning, or with
chemical paint remover. Scraping is
the simplest but hardest method.
Sanding is most effective on smooth
surfaces. Chemical paint remover can
be expensive for large areas. Burning
is not recommended because of poten-
tial fire hazard.
Correct the condition that caused
the blister, cracking, or peeling of the
old paint before you repaint. Other-
wise, the same trouble may reoccur.
It may be a moisture problem. See
"Paint Failures," page 20.
New galvanized steel surfaces
should weather for about 6 months
before being painted. If earlier
painting is necessary, first wash the
surface with a very mild and dilute
acid such as vinegar, or a commer-
cially available compound, and rinse
it thoroughly. This will remove any
manufacturing residue and stain
Apply a special metallic zinc dust
primer or other specially formulated
primer before painting.
Rust and loose paint can usually be
removed from old surfaces with sand-
paper or with a stiff wire brush.
Chipping may be necessary in severe
cases. Chemical rust removers are
Oil and grease may be removed
with a solvent such as mineral spirits.
Rinse the surface thoroughly.
There are a number of different
types of paint. Selection need not be
too much of a problem, however.
First consider whether you need an
exterior (exposed to weather) or an
interior paint. Then consider the sur-
face you are painting: wood, metal,
or masonry? Some paints can be used
on all three; others on only two.
Many are formulated for one partic-
ular surface material. Condition of
the surface is important also. Old
chalky surfaces, for example, are not
generally a sound base for latex or
Next consider any special require-
ments. For example, nonchalking
paint may be advisable where chalk
rundown would discolor adjacent
brick or stone surfaces. Perhaps
mildew is a problem. If so, mildew
should be removed and efforts made
to correct its cause-excess moisture
is the major culprit. Mildew-resistant
paints are available for use where
such problems occur.
Many different kinds and formu-
lations of paints and other finishes
are available for interior and exterior
use. New ones frequently appear on
the market. Use the tables on pages 6
and 8 as a general guide in making
your selection. For a more specific
selection consult your paint dealer.
Reputable paint dealers keep abreast
of the newest developments in the
paint industry and stock the newest
Kinds of Paint
Paint may be categorized as sol-
vent-thinned or water-thinned. Sol-
vent-thinned paints are most com-
monly oil-base paints. Some specialty
coatings such as catalyzed epoxies,
polyesters, and urethanes are also
solvent-thinned, but are not oil-base
paints. Enamels which are made with
a varnish or'resin base, instead of the
usual linseed-oil vehicle, are included
under the broad oil-paint grouping.
Water-thinned paints are most com-
monly latex paints, but there are
non-latex paints that are water-
Oil-base paints are very durable,
are highly resistant to staining and
damage, can withstand frequent
scrubbings, and give good one-coat
coverage. Many latex paints are
advertised as having similar proper-
The main advantages of latex paint
are easier application, faster drying,
and simpler tool cleanup. The
brushes, rollers, and other equipment
can be easily cleaned with soap and
Paints usually come in three fin-
ishes; gloss, semigloss or flat. Glossy
finishes look shiny and clean easily.
Flat finishes reduce glare but more
readily become dirty. Semigloss fin-
ishes have properties of both glossy
and flat finishes. Both oil-base and
latex paints are available in gloss,
semigloss, and flat finishes.
Because enamel is durable and easy
to clean, semigloss or full-gloss
enamel is recommended for wood-
work and for the walls of kitchens,
bathrooms, and laundry rooms. For
the walls of nurseries and playrooms,
either oil-base or latex semigloss
enamel paint is suggested. Flat paint
is generally used for the walls of
living rooms, dining rooms, and
other non-work or non-play rooms.
Penetrating sealers are available as
a finish for other wood used in the
home such as paneling or furniture. It
is easy to apply and penetrates into
the surface with little buildup. It
avoids the high gloss to which some
"House paint" is the commercial
term for exterior paints. Generally it
refers to paint which is applied to
siding and other large exterior wall
surfaces. Trim paint is the termi-
nology that is usually used for base-
board, window sills, and moldings.
There are paints specifically formu-
lated for a particular requirement,
such as a rust-preventative for metal.
House paint comes in both oil-base
and latex (water-base) paint. The
vehicle of oil-base paint consists usu-
ally of alkyd resin with turpentine or
mineral spirits as the thinner. Latex
paint vehicle consists of fine particles
of resin emulsified (held in sus-
pension) in water.
Again, the advantages of latex
paints include easier application,
faster drying, usually better color
retention, resistance to alkali and
blistering. "Bone dry" surfaces are
ideal for painting. But if it is impos-
sible to attain this condition, some
latex paints will perform satis-
factorily on slightly damp surfaces.
Brush and tool cleanup is simpler
with latex because it can be done
with soap and water and doesn't
require the purchase of paint thinner.
