Check out these FAQ’s regarding various considerations that should be addressed before painting the interior or exterior of your home.

What is the optimal temperature to paint outside?

Until a few years ago, painting needed to done when temperatures were going to be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with advances made in waterborne technologies, many products can be applied when temperatures are as low as 35º F.

Please note that surface, air, and product temperatures must be at or above 35º F and that environmental conditions during and after painting need to be considered. Stable conditions and temperatures above 35º F are needed early in the paint’s drying schedule.

What is the difference between a flat and a satin finish on the interior of my home?

Flat and satin finishes are typically used on walls and ceilings. Flat paint hides imperfections and can generally be touched up; however, they can not be cleaned. Satin paint has a higher sheen, does not hide well, and cannot be touched up. It can, however, be cleaned with soap and water. Satin paint is popular in kitchens, baths, and high traffic areas. Flat paint is popular on ceilings, in low traffic areas, and two story walls.

Are there any issues associated with painting over a textured surface?

A common problem with existing textured paint is that it can be water-soluble. If you use a waterborne product directly over such a surface, it may cause the existing texture to begin to soften and fall off of the surface. Test a fast-drying alkyd primer on the surface. Alkyds have the best chance of not wetting the texture paint. If the alkyd primer does not prevent the softening of the texture, then you may have to consider complete removal of the existing texture and reapplication of a new coat.

Application of a fresh coat by roller may be easiest for most; however, in some cases, it may not be possible to roll over texture paint as this, too, could cause it to come off. In such cases, application via airless spray may need to be considered. Test the application method over a small area prior to painting the entire ceiling.

I want to paint one wall a different color. How can I select the wall that should be painted with this different color?

This is often called a feature or accent wall. While this could depend on the overall space, the wall that comes into view opposite the main entrance is in most cases selected as the feature wall and should be the one to receive the special treatment.

Can mildew be permanently avoided?

No. Mildew can grow in any area that is dark and moist with limited air movement. Paints can be formulated to inhibit mildew growth, but under some conditions mildew eventually will reappear on any type of paint. A cleaning or maintenance schedule is the best protection in such environments.

When painting a room, in which order should I paint the walls, ceilings, and trim?

As you can imagine, this can be open to debate. For the most part, however, the ceiling and walls are primed prior to installing the trim. Naturally, the ceilings are done first, and then the wall. Once the trim is installed and the edges caulked, the trim is primed and finish coated. The trim is therefore coated last. Even when repainting a similar order is followed.

Ceiling first, walls second, trim last. If the trim were painted first, splatter from the roller could end up on the freshly painted trim. Since time is of the essence in repaint work, there is not usually enough time between painting the trim and painting the wall to use masking tape on the freshly applied paint.

What should I use to paint my garage floor?

If this is a concrete slab on grade, check to ensure that the surface does not have a moisture problem prior to considering an opaque coating. Tape a 2-foot square plastic sheet to the floor (use duct tape and tape around the entire perimeter of the plastic sheet). Leave in place on the floor for one or two days.

Then, check to see if moisture is present between the floor and the plastic. If moisture is present, painting should not be attempted. If the area is still dry, then the surface can be painted. Clean the surface to remove all contaminants. If the surface is smooth, etch the surface to create a profile. To resist hot tire pick-up, we recommend a polyamide two part epoxy.

I have a textured ceiling, but prefer a smooth ceiling. How can I change this to a smooth surface?

In most cases, textured paint is applied to a sheetrock wall after only one or two coats of joint compound was applied. Because the plan was to texture, the contractor did not prepare the wall for a smooth finish. In most cases, once loose, textured paint is removed, a fresh coat of texture would need to be applied in order to hide any imperfections. Most textured paint is water-soluble and can be softened by soaking with warm water or stripped with a conventional paint stripper.

However, it may be easier to scrape the surface while it is still dry. Be sure to wear eye protection and a dust mask, as scraping will create dust. Scraping can also be rather messy, so be sure to cover or remove anything that could be damaged in the process. Once the existing texture is removed, the substrate can be patched as needed and primed. Follow with fresh texture, or, if the surface is smooth enough after patching, you can follow with a standard ceiling paint.

What is the best way to touch-up or repair a wall?

Touching up an existing painted surface can be challenging – professional painters wrestle with this constantly. Ideally, use paint from the same can that was used originally, but reduce it about 10% to 15% with the reducer recommended on the can.

If you are touching up walls on which the paint was applied with a roller, use a small trim roller. If the paint was brushed on, use a brush. Apply a small amount of the touch-up paint and “feather” the edges, starting at the outside edge of the touch-up area into the center of the area. “Feathering” entails drawing the brush across the area outside of the touch-up onto the new paint to create a transition that diminishes the appearance of the touch-up.

If the surface had to be patched, use a primer sealer. Try to prime and paint to a natural break. Please note, though, that sometimes repaired areas may be noticeable. In this event, painting the entire wall may be the best option.

