Tricks, Techniques, and Treatments
rooms featured here were the result of a joint project undertaken
by the National Paint and Coatings Association and Woman's Day
magazine for an article in the May 1981 issue of the magazine.
Themed, Paint Tricks, Techniques and Treatments, the idea of
the project was to actually transform a new, unadorned home with
interesting uses of paint. The association hired an interior
designer to create a houseful of fresh and exciting paint uses
for the Virginia home chosen for the project. The result was
a house with paint that looks like paneling and paint that looks
like a satin wallcovering - rooms that were architecturally bland
became stunning with rich new color combinations and clever paint
tricks. The house became a showcase for the special versatility
and beauty that only paint can offer in home decorating.
Perhaps the best
aspect of the paint treatments used in the house is that they
can all be done by the do-it-yourselfer with this explanation
of how the techniques were done - a helpful guide whether you
plan to do the painting yourself or oversee a contractor's work.
The living room in the house selected for the project was long
and narrow. It had only two small windows at the front of the
room, and no architecturally redeeming features.
Color and unique
paint treatments were used to change the room from average-looking
to something special. The walls were painted peach and the ceiling
became sky blue - to brighten the dark room. A deeper peach was
used to paint a ceiling border, since no decorative molding had
been built into the room. The final distinction was made by outlining
each window with a floral stencil to accentuate the floral fabric
of the draperies. The back wall of the room was painted a shade
lighter than the other walls. This helped to offset the problem
of limited natural light
The stencil pattern used in the living room is versatile - designed
to work well with many different floral prints simply by changing
the colors. Other stencil designs may be purchased at decorating
centers and craft stores. Or, if you aren't satisfied with what
is available in stores, you can make your own stencil using materials
available in most office or art supply stores.
- Find a design
that you like or use your creativity to design your own. A simple
pattern is best - one that will be easy to trace, cut out, and
- Transfer the
design onto a piece of clear acetate by tracing it with a wax
- Using an artist's
knife with a #11 blade, carefully cut out the design.
To apply the
stencil design to a wall:
- Measure the
stencil as well as the distance of the area you will apply it
- Compute how
many times the design will be repeated, allowing for a neat arrangement
- Hold the stencil
in place and lightly mark the wall where the design should appear.
You might want to reverse the design by flipping the stencil
over each time it is painted, creating a more interesting pattern.
- Before painting,
tape the stencil to the wall to keep it in place.
- Using fine artist's
brushes, a sponge brush, a regular bristle brush, or even your
finger, outline or completely fill in the design with either
a latex or oil-based interior paint in your choice of colors.
- Work slowly
and use a small amount of paint on the applicator.
- Wipe off the
stencil each time it is moved to prevent paint smears.
Builders rarely include crown molding in a new home these days.
Homeowners can install it themselves as a decorative accent,
or they can paint a border at the ceiling line as the designer
chose to do in the living room, master bedroom and study of the
house. To paint a ceiling border in a room of your house:
Prime the ceiling
- Measure the
border using a wooden yardstick to ensure a straight line. Mark
the outer edges with a pencil or chalk. (Our living room border
extended two inches onto the ceiling and three inches down onto
the wall. In the master bedroom and study, the border extended
two inches onto the ceiling and four inches onto the wall.)
- Cover the sections
of the ceiling and wall adjacent to the border with plastic tape.
(We suggest using a plastic tape designed for painting racing
stripes on automobiles. Unlike paper masking tape, the special
tape will not allow paint to seep beneath its edges. It can be
purchased at well-stocked paint stores or auto supply stores.)
- Paint the border
in your choice of interior wall paints.
- Allow the border
to dry, then remove the tape from the ceiling and walls.
- Tape the border
for protection while painting the walls and ceiling. Remove the
tape when all walls have dried.
The dining room in the home had similar beginnings to the living
room - it was a bland room with no architectural details. The
designer decided to remedy that situation by continuing the tudor
theme found on the home's exterior. She had the ceiling painted
mauve for a flattering dining atmosphere and she suggested a
sand finish textured paint on the main part of the walls for
a stucco effect.
A special paint
treatment which simulates fine wood paneling was used for trimwork
and the lower third of the walls and became the room's best feature.
Without fail, first-time visitors to the house thought the dining
room had been paneled and had difficulty believing that it was
a creative paint treatment instead!
