House Painting FAQ

House Painting Questions & Answers

I saw beautiful paint colors on my last vacation and have color chips I brought back. Can you match the color?

Yes. All Los Angeles Painting Company, Inc. can match any color in any brand of paint. 

Is the quality of low VOC paint the same as regular conventional paint?

Generally yes. The quality of low VOC paints has greatly improved in recent years. Feel free to use a low VOC paint and expect the same quality as conventional paints. 

Is there a difference between low VOC paints, no VOC paints and natural paints?

Yes. Many low VOC and no VOC paints can and do still contain synthetic chemicals. Natural paints claim to be made from only naturally occurring materials. Homeowners have been satisfied with both types. If one has a sensitivity to paint odors or chemicals, it is best to research the various brands of paint and make one's own informed decision before using them in your house.

What is VOC?

VOC stands for "Volatile Organic Compound." "Volatile" describes a liquid that evaporates at room temperature. "Organic" means a compound that contains carbon. Thousands of VOC's, some natural and some man-made can be found in the air. Most natural VOC's are emitted from sources like trees and vegetation. The primary man-made sources of VOC's are motor vehicle exhaust, unburned gasoline, and solvents. 

Is it important to hire a licensed, insured painting contractor?

Yes. All contractors are required to be licensed in California through the Contractor's State License Board (CSLB). To verify that a person claiming to be a contractor is licensed, ask to see his state issued license and personal identification to make sure you are dealing with the individual named on the contractor's license. All contractors are required to carry their contractor's license with them.

According to CSLB Registrar, Steve Sands, "Homeowners need to be fully aware of who they are letting into their homes...[and] the importance of spending a couple of minutes on CSLB's website to check the license before you hire a contractor to ensure you aren't putting your family or your home at risk."

Licensed California painting contractors must have at least four years of journey-level painting experience in their license classification and must pass exams demonstrating extensive knowledge of the painting trade and California contracting laws.

A licensed contractor must carry workers compensation insurance to shield homeowners from liability and have a contractor's license bond for consumer protection (generally stated as "bonded") If there is ever a problem with work done by any licensed contractor, their work is regulated by the CSLB and they will help you get satisfaction. The CSLB protects consumers by licensing and regulating California contractors.

Unlicensed painters are unregulated, uninsured, and often don't know about the latest paint developments. If you have a problem with them or their work, it is very difficult to get help because no government agency regulates them. They generally have no ties to the community and don't return to fix problems. According to CSLB Register Steve Sands, "People put themselves and family members at risk when they hire unlicensed and uninsured individuals who can end up doing substandard work or never finish the job."

To verify a contractor's license number, go to At the CSLB web site, you can verify that the contractor is in good standing. To prove that a contractor truly carries insurance, request that copies of the policy certificates be faxed directly to you from the contractor's insurance carrier.

When a contractor says he is bonded, what does that mean?

A contractor's bond policy ("bonded") has nothing to do with passing a security check. It simply means that there is an insurance policy in place for $12,500.00 to cover finishing a job when using a licensed contractor if the contractor can't or doesn't finish your project. 

What is the best paint finish to use in kitchens, bathrooms and other high moisture rooms?

High moisture rooms like kitchens and bathrooms do better with semi-gloss enamel paint. Semi-gloss paints are more moisture resistant, dirt resistant, washable, and scrubbable. 

Does paint have an expiration date?

According to the paint manufacturers, when stored properly, an unopened can of oil-based or water-based paint has a shelf life of one to two years (I've seen them go for five years or more). Once water based paint has been opened, it must be stored it in a cool, dry place. If you want to use it again, visually check the paint to see if it is free of mold and don't use it if smells bad. If it has gone bad, take it to a state regulated paint recycling center and dispose of your paint there.

What is elastomeric paint?

Elastomeric paint is an exterior paint made for painting stucco. Elastomeric paints have waterproofing and crack bridging properties that regular exterior house paints don't have. Almost all manufacturers have an elastomeric line of paint products. They look like regular paint and can be tinted to almost any color. They generally have to be applied to a thickness of 16-20 mils dry to qualify for the manufacturer's warranty. 

What does paint finish, gloss level, sheen or enamel mean?

Paint finish, gloss level, sheen and enamel are all similar ways of saying the same thing. These describe the smoothness and light reflectivity of the dry paint on a painted surface. There are approximately six sheen types and each has a name corresponding to its light reflective qualities. Sheens range from:

  • flat or matte (no-gloss)
  • eggshell
  • satin finish
  • low lustre
  • semi-gloss
  • high-gloss

Each sheen has different qualities and uses. For example, a flat paint is often used to give a room a velvety look or to cover uneven drywall or plaster. A semi-gloss finish is often used in bathrooms and kitchens since it is cleanable and has a strong, hard shine. Generally, the higher the sheen the easier the paint is to clean and maintain.

Traditionally, dry room walls and ceilings are painted in flat or eggshell and trim is painted in semi-gloss enamel. Wet rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are painted in semi-gloss. In Los Angeles, water-based finishes are the standard paints for interior and exterior painting.

How does one choose the right house painter?

A lot goes into choosing the right house painter. Click this link for advice: Selecting the right house painter.

What is the difference between spray and "brush & roll" when it comes to paint application.

