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Choosing the Right Type of Paint for All Types of Materials (page 1 of 4)

Paint is the ultimate designer's medium. For only a few dollars, paint transforms nearly anything into something fresh, dazzling and new. Discover the materials that accept paint and those that you should avoid.

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Learn how to give your stuff new life with a few good strokes. Note: Many manufacturers make specialty paints for specific applications; ask your paint dealer.


Set-up and Prep: Clean brick with a wire brush to remove dirt and grime; be careful not to dig out any mortar. Scrub the masonry with soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Let dry for 48 hours.

Painting: Use a first coat of quality latex primer. When the primer is dry, apply top-quality latex paint that's formulated for use on masonry. Use a long-nap roller to cover most of the surface, and a brush to get into grout lines and crevices. Watch for drips – there's a lot of texture to a brick surface, so keep an eye out for runs. A second coat is recommended.

Heads-up: Don't use a pressure-washer to clean your brick; the risk of gouging out mortar is too great. Note that painting brick is a one-way decision — it's almost impossible to remove paint from brick surfaces.

Ceramic Tile and Porcelain

Set up and Prep: Sand with 150-grit sandpaper to improve adhesion. Clean the tile surfaces with TSP or other non-residue cleaner.

Painting: Use a top-quality acrylic primer. Finish with semi-gloss acrylic interior paint. If you want, paint the grout a contrasting color — but you'll need patience and a steady hand.

Heads up: For best adhesion, allow the paint to cure for 10 days to two weeks before using the surfaces. Don't paint tile floors; there's just too much traffic and abrasion.

Concrete Slabs

Set up and Prep: Wash the slab with TSP or other non-residue cleaner. Remove any old, flaking paint. Treat oily spots with a degreaser. Let everything dry for 48 hours. Etch the surface of the concrete with a mild (10 percent) solution of muriatic acid (make sure you have plenty of ventilation).

Painting: Use a primer and paint specifically formulated for concrete floors. Apply the paint according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Heads up: Make sure your concrete isn't wicking moisture up from underneath. Tape a 2x2-foot piece of plastic to the floor (tape all edges) and wait a couple of days. Check underneath the plastic to make sure no moisture has formed on the underside of the plastic. If it has, your slab isn't a good candidate for paint.

Concrete Block

Set up and Prep: Remove any loose particles and mortar, using a wire brush. Remove efflorescence with a bleach solution made from 1 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Clean the entire surface with TSP or other non-residue cleaner. Let everything dry 48 hours before painting.

Painting: Prepare raw block with a masonry sealer. Let dry thoroughly, then apply a high-quality acrylic latex primer. Finish with acrylic latex paint.

Heads up: For new concrete and block installations: Wait 90 days before applying paint.

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