How to Paint or Stain Almost Anything

Caulking gun, wire brush, paintbrush, and putty knife.

While a fresh coat of paint is one of the best ways to freshen up the walls in any room in your home, there are many other surfaces around the home that you may not have thought to paint, or may not have been entirely sure how to go about it.

Some of these surfaces include concrete, brick, metal, aluminum, and even plastic. So if you want to bedazzle your basement walls or make your worn aluminum siding a little more alluring, here are some tips on how to go about it.

Keep in mind that the best results for painting are achieved with proper preparation and the selection of the appropriate high quality paint product.


Concrete can be found in and around the home in driveways, walkways, basement walls, and floors. There are two ways to treat concrete, whether it is inside or outside your home, staining and painting.

Deciding whether to stain or paint concrete depends largely upon the current state of the concrete (whether it’s new, old, or previously finished) as well as the look you want to achieve.

Staining concrete porch.

Staining Concrete

Similar to wood stain, concrete stain permeates the surface and provides a long lasting, durable, and decorative finish on interior and exterior concrete and masonry surfaces. The stain permeates the surface and actually bonds with concrete and masonry to form a tough shield that doesn’t fade, peel, or flake like paint.

To extend the life of the stain, consider using a clear stain as a final coat. Stain is inherently more transparent than paint and therefore does not completely cover up the concrete. Paint offers complete coverage and would be considered “opaque”. Concrete stains come in a variety of colors and can create a beautiful custom look to any walkway, patio or indoor floor.

Painting Concrete

Again, the choice here would depend upon the look you want as well as the current state of the concrete. Painting is a good choice if you want to create a more solid look, cover over any imperfections in the concrete or are simply re-painting an already painted concrete surface. An ideal choice of paint for basements is one that offers a waterproof feature as well as mildew resistance.

Whether you choose to stain or paint your concrete, make sure the surface is free from dirt and grease, and it is completely dry.

Using grinder with wire brush to remove rust from metal handrails.


When it’s time to freshen up a metal handrail or fence, you must be vigilant to completely eliminate metal’s #1 enemy—RUST! There are a variety of products available that can help remove rust, but the most simple and effective way to do this is with an old-fashioned, hand-held wire brush or a special wire brush attachment for your drill.

Simply scrub the rust with the wire brush until it is completely gone and then wipe the metal down with mineral spirits. Once you have removed the rust, immediately apply a primer, ideally one that contains a rust inhibitor and then apply a topcoat of high gloss enamel paint.


Many people are surprised to learn that repainting their existing aluminum siding is not only quite easy but certainly more cost effective than replacing it with new siding.

As with all surfaces, the most important step is preparation. In the case of aluminum siding that means completely removing any chalk that has built up over time. This chalky substance is usually fairly easily removed with a standard cleaner or degreaser and then wiped dry. However, in some cases a little more scrubbing is required.

In most cases aluminum siding does not require a primer, however, if the original coating is completely worn down to the metal, prime those areas with a thinned-down oil based primer. Once you have cleaned and primed where necessary, choose a high quality 100% acrylic latex exterior paint with a satin finish. A satin finish best simulates the look of new aluminum siding.

Painting pink plastic flamingo.


Painting plastic is now much more of an option due to new paints made for plastic which adhere to plastic in a way no other consumer paint has before. You can now extend the life of plastic chairs, lawn furniture, and children’s toys; and send less plastic to the landfills.

When painting plastic it is important to consider the current state of the plastic. If it is brand new, the surface needs to be wiped down with paint remover so that the paint will adhere properly. If it is older, simply wiping it clean will suffice.

Apply a thin coat of one of sixteen brilliant colors available, allow to dry for a very short time and then apply again. Applying multiple thin coats of this product will prevent runs and drips.


  1. This morning my son-in-law had a small disaster on our concrete paver patio. He
    spilled splotches of white wood primer. We
    NEED to cover/correct this. Could you suggest a concrete stain? Ideally, I would
    like to obtain a varied color appearance on
    the rough concrete blocks. Ideas? Thanks.

  2. So many people gives tons of advise hot to paint, what paint to use, this and that, but nobody talks about how to paint the high places on the steep roof without putting sidekicks on the roof. I don’t want to nail on the singles it’ll cause a leak later on, is there anyway else?thanks

  3. A landscaper stained my outside concrete patio with Behr Semi Transparent concrete stain. Within three months it was peeling off. Now it is a mess and looks horrible.
    I don’t think he primed or sealed the concrete before or after applying the stain.

    How can I correct this problem?

