Common Paint Questions

When purchasing paint, I've been asked if I want flat, high gloss, satin, and even an eggshell finish. What do these terms mean, and does it really make any difference what kind of finish I have? 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. Your local independent paint retailer also can recommend the type of gloss you need for your particular paint project.

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 jambs and windowsills.


More durable, stain resistant and easier to wash. However, the higher the gloss, the more likely surface imperfections will be noticed.

Semigloss (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 semigloss)

Similar characteristics to Semigloss 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 semigloss paints on trim for a less shiny appearance.


It resists stain 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, nonreflecting appearance. Best suited for low-traffic areas.


Same characteristics as Flat.

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I have vinyl siding that I thought was going to look like new forever. Now it has started to fade and has weather-damaged areas. Must I replace it or can I paint it and save some money?

Painting your old vinyl makes good sense, both economically and aesthetically. Not only can you make it look like new again, you can, if you wish, change the color and give a whole new look. Note that you can do the same thing with aluminum siding. Surface preparation and the use of quality paint are the keys to painting both vinyl and aluminum siding.

I see prices ranging from less than $10 to $25 or more for a gallon of paint. Is there really any difference between one paint and another, or should I try to save some money?

As with almost any product, when you purchase paint you usually get what you pay for. Purchasing paint strictly on the basis of price will end up costing you more in the long run. Here's why. As long as you're comparing two similar types of paint (i.e. interior wall paint, exterior trim paint), price differences usually reflect a difference in quality and/or the amount of the key ingredients. Since it's the ingredients that affect such important qualities as durability, flow, hide and leveling, the better the quality of the paint the easier it will be to apply and the longer it will normally last. In fact, a top-quality paint can last as much as twice as long as a low-end paint. This lowers the cost per year of service which saves you not only money, but also sweat if you do your own painting. If you use a professional painter, you save even more by insisting on a top-quality paint. That's because the paint represents only a fraction of the cost of repainting; most of the expenses is for the contractor's labor. By spending a little more up front on your paint, you avoid frequent repainting. Naturally, if your budget is tight, watch for a sale on a top quality paint. However, remember to purchase the best paint you can afford. It will always be your best value in the long run. Consult your local independent paint retailer for the proper paint for your project.

When is the best time for exterior painting?

Paint when the temperature is above 60 and below 90 degrees F. Otherwise the drying time will be adversely affected. Avoid not only rain but also wind. High winds not only can cause your paint to dry too quickly, they can also blow dirt and other debris onto the wet surface. You should also try to paint with the shade. In other words, if you can avoid painting in direct sunlight, do so. Always check the manufacturer's instructions on the paint can label and get advice from your local independent paint retailer.

I want to have a professional paint my house. How do I find a good house painter and what information should I require in the quote?

Those are both good questions. To find a good painting contractor, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations or see if your local independent paint retailer has a list. Once you're ready to talk to them, ask for and check references. When they give you a quote, get a firm price and both a start and finish date, find out who will actually do the work, check to see if the contractor has liability insurance (and bonding if necessary), and never pay in advance. A bid or contract also should include a list of the work that is to be done, how many coats for each surface, the type of paint to be used for each part of the job, the preparation work that will be done, and who furnishes the paint and other materials.

The paint is coming off the exterior of my house even though I used an expensive paint and applied two coats. Why is this happening, how can I correct it, and what will it take to prevent it in the future?

Without taking a look at your specific situation, it's very difficult to give a specific answer. There are simply too many different types of problems that involve paint not adhering to exterior surfaces. For example, there are terms such as alligatoring, blistering, checking and cracking to describe different problems that can occur. However, almost all paint failures are due to poor or improper surface preparation. Another cause is improper application. The use of quality paint also is important, but, as in your case, will not ensure against adhesion problems if the surface is not properly prepared and the paint is not applied correctly.

To briefly answer both your second and third questions, yes, you can correct your problem and by properly doing so avoid the same problem in the future. Remove all loose, flaking or peeling paint, clean, spot prime where necessary, solve any moisture problems you may have and repaint with a quality paint using correct application procedures.

How do I select a good color for the exterior of my house? I want something to set my house off yet that is in good taste.

Your home's exterior is the first impression visitors have of you. You should want it to look good. First, be sure to take into account the fixed colors of your home – brick, stone work and the roof color. You may want to consider choosing a paint color that will pick up the color from one of these non-painted areas such as, for example, a brown that appears in your brick. In addition, the style of your home may play a role in the colors you select. If, for example, you have an architecturally accurate reproduction of a colonial-style home, you may want to use authentic exterior colors from that period. Or, if you have a Victorian-era home, you may want to use a number of colors to accentuate the architectural details (gingerbread) on your home. Generally, you can't go wrong selecting a light color for the body of the house and a darker, complimentary color for the trim. Another way to set your home off is to create an interesting welcoming entrance by painting your front door in a bold color scheme. Your local independent paint retailer can help you select just the right color scheme for your exterior project.