Use tables I and 2 as a guide in
selecting paint. Your paint dealer can
help you also. Here are some specific
Paints for barn walls
Walls in farm-service buildings
must withstand almost constant rub-
bing by animals and frequent wash-
Table 1.-Interior Paint Selection Chart1
U E E '
11 11 8, 8, 8, 11 11 8, 8, 8, 11
Z E E
Flooring 11 11 1 1 11
O O ~; oE..E ,S
SURFACE > < < < ^ ^ 0.-
Brick X X X X X X X X X X X
1 11 1 48, 8, 11 11 8, 8, 8, 11
_11 11 11 711 11 117
CementBlock X X X X X X
Flooring 11 11 114, 4, 4, 4 4 11 11,
_____________ 77 77 __ 7 77 __ 7
Ceramic Tile X X X X
Flooring 11 11 I 11 11,
Concrete X X X X X X X X X
11 4, 11 4, 4, 61 4, 11 46 4 11 1
11 11 1 ___11 'I 11
Concrete X X X X X
Flooring 11 11 11 11 __ 11
Drywa X X X X X X X X X
6 6 6 6, 6, 6 6 6,
Plaster X X X X X X X X
6,2 6,2 6,2 6,11 6, 6 6 6,
___1__________ 1 11 -
Aluminum X X X X X X X X
____1 I1 1 1 1 1 1__
Galvanized X X X X X X X X X X
Steel 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 10 10 14
Iron and Steel X X X X X X X X X X
1,5 1,5 1,5 1,11 1,5 1,5 1,5 10 10 14
Steel Flooring X X X X X
11 11 10 10 11
Flooring X X X X X X X X X X
11 11 11 11 11 13, 11 11 11 13,
__1_ 12 1 2
Trim X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
and Paneling 3 3 3 3,11 11 11 3 3 3 13, 11 3, 11 13,
12 11 12
Accoustical X X
Surfaces 2 11 -
Vinyl Wallcover- X X X X X X
ing, Smooth, 11 11 11 11 11 11
Vinyl Wallcover- X X X
ing, Smooth, 11 11 11
Vinyl Wallcover- X X X X
ing, Textured 9, 9, 9, 11
______________ ___ 11 11___ ___
Wallpaper X X X X X X
6,2 6,2 6,2 6,2 6,2 6,2
X= Paint Choice and Numbers= Prime Choice; see page 7.
'Apply a very thin coating so that soundproof characteristics will not be seriously affected.
Special Notes on Primers for Table 1.
Almost every new or bare surface will require the use of a primer or prime
coat before application of the topcoat. Often this primer is a product specially
formulated to protect the surface, as well as to provide a coating to which the
topcoat can tightly adhere. In some situations the topcoat material can be
applied as a prime coat, according to manufacturer's directions, after which a
second, and possibly a third, topcoat would be applied.
Below is a list of primers used with topcoats applied to surfaces found in a
home's interior. Each primer has a key number which appears on the chart.
Remember these primer-topcoat combinations are general recommendations.
For specific priming instructions, consult the container label.
Alkyd Metal Primer
Exterior Masonry Paint
Latex Metal Primer
Masonry Block Filler
Masonry Surface Conditioner
Portland Cement Metal Primer
Topcoat Material Used as Primer
Zinc-Rich Metal Primer
Table 2.-Exterior Paint Selection Chart1
SURFACE < :
Asbestos Cement X0 X X
Brick X X Xe X X X
Cement and Cinder
Block X X X* X X X
Cement Porch Floor X X
Stucco X X X* X X X
Aluminum Windows X X* X0 X X0
Galvanized Surfaces X0 X0 X* X X0
Iron Surfaces X0 X* X0 XX X0
Siding (Metal) X0 X0 X0 X0 X0
and Doors X0 X0 X* X X0
Frame Windows X X0 X* X X* X
and Trim X X
2 Porch Floor X X X
Shingle Roof X X
Shutters & Other
Trim XX X* X X0 X
Siding Xe X* X X
Canvas Awnings X
Coal Tar Felt Roof X X
X = Paint Choice and = Primer or Sealer May Be Required, Check Container Label.
2May be used as a water seal. Stains will not be effective if applied over varnish.
I 1 I 1
ings to remove manure and dirt;
also storage buildings walls often
suffer hard use. Durable paint is
required. However, lead-base paint
should not be used around animals
because the animals may lick the
A catalyzed enamel, epoxy, poly-
ester, or urethane type may cost more
than ordinary paint, but are more
durable and washable. The ingredi-
ents usually come in two containers
and must be mixed. Label
instructions should be followed care-
fully for mixing and using the paint.
Paints for wood siding
Either latex or oil-base house paint
may be used. An oil-base primer is
recommended for use over resinous
woods such as pine and those that
tend to bleed, such as redwood and
western red cedar.
Penetrating semi-transparent stains
are preferred by many homeowners
who wish to preserve the beauty of
the wood. See page 17 for more
information on stains.
Paints for trim, windows, shutters,
Because wood trim is usually
treated with a water repellent pre-
servative before finishing, any form
of latex or oil-base paint can be used.
Latex trim enamels are good choices.
