First Slide

A Great Resource for

Painters of All Skill Levels

This Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide is the quintessential home painting helper for those who have never before picked up a paintbrush, as well as for more experienced do-it-yourselfers who want to take their painting prowess to the next level.


What you will learn

Interior Painting

Tips on painting every room in your home, from kitchen to closets

Exterior Painting

Best way to paint any exterior surface, from wood and masonry to vinyl and aluminum siding

Step-by-Step Instruction

Helpful information to make every project a success

All About Color

Create beautiful color schemes, learn about the psychology of color, and more

Fun Projects

Creative ways to use paint in interior design

Over 90 Topics

Subjects include every step from buying supplies to cleaning up

Samples from the book

Check out a few samples from the nearly 200 pages of valuable painting tips and advice…

Chapter IV

Follow the “60-30-10 Rule” for “Suitable” Color Schemes

To bring proper balance to a color scheme, picture a man in a business suit. The harmonious proportionality between the suit, the shirt, and the tie is a winning combination that can be mimicked to work wonders in any room.

Why does a well-dressed man look striking in business attire? Part of the reason is the relationship between the color “mass” of his clothes. As the dominant color, the suit makes up roughly 60% of the picture; the secondary color of the shirt, 30%; and the punch color in the tie, 10%. The percentages just look and feel right. You can use the same formula when outfitting a room.

The dominant hue in most interior spaces will be the paint color you use on the walls. Typically, that’s the simple part of the equation. Then the thinking begins.

Design-wise, you need to select a secondary color that will comprise 30% of the visual field in a room. This requires some discipline when furnishing the space. Keep in mind the classic appearance of a man in a suit. What would happen if he wore a patchwork plaid instead of a solid color shirt? It would ruin the color balance of the overall look. So, work hard to use a lot of your secondary color, rather than diluting its power by employing multiple, competing shades.

You can have much more fun and freedom with your necktie equivalent – the punch color in your décor. Often, this 10% of the color scheme can be introduced by way of decorative accents such as lamps, pillows, glassware, artwork, or area rugs. For the biggest impact, choose a bold hue. And to give structure to your color scheme, try to have the accents match as closely as possible, color-wise.

Of course, there are other ways to achieve 60-30-10 balance in a room. Rather than painting all of the walls the same color, you could incorporate an accent wall painted in your secondary color. That would enable you to include some furnishings in your dominant color. When these furnishings are taken together with the color of the three walls, you would still be at 60%, and the proportionality of things would still be intact.

While the 60-30-10 rule operates primarily as a guideline for interior color schemes, it can also help inform color choices on the home exterior. There, the siding would be painted the dominant color, the shutters and trim the secondary color, and the front door, a punch color. The percentages might not always be exact, but an exterior color scheme approximating the 60-30-10 formula will present a pleasant, harmonious look to all who pass by.


Chapter VI

Fresh Paint a Great Recipe for Affordable Kitchen Remodeling

A remodeled kitchen is the fondest dream of many homeowners, but at an average cost that often exceeds $50,000, the price is simply too steep for most. Still, there’s a great alternative: spending $100 or so to give your kitchen a whole new look with paint!

Many people underestimate the dramatic change you can make in a kitchen with a little imagination and a couple of cans of paint. In fact, you can use paint not only to freshen the wall color, but also to totally change the appearance of your kitchen cabinets.

The only ingredients you’ll need to cook up a whole new look for your culinary center are some careful planning, a good eye for color, and a willingness to spend time in your kitchen with some paint cans as your companions.

Where to begin? Start by visiting the websites of major paint companies. On many, you’ll find idea centers with paint palettes designed by professional colorists, and “visualizing” tools that allow you to pre-test your color choices online.

Once you’ve settled on a color scheme, it’s time to paint. Assuming that you’re going to do a top-to-bottom makeover, start by removing the cabinet doors, as well as the hinges and knobs. If you’re going to re-use the hardware, put these items in a plastic bag so they don’t get lost.

After placing dropcloths to protect the floors, paint the ceiling first, then the walls, and finally, the trim. For easy maintenance, use top quality 100% acrylic latex semi-gloss paint: It will resist stains and stand up to scrubbing better than a flat paint.

Now turn your attention to the cabinets again. Scrub the kitchen cabinets and doors with a degreasing solution to remove dirt and grime. When they’ve dried, sand the cabinets to remove any loose paint and provide better “tack” for the new coating. Use a wet cloth to wipe off any dust created by the sanding.

Next, apply a top quality latex primer to the cabinets. Use a roller wherever possible, and a small brush where necessary. Let the primer dry overnight.

Finish the cabinets in the same way by applying a coat of top quality 100% acrylic latex paint. Here, too, it’s best to use a gloss or semi-gloss finish, since they are more stain resistant and easier to clean. Don’t re-install the cabinet doors quite yet. Wait until the paint is totally dry.

To put a perfect finishing touch on your kitchen remodeling, consider purchasing new knobs or handles for your cabinets either online or at your local home center. They’re readily available in a wide range of shapes, styles, sizes, colors, and materials. One is sure to strike your fancy.

When your cabinets are restored and …

Chapter VIII

Five Ways to Take the Pain out of Painting

For some people, exterior painting’s a pleasure, but for others, it’s a pain. If the project produces less fun than funk for you, here are five simple ways to take the pain out of your painting:

1. Simplify the color selection process. Selecting an exterior color scheme doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle experience. You’ll seldom go wrong with a strong wall color and light, contrasting trim. Want something a little more out of the ordinary? Simply adopt one of the color-coordinated palettes you see in paint company brochures. These are created by design professionals with a keen sense of color. Be smart, and ride those coattails!

