If you’ve ever bought paint, you’ve probably been bombarded with questions from a salesperson well-versed in the various products, finishes and product usage. In addition to color, you have several other factors to decide upon, depending on the end use.

Do you want latex or oil-based paint? Do you want a flat, eggshell, gloss or semi-gloss finish? The inquisition can be mind-boggling. But as you search beyond the basics for painting walls, ceilings and trims, there are several other paint types to consider for home decor and craft uses.

Chalkboard cues

Available in a host of colors, and in spray and brush-on applications, chalkboard paint is one of the most popular in home decorating. It can turn almost any surface into a slatelike finish that you can write on with ordinary chalk.

This specialty paint can take up to three days to dry thoroughly, depending on the surface it’s applied to, so don’t be in a hurry to label everything in sight. It also requires “curing” before you scribble — a simple process of rubbing chalk all over it, embedding it into the painted surface, and then erasing it completely.

Why do you want to write on things? Despite the latent childhood fantasy of writing on walls, it’s handy for all kinds of decor and entertaining uses. Paint a long wooden tray and label the types of cheeses on your party cheeseboard.

Label the drawers of a repurposed dresser so you know what’s inside, and in the office, detail contents of file drawers. It’s also great for painting the base of wine glasses or coasters: You can scrawl the name of the drink’s owner to avoid mix-ups. Or turn an old picture or tray into a handy “Welcome, guests” greeting board.

Canisters, wine bottles and home brews can be painted with chalkboard paint labels to identify the contents. Or paint the refrigerator doors and create a large surface for calendars and grocery lists.

Since the paint can be used outdoors as well, you can paint a section of the fence for children to draw on — no clean-up needed; the rain will wash away the artwork, readying it for new.

Magnetic appeal

If you’ve ever wanted to turn a surface into something with magnetic properties, you’re in luck as there’s a magnetic paint just for the cause. It works on wood, masonry, drywall and plaster, and you can even combine it with chalkboard paint for a two-in-one artistic canvas. Its basic color is gray, but it can be painted over with any latex color and still offer stick-to-itiveness.

Glow-in-the-dark giggles

This luminescent paint will glow an eerie green (or other color, depending on the brand) for four to eight hours after it’s been charged with light. It’s a fun touch for kid’s rooms, especially ceilings where you can paint stars or galaxies in fine detail. Also fun for light switches, lamp bases, stair edges and door frames, this paint can help with safety for those who might be up at night. Glow-in-the-dark paint can be used on wood, metal, drywall and plastics with equal ghostly appeal, and it goes without saying that’s it’s fun for a party.

Some companies also make a fluorescent paint that glows only under a UV or black light — also great for party ambiance.

Reflective elements

Here’s looking at you! If you want to create a reflective surface on glass or acrylic tabletops, jars, vases, candle holders, etc., mirror spray paint is the answer. When using on glass, the paint is sprayed on the underside, so the reflective properties are on the right side. Coating with clear protective spray helps with durability.


It’s easy to create a sparkly finish on most any surface using a glitter paint. Tiny flecks of metal are included in the aerosol can and applied along with the paint color pigments. This is a fun paint for photo frames, glassware and of course holiday ornaments and craft projects. A clear sealer helps keep the glitter from potentially flaking off during an item’s use.

Another option for glitz is one of several types of metallic spray paints — from bright and shiny (almost mirrorlike) to hammered, brushed and textured looks.

Glass glamour

To add color to clear glass and still maintain the transparency, look for a stained glass paint. This colorant adds hues without changing opacity.

More opacity and texture can be created using a frosted glass paint. Combine this one with mirror paint for an interesting yin-yang appearance.

Rock solid

Who would have thought that you could make something look like rock using a spray paint? Whether it’s a lamp base or an outdoor birdbath, you can create the likes of ancient ruins or canyon rocks, or even beach sand or granite with just the pssst of a button on the can.

If you prefer a crackled porcelain look instead, there’s a can for that, as well. Actually, it’s a glaze applied over the paint to create the textured surface of centuries-old artifacts.

Love terra cotta? There’s a paint for that, too. It’s both for indoor and outdoor use, so you can refresh pots and ceramics to look like new.

And then there’s faux marble in a can, offering the veins and colorations of this traditional stone look. Makes you wonder: How’d they do that?

Painting pointers

No matter if you’re using one of these fun cover-ups or everyday latex to spruce up your home, there are some basic pointers for painting success:

• Read the instructions thoroughly before you purchase the product.

• Note what types of surfaces the paint can (and cannot) be used on and whether it can be used indoors only, or outdoors as well, depending on your project.

• What type of surface preparation is needed? A clean, grease-free surface is a common requirement, though some paint effects require sanding and/or priming.

• The coverage area should be listed on the container — compare that to the size of your project. Use this number in conjunction with how many coats of paint your project will require. There’s nothing worse than running out of paint in the middle of a spray session.

• Note the drying time needed before the project can be used.

• When you get the paint home, try it on a small board or other surface like your project before committing to the real deal. Some faux finishes can require practice to achieve a professional look.

• Protect the work surface, and paint outdoors if possible or in a well-ventilated area.

• It’s especially important on some novelty paints to shake (or stir) the product for a few minutes before applying it to mix up the pigments/additives. The mixing time and methods should be noted on the label — don’t cut it short.

• Some manufacturers recommend a protective finish applied over the paint for durability. Clear finishes are available in matte and shiny, depending on the desired look.

• Remember, if you don’t like something you did — paint over it and try again.

— Reporter: gwizdesigns@aol.com