Their properties include rapid dry-
ing, high gloss, good color and gloss
retention, and good durability. Regu-
lar house paint may not retain its
gloss as long. Chalking paints should
be avoided wherever there is con-
cern about discoloration of adjacent
Paints for masonry
Exterior latex masonry paint is a
standard paint for masonry. Cement-
base paint may be used on nonglazed
brick, stucco, cement, and cinder
For an inexpensive, attractive
Mix 1 part of hydrated lime with 5
parts of white Portland cement. Add
water until the mixture has the con-
sistency of condensed milk. High-
grade mineral coloring may be added
to obtain light tinting. (Add 2 parts
of fine sand to the mix if you will
need to completely fill the pores of
rough cinder block. Excellent block
fillers are available in paint stores
Dampen the surface before
applying the paint. Brush or spray
the paint on. A short, stiff-bristled
brush will help fill pores.
The paint should dry slowly for
proper curing. After it becomes firm,
keep it damp with sprayed water for
about 48 hours. Surfaces painted
with this paint will require a sealer
before they can be repainted with
other types of paint.
Paints for galvanized iron
Ordinary house or trim paints may
be used for the finish coats on gut-
ters, downspouts, and hardware or
grilles. A specially recommended
primer must be used on each. For
instance, a metallic zinc dust primer
is recommended on galvanizing and
red lead or zinc chromate primer on
iron. There are other surface prepara-
tion techniques available for metal,
too. Carefully follow instructions for
their use. Specific formulations of
enamel are available for ferrous
Paints for aluminum
Aluminum normally requires no
paint for protection, but there may be
a need to "touch-up" or otherwise
repaint factory applied finishes. See
tables 1 and 2 for alternatives.
Paints for concrete or wood
porches and steps
Porch-and-deck paint may be used
on both concrete and wood. Pene-
trating stains are preferred for wood
because they will not crack or peel
and are easily finished. If painting on
wood is desired, an oil-base primer is
applied after first treating the wood
with a water repellent preservative
solution that is suitable for future
covering with a regular paint.
Color is mostly a matter of per-
sonal preference. Remember that
light colors will repel heat while dark
tones absorb heat. Chalking paints
should be avoided where the chalking
may discolor adjacent surfaces.
Paints are available in a wide range
of colors and shades. Some are ready
mixed; others the dealer has to mix
by adding or combining different col-
ors. Dealers usually carry color
charts showing the different possi-
bilities. Here are some points to keep
in mind in selecting your colors.
Light colors make a small room
seem larger. Conversely, dark colors
make an overly large room appear
Ceilings appear lower when
darker than the walls and higher
when lighter than the walls.
Paint generally dries to a slightly
different color or shade. For a fast
preview of the final color, brush a
sample swatch of the paint on a piece
of clean, white blotting paper. The
blotting paper will immediately
absorb the wet gloss, and the color
on the paper will be about the color
of the paint when it dries on the wall.
Colors often change under arti-
ficial lighting. Look at color swatches
both in daylight and under artificial
The type of artificial lighting can
also make a difference. For instance,
incandescent lighting casts a warm,
yellow glow. On the other hand, fluo-
rescent lighting usually gives off a
cooler, blue hue, unless a warm white
fluorescent tube is used.
Keep in mind that most paint
stores use fluorescent lighting, and
consequently a color that looks one
shade in the paint store may look
another shade in your home. Adja-
cent colors also affect the appear-
For large jobs, paint is usually
bought by the gallon. The label usu-
ally indicates the number of square
feet a gallon will cover when applied
as directed. To determine the number
of gallons you will need:
1. Find the area of the walls in
square feet by multiplying the length
of each wall by its height.
2. Subtract from this figure one-
half the total area-in square feet-
taken up by doors and w windows. This
is done simply by multiplying the
height and width of each unit, adding
the results, and dividing by 2.
3. Divide the figure obtained in
step 2 by the number of square feet a
gallon of paint will cover. Then mul-
tiply that figure by the number of
coats to be applied. This will deter-
mine the number of gallons needed.
Ceilings are often painted a dif-
ferent shade than the walls, and need
to be figured separately. To find the
square-foot area of the ceiling, simply
multiply the length by the width.
Remember that unpainted plaster
and wallboard soak up more paint
than previously painted walls and will
require more paint or primer. Extra
paint may also be required to cover
old colors if there is much change
involved. It is more desirable to
slightly overestimate the amount of
paint needed in order to avoid the
risk of having to buy a small second
batch later that might not exactly
match the original batch.
Read the paint can label carefully
before starting to paint. It will con-
tain general application instructions
as well as any special instructions and
directions for applying the paint, and
drying requirements. Do not become
careless and ignore safety practices.
For speed and convenience,
homeowners usually prefer to use a
roller on walls, ceilings, and other
large surfaces, and then use a brush
at corners, along edges, and in other
places a roller cannot reach. Rollers
work well on masonry and metal sur-
faces. Proper depth of the pile or nap
on the roller covers is important and
varies from one surface to another.
Follow the manufacturer's recom-
Rectangular applicators are avail-
able that offer the speed and con-
venience of rollers. They too are
desirable to use on large surfaces.