The simulated wood paneling effect was achieved with wood molding
and tinted glaze. Glaze, a versatile coating used for many special
paint techniques, can be purchased in ready-mix form at good
paint stores. To get a certain color, the clear gaze is tinted
with universal tinting colors - also available at well-stocked
paint stores. Here's how you can use wood molding, paint and
glaze to achieve the same wood paneling effect in your home:
- Install crown
molding along the ceiling line and chair rail molding about one-third
of the way up the wall. Between the chair rail molding and baseboard,
install strips of panel molding in evenly spaced rectangles.
- Prime the molding
with an alkyd enamel undercoat tinted slightly with universal
tinting colors to match the color of the base coat of paint.
- Lightly sand
over the primer coat.
- Caulk the molding
at the joints.
- Fill all nail
head holes with putty.
- Apply the base
coat of paint to the crown molding, window trim, chair rail molding,
baseboard, and the wall section below the chair rail. To determine
what color base coat to use, select a sample piece of real wood
paneling you would like to copy. Match the base coat to the lightest
shade in the sample. A paint retailer will match and mix it for
- Next, tint your
glaze with universal tinting colors. Match the glaze coat to
the darkest shade in the sample piece of paneling. Use a ratio
of between 5 and 10 percent tinting color to the amount of paint
-- or, less than one pint of tinting color per gallon of paint.
We recommend adding a small amount of tinting color and then
testing the mixture on sample wallboard. Keep adding the tint
and testing the glaze until you get the exact color you want.
- After the paint
base is completely dry, brush a coat of the tinted glaze over
- Allow the glaze
to set about 10 minutes so that the solvents it contains may
evaporate. Timing is important the glaze should set (it will
begin to look dull), not dry.
- Using coarse,
dry brushes brush the surface in the order and directions shown
in figure 2. You will probably need both a two-inch and a four-inch
brush. The brushing directions are important in achieving the
wood grain effect, so work carefully. If a section of the wall
is too long for one smooth brush stroke, brush in from each end
and blend the strokes by overlapping them near the middle of
- Next, splatter
a small amount of glaze lightly onto the wall and molding with
a stiff-bristle brush. This prevents a too-perfect look by creating
slight variations in the depth of color and by subtly adding
texture to the finish.
- Let the glaze
dry for 24 hours and protect the finish with a low lustre/satin
A shimmering deep blue wall created with a special paint combing
technique - lent luxury to the master bedroom. A putty color
paint used for trimwork and the adjoining dressing room worked
well with the blue to add a warm, welcoming feeling.
The bedroom wall looked as if it were covered in moire -- an
expensive, satin-like fabric - but it was actually combed paint.
The technique of paint combing is done by first covering a wall
with one or two coats of regular paint. Next, a coat of glaze
is applied over the paint base. Then a toothed instrument is
used to comb through the glaze. The result of this special paint
technique is so beautiful that it may seem difficult to achieve,
but you'll be surprised how easily you can create the same effect:
- First, apply
a primer-sealer to the walls, tinted to match the color you plan
to paint the walls.
- If you are combing
only one wall as an accent, paint the other walls first.
- For the paint
base on the wall to be combed, mix the color you used on the
other walls with white paint. (Combing will darken the color
of a wall.) A 50/50 ratio is recommended. However, if you choose
to make your accent wall darker than the others, don't lighten
your wall paint.
- Tint a ready-mix
glaze with universal tinting colors to match the color of the
wall (see glaze tinting instructions).
- After the paint
has dried, brush the glaze over the entire wall.
- Allow the glaze
to set about 10 minutes - until the surface begins to look dull.
Be careful to let the glaze set not dry - or it will be impossible
- Combing, or
striating is done with a metal paint comb made specifically for
this type of work, and available at well-stocked paint stores.
(Although the bedroom wall was combed straight down, combing
can be done in any direction. Another popular version is cross-hatching
- combing the wall once straight down and once across the wall
horizontally. Or, comb the wall diagonally - starting at the
upper left hand corner and working toward the lower right hand
corner. If you are really adventurous, comb in wavy lines instead
of straight ones!)
- Comb the wall
twice, overlapping the second line between adjacent comb strokes
- Wipe the glaze
off the comb after each stroke to prevent glaze from building
up. Don't worry about keeping a steady hand or applying consistent
pressure - these inevitable irregularities help create the satiny
appearance you want.
- Allow the glaze
to dry for 24 hours, then apply a low lustre/satin varnish for
The study in the house, adjoining the master bedroom, was small
and boxy, but the dramatic look created by a trellis graphic
on one wall solved those problems. A putty-colored ceiling border
and the same deep blue from the bedroom used on two walls created
continuity between the two connecting rooms.
First, the ceiling
and walls were primed with a primer-sealer. The primer was tinted
to match the color of the topcoat to be used in each area. Then,
two topcoats of a creamy beige were applied to the ceiling.
