How do I tell if the paint on my walls is latex or alkyd (oil) based?

You can take some denatured alcohol or fingernail polish on a cloth and lightly rub it on an inconspicuous test area.

If the paint softens and is easily removed, then it is a latex paint. If the paint does not really seem to be affected by the test, it is typically an alkyd coating.


Do paint products that are considered a “Paint and Primer” in one product actually have primer mixed in?

No. These types of products do not actually have primer mixed into them. The “Paint and Primer” products use quality resins that allow for good adhesion. This helps to eliminate the use of primers in most circumstances.

Please note that primers may be needed in special cases. Contact your local store for more information in those instances.

Why does my flat or low sheen paint show handprints, marks, and shows the areas where I tried to scrub them off?

In general, flat and low sheen paints do not have a high amount of scrubbabilty.

Areas that are of higher traffic or that are washed should be painted with a higher sheen product.

At minimum, a “Satin” type or higher sheen is usually recommended in those areas for their overall durability.

Can I put a latex paint over a surface that was previously painted with alkyd (oil) product?

In most cases and with the latex technology used today, this should not be an issue. The surface to be painted needs extra attention in preparation to be repainted.

If the alkyd paint is lead-based, contact the EPA or “Lead Abatement” removal company.

If the alkyd paint is not lead-based, you can lightly scuff sand to remove the glossy surface and provide a profile for the latex to stick to. Make sure to clean the surface as well to remove any dirt, debris, etc. Prime with an appropriate primer before applying the final coat.

How long does it take for paint to “cure”?

Depending on color choice, atmospheric conditions, and other variables, latex paint may take up to 60 days for a “full cure”. In most cases, latex paint can be put to normal use after a day or two. Fresh latex should be allowed to cure for at least 14 days before attempting to wipe or wash the walls. It can be sensitive to water or chemicals during the curing process.

Also see the previous question regarding sheen choice. Lower sheens will be more susceptible to moisture and chemicals even after fully cured.

Do I need to prime every time that I want to freshen my walls with another coat of latex paint?

No. Primers are not always needed when repainting.

If you are repainting a similar color, you can lightly scuff sand to remove the gloss and clean the surface. Once that is completed, you can simply repaint over the existing latex coating. More than one coat may be needed for uniformity.

Please note that switching sheens or drastic color changes may require a primer to minimize the amount of topcoats used.

Why does the paint on my freshly painted wall peel off when I remove the masking tape from the trimmed areas?

Masking tape or even “Painter’s tape” may tend to stick to fresh coatings if not removed shortly after painting or pulled improperly from the surface. When the paint is applied to the walls, it will inevitably cover over the tape as well. As the paint starts to dry, it will start to adhere to the wall as well as the tape. This “bridge” of paint from the walls to the tape will lift as the tape is removed.

To help minimize this issue, you can lightly “score” the edge of the tape with a sharp razor or utility knife. This will help break the “bridge” or “film” between the painted wall and tape. Also, try to pull the tape staying close to the wall but pull away from the painted edge.

Why is my paint not covering after one coat has been applied?

There are several reasons why paint will not cover in one coat.

Some of the main reasons include drastic color changes i.e. light to dark color or even dark to light color, thinning the product, stretching the product near or beyond its coverage rate, or improper roller cover used.

Why do the square footage rates on the container not match what I am actually getting on my surface?

The coverage rates on the container are based off of a theoretical calculation.

This calculation does not account for any loss due to product left in the container, roller covers, brushes, or variations in the surface that it is applied to.

Depending on the aforementioned variables as well as overall surface porosity, you may see a lesser spread rate than what the “theoretical” coverage rate is on the container.

What causes lap marks in the dried paint?

Lap marks are created when a wet edge is not maintained while painting. It can also be caused when the paint is applied in a vertical motion only.

Make sure to keep a wet edge as well as spread the paint in a “W” or “M” pattern on the wall. This will help spread the coating and create an even film on the surface. Once this is done, you can go right back over that area and roll from top to bottom to minimize a “shadowing” effect in the dried film.