These applicators are available
through most retailers. Again, follow
the manufacturer's recommendations.
Special shaped rollers and other
applicators are available for painting
woodwork, corners, edges, and other
close places. Some may work fine;
others not so well. A small brush may
still be best for such work.
Woodwork is usually painted with
a brush. A brush will usually give
better penetration on wood than
rollers or spray painting.
Keep in mind that different kinds
of brushes and rollers are recom-
mended for use with different kinds
of paint. The characteristics of the
bristle affect how well paint is trans-
ferred to the painting surface. Your
paint dealer should be able to furnish
sound advice on what kind of brush
or roller to buy.
Indoor spray painting is not gener-
ally done by the homeowner, except
for small jobs using pressurized cans
of paint. On outside jobs, spraying is
often the fastest method. But, you
may not get proper penetration on
wood surfaces. On masonry surfaces,
voids that are difficult to fill with a
brush or roller can be coated ade-
quately by spraying. On any spray
job-large or small-take care that
spray does not drift to surrounding
surfaces-particularly parked cars.
Other equipment needed for
painting includes a stepladder, pro-
tective coverings to avoid splash or
spillage on the wrong surfaces
(needed outside as well as inside) and
When to Paint
For best results with either oil-base
or latex paint, and for an easier and
better paint job-
Paint when the weather is mild and
dry. The less humidity in the air, the
quicker paint will dry. Never apply
an oil-base paint when the tem-
perature is below 40F. Freezing
temperatures should be avoided with
any paint. Temperatures above 900F
are not only uncomfortable to the
painter but they may cause paint to
dry too quickly. Consult label for
Start outside painting after the
morning dew has evaporated. Stop
outside painting in late afternoon or
early evening on cool fall days. This
is more important with latex paint
than with oil-base paint.
Paint surfaces after they have
been exposed to the sun and are in
the shade. A good rule is to "follow
the sun around the house." Painting
in sunlight will cause the paint to dry
more quickly and especially in hot
weather, this may cause brush "lap"
marks to appear in the freshly
Do not paint in windy or dusty
weather or when insects may get
caught in the paint. Insects are usu-
ally the biggest problem during fall
evenings. Don't try to remove them
from wet paint; brush them off after
the paint dries.
Number of Coats
Three coats of paint are recom-
mended for new outdoor wood sur-
faces-one primer and two finish
coats. Two coat systems will last
only about half as long as a three coat
On old outdoor paint surfaces in
good condition, one top coat may be
sufficient. But if the paint is very
thin, apply two top coats, especially
on outside surface areas exposed to
weather or any surface exposed to
On bare outdoor surfaces or sur-
faces with very little paint left on
them, apply a primer and two top
coats. Remove heavy chalk before
repainting, especially when repainting
Allow the primer coat to dry
according to the manufacturer's label
instructions. Allow longer drying
time in humid weather. Apply the
finish coats as soon as the primer has
dried sufficiently. Usually it is
desirable to allow about 48 hours
drying time between oil-base finish
coats. Two coats of latex paint may
be applied in one day. If you must
wait a month or more, clean the sur-
face thoroughly before applying the
On metal surfaces, prime both new
metal and old metal from which the
paint has been removed. Good
primers usually contain zinc dust, red
lead, zinc yellow, or some rust-
inhibiting pigment as one of the
ingredients. After the primer has
dried sufficiently, apply one or two
finish coats of paint.
The Forest Products Laboratory
recommends applying a water-repel-
lent preservative before priming new
wood that has not been so treated.
Some preservatives need to dry for
two warm, sunny days before the
primer is applied. Ask your paint
dealer about the recommendations of
the paint manufacturer. See Home
and Garden Bulletin No. 203, "Wood
Maintaining." (See p. 24.)
For a safer paint job-
Never paint in a completely
closed room, nor in a room where
there is an open flame or fire. Solvent
paints give off fumes that can be
flammable, and also are dangerous to
breathe. Good cross ventilation not
only helps to remove fumes and
odors, but can shorten paint drying
Some fumes can be especially
harmful to young children, and delicate
pets. A void sleeping in a freshly painted
room until the fumes subside.
Use a sturdy stepladder or other
support when painting high places.
Make sure the ladder is not defective.
Check the rungs and side rails care-
fully. Check any ropes and pulleys
also to make sure they are securely
fastened and work properly.
Be sure the ladder is positioned
firmly, both on the ground and
against the wall. Set the foot of the
ladder away from the wall one-fourth
of the distance of the height to be
climbed. If you use scaffolding, make
sure it is secure.
Always face a ladder when
climbing up or down. Hold on with
both hands. Carry tools and supplies
in your pocket or haul them up with
Be sure the paint bucket, tools,
and other objects are secure when
you are on a ladder or scaffolding.
Falling objects can injure persons
Lean toward the ladder when
working. Keep one hand free-ready
to grab the ladder just in case. Do
not overreach when painting. A good
rule is not to let your belt buckle
extend beyond the side rails.
