Ask The Expert


Mr. Lamoureux,
I have a front door that has become very dull. It has lost its sheen. I bought some latex paint, but then started thinking that maybe there was oil base paint on the door originally. They said I can’t put latex paint on top of oil base. How would I tell if there is oil base paint on there now? Also, I saw a product that you can put on top of the paint and you don’t have to sand it. What do you think about this?

Thank you,
Greg J.

Hi Greg,
No, you can’t apply latex paint directly on top of an oil base. 
One way to find out what type of paint you have is take some rubbing alcohol on a rag and rub it on the surface. If it restores its sheen, then that’s an oil base paint. If it becomes gummy and gooey, then you have latex paint. 
If you have an oil base and you want to put a latex paint over it, you first have to use a transitional primer. All of the major paint suppliers produce their own brands of transitional primers.
Concerning the “no sand” products, I like the fact that you have to roughen the paint for a better finish. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to do a good job. I’m one of these guys that like to do it once, do it right. 
So, apply the transitional primer and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and then sand. Then apply their top coat.

Hi Robert,
We have a towel rack in our bathroom that is always loose. I have tightened up the screws so many times but it keeps coming loose and starts to hang down. I even used a full tube of super glue in there which worked for a while but it is loose again.

Thank you, 
Tanya B.

Hi Tanya,
A lot of times, these towel racks are put in with plastic anchors which will not last. For something like this that is used every day, use toggle bolts – some people call these butterflies. 
Push the threaded bolt through the wall mount of the rack, and push the spring loaded toggle into the wall. When tightened, this toggle will secure itself on the inside of the drywall. 
All of my towel racks are fastened with toggles and I’ve never had any trouble.
Mr. Lamoureux,
I noticed some rusting on my iron fencing at the beginning of last summer. I sanded everything down, primered and painted with two coats of a special rust paint. Now I have the problem again. Why is it rusting again?

George H.

Hi George,
The expansion and contraction of the metal from hot and cold is causing condensation on the inside of the tube. The tube is sweating internally and is rusting from the inside out. This, along with the sprinklers hitting it, makes for an ongoing maintenance issue. Anything that is exposed to the weather requires maintenance.
You can go with solid metal and not have this problem, but for most this is not cost effective. It is just the nature of the beast. At my home, I am constantly with a paint brush. Sand, repair, sand, repair. It’s just part of being a homeowner. 

Submit your questions to: Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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