Paint Questions

Mica answers your colourful questions

What paint should I use for cement rock features (artificial rock)?

You can use water-base PVC paint on artificial rocks, but I would suggest that you select at least a couple earth-tone colours and apply them in a random manner in order to achieve a dappled/mottled effect so that you achieve a weathered look; few if any natural rocks are a uniform flat colour. Secondly, you might consider using a stippling machine (a hand-cranked piece of apparatus that is usually used for applying thin plaster to a wall). Using this would help give you a speckled finish.

The ideal is to mask off most of the underside of one of the rocks and practise and experiment until you achieve the natural finish you want; then apply the same finish to the rest of the surfaces.

What are the prices of your paint?

Mica stocks a wide variety of brands and different paints for different applications. We have instock premium brands like Plascon and Dulux, our housebrands, Cololur Co and TradeMARK and many others depending on the specific application. If you need help with specific stock or are busy with a project, please contact your nearest Mica who will be able to assist you with every step of your job. If you do not know which is your closest Mica, you can either use the store locator on the website or your can contact our call center on 086 11 22 114 and they will assist you.

The house that I bought has two different colour face bricks, how can I get them to be the same colour, is there a type of varnish one can use?

This is a tough one; the only product that I have heard of and which might, I repeat, might be suitable, is Earthcote, which is, as far as I am aware, formulated for staining concrete. Should you decide to give it a try, I suggest that you buy the smallest container you can of the chosen colour and then try the product in a very small area in an unobtrusive part of the wall. If it does not achieve the desired result then you can at least remove it with a strong water jet. If the final result is desired, bear in mind you will have to seal the wall as well. The paint department at your local Mica will be able to advise you on a suitable sealer. I also understand that Earthcote might not be stocked by Mica, so you may need to see if your local branch could order some for you. I also did a search and found two US companies Brickwork Stain Technologies Inc. ( and PermaTint ( and have written to both to find out if they export their products to SA, or if they would consider exporting small once-off batches, such as you might need. The potential problem should they be amenable, and you decided to place an order is of course, that if you are not satisfied with the product or the end result, you have little if any recourse. I will advise you further as and when I receive a reply from either company.

Polyurothane is a difficult product to work with. What is the best method to use for applying it on a wood table without having paintbrush-marks, roller-bubbles or cloth-circles?

Applying water-based polyurethane:

If you are applying water-based polyurethane over a previously stained surface on which an oil-based finish was applied, then you will have to sand the surface thoroughly to prevent the new finish beading.

Applying water-based polyurethane is essentially the same as that for applying an oil-based one, and you can use the same selection of applicators, but you need to keep the first coat as light as possible, to avoid raising the grain, and you probably won’t need to sand between each coat. But you probably will have to apply a great deal more than three or four coats possibly five or more.

Good news is that drying times are far less than they are for oil-based products, so the time factor might not be the issue you thought it could have been.

Applying oil-based polyurethane:

You can apply oil-based polyurethane using a good-quality fine-bristled brush, a clean cloth or a foam brush. Don’t use cheap bristle brushes, as these will tend to leave obvious brush strokes. Foam brushes work well, as they are not expensive and produce an even finish without many brush strokes. Brush with the grain of the wood, using a sufficient, but not overly thick coat of polyurethane. Don’t over brush, but be sure use long strokes to brush out as many bubbles as possible. The few remaining bubbles will soon disappear.

After the first coat has dried thoroughly to be sure you should allow 24 hours or so, depending on the weather (when its hot and dry, the polyurethane may dry somewhat quicker). Once it is dry, sand it lightly, with the grain, with fine sandpaper 320 grit works well. But don’t sand too hard, or too fast, as friction could cause the surface to melt. Then carefully dust the surface with a soft cloth and remove all the dust before applying a second coat.

To achieve the finish you want, you may have to apply a third or even fourth coat, sanding between each as above.

Lightly rubbing the final surface with fine steel wool and applying a coat of furniture wax will help achieve a fine finish.

Additional Tips:

Use thinner coats on vertical surfaces to avoid runs, which you can usually sand out or remove with a razor blade.

When applying polyurethane, have a bright light to hand, and check your work from different angles that makes it easier to spot areas that need a little more or a little less.

Is there a product that I can use to apply to a wooden bookcase before painting instead of sanding?

