Interior Latex Paint
Latex Paint
   Latex Enamel | Exterior Paint

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Latex Enamel

Any house, old or new, can will eventually become dingy and dirty inside due to deterioration of an old latex enamel paint. A number of factors contribute this, including oily fingerprints and smudges, accumulation of smoke or oil from cooking, and chemical processes that cause darkening and yellowing of the paint itself. In many cases when the surface is merely contaminated, it can be washed with soap and water to restore the color and luster. Other times, the accumulation might be so bad that cleaning requires more effort than it is worth. In still others, the paint might have a flat sheen that is porous and nonwashable. When the paint can no longer be washed and needs to be re-coated, it's time to go to work repainting.

Even though painting an interior wall of a house is actually a very easy process, one finds there are a few "must do's" to contend with. First, one should select the type of paint that will be used. There are basically two types of house paint, and there is an old saying: like sticks to like. Decades ago, oil based paints (also called alkyd paint) used to make up the majority of house paint. These paints contain a volatile organic vehicle (solvent) that holds the stuff that actually covers the surface when it is dry. Today, these solvents are known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Even though they are often composed primarily of petroleum distillates, they might also contain ketons, alcohols. Because they can be extremely hazardous to human health by organ damage, new formulations have replaced oil based paints with water based paints, called latex.

Water based or latex paints are safer than oil based, and an enamel is any paint that dries to a durable hard surface. Latex enamels have the additional advantage that they can be cleaned up with water, instead of petroleum distillates (paint thinners). The water based paints still had VOCs, until consumer concerns about safety demanded that manufacturers create low-VOC and no-VOC formulations. Not only are the VOCs lower in these new formulations, but the performance is equal or better than the old ones.

So, if one is going to paint, they need to consider the type of old paint that is being covered. Although Although some will disagree, the consensus is that new oil based paint SHOULD not be applied DIRECTLY over an old oil based paint, and latex paint CAN not be applied directly over an old oil based finish. The reason is because they will not stick well, and will eventually start peeling off. How does one know if the old paint is oil or latex? Finger nail polish with acetone will rub off the color of latex paint. Oil based paint is very hard, and latex usually has a soft rubbery feel. If the old paint is oil, it can still be painted over with latex by scuff sanding and priming with a special primer.

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