Steve Revnew on paint and color choice | Home Front

Oct 17, 2013

Steve Revnew is vice president of product innovation for Sherwin-Williams and a paint expert. A chemist by training, Revnew has been with the Sherwin-Williams company for over 25 years. In 2008 he was named the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America organization's "Associate of the Year."

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Because all of you love chatting about paint so much, we have a great expert on with us today. Steve Revnew, vice president of product innovation at  Sherwin-Williams is here. He has worked for 25 years at Sherwin-Williams. So bring on those paint questions now.

Thanks for having me. I look forward to answering your questions. There certainly has been alot of advancements in paint technology. 

I was thinking about putting chalkboard paint up on a section of my kids' playroom, but I didn't want to deal with the chalk dust everywhere. Someone mentioned to me that they make a whiteboard paint, too. Do you have any experience/opinions on it? Thanks so much!

Yes, in fact we have a product that is called Dry Erase. I works well with all dry erase markers. However, due to the nature of these products it is always best to hire a painting  pro to install them

I should have repainted the metal railings leading up the front steps to my house a few years ago. I now have rust and even a few posts that seem to have bowed out a bit. What is the best way to remove the rust, paint and protect the railings?

The best way to remove rust is to use wire brush. Once the rust is removed a good rust prenventative primer is reccomended with a topcoat of our ALL Surface Enamel.

Hi Jura, This is sort of a more conceptual question about decision-making (from an indecisive person who has made bad paint choices in the past so even more wary now...) We are in the final stages of buying a new home. One of the main things to do when we move in is paint everything. How does one go about deciding where to even start with this? It is an older home with a lot of dark would trim, wood floors etc, pretty broken up into separate rooms, but I still assume things should at least flow together somewhat. Do we really need a designer, or just start with one color I like and bridge off from that? If it helps, we don't really have any furniture to speak of at this point so we are not decorating around a couch! Thanks for any pointers!

Congratulations on the new place. And good for you for trying to make the right choices from the beginning on the paint colors. The right color choices can totally make a room look better and minimize any negative features of it. Some people move into a house and paint everything white - they like to live in a place first to see how the light moves through the house and how they use the rooms at what time of day. If you don't have any color schemes for the rooms, that would be one way to begin. Otherwise, you could choose a basic neutral you are comfortable with such as a buttery yellow or pale gray or taupe and paint a room in that color, then pick different values of the same color for adjoining rooms. You might consider hiring a color consultant for a couple of hours to help you form a color palette. You can find someone through the International Association of Color Consultants - North America.

Closing on a new (to me) house next week that needs a total repaint. Where do I start to choose paint colors. I also need to refloor so have wood/carpet picked out, but won't have them put down until after painting is complete. Thought getting one of the SW Paint Fan Decks would help, but think it just overwhelmed me instead. Thanks in advance.

Painting an entire home at once can be overwhelming. However, there are many tools that you can use to help narrow done your color selection process. For example the ColorSnap Studio IPAD App allows you to upload your photos and paint them with different colors.   

Hello all - here in South Florida, where mold and mildew are present, Sherwin Williams is the exterior paint of choice. All the contractors know it is the best paint for our tropical climate and homeowners know it will stand up to our weather. Just thought you would like to know it is a known secret not to buy any other paint as it just won't stand up to the quality of Sherwin Williams.

Thank you for your comments. Our team works hard at developing products that will perform in the toughest enviroments.

Thanks for joining the chat - I LOVE Sherwin-Williams. I'm getting ready to have my kitchen cabinets painted and really want to make sure I use the right products. Will be sanding, priming, painting and then using glaze (not much glaze though, just to highlight, not to distress). Do you have a suggestion for which of your paints to use for this? And a good primer?

Kitchen cabinets can be tricky. You are approaching this right by doing the right surface prep. i.e. sanding and priming. Make sure you remove all the excess dust, dirt and grim after sanding. You can then use our Multipurpose Primer and topcoat with our ProClassic Enamel

Having been through this a few times, I recommend painting the areas in question in an off-white *primer* as you decide. That way, you aren't recovering the same walls for the "final" coat you think you want.


