FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best finish for my walls?
Should I use flat or satin paint?
How many coats of paint are recommended?
Can you paint in the cold weather?
Should oil (alkyd) paint be used?
Can you paint latex over oil?
How often should my house be powerwashed?

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What is the best finish for my walls? Should I use flat or satin paint?

Satin finish is recommended for bathrooms and kitchens.  It is more durable, washable and less likely to mark.  The downside to satin is that it enhances blemishes on the surface and is difficult to maintain if marked.  A satin finish cannot be easily touched up.  We do not recommend satin finish for ceilings or rough surfaces.

Flat finishes are best for ceilings.  Flat finishes are easy to maintain and touch up, and blemishes will not be as visible.  However, flat finishes are not as durable as satin finishes and are easily marked. You will not be able to wash your flat finished walls.  A durable semi-gloss is needed for the trim.

Velvet flats or matte finishes are a good mixture hide plus washing ability. Although flats will hide blemishes better matte finishes are duller than eggshell and satin finishes with the benefit of greater durability

How many coats of paint are recommended? 

It depends on each situation.  On an exterior, the best and most economical approach is to apply one full coat of tint-to-color primer and one semi-gloss top coat.  Any color changes will require two coats for coverage, which is an ideal situation for this procedure.

Using a primer tinted to the desired color will seal and adhere to the surface creating an excellent base for the top coat.  This is a better approach than spot priming and two top coats.

If money is not an issue two top coats on top of a full primer is the ultimate protection, but the longevity does not necessarily add up to the expense.  In most cases when the paint is intact and the color is not to change, spot priming or priming just the areas of raw wood and one top coat is sufficient.

Any interior color change will require at least two coats.  Some exotic and primary colors require even more.

Can you paint in the cold weather? 

A high for the day of 40 degrees will allow about a four hour window for painting.  Today’s quality acrylic paints are formulated to dry in two hours at 35 degrees.

Should oil (alkyd) paint be used? 

Oil paint should not be used on an exterior.  Lead was the main ingredient in oil paint that made it superior to other coatings.  For safety reasons the lead was removed and banned.  Today’s acrylic technology has surpassed even the lead based paints of the past.

Lead was a pliable material, making the paint soft enough to move with the changing conditions of the house.  The wood of the house will shrink and swell depending on the humidity and temperature.  Removing the lead made oil paint too hard and brittle such that it will break and crack when stressed.  Acrylic is softer and more flexible moving with the expansion of the wood.

Oil paint contains linseed oil that attracts mildew.  Acrylic is mildew resistant.  Oil paint will also lose its shine much faster, creating a moisture-prone surface.  Acrylic paints are generally less shiny than oil when applied, but the overall shine will last three times as long.

The solvent base of oil is also an issue with environmentalists.  The industry has responded by focusing all of their research on advancements in acrylics.  Today’s oil is made with the same technology of 15 years ago.  Acrylic advancements are upgraded every two to three years.

Can you paint latex over oil?

On an exterior with old, weathered oil paint, today’s quality acrylics will adhere very well.  The issue is if it is weathered.  Most oil paint will lose its shine in about three to four years.  If the paint is dull, then the surface is basically rough enough to accept a quality acrylic.

If the oil is too young and shiny, then certain acrylic paints are not likely to stick.  Some areas of a home weather more than others and it requires an expert evaluation to determine the difference.  Protected areas like doors usually require extra preparation such as sanding and de-glossing.  It is rarely advisable to use oil paint on an exterior.

Duron and Sherwin Williams now have acrylic products specifically designed to adhere to oil paint both interior and exterior. Oil will soon be unavailable and this is the industry’s response by providing water born acrylics with advanced adhesion ability. At present, sheens and colors are restricted but they do have a high-gloss sheen to resemble the sheen of oil without the yellowing that comes from aging linseed base oil products.

How often should my house be powerwashed? 

Mildew is your enemy.  It will etch a surface attracting moisture and allowing for further mildew growth.  Mildew will break down the components of the paint and can grow to the point of creating water damage and eventual rot.

A home should always be treated for mildew or power washed prior to painting.  Acrylic semi-gloss paint is mildew resistant and should be used for exteriors. Semi-gloss finishes are best for providing a smooth surface to prevent water retention.

A satin is the minimum finish that should be used except for ceilings where a flat finish is acceptable.  The shinier the finish, the smoother the surface, the less water retention, hence the most mildew resistance.

The industry calls for a house to be treated for mildew or power washed every two years.  Because of the humidity levels of the Richmond area, we recommend power washing every year.  Keeping mildew from attacking the paint will increase the longevity of the paint.