Building Homes or Extensions/Oil or Latex


Hello Diane...

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, Diane.


Hello, Tom.

I'm so glad you wrote! I've been a devoted fan of FLW most of my adult life, and had the distinct pleasure of helping to save The Gordon House in Oregon (

Actually, there are several reasons for choosing acrylic (water-base) paint, instead of oil-base paint. First and foremost, oil-base paint contains Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are bad for occupants and bad for the environment. New acrylic paint is every bit as good as the old-fashioned oil-based paint that I grew up with. And, there are several paint companies that have long-lasting acrylic paint with no or low VOCs.

About the garage doors, here are two excellent online articles that address your question:,,219448-5,00.html; I would also recommend that you ask the manufacturer what to use, and how to paint the doors.

Martin Senour was the company that had a license for Cherokee Red. I actually have a copy of an original magazine advertisement that also has a picture of Mr. Wright. Schumaker Fabrics is licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to produce many of Mr. Wright's designs. Here is a link that you might find interesting; about halfway down the page is the Martin Senour ad that I referred to: Here is a link to Martin Senour Paints, where you may be able to find Cherokee Red, or obtain the formula: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation may also have information about Cherokee Red: There's a wealth of information on the internet about Mr. Wright, and about Cherokee Red. You may have seen this picture of Mr. and Mrs. Wright in his Cherokee Red sportscar:

Again, thank you for writing. Yours is one of the most enjoyable questions I've had, because it's about a subject that's so precious. Good luck with your home. May you have years of good health and happiness.


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ
D. P. Design

P.S. My husband and I were fortunate to build a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home that I designed seven years ago. Here's a link to the website that my husband put together that shows the entire process:

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Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about designing and building a new home, building an addition, remodeling a home, sustainability ("green" building and remodeling), aging-in-place, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling. The goal is to help homeowners achieve ultimate satisfaction with all of their choices and decisions.


Over 25 years in residential design, construction, improvement, and remodeling. Hundreds of completed projects in all ranges of investment. Author of the award-winning book "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," host of "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio, and public speaker.

National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC)

THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling. Designer's Illustrated, Gentry, Interior Coordinator (Japan), Kitchen-Bath Business, Kitchen-Bath Design News, Oregonian, Portland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, Statesman Journal

Degrees in residential interior design, bath design, kitchen design, and lighting design. To improve knowledge about codes, products, and trends that will affect homeowners, I regularly attend tradeshows, conferences, classes, and seminars, and read 7 major trade magazines and newsletters.

Awards and Honors
Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer (CMKBD), Certified Interior Designer (NCIDQ), Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (C.A.P.S.). AWARDS: Henry Adams, Chrysalis, Best of the Best, CoTY, Master Design, HBA Excellence. 2003 NABE Award for best how-to book.

Past/Present Clients
Please see the portfolio in my website,

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