Paint FAQ


Q. How should I prep old aluminum siding before painting? What type of primer is the best for siding?

A. Remove as much “chalk”, dirt and mildew as you can. This is done by power washing or by scrubbing and rinsing. The only times a primer would be needed are:

  1. If any bare aluminum is exposed; then use a latex corrosion-inhibitive primer;
  2. If there is still “chalk” left on the surface, apply a quality exterior alkyd, oil-based primer recommended for aluminum siding by the manufacturer. (“Chalk” is the powdery pigment on the surface of the weathered siding that comes off when you rub the palm of your hand over it.)

Q. Can you paint over an oil-based paint with latex paint or is it vice versa?

A. The rule of thumb is that, given proper surface preparation, for exterior use you can apply quality latex paints over oil-based, but not the reverse. However, if you have many layers of oil-based paint, stick to using oil on oil. For interior use, generally you can use one over the other. Some manufacturers of latex products will recommend a primer when going over oil-based paint.

Q. The stain on my deck is worn and peeling. Can I just re-stain it?

A. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The old stain will need to be removed before a new finish can be applied. Look for an outdoor stain remover that is designed to work with both oil and acrylic finishes. Stripping the deck is not difficult, but be sure to follow the label directions closely. Once the deck has been cleaned down to the bare wood, apply a clear toner, semi-transparent or solid color stain.

Q. When purchasing paint I’ve been asked if I want flat, high gloss, satin or even an eggshell finish. What do these terms mean, and does it really make any difference what kind of finish I have?

A. Those terms refer to the sheen or gloss level of the paint, and yes, it does make a difference which one you use. The sheen or gloss level simply means the degree of light reflectance of the paint. The terms you mention are ones that various manufacturers use to describe the shininess of their products. The following chart explains what each term means, and where paint with that type of gloss should be used.

High gloss (70+ on a 60-degree gloss meter)
Where to use:
For kitchen and bathroom walls, kitchen cabinets, banisters and railings, trim, furniture, door jams and window sills.
More durable, stain-resistant and easier to wash. However, the higher the gloss the more likely surface imperfections will be noticed.

Semi-gloss (35 to 70 on a 60-degree gloss meter)
Where to use:
For kitchen and bathroom walls, hallways, children’s rooms, playrooms, doors, woodwork and trim
More stain-resistant and easier to clean than flat paints. Better than flat for high-traffic areas.
Satin or Silk (Range overlapping eggshell and semi-gloss)
Similar characteristics to semi-gloss and eggshell.

Eggshell (20 to 30 on a 60-degree gloss meter)
Where to use:
Can be used in place of flat paints on wall surfaces especially in halls, bathrooms and playrooms. Can be used in place of semi-gloss paints on trim for a less shiny appearance.
It resists stains better than flat paint and gives a more lustrous appearance.

Flat (less than 15 on a 60-degree gloss meter)
Where to use:
For general use on walls and ceilings.
Hides surface imperfections. Stain removal can be difficult. Use for uniform, non-reflecting appearance. Best suited for low-traffic areas.

Same characteristics as flat.