2. Speed up the work with power equipment. Good surface preparation is important to every paint job, but it doesn’t have to be done by hand. The machine age is well upon us, so rent a power washer! It will quickly remove any loose or peeling paint, as well as dirt, grime, and mildew. You might even consider renting a power sprayer to apply your paint more quickly.

3. Use a combination primer and paint. Getting a good paint job used to require a coat of primer and one or more coats of paint. Today, you can find coatings that function as both primer and paint in a single can. Spend a little up-front time seeking out one of these painter-friendly coatings, and you’ll save lots more time (and work) later on.

Chapter IX

One Type of Paint Works Well on Nearly Every Exterior Surface

There are so many exterior paints and coatings available today that choosing the right product can be confusing. But this is one decision you really don’t need to fret over: By using a top quality 100% acrylic latex paint, you’ll enjoy a variety of performance benefits, whether your home exterior is made of wood, aluminum siding, vinyl siding, or masonry.


When applied to a properly prepared wood exterior, top quality 100% acrylic latex paint can protect and beautify a home for up to 10 years or more, far longer than ordinary exterior paint. That makes it a great investment in terms of cost per year of service.

One reason for the long life of top quality paint on wood surfaces is its excellent adhesion. The special acrylic binder used in these paints helps them to get a better grip on wood, especially if it’s primed beforehand; quality acrylic binder also makes these paints very elastic. Together, these attributes help prevent peeling, flaking, and other paint failures that can show up all-too-quickly on run-of-the-mill paint.

Top quality paints also contain special additives that help prevent other problems. One that’s especially important on wood surfaces is mildewcide, an ingredient that inhibits mildew growth. By way of contrast, ordinary paints often contain little or no mildewcide, so the unsightly black or brown mold can quickly form on the painted surface, especially in damp or shaded areas.

Aluminum Siding

While aluminum siding is tough and durable, the factory-applied finish that provides the color tends to chalk, fade, and tire as time goes by. No need to panic: By adding a coat of top quality acrylic paint, you can refresh the surface, making it look like new again. What’s more, the superior resistance of top quality paint to the sun’s UV rays helps prevent chalking and fading, so your new paint color will keep its good looks for a long, long time.

Moreover, special additives incorporated into top quality acrylic paints help them go on thick and uniform, yet with good “leveling”. What this means is that the best quality paint will tend to replicate the original appearance of the aluminum siding, whether it be smooth or textured.

Vinyl Siding

Although manufacturers often describe vinyl siding as “maintenance free,” the surface can become marred, stained, discolored, or chalky. Even if your siding hasn’t suffered these problems, you may simply want to change its color. Either way, top quality 100% acrylic latex paint is a compelling choice when painting vinyl siding.

There are two very important reasons to use top quality acrylic latex paint on vinyl: excellent adhesion and superior flexibility. Good adhesion is necessary so the paint will “stick” to the slick vinyl panels; flexibility is important since vinyl tends to expand and contract more than other exterior materials and top quality acrylic paint can expand and contract right along with it.

Field tests also show that vinyl siding tends to look cleaner with a new coat of top quality acrylic paint. And some top quality 100% acrylic latex paints are formulated with special reflective pigments designed to protect vinyl siding from the sun’s UV rays for added durability.

As is true with aluminum siding, the good leveling quality of top quality paint will mimic the profile of vinyl siding, be it smooth or textured.


If you want the best performance on stucco, concrete, brick, or another masonry surface, there are a host of reasons to use top quality 100% acrylic latex paint.

Choose a chapter

  • Chapter IV

    - Follow the "60-30-10 Rule" for "Suitable" Color Schemes [...]
  • Chapter VI

    - Fresh Paint a Great Recipe for Affordable Kitchen Remodeling [...]
  • Chapter VIII

    - Five Ways to Take the Pain out of Painting [...]
  • Chapter IX

    - One Type of Paint Works Well on Nearly Every Exterior Surface [...]

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Praise for the Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide…

TJ O’Neill

TJ O’Neill

“Easy to read, informative, and taught me exactly what I needed to know in simple terms. If you need to learn a few things about home painting in a hurry or just want some new ideas, look no further.”

Theresa Spross

Theresa Spross

“The writing was inviting and fun. The steps are easy to follow...The section on color selection was extremely helpful. No more white walls in my home! I will refer to this book before I start any painting or decorating project.”



“Nice practical guide that covers any painting project you could think of pretty completely.”

About the Author

Debbie Zimmer, Paint and Color Specialist for the Paint Quality Institute, is a recognized expert on paints, painting techniques, and the use of paint color in interior and exterior design.  She has written extensively on all of these subjects on the Paint Quality Institute blog.

In addition, Debbie has authored hundreds of articles that have appeared in thousands of media ranging from The New York Times to HGTV, and virtually everything in between. She also has been interviewed about paints and painting on TV and radio shows nationwide.

Active in paint industry affairs, Debbie is a member of the Color Marketing Group and is heavily involved with the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association.  A frequent speaker at paint industry events, she was twice named a top influencer in “Who’s Who in the Paint Industry.”  She also conducts online training for designers and paint industry professionals.

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