Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Will the paint smell?
A:Most paints do emit some odor. This odor dissipates quickly over the course of a few days and is easily gone within a week. Low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints have less of an odor but are often more expensive. The easiest way to get rid of the smell is lots of ventilation.
Q: Are the fumes toxic?
A:Some industrial applications do emit toxic fumes. Most residential/commercial paints do not. The main exception is oil-based paints and primers, which do emit some minor fumes. The result is that they should be used in well-ventilated areas.
Q: How soon can I touch/clean my freshly painted walls?
A:The paint will be dry to the touch in 4-6 hours, depending on the paint and climate. After a day, you can hang pictures on the walls, etc. Wait at least 30 days for the paint to completely cure before cleaning the walls.
Q: How do I clean the walls?
A:Most walls should only be cleaned lightly with warm, soapy water and a rag. If a cleaner has to be used, make sure it is a mild cleaner (non-abrasive). Again, you should wait at least 30 days after the wall was painted before cleaning it.
Q: What’s the difference between a $12/gal can of paint and a $25/gal can of paint?
A:Pricier paints tend to be of a higher quality. Often there is less water per can in the pricier paints and more heavy solids such as titanium. Additionally, the resins used in pricier paints tend to be of a higher quality as well. All of this means that a more expensive can of paint will probably last longer and hold a richer, deeper color for a longer period of time.
Q: Are there “green”/eco-friendly paints?
A:There are “green” paints. They have no or very low VOC, which means they give off less of an odor. Additionally, the resins in the paint are more natural and less toxic. These paints hold up just as well as normal paints do, but they tend to be more expensive.
Q: I’ve nicked some of the paint off my wall. Do I have to repaint the whole wall?
A:It depends on two factors: the finish of the paint and the size of the touchup. For instance, a 5’ by 5’ section of wall in flat paint can be touched-up with no problem as long as it’s done using the same material. On the other hand, even a 1” by 1” section on a semi-gloss wall is difficult to fix, because the touchup will often be visible at certain angles. It will flash or reflect light differently since the material only overlaps and does not blend. Therefore, care must be used when touching up a glossy surface, so lightly spread the paint out to include areas nearby that do not need paint.
Q: How can I tell if I have mold/mildew in my walls?
A:There are three basic ways to determine mold/mildew damage. First is when you can see dark stains or blooms coming out of the paint. That means that the mold/mildew has penetrated the paint and the wall completely. Second is to feel for weak or spongy parts of the wall. Dampness is usually a good indicator of mold and mildew. Finally, you can always open section of the wall for a thorough and complete investigation, but this should be implemented only as a last resort.
Q: What’s the difference between oil-based paint and water-based paint?
A:As the names state, the paints are either based on oil or water. Water-based paints (or acrylics) are cleaned up with water. These paints may have an odor, but it is not toxic or that strong. These paints also have many applications and last a long time. Oil-based paints can only be cleaned with mineral spirits (paint thinner, lacquer thinner, acetone, etc.). They tend to dry slower, and emit stronger odors. These paints should only be used in very well-ventilated areas. These paints have specialized functions and are not often used anymore.
Q: What’s the shelf life of a can of paint?
A:Shelf life depends on a few factors. First is how well the can has been sealed. A completely sealed can of paint can last 2 years on the shelf. However, once the paint is opened, the shelf life decreases along with how long the can is left open and how well it is sealed after use. Additionally, the environment plays a factor. Hotter, more arid climates can dry out paint much faster than a colder, more humid area. In any case, if you want to use an older can of paint, make sure you stir it thoroughly and add a slight amount of water to it.
Q: What’s the difference in finishes (i.e. semi-gloss, flat, eggshell, etc.)?
A:Flat/matte – little to no sheen. Very durable and can be washed. As a bonus, it can hide surface imperfections pretty well.
Eggshell – the sheen between flat and semi-gloss that has been described as velvety. There is a shine to it, but not much. Good for most areas and can be scrubbed.
Semi-gloss – has a decent sheen to it. It is good for accenting or for small areas that need to look brighter (the paint reflects light), like kitchens and bathrooms. Unfortunately, it does show imperfections in the wall pretty well.
Gloss/high gloss – very shiny paint (almost has a mirror shine to it). It will show every imperfection and brush stroke. Great for accenting trim, woodwork, railings, etc.
*** There are more finishes, but these are the main ones.
Q: Why/when do I need to use a primer?
A:A primer should be used any time you are about to paint an unfinished surface. Primer is also good at covering stains, mold/mildew, and graffiti. It can also be applied to walls that will be painted dramatically different colors (i.e. from white to a deep navy blue). This will reduce the number of coats needed to completely fill in the color of the wall. Lastly, primer is good whenever you are worried about the paint adhering to a surface.
Q: What’s the difference between interior and exterior paint?
A:The main difference is that exterior paint is specially made to withstand rain, wind, UV damage, and the extremes of hot and cold temperatures. Some exterior paints are also made with a rubbery component that allows the paint to expand and contract with the house or structure.
Q: What if I want a really specific color not found in a catalog?
A:In most cases, paint supply companies like Frazee or Dunn-Edwards can computer-match the color. The only catch is that you need to provide them with an adequate sample to make the match. On average, the minimum sample size is about the size of a 50-cent piece.
Q: How much will a gallon of paint cover?
A:Coverage depends on so many factors that it is difficult to generalize. Some factors affecting coverage are the climate of the area (i.e. humidity and heat), the porosity of the surface getting painted (i.e. wood, stucco, or metal), the type of paint (oil, water, etc.), and the method of application (roller, brush, sprayer, etc.). Additionally, the texture of the surface will dictate how much paint it will need. For instance, stucco will need a lot of paint because it is very rough and extremely porous