FAQs about Painting

Painting FAQs

House Painting 101


Q. Is there anything I should know about the limitations of paint?

A. When you choose a different color from the old one, it may take two or even three coats to cover.   When getting an estimate from your painter, you should discuss color and application so his price accurately reflects the number of coats.  Please note that you cannot load on paint to avoid a second coat. If it’s applied too thick, it will not dry and adhere properly. If your house has wood siding or trim covered with many layers of old paint, the end result will be a subtly textured surface because scraping removes only the loose paint. Even after thorough scraping and prepping, the starting surface will be a bit uneven, which adds to the character of older homes.

Q. What is the difference between paint and stain?

A. Paint colors a surface by forming a thin opaque film on a substrate. Stain colors a surface by penetrating into the substrate.

Q. What is the difference between latex and oil based paints?

A. The basic difference is composition. Most of the liquid portion of latex paints is water, while the liquid in oil-based paints consists of petroleum distillates or organic based oils from linseed, soya bean or other vegetables. About 75% of all paint sold today is latex, which are popular with both do-it-yourselfers and professional painters because they cleanup easy with plain soap and water. But today’s quality latex paints offer significant performance advantages as well. Quality latex paints that have 100% acrylic binders are especially durable and highly flexible. They adhere extremely well to a variety of exterior surfaces and have greater resistance to cracking, blistering, flaking and peeling than oil-based and other latex paints. They also have better color retention. And dry more quickly.

Q. What is the difference between interior and exterior paint?

A. Interior and exterior paints are formulated differently to meet different challenges. Interior paints are made with additives that make them less prone to scuffing and staining and easier to wash. They also have good hiding ability and are easier to touch up. Exterior paints are more flexible and durable to withstand changes of weather and moisture. They resist bleeding, fading, mildew, peeling and chipping.

Q. What is the best exterior trim paint, latex (acrylic) or oil (alkyd)?

A. As mentioned above, 100% acrylic topcoats are durable and fade resistant. However, oil-based paints are recommended in certain situations:

  • When repainting exterior surfaces with heavy “chalking.” (Chalk is the powdery substance that comes off on your hand when you run it across the surface.)
  • When repainting any exterior or interior surface that have four or more layers of old oil-based paint. (You can determine the number of layers by removing and examining paint chips.)
  • When painting over bleeding woods like redwood or cedar, an oil-based primer protects an acrylic topcoat from staining.

Q. Paints come in different finishes. Which should I use?

A. Selecting the ideal sheen or gloss level an interior or exterior paint job involves both aesthetic and practical considerations. While aesthetic preferences tend to be personal, from a practical point of view, the right sheen can help extend the life of the paint job.

  •  The flatter the paint, the better it will hide surface imperfections.
  • Flatter paint makes touch-ups easier and more seamless.
  • The glossier the finish, the greater the durability.
  • Generally, the higher the gloss, the more washable and scrubbable the surface.
  • Gloss surfaces offer more mildew resistance because they are less porous.

Q. What do primers and sealers do?

A. Primers and sealers perform similar functions. They are both used as undercoats with the goal of making the finished or topcoat look better and last longer. They are applied directly to bare substrate, such as a newly installed drywall, to protect, seal and prevent stains from bleeding through the topcoat of paint. Painters use sealers and primers to seal porous surfaces and provide good topcoat adhesion. You can think of a sealer as a specialized primer that is more water resistant.

Q. Why should I buy high quality paint?

A. Because you are paying mostly for labor, you should get the best application. Two factors to consider:

  • High quality paint generally covers better than less expensive paints.
  • High quality paint lasts longer, in some cases two to three times longer.

Q. Can I paint over wallpaper?

A. The simple answer is yes, but, as with all painting projects, the surface must be properly prepared. Any loose paper must be re-attached or removed. The surface must be smoothed with spackle or wallboard compound so that seams and patches do not show. Finally, if you’re planning to use latex paint, the wallpaper must be sealed with an oil-based sealer. Even after proper preparation, texture and/or seams may remain visible. So though you can paint over paper, we generally recommend against it.

Q. I feel daring and want to try something new. Any suggestions? 

A. If a “standard” paint or paper job isn’t what you’re after, Abbott Painting offers specialized effects including faux finishes, marbling and murals. Our professionally trained painters apply glazes, stains, imprints, plaster and textured materials by hand — using a range of techniques — to produce beautiful patinas on walls, doors and moldings.