Move the ladder frequently
rather than risk a fall. Take a few sec-
A wire across the top of the paint can or
paint bucket is convenient for holding
onds to remove the paint from the
ladder before you move it.
Avoid any electrical wiring
within the area of work. This is
especially important if you are using
a metal ladder.
When you finish painting, dis-
pose of used rags by putting them in
a covered metal can. If left lying
around, the oily rags could catch fire
by spontaneous combustion.
Store paint in a safe, well-venti-
lated place where children and pets
cannot get to it-well away from fur-
naces or other sources of ignition that
might cause an explosion. It is better
not to store in the house. Some
paints cannot withstand freezing.
Unless needed for retouching, small
quantities of paint may not be worth
HOW TO PAINT
Preferably, remove all furnishings
from a room to be painted. Other-
wise, cover the furniture, fixtures,
and floor with drop clothes or news-
papers. No matter how careful you
are, there will always be some spill,
drip, or splatter of paint.
If you do not wish to paint light-
switch and wall-plug plates, remove
them before painting. Guard against
shock. Otherwise they can be painted
along with the rest of the wall.
Stir or shake paint thoroughly
before starting to paint. Stir it fre-
quently while painting.
If using a gallon of paint, transfer
it to a larger container or pour about
half into another container. There
will be less chance of spillage or drip.
Dip your brush about one-third the
length of the bristles. A wire
stretched across the top of the can is
useful in removing excess paint from
the brush, or use the inside of the can
for this purpose. Do not scrape the
brush across the rim of the can.
Wipe up spilled, splattered, or
dripped paint as you go along. Usu-
ally paint splatter or spillage is easier
to clean up when wet.
When using latex paint, wash your
brush or roller occasionally with
water. A buildup of the quick-drying
paint in the nap of the roller or at the
base of the bristles of the brush can
cause excessive dripping.
Do not let the paint dry out in the
can or in brushes or rollers between
jobs or during long interruptions in a
job. During long interruptions in a
job, replace the can lid, and either
clean brushes or rollers, or suspend
them in water.
Paint a room's ceiling first. Don't
try to paint too wide a strip at a time.
The next strip should be started and
lapped into the previous one before
the previous one dries. Paint strips
across the narrow width of the room.
"Cut in" at the junction with the
walls before painting the walls, even
when applying two coats on the ceil-
Start painting a wall at the upper
left corner and work down toward
the floor. If left-handed, start at
upper right corner. See illustration on
Set the ladder at a safe angle when you
You may want to refinish your
wood floors to complement your
paint job. This should be done before
Complete renewal of the floors
requires complete removal of the old
finish. This can be done by sanding
or with paint and varnish remover.
Sanding is probably the fastest and
easiest method. Electric sanders can
be rented. Be sure to sand with the
grain of the wood until you have a
clean, smooth surface.
To retain the natural color, hard-
wood floors should be refinished with
varnish, penetrating sealer, or shellac.
To change the color, stain may be
applied-preferably on the raw
wood. Oil stains are the easiest to
One or more coats of wax will help
protect your new floors.
Paint dealers generally have
instruction pamphlets on re-doing
Concrete floors can be painted, but
it is important to use an enamel that
has good alkali resistance. There are
good rubber-based, epoxy, and ure-
thane types available. Also available
and recommended are latex paints
made especially for concrete floors.
Clean dirt and grease from con-
crete floors before you paint them.
Trisodium phosphate is a good
cleaner to use.
Slick concrete floors should be
roughened slightly before they are
painted. To roughen or etch the
floor, treat it with a solution of I
gallon of muriatic acid mixed with 2
gallons of water. After treating, rinse
the floor thoroughly and allow it to
dry completely before painting. Pro-
tect yourself and other surfaces from
direct contact with the acid.
On the exterior start painting at a
high point of the house-at a corner
or under the eave. Paint from top to
bottom. Complete one wall before
Apply paint to an unpainted area
and work into the wet edge of the
previously painted portion. Use long,
sweeping arm strokes, keeping an
even pressure on the brush or roller.
Apply both sides of each brushfull.
Painting walls with a roller: (1) Starting at the upper left-hand corner, brush a strip just
below the ceiling line for a width of 2 feet. Also paint a strip along the left edge from
the ceiling to the floor. (2) Starting in an unpainted area, roll upward toward the
painted area. (3) Complete an area about 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep at a time. (4) At
the bottom of the wall, "cut in" with the brush where you couldn't reach with the roller.
Use a cardboard guard to protect the woodwork.
End each stroke with a light, lifting
motion. Paint along the grain of
wood. When you finish an area, go
over it with light, quick strokes to
smooth any minor marks and to
recoat any unnoticed thin spots.
On windows, paint the wood
dividing the glass first. Then paint the
frame, trim, sill, and apron. Follow
the order shown in the drawing on
Shutters and storm sash are easier
to paint if removed from the house
and laid flat on supports. Clean off
dust and dirt before painting them.
Shrubbery might need to be covered
with drop cloths.