    Thank you

  4. I am considering pulling up carpet in my home and painting the orginal concrete. Is this feasible? Will it look okay? Need to know, as am not sure. thanks.

  5. Hi! I have some old plastic toys that I’d like to update but it seems that most people advise spray painting. the problem is I’d like to use multiple colors on the same surface and I am afraid of running the colors together. do you have any recommendations for painting these toys-what kind of paint should I use and what products should I use to keep the paint from peeling/washing off? Also any suggestions for how to paint indoors in a place without great ventilation would be helpful. Thanks!

  6. Hi,
    My pool deck looks pretty bad. It has cracks, although small, still stand out like varicose veins. I would like to change the color which is currently white to beige w/something blue somwhere. Any suggestions on how to get started?

    Thanks for your time and help.


    Linda wislon

  7. I want to repaint my aluminum garage door a different color. It has the color that it came with (off white) and I want to paint it white.

  8. Any special tips for a very intricate indoor metal handrail (steps from first floor to second floor). I really don’t want to make a mess of the carpets or wall.


  9. I know this may sound nuts, I haven a 74 Sun Bug, a dealer or some one sprayed over VW Sun Bug Gold with a thick gold paint then added gold/ brown decals inset on each hood, doors, fenders, & panels. The look was 70s, I was thinking that IF anyone knew of a way to “face lift” to like new without stripping it all off. Maybe the Gel Stain could work ?. Thanks for any Info

  10. I have an old (dated 1918) large urn, flower pot with handles on the sides that is approximately 5 1/2 ft tall and would like to paint it. It has chipping paint on it. What do I need to use on it prior to paining it and what kind of paint should I use?

  11. We are refinishing a dinning room set. There is some overlay and the trim on the table has some platic in it. How do we touch up the stain on the table top with overlay involved and the trim with the plastic product involved

  12. We have enjoyed a beautiful pool here in SC for 22 years. The deck is a kool deck surface that has held up very well but now needs refurbishing. After preparing the surface, What is the best cover to use? Acylic paint or stain ? Any what is the best product to use? There are so many of them out there! Thanks, John

  13. Hi
    I’ve had a patio put down using man made slabs.

    The effect is too bright and the color is a bit orange – I want to tone it down and paint it to give a sandstone effect
    Could you give me some advice

    Many thanks


  14. I have a pine TV cabinet that has been sprayed with white lacquer. It has terrible bleed through now. Can I use Kilz and paint with white gloss over this? Can I use latex on top of the lacquer? Should the primer and top coat both be oil based? Can I use a brush, the original was sprayed?

    Thanks Bob

  15. I have a 10 yr old Kooldeck around my pool in Florida that has been painted with Behr porch and Floor. It last about 3 years and then needs redone. (no chipping or anything just Worn spots) Now they(HD) suggest I change to concrete solid stain. They say to degrease, prime with Behr concrete and Masonry Bonding Primer and then use solid color concrete stain. I DO NOT WANT CHIPPING ETC TO START! Is this wise to switch and will it last longer or should I just stick with the paorch and floor paint?????

  16. Our pastor would like to paint something so it looks and feels like you are walking on streets of gold. Would you be able to suggest anything

  17. Hi! LOVE this website…thanks! Due to our dwindling budget, we are considering our EXISTING concrete slab as indoor flooring for our new home. We would like the concrete to replicate tile. Should we stain first or engrave the squares first? And should we use a sprayer, paintbrush, or sponge to apply concrete stain to each square? And lastly, what do you suggest for creating the lines/pattern of squares before we use the saw with a cement blade to cut? Would we use a chalkline, template or ? We’d really like to find a putty/toupe color stain and were wondering where we could find a better selection of colors? We were wondering if there is a thorough help book or video on this topic. Thanks! : )

  18. I have oak kitchen cabinets and would like to SOLID STAIN them. All of the solid stain says it’s for exterior? Can it be used indoors?? Also my cabinets are originally stained with WATCO danish oil, with no top coat. The color is faded in a lot of areas and my goal is to not see the grain, I am nervous about painting! ANY SUGGESTIONS?

  19. I work at an apartment complex that has steel doors on the apts. the problem is that they have been painted before and I do not know what kind of paint to use on them now, the last paint I used, pealed back off the doors,
    please help.

  20. I have a concrete driveway that has a stamped concrete overlay on it. The overlay has been painted and has 4 coats of paint on it. I have had numerous suggestions about what to do. The most recent and seemingly cost effective is to power wash it, strip it, power wash again and then use a concrete “STAIN”. What do you think of that, or would make other recommendations?