Spraying and "brush & roll" are both acceptable ways to apply paint as long as the paint is put on at the proper spread rate (sq. ft./gallon). Spraying will provide a smoother appearance but is difficult to touch up. Brushing and rolling paint doesn't give as smooth an appearance as spraying, but is easier to touch up. Some people say that sprayed paint will not adhere as well as brushed & rolled paint but, if the surface is totally clean, both methods will adhere properly. Peeling problems can arise when sprayed paint is applied to a partially cleaned or dirty wall or surface. Depending on the surface to be painted and the condition and location it is in, a quality paint applicator will decide whether a spray or brush & rolled application technique is the best choice for the project.   

I have old paint in my garage/house, how do I dispose of it?

Do not throw your paint in the trash. Go to the web site to find a list of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection sites. The city of Los Angeles operates six permanent collection centers which are available to all Los Angeles County residents. This service is free and they will accept your old paint. The staff at the collection center will take the paint out of your car for you and dispose of it properly. Check hours of operation for each site because they are only open certain days a week for a few hours each day. 

Why do doors painted with latex paint sometimes stick to the weather-stripping?

Latex paints contain chemicals called plasticizers that assist in proper film formation and keep the coating flexible. Many vinyl and plastic weather-stripping materials also contain plasticizers to make them flexible. When the two surfaces come in contact with each other, they have a tendency to stick to each other. This condition, known as blocking, generally occurs during the early curing time of the coating, but it can continue for some time. Blocking can also occur on, interior doors, cabinets, double-hung windows and garage doors. The easiest way to prevent blocking is to use a non-blocking acrylic paint. 

What causes white powdery deposits on stucco surfaces, and how can I fix them?

The deposits, known as efflorescence, are caused by moisture in the masonry. The moisture dissolves salts in the masonry -- the mortar, block, concrete, etc. -- and is drawn to the surface by the heat of the sun. After the water evaporates, it leaves behind white foamy looking deposits that must be removed before painting. You must find and fix the source of the moisture or your paint job will fail. Remove the efflorescence with a wire brush and coat the surface with an appropriate masonry primer and paint it with a topcoat or two.

Why is it so common for paint to peel off of exterior wood decks?

The problem here is moisture. Usually, only the top and ends of the boards used on a deck are painted. This leaves the sides and bottom uncoated and able to absorb moisture from rain, sprinklers, hoses, and the soil under the deck. The moisture, drawn to the surface by the heat of the sun, destroys the adhesive bond between the wood and the paint, causing it to blister and peel. The best way to prevent peeling is to have all boards of the deck given a complete coating before the deck is built. Install the deck completely finished. Touch up the visible portion of the deck after it is completely installed. The best way to keep a new deck from peeling is to apply a deck sealer/toner or semi-transparent stain. Often these finishes must be reapplied yearly.  

Can you give an estimate over the phone or do you have to come out to my house to estimate the job?

I can give phone estimates. I'll ask some questions about the spaces to be painted and from your answers, I give an estimate of how much a paint job may cost. Generally, phone estimates are accurate and can quickly and efficiently give the homeowner a sense of how much something will cost to paint. Before painting a job, I must physically see the space and verify my estimate. Phone estimates are for information purposes only.

How are bathroom arrangements made for painting jobs?

Many people aren't comfortable having a crew of men use their bathrooms for a week or more. I often recommend renting a port-o-potty and place it somewhere convenient on the property for the men to use. Port-o-pottys cost about $100.00 per month to rent and are a good value.

How long does it take for latex paint to dry between coats?

Most latex paints when applied at temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees will be dry to the touch in about one hour and can be recoated within four hours. Various factors can increase these times such as poor ventilation, low temperatures, thick films and high humidity. In general one can safely put on two coats of water based paint in a day.

Which is a better house paint; oil or water based paint?

This used to be a big question for homeowners. A high quality water-based or latex paint is generally the way to go to for residential painting. However, in a very few instances, it may be better to use an oil or alkyd-based paint. Here are a few suggestions and some strengths and weaknesses for both types of paint:

Latex Paints

Quality interior latex paints provide better long-term flexibility, that is, resistance to cracking and chipping. Latex paints also tend to resist yellowing with age in areas protected from sunlight. They emit fewer odors, clean up with water and are not flammable. Latex paint takes a shorter amount of time to dry than oil paint.


  • Low odor
  • Faster dry time
  • Water clean-up
  • Long-term flexibility
  • Non-yellowing
  • Not combustible


  • Relatively little amount of time paint can be brushed before it begins to set up. 

Oil Based Paints

Oil-based paints offer better adhesion to difficult surfaces or those not thoroughly cleaned. Oil-based paints allow for greater length of time the paint may be brushed before it sets, superior resistance to "blocking" (or face-to-face sticking) and resistance to abrasion, once cured. In California, oil based paints are not rated for use on exterior wood. 


  • Hard, durable
  • Moisture resistant
  • Greater flow and leveling
  • Greater open-time
  • Looks great


  • Yellows with age and lack of light
  • Strong odor during and immediately after application
  • Requires solvent cleanup and is combustible

Can I use interior paints on my exterior? Or Exterior paints on my Interior?

No. It is not recommend to use an interior-labeled paint on exterior surfaces. Interior paints are designed specifically for use on interior surfaces. Interior paints don't have the flexibility, strength or UV protective elements to stand up to exterior conditions. If you use interior paint on your exterior, expect it to fail, get moldy, or peel quickly.

Do not use exterior paints for interior painting. Exterior paints have flex and other chemical qualities that make them suitable for exterior use only. Exterior paints are engineered to flex with heat and cooling of temperature changes. They don't get to do this on interiors and will crack and peel prematurely.

Use interior paints on interiors and use exterior paints for exteriors. There is a good reason why paints are labeled for interior or exterior use.