Building Homes or Extensions/Oil or Latex


Hello Stephen...

I am building a new home in coastal Mexico, on the ocean front.  All walls are brick inside with many layers of concrete.  We are about ready to start painting; inside and out.

I think that I know that if I start with oil base paint, I cannot change to latex.  (Is this correct?)

Without regard to cost, which type of paint is best?  I want to start out right.

Regardless of the type of paint, is my intuition correct that the primer first coat should be greatly thinned to max the soaking into the raw concrete?

The climate here is tropical; always humid, very hot in the summers and a constant, salty air blowing in from the Pacific.

Also, facing the ocean, I am having the garage doors and front entry door fabricated from sheet stainless steel.  What is the best paint for this?  Should the metal be acid washed before the primer?  With what, please?

I am in love with the color that Frank Lloyd Wright used for his metal work (fences and gates).  He called it Cherokee Red.  I believe that a large US paint company now holds the patent for this color and it is named something more politically correct.  (New England Red?)

At any rate, I do not have access to those suppliers here in Mexico.  Is there a formula that I can duplicate from?  I can find examples of his color on the internet, and I could print it out and try for a scan to match, but monitors and printers and the scanners at paint stores are so variable, it does not seem to be the way to go.

Thank in advance for you time, Stephen.


Hi Tom,

A couple of things:

You can paint latex over oil, but not oil over latex.  Oil primer is often used on bare substrates, and latex over the top works well.  I assume you are describing a high-quality acrylic latex paint.  Be sure to use an exterior paint (with built-in UV protection) on  the exterior surfaces.

BUT, for bare masonry you need to use a primer that is made for that purpose.  It may be oil, latex, or maybe a hybrid or other type of carrier.  Check with your supplier.  

Any good paint shop can match a color.  Many shops have optical computer matching, but an experienced mixer can also do it by eye.  Don't get hung up on a particular paint color name.  Focus on matching the color that you want.  Printed colors from a computer or display monitors  have wide variation, so don't trust them as being definitive.  Also, the exact mix of that Cherokee Red may have some sort of copyright (patented? doubtful), but there's nothing to stop you from matching it at a paint shop.  

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any additional questions.  

Steve Major  

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Stephen Major (Owner--Major Design Group)


I can answer any questions regarding the design and construction of homes and additions. This includes trade-specific questions (how-to) in all major building trades: framing, foundations, site prep, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, water treatment, interior finishing, trim & cabinetwork, exterior finishing, roofing, siding. PLEASE indicate your state or region, so I can provide the best possible answer. PLEASE provide photos whenever possible.


30 years experience in building design and construction, all hands-on, including the construction of dozens of single-family homes and hundreds of remodeling projects in the northeastern US.

Author: "Architectural Woodwork - Details for Construction" published by Van Nostrand Reinhold (now Wiley).

BS Cornell University.

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