  21. I have an old table that has like a laminate top instead of wood. I’m wanting to paint it black but I’m not sure how to do the top. Do I sand it? Will the spray paint stick? Do I put a finish over it? Any advice?

    • Hi Crystal,
      Your best bet would be to use a coating that is made for painting over plastic laminate, such as Rust-Oleum Countertop Coating. If you spray paint it, clean the surface well and lightly sand it with fine sandpaper to cut through the gloss, then use a spray paint like Rust-Oleum Universal that’s made for plastic surfaces. Good luck with your project!

  22. We like the look of stained concrete and decided to have that in our dining room after 40 years of carpet. We used Behr stain and sealer and kept traffic off of it for 10 days. Went in last night to place an area rug down and now parts of the floor are peeling up, exposing the concrete below. Would something other than acrylic have been better to start with? What should we do now?

  23. I have red clay colored brick pavers in my kitchen. I assume they have been sealed. I would like to paint them a much lighter beige tone color. And advice on how to do that? Grout will be painted too so I was thinking a concrete type paint and roll it on. Tkx

  24. i have seen a number of aluminum garage doors in my community painted to look like “stained wood” and i am looking for info on an accepted method of doing it myself..can you give me some basic directions as to the method i would use?

  25. We have a very nice manufactured home with pre-papered (vinyl) panels in the bedrooms. The other rooms are textured. Any advice on painting the vinyl panels? We have been here for 11 years and I would love to spruce up the walls!!

  26. We have a huge concrete patio. (30 X 20) with white vinyl Privacy fence. Too bright on most days. Any suggestions to reduce the glare and brightness of the concrete? Also would love a permanent type roof idea for shelter-at least over some of the space!!

  27. Got one for ya. 43 x 14, new concrete, less than 3 months old. I want to latex stain with a sprayer onto a broom finish. Home is pink brick. First a grey stain then come back with a pinkish red immediately after the first application. Golf shoes required. Then seal with something that won’t be slippery. Your thoughts?

  28. What is the best way to paint or stain over previously painted concrete around a swimming pool(without having to remove the previous paint)?

  29. My gararge floor was acid washed & oil based stained 20 years ago. I want to repaint it.Where can I find a oil based concrete stain or paint that will adhere to this floor?? Thanks

  30. 6 months ago I stained my aluminum garage door to look like wood. I pressure washed it 1st and used several coats of Minwax stain and then sealed it with a clearcoat. 6 months later it is already fading/wearing off. The garage gets direct sun in the morning (we are in Fl). I love the look and plan on staining the faded areas. What can I do to make this a lasting finish and prevent the stained look from fading and wearing so quickly?

    • Hi Trish,
      Exposure to direct sunlight is hard on stains (and natural wood), but here are a few things to consider. I assume you used Minwax Gel Stain, since it’s the only one of their stain products I know of that’s recommended for exterior use. I also assume you used an exterior clear coat that contained UV blockers. While exterior clear coats with UV blockers will slow fading, they won’t stop it completely. If your answer is yes to the above questions, then I suggest trying another brand of stain that is promoted as fade resistant. You might want to experiment on a piece of aluminum flashing first, then leave it out in the sun for a period of time to see if it has the same problem before going to all the trouble of refinishing your entire garage door. Good luck with your project!

  31. My sister paited the concrete around her pool, using concrete paint, but has decided she does not like it. What preparations does she need to make to repaint it? Any suggestions on paint selections?

  32. So, I did a couple of things wrong. I used a non-gel stain meant for interior use. I now have 2 cans of gel stain for outdoor use on wood, metal and other surfaces. The directions say to use an oil based clear coat but I can’t seem to find one for use on metal. (Minwax clear coat for exterior with UV blockers is for wood only)Can you make a suggestion? I plan on scuffing up the surface of the doors a bit so the stain will adhere since there is still some clear coat on them. Any other input you have would be appreciated!

  33. I saw that at Home Depot. Since I’m covering a double & single garage door I was hoping to find something that can be brushed on. Any thoughts? If not, I will try the spray, and thanks again for all of the help. 🙂

  34. Hi
    I have a home from the 60’s that has a wrought iron interior rail from first floor to second floor. It is a whitish colour wrought iron with a molded plastic type top handrail. I have painted the wrought iron part but have no clue how to cover the plastic handrail part? Will paints made for plastics work or will they wear off? Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Sherry,
      I haven’t tried paints made for plastics, such as that made by Rust-Oleum, on handrails, but it should work fine. Since handrails receive a lot of wear, they may need recoating from time to time. Good luck with your project!

