Oil Based Paints Will STOP Being Available in California by January 2012

One of my local vendors just informed me that as of January 1, 2012, oil based paint will no longer be available in the state of California. One will not be able to purchase OR HAVE SHIPPED INTO THE STATE FROM ANYWHERE any can of oil based paint product.

Now, I know this just sings to the greenest of hearts out there in my fair state. Most people do not live and breathe the work I and many colleagues do for a living. Many of us have green hearts as well. But I have many stories where I can honestly say that BECAUSE some consumers think that since they are purchasing and using water based, green paint products, that that gives them full reign to change their minds frequently and go through gallons and gallons of green paints. I have more than one client who's had me paint the same kitchen or bathroom cabinets three times in 6 years. I have two clients who's cabinets I am just now repainting after having done them 18-20 years ago. Can you guess which clients used water based vs. oil based finishes?

I can argue the virtues of using oil based paints until I'm blue in the face, but the reality is upon us all. Here are things that you as a consumer should take into consideration:

1) If you own a home and have oil based paints that were used on cabinets, trim, walls, glazed finishes, ceilings or anywhere else:

It would be wise to stock up just enough of the oil based product before the fall of this year. Oil based paint - when applied
properly- can last up to three times longer in most interior environments.

2) Make sure and purchase paint thinner in the next two months because it will disappear sooner. There is a paint thinner substitute that
was developed about a year ago, but any professional painter can attest to the fact that it simply doesn't perform as the original solvent.
This is especially important for any oil based glaze recipes that have been applied to surfaces.

3) If you accept this inevitable change and are ready for the next step in using green paint products, be aware that any oil based finishes
you now have - and when they need to be repainted - will need to be prepared in order to accept water based paint BEFORE you simply
apply it: Use TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) to thoroughly clean the surfaces. Rinse completely and dry before light sanding everything.
Rinse again.
Completely prime over the oil based surfaces. (This provides a new surface for the water based paint to cling onto).

4) After you've done all preparation, you're ready to choose your color and sheen type and purchase your new can of green paint product.

NOTE: If your exterior porches have oil based finishes on them, there is a transitional primer that can be laid on prior to application of your new water based finish. However, YOU MAY NEED TO HAVE THE EXISTING OIL BASED PAINT REMOVED BY SANDBLASTING if it's on concrete and is in bad shape.


Make paint color choices that you can live with for a long time and use them well. Too often I remove empty paint cans from people's garages and redistribute usable product to schools and theaters because the client decided that because they were buying 'green' paint, it gave them license to contribute to the landfill with the paint cans left over and dried-up newspapers where the extra paint was poured on, etc.

It helps to hire a professional to inspect your home to determine what surfaces are actually oil based and what's been completed in water based products.

HERE'S TO OUR 'GREENER' FUTURE on this west coast haven!!