Is it always necessary to apply two coats of an exterior paint?

Actually, if you are painting new siding or where all of the previous coating has been removed, you should first apply a coat of primer followed by two coats of paint. However, if the surface was previously painted and that old paint is still sound, a single coat of a quality paint will probably suffice. Your local independent paint retailer can advise you as to whether two coats will be necessary for your particular situation.

How do I tell one paint from the next? After all, they're all basically the same, right?

"Hey... Paint is paint!" So often, in the paint industry, we hear this mistaken declaration. We then spend considerable time explaining why this is not true. If you think all paint is the same, take a common, everyday item, such as milk, as an example. When you approach your supermarket dairy case and see the overwhelming assortment of MILK available, a closer examination reveals some surprising differences. You've got whole milk, butter milk, 2% reduced fat milk,1% low fat milk, or non-fat skim milk! Nonetheless, they're all labeled MILK. But, we all know there's a big difference in consistency, taste, and richness. But still, it's all just MILK. Milk is milk, right? These same differences in milk could be equated to the differences in paint. It may be paint in the can, but, it's what's in the paints raw materials and formulation that determines the quality, performance, and durability. To better understand these differences, let's break down the three basic components that comprise paint:



is what gives paint its color and opacity. Titanium dioxide (Tio2) is by far the best and most effective of pigments used in quality paints. It exhibits the best hiding power and binder supporting durability. Less effective substitutes called extender pigments such as clay, silica, and calcium carbonate are used to provide bulk. Lower quality paints contain more of these extender pigments, often as a substitute for some of the costlier TiO2, to reduce selling price. But, this is at the expense of reduced hide and durability.

A costlier, high quality paint will contain two to three pounds of TiO2 per gallon, as its prime pigment, which produces superior hide and spread rate, and when combined with high quality binders, will provide the best durability.


, or resins, are the bonding agents that hold the paint film together, and make it adhere to the surface on which it is applied. This costly ingredient plays a critical role in the performance of paint. The better the quality of the binder, the better the color retention, adhesion, flexibility and durability of the paint.

There are two basic types of paints, oil base, and water base. Water base is also known as “latex”. In oil based paints, the binders are drying oils such as linseed oil or modified oils such as alkyds. In water based paints, there are several types of binding resins, the most common are vinyl-acrylic ( co-polymer), and 100% acrylic.

Paints using a vinyl-acrylic co-polymer as the binder are generally lower priced due to the reduction in the costly acrylic content, which is substituted in part with lower cost vinyl resins, which don't have the superior characteristics of acrylics.

In general, 100% acrylic paints have been shown to provide the most durability, adhesion, color retention and flexibility to resist the rigors of the sun, moisture and temperature fluctuation. However, like the milk in the dairy case, even 100% acrylics may not all be the same. A label may claim to be 100% acrylic, but the actual volume of acrylic or its quality may vary. Always insist on manufactures written product information if in doubt.

Quality paint combines the best pigments and binders, known collectively as solids. The solids are the part of the paint the remains on the surface being painted, after the solvents evaporate. So it's plain to see why the best type and quality pigments and binders are so essential.


keep the pigments and binders in a fluid suspension so they may flow on the surface being painted, then evaporate, leaving behind a solid film of paint. In oil based paints, the primary solvent is mineral spirits or paint thinner. In water based paints, there is a combination of water, which keeps the solids in suspension, and special solvents which soften the binders and allow them to fuse onto a solid film, after which, both evaporate. The optimum amount of solvent is usually added when the paint is manufactured, so excessive additional thinning with water or thinner will adversely effect the performance or durability.

So, as you can see, depending on the formulation, paint can be as different as the MILK in the dairy case. It's really a matter of the type, the quantity, and the quality of raw materials that ultimately determines the best paint in the can.

How does this information help you?

It should give you the knowledge to make some basic comparisons about paint. It also helps you to know what to look for in quality paints, such as titanium dioxide content, and high quality 100% acrylic binders.

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Team CCF Painters in Orange County. Painting company for house painting or business painting. painting contractors, Mission Viejo, Orange County, painter, painting company, house painting, house painter, paint home, painters in Orange County, painting Contractors, painters in Mission Viejo. Are you looking for painters in Mission Viejo?