  35. We painted our concrete porch and steps and now it gets a little slippery when it rains. Can we put sand in the paint to help or what would you suggest. We don’t want anyone to slip and fall.
    Thank You

  36. Our concrete patio had powered coloring added to the new concrete probably 5 years ago and sealed. It faded to nothing very quickly. Two years ago I had several people tell me that there was no way to stain it and seal it again because of that treatment. One tried after saying it probably would not work, and failed. We don’t believe they used good products, or as one person said, “an acid stain”. Here we are again 1 year later. We are now being told we can, but we feel we may be tossing money to the wind again,because the several say it can’t be done and the first guy did not back his warranty. Can this old concrete be prepared so that it will take the stain, be sealed and last for more than a year?

  37. I have some rough concrete garden edging. Looks similar to parking curbs. I would like to paint them so they look nicer in the garden. I’ve painted a concrete floor before, but I’m not sure if the paing will the paint just flake off a rougher surface? Any suggestions? Thanks.

  38. Like the sound of Fusion. Is it possible to use it to paint consumer goods? Such as a computer monitor or TV if one takes it apart first. Always wanted white electronica….

  39. While painting slabs with cream floor paint I accidently splashed on my laminate brown patio door frames and they are covered with small spots, tried spirit and soapy water…any other suggestions to remove them please? Many thanks.

  40. I need to repaint my garage floor, its 30 years od and I dont think the previous owner has ever repainted. I am on a very tight budget and have roof paint. can i use this on the concrete floor? Warm regards Lynne

  41. Dogs took some very big bites out of polished furniture. These have been professionally filled (v. well done) but unfortunately no color was added to the plastic filler. Locally I have been told that there is nothing I can do but paint the furniture. This is not an option. Any suggestions – I would be very grateful. (I am UK based.)

  42. Hi:
    Enjoy reading these comments.
    Question: Recently purchased a wood picked fence. My husband would like to STAIN the fence white. We did not know a white stain was available. Could you please recommend the best WHITE STAIN to use for the fence.

  43. I had new wood casement windows installed in my house a year ago. The wood of the inside of the windows and trim needed to be stained. The painter recommended using an exterior deck stain (Cetol Dek). He planned to do a first coat of a lighter color and a second coat of a darker color to get the color I wanted. He ended up putting on 2 coats of the lighter color by mistake, which looks orangy yellow, and walked away from the project. I have been trying unsuccessfully to find something that can be applied over the Cetol to try to darken the color to make it look more normal. I hate to throw away $18,000 worth of new windows and start over.

  44. Can you use wood stain and stain a laminate countertop? If not, without replacing or re-laminating the countertop how can I make the countertop look like a wood top?

  45. we have a factory installed aluminum deck around our above ground pool. The color is fading and it looks awful…can you recommend a type of paint we could use to paint the entire deck.thank you

  46. I am building a new home and have used a product called Max siding for the exterior. We are wanting to know if this siding can be stained with concrete stain to make it look like wood. Can you please advise.

  47. I have an old bench that I restored. I spray-painted it, but I want it to have an antique look. Can I put stain over it and wipe it off then maybe spray over it with a clear spray? What would you recommend? Thanks

  48. I bought designed strips to make a frame for my large mirror. The frame is already made. I was going to stain it and what I thought was wood, turned out to be plastic. Now that the frame is plastic, is there a way to stain plastic??

  49. I have painted a kitchen table med burgandy. There are tiny hair like things in the paint and could not get rid or them, so I just polyurathane over it. I have several coats of poly over it and have used #ooo steel wool between coats to remove any imperfections. Now each coat has like white streaks in it as if the foam brush had hairs on it. what can be done for this. Am not sure if the Minwax poly I bought is no good, or if I should not use steel wool between coats or not use foam brush or what. Could you please give me any input you can.
    Much appreciated.

  50. I purchased a new jen weld patio door and ordered lite oak interior trim. I need it darker oak and its a vinyl coating. What could I do to darken it.
    Thank You

  51. I make things out of horseshoes, is there a stain I can put on them to change the color of them. I don’t want to paint them. Thanks.

  52. I have a bathroom cabinet that the sink sits in wet to went to take off some paint that had gotten on and the paint or stain came off and notice that some is wood the certain areas are plastic of some sort. it looked like it was all stain but the areas that look like plastic won’t take the stain. don’t know what to do.

  53. I have laminate kitchen cabinets and would like to know how to paint them and how to prepare the surface before painting. thanks

  54. At our terminal we have metal railing that has been painted blue and we painted with a bright red, but it turned pink. What can we do?


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