All About Paint

    What is Paint?

    Basic noun definition of paint is a pigmented (solid component) liquid, applied like a light film, to protect and beautify surfaces.

    What Paint is Made Of:

    Various raw materials to make paint fall into Pigment, Resin, or Solvent that make up two portions of paint. The liquid portion is resin and solvent. The pigment is the solid portion.

    Primary Pigment is commonly titanium dioxide, its amount impacting greatly on the hiding capabilities of the paint film and its UV protection.

    Secondary Pigments could consist of talc, silics, calcium carbonate, mica, etc. They have little hiding capabilities. Basically used as fillers to help control viscosity, leveling, sheen, etc. (see Common Terms Glossary.)

    About Painting Tools:

    BRUSHES, ROLLERS, PAINT PADS. "Do-it-yourselfers" main three types of paint applications to choose from. All three can be used for a variety of painting jobs, the most common uses are:

    Brushes: Interior trim; Exterior trim; Exterior siding; Detail work and accessories; Wood.

    Rollers: Interior walls and ceilings; Exterior walls such as stucco, masonry; Floors.

    Paint Pads: Interior walls and ceilings; Floors; Exterior siding; Shakes and Shingles; Wood staining.

    BRUSH & ROLLER FIBERS. Made with either natural or synthetic fibers. (All paint pads are synthetic.) Natural is not necessarily better. It depends on the job! Natural fibers work best only with oil based paints. The water in latex paints make the brush or roller soggy.

    Synthetic quality fibers such as polyester work well with both oil and latex paints. Nylon wears well but works only with latex paints.

    Natural Brush: China bristle
    Natural Roller: Lambs wool
    Synthetic Brush: Polyester Nylon
    Synthetic Roller: Polyester Blends

    BRUSH SIZES. Larger brush holds more paint than a smaller one, which makes painting faster. Smaller brush easier to use in hard-to-reach places.

    BRUSH STYLES. Two basic styles: (1) Flat, where the edge of the bristles are straight across, and (2) Angular, where the edge of the bristles are on a slanted edge.

    BRUSH HANDLES. The best choice from the different shapes and sizes is simply the one most comfortable for your individual use. Long handles may be preferable when painting trim and hard-to-reach areas.

    BRISTLE TYPES. Basically three types: (1) China Bristle, recommended for oil or alkyd based paints, stains, varnishes, shellacs, enamels, and fine finishing paints. (see Common Terms Glossary), (2) Polyester or Polyester/Nylon Blend Bristle for all types of latex paints, and (3) Nylon Bristle, recommended for latex paints, but not for hot, outdoor work. Nylon bristles tend to lose stiffness.

    Brush Recommendations:


    Large areas: Walls, ceilings, exteriors, etc. 3"-6" wall, flat

    Detailed areas: Doors, cabinets, shelves, furniture, etc. 1"-3" angular or flat

    Hard-to-Reach Areas: Window sash, eaves, molding, woodwork, etc. 1"-3" angular or round

    How to Select Roller Covers ROLLER COVER SIZES. Lengths from three to nine inches long. As with brushes, choose best roller you are personally comfortable with. Most painters prefer the nine inch roller cover for standard painting jobs.

    ROLLER COVER NAP HEIGHT. Nap height is the length out of the material on the roller cover. It is important because certain nap heights perform better on specific surfaces.

    For textured surfaces, when texture paint is used, a specialty texture roller cover is recommended and will make your job easier and probably more decorative. Sutherlands has a large variety for all styles and designs. Visit or call Location nearest you or e-mail us for further information and ideas.



    Smooth surfaces: Interior/Exterior Smooth Kitchen, bath, metal Semi-Gloss/Gloss 1/8" to 3/8"

    Semi-Smooth surfaces: Interior/Exterior Medium Walls, ceilings, floors Flat & Satin 3/8" to 1/2" shingles, plaster, etc.

    Semi-Rough surfaces: Interior/Exterior Rough Driveways, concrete, All types of paints 3/4" to 1" masonry, old ceilings, brick, etc.

    Extra-Rough surfaces: Interior/Exterior Extra Rough Cinder block, chain All types of paints 1" or more link fences, old & tough surfaces, etc.

    For other optional and/or recommended painting tools and equipment, see Interior Preparation & Painting Hints.


    Plan Ahead! Study your room for size, sun exposure, decorating objectives, and room's use and lifestyle needs. Purchase the correct tools, equipment, paint, any protective coverings, and be sure there is correct interior ventilation. Ventilation means opened doors and/or windows and any operating fans turned on.

    Surfaces to be painted must be clean, smooth, and free from dirt or obvious dust, mildew, grease, flaking and chipping paint, wax, wallpaper paste, glue, and rust.

    New plaster or new masonry surfaces must be cured and thoroughly dry for a minimum of thirty days before painting with latex primer.

    Cracks, open seams and holes should be filled with a quality patching or spackle compound, allowed to dry thoroughly, sanded smooth and spot primed with appropriate primer.

    Slick or glossy surfaces must be dulled or de-glossed with medium sandpaper. New wood should be sanded smooth, wiped clean, and primed with enamel undercoat.

    Countersink all nails, spot prime with a rust-control primer, putty flush with surface, and then prime.

    Flat wall paint tends to hide wall imperfections and reduce lighting glare, giving a "softer" look than the semi-gloss that has a higher sheen.

    Semi-gloss paint has excellent stain-removal properties so is better for kitchens, bathrooms, as well as door and window trim.