What can I use to clean a surface that has already been painted?

Maintenance cleaning is vital to the overall service life of a painted surface. However, when selecting a cleaner, be sure to use a non-abrasive cleaner. If cleaning a waterborne paint, avoid products that are ammoniated. Mild, soapy water will generally suffice. However, always test the cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area to ensure that it does not damage the paint film.

I’m going to be painting the interior of a 1200 square foot home. Can you list some pros and cons of air sprayer vs. roll-on and brush painting?

A lot depends on whether the house is new or already occupied. If new, spray painting is a much faster way to get the paint on the wall, especially if the trim isn’t in place yet. Everything that you have to move, mask, or cover (furniture, trim, doors, windows, carpet) will slow the process down. You’ll get a lot of “bounce-off” with an airless sprayer that usually falls to the floor as sweepable dust.

You will need to cover anything that you don’t want paint to fall on. Rolling, while usually slower, does not require as much covering and masking. You can also have several people in the house rolling at the same time, which cuts your total job time.

What’s the difference between alkyd and latex paints?

Latex paint dries to the touch in one hour and cleans up with water. Alkyd paint dries to touch overnight and cleans up with solvent. Traditionally, latex paints have the longest life and better gloss retention. Alkyd paints have good adhesion, excellent durability, and stain resistance.

What basic ingredient gives paint its hiding power?

Of the three main paint ingredients – pigments, solvents, and binders – the pigment provides hiding power and gives paint its color and shading. The solvents carry the paint to the surface, then evaporate, leaving behind a film of paint; the binders are bonding agents that hold the paint together.

Do I need one finish coat or two?

When maintaining the same color scheme, one coat is usually sufficient. When changing colors two or more coats are usually necessary.

What determines if a joint should be recaulked? Should old caulk always be removed?

If the old caulk is cracking or pulling away from the surface, dig it out and replace it. Prime the bare wood then re-caulk. Any butt joint in siding or other joints between two pieces of wood should be caulked. You DO NOT want to caulk the lap joints of siding since they allow moisture to get out from behind the wood.

What causes small cracks to form on a recently painted wall?

This problem is commonly called “alligatoring.” The most common cause of alligatoring is the application of too thick of a paint film. The surface of the film dries first, with the rest of the film taking longer to dry than normal. When the underside of the paint finally does dry, it shrinks, causing the top of the film to pull apart and leaving unsightly cracks. You can prevent this by applying the paint at the manufacturer’s recommended thickness and spreading rate.

A less frequent cause of alligatoring results from painting over a contaminant on the surface such as oil, silicone, body oils, hair spray, etc. You can prevent this by thoroughly cleaning the surface before painting.

I want to repaint my off-white vinyl siding brown, but I have been told to stay away from dark colors on vinyl. Why?

Vinyl siding is a very flexible material that expands and contracts horizontally with temperature changes. In fact, when it is installed, the nails are not hammered all the way into the sheathing to allow for such movement. Since dark colors absorb more heat than light colors, painting the siding brown could cause it to flex so much that it could come unfastened or, in severe cases, even cause structural damage to the house. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using a paint color any darker than the original color of the siding.

What’s the best way to paint exterior brick? What techniques will give it a unique finish or texture?

First, let new brick weather a year before painting. This allows any ores in the brick a chance to leach out. It’s a good idea to pressure wash the brick before painting to get rid of any powdery mortar or deposits on the brick. Allow the brick to dry several days before painting. If the brick has a glaze on it, and it doesn’t absorb water, you’ll need to abrade the brick in some way to open it up so the primer will absorb into it.

Make sure the brick is clean before priming. After priming, topcoat with two coats of a 100% acrylic paint. You can add some texture by using an exterior sand finish texture paint or an exterior stucco finish paint as your finish coat.

How long do I have to wait before staining or painting a new pressure-treated deck?

In the past, the rule of thumb was to wait until the green color faded away. Recent studies have shown that waiting the six to 12 months necessary for this to happen allows the wood to deteriorate too much. To adequately protect treated wood from the harmful effects of rain, snow, mildew and the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the wood should be allowed to thoroughly dry first. Then if the wood will accept a finish, coat it with a toner or a clear, semi transparent, or solid stain.

About a year ago, I cleaned and refinished a pressure-treated deck with a clear water repellent. It looked like new when I finished the job, but a few weeks ago I noticed it had turned gray again. What went wrong?

You probably didn’t provide the wood with any protection from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Clear water repellents do a great job of protecting wood from damage caused by water, but they usually don’t provide any UV protection. Wood that is not protected from UV rays can turn a silver gray color in as little as six months.

After you use a deck cleaner to restore the wood to a “like new” look, apply a finish with UV protection. If you want to change the color of the deck, use a semi-transparent stain or a toner. For a clear, natural wood look, try one of the new clear wood finishes that offers UV protection. Many are water reducible for easy clean-up.

For answers to all other questions related to the painting of your home, . . Click here.