Some people prefer to paint the
windows after the walls have been
completed. Some people prefer the
opposite. In any event, be sure which-
ever is painted first is completely dry
before painting the other.
Windows are easier to paint and to
clean afterward if the glass is masked.
One simple way to protect the glass
is to cover it with a piece of wet
newspaper. The moisture will paste it
J" -* -- --- ____
Paint windows in this order: (1) Mullions,
(2) horizontal of sash, (3) verticals of
sash, (4) verticals of frame, (5) hori-
zontal frame and sill.
to the glass and also prevent paint
from soaking into the absorbent
paper. When you strip the paper
from the glass after painting, the
paint will come with it. Another
method is to wipe a light layer of
petroleum jelly such as Vaseline
around the edges of the glass with
your finger. After the paint has dried,
the jelly and paint can be cleaned
away with any ordinary glass
cleaning compounds or formulations.
Both masking tape and liquid
masking are available at hardware
and paint stores. Masking tape is
applied around all edges of the glass,
bordering all wood areas to be
painted. When the paint is dry to the
touch, remove the masking tape.
Waiting too long may result in dried
paint cracking upon removal of the
tape, causing damage to the new
If so desired, no masking need be
applied. However, paint smeared on
the glass may be removed with a sin-
gle-edged razor blade or other suit-
able scraper. After the paint is set but
before it hardens, cut through the
paint where the glass meets the wood.
Then, starting at one corner, carefully
scrape up a section of the paint, and
slowly lift it off the glass. If this strip
of paint breaks, again carefully peel
up a section large enough to grasp
with your fingers, and continue to
carefully lift it away from the glass.
Other drips or splatters of paint inad-
vertently applied to the glass may be
easily scraped off at the same time.
As noted earlier, flush doors can be
painted with a roller. On paneled
doors, some parts can be painted
with a roller, others will require a
brush. If you prefer your doors and
other trim in natural color, see below.
USING NATURAL FINISHES AND STAINS
Some doors, particularly flush
doors, and other inside woodwork
can be quite attractive with the nat-
ural wood grain exposed. However,
they will discolor and soil easily
unless protected. For such protection,
many kinds of products are now on
the market and new ones often
appear. Your paint dealer should be
able to offer suggestions on how to
finish inside woodwork.
The first step is to be assured of the
proper color tone. To help you make
a decision, you can experiment on
scrap pieces of wood-preferably the
same kind of wood.
The next step is sealing. One coat
of shellac is usually adequate. When
the shellac is dry, the surface should
be sanded smooth, wiped free of dust,
and varnished. Rubbing the surface
with linseed oil, as is done in fur-
niture finishing, provides a nice soft
finish, but requires more work. Lin-
seed oil finishes also tend to collect
dust more readily.
Penetrating sealers are useful.
Sometimes no staining is required-
the clear finish alone is enough to
bring out the desired color tone. This
finish is useful for doors, paneling,
framing, or furniture.
For a natural finish on interior
trim, you need to specify the desired
kind and grade of wood at time of
construction but this can add sub-
stantially to construction costs.
Natural finishes come as surface-
coating finishes and as penetrating
finishes. An exterior varnish is not
very durable. It may have to be refin-
ished every 1 or 2 years.
Penetrating stains do not fail by
peeling. The U.S. Forest Service
developed "Forest Products Labora-
tory (FPL) Natural Finish" is one of
the more durable types. It has a lin-
seed oil vehicle and contains ingredi-
ents to protect against mildew and
excessive water entry at siding joints.
It also contains enough durable pig-
ment to provide color, but not
Repaint Only When
Too frequent repainting with an
oil-base paint builds up an exces-
sively thick film that is more sensitive
to the deteriorating effects of the
weather. Ordinarily, every 6 to 8 years
will be often enough to repaint a
Sheltered areas, such as eaves and
porch ceilings, may not need painting
every time the body of the house is
painted; every other time may be suf-
enough to hide the grain of the wood.
One initial brush application should
last about 3 to 4 years on a smooth
surface, but 2 coats applied to a rough
surface could last about 10 years.
Penetrating stains are especially rec-
ommended as a finish for exterior
Good penetrating stains are inex-
pensive, more durable than clear
coatings, and are easily maintained.
Stains penetrate and color the wood.
Common colors are dark brown,
green, red, and yellow; however,
almost any color or shade is possible,
except white. The most natural of all
exterior finishes are the water-repel-
lent preservatives. These prevent
greying of wood by mildew and per-
mit the wood to weather to a light
brown color. They do need to be
refurbished, however, about every 2
years. Pigmented stains or paints can
be applied over the preservative type
finishes at any time.
Whitewashing is a relatively simple
and inexpensive way to brighten the
interior of livestock and other service
buildings. The whitewash may be
applied with either a brush or a spray
Remove all dirt, scale, and loose
material by scraping or brushing with
a wire brush. Many whitewashing
jobs have been quite satisfactory
without further surface preparation.
However, for the best job, wash off
as much of the old coat of whitewash
as possible with hot water and vin-
egar or weak hydrochloric acid solu-
Dampen the walls before applying
whitewash. Unlike most paints, the
application and adherence of white-
wash are improved when the surface
is slightly damp.
