Geralin Thomas

Article Summary:

Painting basics, covering primers, ceiling paint, what types of paint to use, and more.

Painting Basics

Need a primer on primers? Is your color palette pleasing? If “Décor and More” is the biggest category on your perpetual “to do” list, keep reading.

As a professional organizer I help clients accomplish goals and implement new systems. It isn’t unusual to be asked to organize an upcoming project for them.

Recently a chronically disorganized client (CDC) asked for my assistance organizing a painting project in her home. In each room painters were going to be freshening up the ceilings, crown moldings, baseboards and walls.

The CDC was becoming overwhelmed with all the options and found that picking a paint color was easy compared to some of the other decisions which needed to be made.

Here is a primer on painting; perhaps this information will be useful to you too.

The “Lingerie” of Paint -- Primers
Fact: Primers can be oil or water based.

My spin: Primers are like underwear. Primers are optional. IF using a primer, it is the coat of paint applied before anything else. No one will know its there once the “real” coat of paint is applied. Primers can be white or tinted. Tinted primers are used if the wall color is going to be darker.

Confused? Think of primers as you do braziers. Wearing an ivory-colored blouse? Wear an ivory-colored bra. Same is true if wearing a red or black blouse; wear a darker colored bra. When painting walls a deep color use a dark primer.

And, just like great foundations help clothing look better on less than perfect figures, primers help paint look better on the walls. Primer helps cover stains and encourages paint to adhere to walls evenly.

Taking it From the Top -- Ceiling Paint
Who knew that there are now ceiling paints that are colored when you apply them but they dry white? If you are wondering why this is helpful you’ve obviously never painted a ceiling. It’s tricky (and a killer on your neck) to find spots you’ve missed. Tinted ceiling paint is, as Martha would say, “A Good Thing.”

Types of Paint
This is one of the first questions paint vendors ask so be prepared. Your options are: latex, oil base, and enamel.

  • Latex: fast drying. It is used indoors. Cleans up with soap and water--easily.
  • Oil Base: Has a strong odor and dries slowly. Used on cabinets and trim. Clean up requires mineral spirits and elbow work.
  • Enamel: has a sheen to it and is used a lot in kitchen and baths because it is resistant to smudges and finger prints.

TIP: If you are painting a humid room you may want a paint with mildicide in it.

Find a Finish
Your options are flat, eggshell, satin, semi gloss, and high gloss.

Sort of chalky to the touch, flat paint doesn’t reflect light and is sheen-free; it looks nice because the colors are saturated but it can be tough to clean. Some flat paints have a matte finish which can be washed.

Eggshell has a slight luster to it and it looks nicest on smooth, flat walls. It is easier to clean than flat and smoother to the touch. Its great in long hallways where kids can’t keep their hands off the walls.

Satin has a little bit more luster than eggshell and cleans easily. Show little bumps and lumps in walls. Nice for trim work though.

Semi gloss reflects light and washes nicely. It is used on fireplace surrounds, window trim, and doorframes.

High gloss paint is like gooey lip gloss. It is super shiny and looks like lacquer. It washes easily. It is used on frames, cabinets, and doors when a reflective look is desired. Catches light beautifully but magnifies every blemish. It reminds me of historical European store fronts with beautiful millwork.

Tools to Hunt and Gather Before You Begin


  • Natural-hair brushes for oil based paints
  • Nylon-polyester brushes for latex paints
  • Use a 2.5 inch brush for edge work


  • Sheep’s wool rollers for oil based paints
  • Synthetics with latex paints
  • ¾ in nap is good for most jobs
  • Roller handle


  • Corner tape--triangle-shaped wedges of tape that fit into corners. Great for painting windows frames.
  • Curving tape--fits around doorknobs, oval or circular windows.
  • Wide type tape to tape off everything
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint tray and liner
  • Screwdriver (to remove cover plates*)
  • Ladders
  • Rags

Now that you’re rolling picking a pleasing color palette should be easy.

TIP: Place a piece of painter’s tape on the back of the cover plate. Write the name and number of the paint colors used in each room.

Geralin Thomas of METROPOLITAN Organizing is experienced in both residential and home office organizing. She always considers the lifestyle, budget, and personality of each client. Geralin works with homeowners, designers, builders, architects, and businesses creating organized environments and enhancing client's lives. Metropolitan Organizing is located in Cary, NC and can be reached at (919) 380-7718 or via website at: Metropolitan

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