Homeowner FAQs

In consideration of my clients and the general public, here are some answers to the questions that I get asked most frequently. I have also including some information for people who are thinking of painting and what they should know and consider beforehand. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers as we can discuss the details during our walkthrough of the project.

Why do painters wear white?

There are many explanations behind why painters wear white. Some explanations are a bit more fetched than others, but here’s a few that I have heard through my experience:
  • White and off-white are the most common colors that we use. Think of ceilings and trim which are almost always white. Spackle and caulking are also white unless you purchase a different color or tint it. Therefore, the uniform will hide the paint drips or over-spray allowing them to keep their uniform clean longer.
  • You can bleach them to rinse out colors to maintain a clean look.
  • Stays cooler in the sun while the work outdoors.
  • Years ago each tradesman wore a different color, for example carpenters would wear brown, plumbers wore blue, and painters wore white and so on. Then a general contractor could quickly find someone responsible for a specific trade on a large project.

Painting is detail oriented work and keeping a clean and neat project is necessary, especially on high-end homes and projects. Keeping a clean and neat white uniform is a sign of a clean and detail oriented painter that shows experience. With that said, paint will always find its way to somewhere it shouldn’t be, there is just no way to avoid it. Having a good cleaning process is critical too.

I want to paint the interior of my home. How can I prepare and what decisions do I need to make?
Know what you want to paint. Walls, ceiling, baseboard, crown molding, door and window trim, cabinets (inside and outside). You should also have an idea of what colors and sheen you want. Paint stores sell small pints of paint to help you sample the colors that they provide. They also sell small 8″x10″ thin pieces of cardboard that you may paint and then place and move around to different locations and give you a better idea of lighting from different perspectives.

When purchasing paint, know how much paint you need before you buy it. Once you purchase paint that has been tinted to you requested color, it can not be returned. So if you purchase four gallons and only end up using two, then you have two gallons of paint that you won’t be able to return. You may also simply ask if for a list of stock colors so that you can return what is not needed. Stock colors are un-tinted and can be placed right back onto the shelf.

Before painting
Some painters are full service so they will remove all wall art and furniture for you, but you can save them time and yourself money if you do some of the work yourself.
  • Remove wall art and decide if you want to keep the locations of wall art so the painter knows to fill the holes or leave them to rehang the hardware.
  • Painters will need at least two feet clearance from walls so help out by moving the small furniture out of the room or towards the center of the room. Large furniture may be too heavy to move on your own so talk to you painter to see if they can move it for you of if it can be painted around.
What’s the process for painting the exterior of my house or building?
Just like an interior job, it’s helpful to know exactly what you want/need to paint and not. Perhaps you want to maintain your home to make sure everything is ready for the next winter. Ask your local painting contractor to simply pressure wash your home, check that all windows are caulked and sealed, and to check for any rot. If repairs are necessary it is helpful to have the paints on hand to touch up the affected areas after the repairs have been done. If you, the homeowner, no longer have the paints then be prepared that the new paints will not match completely. It may make more economical and aesthetic sense to repaint the whole surface that needs repair. *See color matching below for more details.
How do I know when I should repaint?
Most homeowners don’t realize the need for a fresh paint job to their home and its protective nature. The time frame of needing to repaint the exterior of your home can vary depending on what type of home you have whether it be wood, stucco, cement shingles, or other. Location and the climate can also vary the timely need of repaint. For example, home battered by long winters and snow, or a beach house that is exposed to the constant salt air is apt to expose rust sooner than others. Most homes will need to be repainted every ten years, but every house is different. When you begin to see cracks and the existing paint flaking or chipping away then you know it is time to repaint. If you wait, you run the risk of the exposed surfaces beginning to rot and therefore having more damaged areas to replace and only costing more money. Remember that paint is much more than just a color, it’s a protective coating for your home.
Can you match a color I currently have on my house or building?
As a paint contractor, performing paint touchups can be extremely frustrating because the paint used will almost never match the surface being touched up. Even if the original paint is used, the surfaces that are being touched up are usually different shades then when they were originally painted, causing the new color not to match the original. This means that even the same paint formula will likely not match. The best option is to match the color as close as possible or use the remaining paint from before and paint the entire surface, being the whole wall or the single piece of trim. It is much less visible to see the color difference between two walls than spots of touch up on one wall.
To match an existing color on a wall or trim, you must bring at least a quarter dollar size piece of the actual color to a paint store and give them at least a day to to match it. It may not be a perfect match but it will be much closer than trying to match it yourself, even if you are using a color fan deck.
A very important part of painting is keeping a record of what paints were used including the manufacturer, type, color name and number, sheen, and of course the location of the paint used.
For Example:
Location               Brand               Type               Color               Sheen
Interior trim          Kelly Moore     Acryplex        Swiss coffee    Eggshell

What is VOC and why should I be concerned with it?

VOC – Volatile Organic Compounds
Most homeowners have heard of harmful VOCs or the new green low or zero VOC paints. VOC gases are released while paints, primers, and solvents are drying. Therefore, once paints have dried completely, there is no risk of these airborne gases. To combat this, be sure to follow labeled instructions of the material being used, open windows and fans to promote air-flow, seal off the work space with tape and plastic from the rest of the building, or simply use zero VOC materials.
Here are the health symptoms laid out by the EPA:
“Health effects may include:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.”

Visit the EPA’s website for more information

What can I do with my old paints?

Paints generally have a shelf life of five years before they age beyond reuse. Before you throw away those old rust buckets be sure to do just a few things first:

  • Make sure to collect all the information you can from the label so you can duplicate the paint color and sheen if needed.
  • If the paint is stirred back to a uniform smooth consistency then you can reuse it. One sign of paint has gone bad is a foul odor.
  • Once paint is unusable and you have recorded the label you have two options:
    • Call your local paint store and ask them if they have a paint recycling program and if they will accept your old paints. Most stores will and it is completely free to drop off your old used paints. This is a program paid for when paint is purchased. Visit paintcare.org to find a location near you.
    • If you don’t have a recycle location near you, take the lid off and put the open containers our in your backyard in the sun and out of reach of children or little critters. You want the paints to naturally dry out and release their VOC’s and off gases. Dry time will vary with the environment such as humidity and temperature and breeze. Usually this will take a week or two. Afterwards you may simply put the dry containers and lids into your garbage can with the rest of your common trash.

What maintenance is needed for doors and windows?

  • All new wooden doors and windows must be sealed by paint or a protective clear coat or the warranty will be nullified.
  • Exposed bottom or top ends can and will absorb moisture and cause them to rot.

How do I maintain new decking and fencing? 

  • New lumber needs to seasoned for an entire season before being stained or sealed or wood will not accept color.