Not sure if my question went thru yesterday or not.. 100 year old house - covered porch - white house, dark dark green shutters - want to paint front door.. Any suggestions that would brighten up facade? Red (any suggestions ).. Orange? Crazy right? any help greatly appreciated..

Being a historic home, a great way to start is to look at our Exterior Historic Preservation Palette. You can find this in stores or online. Copper Red is a popular front door color

Steve, regarding the ProClassic Enamel for cabinetry-- would you recommend this "hybrid" water-based alkyd product in a bathroom? Would it tend to yellow?

Yes I would reccomend the ProClassic Waterbased Acrylis Alkyd is a good choice. You have the benefit of an alkyd with the color and gloss retention of an acrylic

I'd like to paint my bathroom cabinets (all wood), except one side is wood-grained melamine. Is melamine paintable, and which Sherwin Williams products are best to use? Thank you.

Melamine is paintable, the key is to obtain a dry and dull surface through sanding and then prime with a quality primers such as our MultiPurpose Primer.

Good morning! I live in a narrow rowhouse in Baltimore with a north-facing living room and limited natural light. I have BM's Guesthouse on the wall now but I'm ready for a change and want to brighten/lighten the room. Do you have any tips for selecting a paint color for a room like this?

As you've experienced light greatly influences how we see color. Typically, northern and eastern light is cooler and can have a tendency to soften or wash out a color so take a look at more saturated hues to counter this effect. The best thing to do is to test out a few colors on your wall or on poster board and leave them up for a few days. 

My kids want strong colors when we look at possibilities to repaint their room. Any tips on how to work with a 4 and 7 year old to get them something they are excited about but that won't knock anyone over when they walk in (and maybe they won't tire of in 3 weeks...)?

This is a great idea for a story and I'm going to suggest it to our parenting reporter. I just mentioned it to her and she told me her daughter was four years old and her favorite color was pink so they painted her bedroom pink. Now she is not a fan of pink at age 6 and asked if her room could be repainted! One way you might deal with this issue with your children is to paint their rooms white and then use the child's favorite color in the accessories!

Steve, I'm familiar with your "vinyl-safe" palette but is it OK to use LRV (light reflective value) as a guide if I want to go outside of that limited VS palette?

I would check with the vinyl manufacturer. Many of them provide guidance on the minimum LRV you can use. 

I'm struggling to find the right paint color for my bedroom. The trim is kind of a light gray/putty color (which I do not want to change because it'd be a big pain), and I'd like to find a soft white to complement it. I keep choosing paint samples that end up being too yellowish or too dark--I think I'm afraid of ending up with a stark white. Also, the room has a window seat and a dressing nook--can I get creative with a few different paint colors or should everything be the same?

Absolutely, in fact an easy way to pick the colors you like is to sample them on the wall with our Color to Go paint sampling. If you want to keep wall neutral, think about adding color in unexpected areas. 

Dear Mr. Revnew: We have a house built in the 40s with small bathrooms that have black and white tile. The walls are currently painted white, and I'd like to add some color to the space. We have Sherwin-Williams' Comfort Grey in another room, which I like a lot. Any suggestions for a bathroom color that would fit in this Comfort Grey palette? Thanks!

Comfort Gray is part of our Coastal Cool HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams color palette. Each palette is designed to help you choose colors that work together. Try Sea Salt (SW 6204)


We covered a lot of new paint territory in this chat thanks to Steve and his expertise.  Lots of great advice. Thank you for being with us. Next week we have Washington designer  Thomas Pheasant who has a new book out and lots of wonderful design perspectives to share. Please join us next Thursday at 11. 

I'm looking for a cool-toned, light green to encourage creativity in an office space, but also be relaxing when the room is needed for guest sleeping quarters. Any ideas for something that is minty or pistachio-y, but not overwhelming?

Take a look at Aloe SW-6464 it is our 2013 color of the year

Thanks everyone for some great questions. Everyone in our stores are very knowledgeable and ready to help with your painting projects.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archive
Steve Revnew
Steve Revnew is vice president of product innovation for Sherwin-Williams and a paint expert. A chemist by training, Revnew has been with the Sherwin-Williams company for over 25 years. In 2008 he was named the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America organization's "Associate of the Year."
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