Next, the ceiling
border was painted. Directions for painting a border are given
under the heading Painting A Ceiling Border. After the trellis
accent wall was completed (see following directions), the other
walls in the room were painted deep blue. The ceiling border
and accent wall were protected with plastic tape during the painting.
With careful planning and a little patience, you can create a
striking trellis design on a wall of your home:
- First, paint
the background of the wall. (We used the same putty color from
the ceiling border.)
- It's a good
idea to sketch a scale diagram of the trellis on graph paper
before you start to mark the wall itself. Make each square of
the graph paper equal to one inch of the wall. We made each diamond
shape 12 inches wide across the middle, but you may alter that
depending on the width of the wall and the number of pattern
- After the background
color has dried, mark the trellis design lightly on the wall
with a pencil or chalk. Use a wooden yardstick to draw diagonal
lines in two directions.
- Before painting
apply plastic masking tape along the outer edges of the design
lines. Apply the tape carefully for a neater design.
- Cut out the
tape where two diagonal lines intersect.
- Paint the lines
in a lighter shade of the background color.
- After the strips
of paint have dried for 24 hours, draw inch-wide highlight strips
- Apply more tape
to frame the highlight strips.
- Paint the highlight
strips white or another very light color.
- When the strips
have completely dried, remove the tape.
We asked our designer to create a very special child's room --
one that would be stimulating in its use of color, distinctive
in its appearance, and above all, a fun place for a child to
spend time. The resulting child's room fills the bill with diagonal
floor stripes, a colorful headboard painted right on the wall,
bright yellow spray-painted furniture, a yellow ceiling, door,
The most striking feature of the room is its floor. The unusual
combination of turquoise and white diagonal stripes is an eye-catcher,
as well as a great way to give the small room extra depth. To
create the floor in your home:
- Prepare the
surface for staining. If your floors are bare and unfinished,
sand them until the surface is smooth. Paint and varnish on previously
finished floors should be removed with a thorough sanding --
most effectively done with an electric sander. When using a power
- The first cuts
should be made at a 45 degree angle to the grain.
- All successive
cuts should be made with the grain of wood.
- On previously
finished wood, start with a #2 or #2 « paper; make the
second cut with a #1 or #1 « paper; the third with a #«;
and finish sanding with a #0 or #00 paper.
- On new wood
that is not very rough, start with a #1 paper and change the
paper in the same order given above.
- If you don't
own an electric sander, you might choose to rent one -- check
the yellow pages under the heading Rental.
- Vacuum the surface
of the floor after sanding to remove dust and other debris.
- Wipe the floor
with a mop slightly dampened with mineral spirits. The floor
should not become wet -- it should simply be wiped lightly to
remove dirt and grease.
- Apply two coats
of colored stain to the floor. (We used a turquoise stain.) Not
all stains are alike, so it is best to ask your paint retailer
for guidance in selecting one that is appropriate for your project.
- All stains must
be stirred thoroughly before they can be used.
- They are applied
with a brush or soft cloth.
- They should
be applied with the grain of the wood.
- Follow the manufacturer's
directions for use.
- After the stain
has dried, it should be coated with a non-yellowing clear coating.
(Ask your paint retailer for a recommendation.)
- After that coating
has dried, lightly sand it to remove the gloss since a dull surface
promotes better adhesion of the paint.
- Use a piece
of chalk and a straight edge to draw the diagonal lines on the
- Outline the
stripes with plastic tape.
- Paint the stripes.
(We used flat white wall paint.)
- When the stripes
are dry, cover the entire floor with a non-yellowing clear coating
and allow it to dry 24 hours before you use the room.
Painting a headboard on the wall, as our designer suggested for
the child's room, is one of the simplest, fastest and least expensive
ways to brighten a room:
- Using a wooden
yardstick for guidance, lightly draw the headboard on the wall.
This one was 45 inches wide and 42 inches high -- just right
for a child's twin bed. The two outer bands of color extended
down to the floor, while the two inner colors formed rectangles.
- Outline each
section with plastic tape.
- Paint the outer
band first and outer rectangle second. (We used a flat, interior
- Allow these
sections to dry and remove the tape surrounding them.
- Outline the
other two sections with tape, then paint them.
We used four
bright colors to paint the headboard, but other interesting effects
can also be achieved with two alternating colors or with increasingly
darker shades of the same color. One of the best characteristics
of the headboard is that it may be adapted to any existing color
scheme and to any child's favorite colors!
© National Paint & Coatings Association