Lime paste is the basis of white-
wash. Protect your eyes and skin
during mixing. It may be prepared by
(a) Soaking 50 pounds of hydrated
lime in 6 gallons of water. Refined
limes such as chemical hydrate, agri-
cultural spray hydrate, finishing lime,
and pressure hydrated lime, have
fewer lumps and will make a
(b) Slaking 25 pounds of quick-
lime in 10 gallons of boiling water.
Cover and allow to slake at least 4
Each of these preparations makes
about 8 gallons of paste.
Different whitewash mixes are sug-
gested for different surfaces. Smaller
batches of whitewash may be pre-
pared by reducing the ingredients by
an equal proportion in the formulas
For general woodwork
Dissolve 15 pounds of salt in 5 gal-
lons of water. Add this solution to
the 8 gallons of paste, stirring con-
stantly. Thin the preparation to the
desired consistency with fresh water.
To reduce chalking, use 5 pounds
of dry calcium chloride instead of the
For brick, concrete, or stone
Add 25 pounds of white Portland
cement and 25 pounds of hydrated
lime to 8 gallons of water. Mix thor-
oughly to a thick slurry. Thin to the
consistency of thick cream. Mix only
enough for a few hours use.
To reduce chalking, add 1 to 2
pounds of dry calcium chloride dis-
solved in a small amount of water to
the mix just before using.
For plaster walls
Either of three formulas are recom-
(a) Soak 5 pounds of casein in 2
gallons of water until thoroughly
softened-about 2 hours. Dissolve 3
pounds of trisodium phosphate in 1
gallon of water, add this solution to
the lime, and allow the mixture to
dissolve. When the lime paste and the
casein are thoroughly cool, slowly
add the casein solution to the lime,
Just before use, dissolve 3 pints of
formaldehyde in 3 gallons of water,
and add this solution to the white-
wash batch, stirring constantly and
vigorously. Do not add the for-
maldehyde too rapidly. If the solu-
tion is added too fast, the casein may
form a jelly-like mass, thus spoiling
(b) Dissolve 3 pounds of animal
glue in 2 gallons of water. Add this
solution to the lime paste, stirring
constantly. Thin the mixture to the
The first formula, or mix, given for
use on plaster walls, above, is a time-
tested, long-life mix also suitable for
general use. The following is also:
Dissolve 6 pounds of salt in 3 gal-
lons of boiling water. Allow the solu-
tion to cool, and then add it to the
lime paste. Stir 3 pounds of white
Portland cement into the mix.
Pigments may be added to white-
wash to provide color. The following
have proven satisfactory:
Black: Magnetic black oxide of iron
Blue: Ultramarine or cobalt blue
Brown: Pure precipitated brown
oxide of iron or mixtures of black
oxide or iron with turkey or
Green: Chromium oxide, opaque, or
chromium oxide, hydrated
Red: Indian red made from pure
Violet: Cobalt violet and mixtures of
reds, white, and blues
White: Lime itself
Yellow: Precipitated hydrated iron
Some surfaces may require two
coats of whitewash. Two coats are
better than one coat that is too thick.
Strain the mix through three layers
of cheesecloth before using a spray
After each job, replace the can lid,
making sure that it is on tight.
Brushes, rollers, and other equipment
should be cleaned as soon as possible
Equipment used to apply oil-base
paint may be a little harder to clean.
Soak brushes in turpentine or thinner
long enough to loosen the paint.
Then work the bristles against the
bottom of the container to release the
paint. To release the paint in the
center of the brush, squeeze or work
the bristles between the thumb and
forefinger. Rinse the brush in the tur-
pentine or thinner again, and, if nec-
essary, wash it in mild soapsuds.
Rinse in clear water.
Some paint failures can be avoided
by simply following the directions on
the paint can label. In fact, some of
the new paints are guaranteed against
specific failures if applied according
to directions. The following are some
of the more common paint failures.
Blistering and Peeling
Excessive wetting of the paint from
behind or from the front will cause
blistering, peeling, and discoloration
problems. Water from rain, melted
snow behind ice dams, or condensed
water vapor may be getting in behind
Prevention and correction
Correct possible problems before
painting. Some searching may be
required to detect the source. Check
for leaks in roofs and sidewalls. Is the
cause related to a damp basement?
Are insulation, vapor barriers, and
ventilation adequate? Make sure
moisture from such appliances as a
clothes drier is vented to the outside.
Check for leaky plumbing.
Remove all loose paint. Apply a
water-repellent preservative to joints
that show damage; allow them to dry
2 days, or as directed on the con-
tainer label. Prime bare surfaces and
repaint. Use blister-resistant paint.
Cross-grain cracking may be
caused by too-frequent repainting
with oil-base paint. The thick paint
coating built up by many paintings
becomes too hard to stand the con-
stant expansion and contraction of
the wood and eventually cracks.
Prevention and correction
Repaint only when necessary.