You could apply stripper and remove the varnish. However, you do not need to remove the varnish before painting the bookcase. You need only give it a light sanding, just to literally scratch the surface and give it what is called a key to which the finish you are applying, can adhere.

Just bear in mind that if the varnish is oil-based, then the paint you use should also be oil-based.

Do you get a special paint that I could use to touch up the inside of my Samsung microwave oven door? If so, how safe is it?

My suggestion is not touch up the door; there are paints available, and I understand Rust-o-leum has a product, but I think the risk of food contamination is too great, and let’s face it, new microwaves are not that expensive these days. My suggestion is purchase a new one, and ensure that after each use the door is left open to allow the interior to dry.

How do I stop a skin forming on top of paint in its container?

There are two ways: you can store the container upside-down, but probably better still is to spray a fine mist of mineral turpentine on the surface of an oil-base paint, or fine spray of water on to the surface of a water-base paint. Carefully close and seal the container and then move it, equally carefully to avoid disturbing the film to the storage position.

I read that you can actually paint your enamel bath. What kind of products would you need and how effective is it?

Yes, there is a product called Rust-O-Leum, which you should be able to order from your local Mica. I have never tried the product myself, and cannot vouch for it myself, but I am not aware of anyone being dissatisfied, provided the manufacturer’s instructions are complied with.

I want to know how to fix a wall that its paint is peeling off.

Paint often peels because there is moisture getting in under the paint film, and you can recognise this by the fact that large areas of the paint peel off. If adhesion is the problem then peeling may be spotty… in small areas here and there.

So… potential causes of peeling include:

  • Moisture getting behind paint film from roof leaks in roof or through an insufficiently sealed wall that meets an earth bank.
  • Faulty guttering.
  • A leaking water pipe in the wall itself.
  • Painting when the surface being painted is wet from condensation or rain.
  • Keeping windows and doors closed in bathrooms and so on, so that steam cannot escape.


  • Fix the roof leak or the faulty guttering.
  • Dig back from the wall, if it holds back earth, clean it and seal it properly with a good sealant. Your local Mica will be able to advise you.
  • Eliminate the cause of the steaming up by leaving doors and windows open to allow dry air in and steamy air out.
  • Scrape away old peeling paint and sand affected areas.
  • Spot prime bare areas.
  • Repaint with a high quality acrylic latex house paint.

I want to paint my stained coffee table, how do I know if the varnish is oil based? What paint do I use over the varnish?

Water-base products are popular because they dry quickly and cleaning of brushes, roller and so on requires washing in water, whereas oil-base products require mineral turpentine or brush cleaner for cleaning. The other aspect that makes water-base popular is its quick-drying properties. But, how do you tell which is which on a previously coated surface? Some research came up with the following – you are going to have to sand the table anyway, to key the surface, and as you do so, consider the following: use 180 grit paper to sand and if after sanding with minimal effort, the existing coating begins to create a soft powder, the coating was oil-based. If, however, after light sanding, there is little dust, and globs of the coating are adhering to the sandpaper, the the chances are, the coating was water-based. You can then visit your local Mica and buy the water or oil-based paint as appropriate, and apply it as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

I would like to paint my bedroom, but I have a few hairline cracks and places where the cement is chipped, what can I use to fix this?

Filling hairline cracks is very easy. Buy a packet of interior Polyfilla at your local Mica, plus a spatula, if you don’t already have one. Mix a small amount of the filler with water as per the manufacturer’s instructions to create a stiff paste, and use the spatula to sweep small amounts of it into the cracks. Allow it to dry, and then sand it down so that it is flush with the wall surface.

For chips, follow the same procedure, using the spatula to smooth off the surfaces. For large chips, insert some filler, allow it to dry, and then build it up further in layers until the chipped area is more than filled. Then allow it to dry, and then sand it down flush with the surrounding surface.

It is best to mix the filler in small batches if you are doing a lot of filling. By doing this you will ensure that it doesn’t end up drying out while you’re working with it and you won’t end up with too much left over at the end.

I would like to paint my driveway paving which is the best paint to use for this and that is not slippery?

Probably your best bet is high-gloss oil-base stoep enamel but with a product such as Grip Additive added to make the finish less slippery. As the surface is outdoors a water-base finish might not work as well. Also bear in mind that in time whatever you apply will tend to wear off thanks to the action of vehicle tyres, so you will probably have to renew the surface periodically. Unfortunately I do not have a price for you, but call your local Mica and I am sure they will be able to provide you with a price.