How to Choose the Right Paint for Your Surface

How to Choose the Right Paint for Your Surface

It’s true that you can probably paint anything. But should you paint everything with the same brush? Or the same paint? Absolutely not. Update your metal door, your brick walls, your drywall and more — but do it the right way. And with the right tools. Give the surfaces in and around your home new life by choosing the right paint, brushes, and methods.


The key to a successfully-painted metal surface is in the prep work.

Before You Paint: Use a wire brush to strip the surface. Your aim here is to remove rust and flaking. Wipe all the dust away with a damp cloth. Use a new, clean cloth to thoroughly rub the surface down to create a spotless surface. Sand with 220-grit sandpaper until it’s smooth so you can get a long life out of your paint job. Rinse with water, or wipe down with a damp cloth, and let dry.

The Paint and Process: First, apply an exterior-grade primer that is formulated for metal. It’s smart to do two coats of primer for metal. Once that has dried, apply an exterior-grade paint formulated for metal with a brush or sprayer. You’ll likely need to do at least two coats.


The methods for painting wood are different, depending on if you’re painting bare or painted wood.

Before You Paint: If you’re working with bare wood, sand with fine sandpaper until the surface is smooth. If the wood is already painted, use a non-residue cleaner on it. You can also remove paint with a putty knife. Fill in any dings with wood putty. Sand the wood, and wipe down the surface.

The Painting and Process: Use a paint brush, rather than a foam brush. For bare wood, use a stain-blocking primer first, and finish with latex or oil-based paint. If you need to use more than one coat, sand in between coats. For painted wood, you’ll also want to use a stain-blocking primer. Then finish with latex paint.

Fiberglass Exterior Doors

To do a really good job, this takes a bit of heavy lifting. But the results will be worth it.

Before You Paint: Remove the door and lay it across a pair of saw horses. Remove all hardware, and then sand lightly with sandpaper. There will be dust, and you can get rid of it with a rag that has been dampened with acetone. Let the door dry, and then wash with a mild detergent. Let it dry again.

The Paint and Process: First, prime the surface with an acrylic latex primer. Allow it to dry. Then, using a brush, apply a coat of exterior-grade latex paint with smooth strokes. Lightly sand the surface once it has dried, and then apply a second coat.


  1. Great article. You missed masonry though. If you are painting an external wall then you need to use weather protected paint. Various brands sell this. Hope that helps!

  2. Hey,
    Amazing Post.
    Yep, you are right, we should not paint everything with the same brush or same color.

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