    A slight color change upon paint's drying is most prevalent in lower quality flat wall paints. They tend to "lighten" because the dry paint film may be thinner. Premium quality flat wall and semi-gloss paints may tend to darken slightly upon drying since the latex binder is milky white when wet and clear when dry.

    Remember you are probably looking at a very small chip or picture of a color. It will normally appear somewhat darker on a wide expanse of wall. The room size, sun exposure, and/or other colors in the room may also influence how the color tint appears once on the wall.

    On surfaces that have never been painted or areas that have become bare, the first coat should always be a prime coat. The primer seals the porous surface so the paint you want to show (topcoat) doesn't soak in and dry unevenly. The prime coat also forms a tight bond between the topcoat and the actual surface. The topcoat paint can label should recommend a type of primer. On new wood, you may prefer an alkyd primer. (see Common Terms Glossary.)

    The best way to paint a ceiling is to work across the width of the ceiling rather than the length, painting about two-foot wide, slightly-overlapping strips.


    Just as in any major project undertaking, the most important steps are the planning and preparation. Plan ahead about your paint color choices while you are also planning the type and amount of paint.

    If possible, it's a good idea to purchase paint with all matching color gallons having the same number batch code. At least, try to use one batch code on one side of the room (or house). Today's color matching techniques eliminate most color-matching problems.

    Most companies' paint departments have high-tech measuring and computer color mixing formulas to achieve the exact color tint you have chosen from paint samples or to match a customized decorating color tint from your own sample item. (such as a piece of cloth, ceramic, porcelain, wood, picture, flowers, etc.)

    Each mixed paint can should be computer accurate if your sales representative is correctly following the formula. During this time you may want to pay close attention to their adding the formula and the mixing time. Sutherlands guarantees their color mix for your convenience and confidence.

    However, if you should have some reservations about absolute color perfection or you have an extremely "critical eye," to be even more certain that all the gallons are the same tint, place all the gallons in one separate, large container and thoroughly mix them together before you begin painting. (Known as "Boxing.")

    Colors are often associated with our moods and emotions .

    Yellows, oranges, and reds are warm colors. Greens, blues, and purples are cool colors. Consider the "temperature" of a color if you want to "warm up" a room that may be on the shady side of the house. Rooms with a southern exposure are already naturally more on the warmer side so you may want to consider a cool color.

    Colors visually "alter" the proportions of rooms.

    Light colors like white or yellow are airy, expansive, and cheerful. Use light colors in small, dark areas that you may want to appear larger and brighter.

    A light color of paint on a low ceiling will make the ceiling seem higher.

    Dark colors like blue or brown help create a cozy, sophisticated feeling in oversized rooms. A long narrow room can be made to appear wider by painting both shorter walls a darker color than the longer walls.

    A dark color of paint on a high ceiling will make it seem lower.

    Optional or Recommended Protective Equipment

  • Safety Glasses
  • Splash Goggles
  • Dust/Mist Respirator
  • Vapor/Paint Spray Respirator
  • Vapor Respirator
  • Air-Supplying Respirator
  • Protective Clothing
  • Gloves

        If there is any doubt about adequate ventilation, especially in confined areas, use the highest recommended level of personal protection.

    Purchasing Correct Amount Of Paint

    The amount depends on the type of paint, the kind of surface, and the amount of surface.

    To compute the surface area:
    Measure height and width of each area.
    Multiply to find number of surface square feet.
    Look at gallon paint can label for the number of square feet each gallon covers.
    Divide that into the number of square feet to obtain the number of gallons of paint per coat.

    It's important to apply the paint at the spreading rate recommended on the label.


    SKIN: Avoid exposing skin to overspray, liquid solvents, and vapors. Protect your hands against solvents. Wear neoprene or chemical-resistant gloves.

    If paint comes into contact with skin, promptly wipe away. Clean thoroughly with waterless hand cleaner and soap and water. If skin irritation occurs and persists-or worsens-see your doctor.

    If coating is accidentally injected into the skin during airless spray application, GET IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION!

    EYES: Always wear safety glasses with side shields to protect your eyes whenever and however you paint. This is an absolute minimum safety requirement. Vapor-tight splash goggles may be required to keep paint oversprays, splatters, and solvent vapors out of the eyes. This is important during spray application and ceiling painting.

    If eye irritation seems to become serious, or simply persists, stop the project and get immediate medical attention. If paint actually gets into the eyes, flush immediately with large amounts of clean water for a full fifteen minutes. Get immediate medical attention.

    NEVER wear contact lenses while painting. Overspray and/or solvent vapor can become entrapped between lens and eyeball that will cause serious irritation and perhaps potential damage.

    ALL ELSE: In case of accidental inhalation, ingestion, or any other medical problem, CALL your doctor or local Poison Control Center IMMEDIATELY.

    DISPOSAL: Do not put rags and other cleanup materials from leaks and spills into regular trash. Dispose of paint products according to federal, state, and local environmental protection regulations. Never pour paint or thinners into sinks or floor drains.
Sutherlands® provides these project tips and guides as a service to our visitors. Due to possible variance in conditions, equipment, materials and individual skill levels, Sutherlands® assumes no responsibility for losses or injuries incurred during maintenance or repair of your property. Sutherlands® assumes no liability for errors or omissions in the Resources section of this website. Please read and follow any safety precautions provided by tool and equipment manufacturers, and consult a building professional in your area if you have any questions about a repair project. Always check your local codes before building, and obtain the required building permits.