Remove all of the paint, down to
the bare wood. Prime the bare wood
properly and repaint.
Mildew may occur where con-
tinuous warm and damp conditions
Prevention and correction
If possible, correct moisture condi-
tion that promotes mildew. Use mil-
dew-resistant paint or add a mildew
resistant compound to the paint.
Thoroughly remove all signs of
mildew before repainting. To remove
mildew, mix one quart household
bleach and three quarts warm water.
Scrub the mildewed surface thor-
oughly with this solution. Next, give
the surface a thorough rinsing with
fresh water. Be sure to wash your
hands and arms well when you are
Caution against mixing ammonia
with bleach. Mixed together, the two
are a lethal combination, similar to
mustard gas. There have been several
instances of people dying from
breathing the fumes from such a mix-
ture. Many household cleaners con-
tain ammonia, so consumers must be
extremely careful in what types of
cleaners with which they mix bleach.
AVOID MIXING BLEACH WITH
AMMONIA OR ANY
DETERGENTS OR CLEANSERS
CONTAINING AMMONIA! Such a
combination can be lethal if the
fumes are breathed.
The household bleach solution will
kill the mildew growth and remove it.
Usually, dirt will be removed by this
treatment also. If dirt remains on the
surface, wash with a detergent recom-
mended for cleaning painted surfaces.
Rinse the area well with clear water
and allow it to dry thoroughly before
Wear rubber gloves when applying
bleach solution, and protect plants.
People with a known allergy to
bleach or especially sensitive skin
should avoid all skin contact with
Intercoat peeling is usually caused
by lack of adhesion between the top
and under coats. The primer and top
coats of oil-base paint are incompat-
ible because of too long a delay
between coats or the surface was too
smooth, hard, glossy, or oily. Latex
paint will separate from old paint
surfaces which are excessively chalky
because latex paint systems will not
Prevention and correction
To provide for good wetting and
adhesion, apply primer and top coats
within 2 days to 2 weeks of each
other. Remove gloss with a strong
detergent, steel wool, or fine sand-
paper. Remove oil or grease with
mineral spirits or a household cleaner
that contains ammonia.
Remove chalk materials before
painting with latex and test for adhe-
sion of paint by seeing how well exis-
ting paint resists being pulled off by
tape such as is used for mending torn
paper. Remove all loose paint, sand
the edges, properly prime the bare
surfaces, and repaint.
Chalking or other characteristics
that might cause discoloration of
adjacent surfaces should be consid-
ered when choosing paint. Chalking
may occur where poor quality paint
was used, the paint was improperly
applied, or the paint was thinned
- -- -
If You Have the Painting
You may prefer to have all or part
of your painting done by a pro-
fessional painter. Painting con-
tractors usually offer three grades of
paint jobs: premium, standard, and
minimum. The difference is in the
quality and cost of the work. When
you hire a contractor, it is a good
idea to get a signed agreement speci-
The specific price for the job.
Exactly what areas or surfaces
are to be painted.
The types, brands, and quality of
paints to be used and the number of
coats, including primer coats, to be
The measures to be taken to pro-
tect the floors, furnishings, and other
parts of the house.
A complete cleanup guarantee.
A completion date (allowing for
possible delays-because of bad
weather for example).
Check the contractor's work with
friends or neighbors who may have
hired him in the past. Be sure that he
is adequately insured as required by
pertinent local regulations; otherwise,
you could be held liable for accidents
that might occur on your property.
Prevention and correction
Use non-chalking paint.
Remove the chalky materials by
brushing the surface or washing it
with mineral spirits or a good house-
hold cleanser. Apply two coats of
good quality paint. Allow 3 days
drying time between coats.
The following related publications
are available as indicated below.
Please be sure to include your full
name, address, and ZIP Code when
ordering any publications.
For sale only, and may be obtained
by writing directly to the Super-
intendent of Documents, U.S. Gov-
ernment Printing Office, Washington,
Wood Decay in Houses: How to Pre-
vent and Control It. USDA Home
and Garden Bulletin No. 73, 1969.
A limited number of single free
copies of the following publication
may be obtained by writing directly
to the Office of Governmental and
Public Affairs, U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
Wood Siding: Installing, Finishing,
Maintaining. USDA Home &
Garden Bulletin No. 203, 1973.
Single free copies of the following
publications may be obtained by
writing directly to the U.S. Forest
Products Laboratory, U.S. Forest
Service, U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture, P. O. Box 5130, Madison, Wis-
Forest Products Laboratory Natu-
ral Finish, Note FPL-046, 1975.
Note FPL-0124, 1978.
Weathering of Wood, Note
Painting Outside Wood Surfaces,
Note FPL-0123, 1972.
Blistering, Peeling, and Cracking
of House Paints From Moisture, Note
Mildew on House Paints, Note
How to Refinish Wood Siding with
Latex Paints, Note FPL-0232, 1976.
Department publications contain
public information. They are not
copyrighted and may be reproduced
in whole or in part with or without
U.S. Government Printing Office : 1980 0-309-745
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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