Questions About General Paint Information

an empty room with a ladder and red paint question mark on wall

Q. I have some lumps and gunk in my paint from not sealing my paint can properly. But it isn't too bad. I would like to screen it into a new can. Should I use something like cheesecloth or an old towel for the screening material?

A. You can use old nylon panty hoses. Cut off a foot plus a few extra inches. Next time, cut a piece of leg and knot one end. Stay away from any runs in the stocking. You can also use the strainers from the paint store or from your local hardware store. They are a nylon mesh bag to fit either one gallon or five-gallon containers at $1 and change each. There are disposable funnel strainers, but they might be too fine.

Q. Is there a "shelf life" for paint?

A. Yes there is, but it depends on if the paint can has ever been opened before, or if its still 'factory sealed.' It also depends on where it is stored if it gets cold, since it could freeze. In addition, if it was opened, was it properly closed again before storing? If it smells funky, it's bad. If it smells like paint, and brushes on OK, it's OK.

To properly store paint, clean the rim of the can to ensure a proper seal. Pour 1/8 inch (3mm) of solvent on top of oil-based paint, or 1/8 inch (3mm) of water on top of latex paint to seal the surface, and then secure the lid. Alternatively, stretch plastic wrap over the can opening, replace the lid securely, and store paint upside down. This will create an airtight seal to keep the paint fresh until you're ready to use it again. Always store paint away from heat sources at temperatures between three and 35 degrees Celsius, and out of the reach of children.

open can of blue paint

Q. I am painting my daughter's room two-tone with horizontal striping and the paint is bleeding through the tape. I have seen several pictures in catalogs with rooms painted this way and the stripes look so clean and sharp. Is there any tip to keeping the paint from bleeding through the tape?

A. Paint above the line and over the tape with glaze to seal the edge. When I spray on texture, it goes on clean when tape is removed. Rolling and brushing usually leaves it too thick not to run down into openings in the tape. Applying thinner coats would help in keeping it from bleeding. And be sure to use a razor blade to cut through on the top edge of the tape or it will peel away some paint when the tape is pulled off.

Q. We painted a first coat of paint (aqua pearl finish - like semi gloss - in latex) a few hours ago. When we painted the rest of the house, we were able to paint a second coat in a few hours. The coat we put on today is dry to the touch, but upon reading the container, it said 12 hours to recoat. Is this necessary? Or can we paint the second coat when it is dry to the touch?

A. The can directions originate from laboratory application ideals, which are then filled out by lawyers to ensure that under no conditions - even extreme conditions - could the product fail. If the instructions authorized our good judgment, the company would be at risk. So it's safer to insult everybody than enable us with, "You can recoat when it is dry to the touch but it is better to wait. The first coat is still soft and can easily be damaged by the next wet coat of paint."

man taping window edge for painting

Q. Is there a difference between flat and matte finish, or are they the same? I purchased two gallons of paint for family room and requested flat finish and I notice on the container it says matte finish. Am I being paranoid or what? I know nothing about paint and with all the new finishes; I want to make sure I have flat paint finish.

A. Flat is and should be dead flat. A matte is like a flat in the way it applies and looks, but has an ever-so-slight sheen to it that makes it washable.

Q. 1) The walls of the upstairs level will be satin, latex topcoat, preceded by lots of spackling of nail holes and cracks, then spot prime only.
Kitchen and washroom walls will be semi-gloss (is this sheen too much?). Would you suggest latex / alkyd here? How about the ceiling for these rooms?
All trim, baseboards, and doors will be alkyd high-gloss. Due to poor painting here, especially the baseboards, is a primer required? Can it be skipped since it's (though unevenly) covered in flat paint anyway?

I read in one thread here that nowadays alkyd paints are almost unneeded as latex fulfills all requirements. Should I then still use alkyd for number 3 above?

A. #1 Sounds good.
#2 Satin or semi-gloss - whichever you prefer. I would only use alkyd/oil if that is what is on the surface now.
#3 You shouldn't need to prime but a good sanding is in order. Personally I wouldn't use oil, but I'm affected by occupational overexposure. The new waterborne products dry as hard as the alkyd does but don't yellow, clean up with water, and dry hard and fast.

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