Section 1: The Basic Touch

Walls That Say Wow!

Success Indicator: You will be able to use paint to create new looks in your room.
Life Skills Practiced: Resiliency, learning to learn, community service, and personal safety.
Project Skills Practiced: Learning techniques for painting walls of accesories.

Helper's Guide to Section 1: The Basic Touch

Paint Charachertistics

Product Characteristics

Paint Ingredients:


  • Water-based: Water base with other materials. May be latex, vinyl, or acrylic
  • Solvent-based: Uses organic solvents such as mineral spirits, alcohols, acetates etc.

Water is non-toxic. However, other ingredients are present. Read the label.
Water thinned. Not flammable. Lower toxicity or non-toxic. Fewer odors than solvent as fewer or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).Apply easily with a brush or roller. Dries fast. Clean-up with soap and water. Read label and follow directions. Ask for low-odor low-VOC if odors are a problem.

Can be toxic and flammable. More difficult to clean-up as must use a solvent such as mineral spirits. Used for areas that have a lot of hard use, such as a bathroom or kitchen. Washable. Stronger odor.

Paint Appearances:

  • Gloss- luster or shininess of the dry paint
  • Enamel - can be water or solvent based.

Paints are usually classified as flat(dull), satin, semi-gloss and high gloss. Higher gloss is easier to clean but is more likely to show uneven painting and surfaces. Glossy paints may make color seem more intense; flat paint colors are more subdued. Flat paints may be more difficult to clean.

Usually smoother and dries to a harder surface than other interior paints making them more durable and cleanable

Surface primers:
The base coat when painting new surfaces

Primers are used to seal new or repaired surfaces before applying the top coats or wall covering. The paint container label will suggest proper primers. Primers are used over difficult to cover paint colors such as dark or bright colors and for surfaces that that need to be prepared for the paint coat.

Special paints and coatings:
Paints made or formulated for specific purposes.
Example: textured paint, faux paints, glazes, rust inhibitors, etc.

Specialty paints are available for most surfaces and for special materials such as metal, plastic, etc. Read the label carefully and follow safety and ventilation directions.  Some of these paints can be flammable, higher toxicity.

Download printable version here (682 KB PDF)

Activity 1: Faux It Is!Children painting a building.

Faux painting describes special effects added to a wall with paint to imitate other items like wood, a textured surface, wall art or a scene.   Many different techniques can be used to add the look of texture to any flat surface.  Faux painting starts with painting the walls a base color and letting it dry. The decorative effect is created by applying a second coat of paint in either a darker or lighter shade, often with a glaze added to aid in creating the design. The textured effect is made with a sponge, rag, plastic bag, brush, feather or roller designed for this purpose. There are also specialty paints made to create textured looks.

Try one of the following.

You can find more techniques and ideas at Demesne: Faux Finishes and Painting

Activity 3: Go Surf

The National Paint and Coatings Association's Web site has more information about choosing paint, safety, how-to, colors, and more at National Paint & Coatings Association - Brochures

For more painting techniques, check out National Paint & Coatings Association - Resources.

NOTE: The University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not endorse any products or services being sold.

Caution on Painting

Houses built before 1978 or an old piece of furniture might have been painted with lead-based paints. These paints are dangerous to your health. Don't disturb painted surfaces that you think might contain lead. If you are unsure, it's best to test! Call 1-800-424-5323 or go to EPA: Lead Home to get more information about lead. Consumer paints produced now don't contain lead.

Find more on safety with arts and crafts in the following documents

Helper's Guide to Section 1: The Basic Touch