How to Paint Materials Other than Wood

Guy smiling while painting the wall in his room.

Painting is one of the most tedious jobs at home. If you are planning to repaint some areas in your home the tips below will help.

Painting drywall or wood is simple. But, getting the paint to adhere properly while looking good on the first attempt isn’t always easy, especially on some common household materials. Here’s some advice on how to prep and coat some of the different household materials on the first try.

Medium density fiberboard (MDF) can be found on cabinets, bookcases, and trim. MDF can become fuzzy if you wash it, so don’t. Prep it by sanding with 150-grit sandpaper to give the paint something to grip. If the MDF is factory primed, you can just paint it. You should use oil-based paint primer to keep the MDF from swelling, and coat it with latex paint after the primer. Make sure to use two coats of primer on the cut edges.

Masonry is exposed brick and should be cleaned thoroughly by sponge with soap and warm water. Make sure to let the stone dry overnight before using primer. If the masonry was previously painted, you will need to remove chipped paint with a wire brush, and then smooth uneven areas with 100-grit sandpaper. Use water-based primer designed for masonry to ensure that the pores in the stone are sealed. After primer is applied, you can paint it with a latex paint using a brush or roller.

Plastic, such as outlet covers, kids’ toys, or furniture, must be prepped with ammonia based cleaner, and then rinsed off using a damp rag or cloth. After the plastic dries, add texture by sanding the plastic with 150-grit paper so that the primer has something to grab on to. You will need to apply a bonding primer that is made specifically for plastic. After applying the primer, coat it with latex paint. You can use a roller or a brush to apply the paint.

Metal, such as radiators, will need to be cleaned. If the metal isn’t finished, use soap and water. Dry the object immediately if it’s iron or steel. If the metal is already painted, remove chipped paint, and then smooth the metal with 100-grit sandpaper before cleaning it. If the metal contains iron, you will have to use oil-based primer so that the metal doesn’t rust. Otherwise, water-based primer is fine for use. Paint with latex spray paint that is formulated to handle heat in cause you’re painting a radiation or a heat register. Spray on in thin coats to avoid dripping making sure each coat is dry before applying the next.


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