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Robert Lamoureux: Going green with paint disposal

Your Home Improvements

Posted: December 3, 2010 10:59 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
I’ve been going green in more ways than one. I’m concerned about the environment and want to know how to properly dispose of cans of paint (which happens to be green.) Thank you very much,
Kay M.

Hi Kay,
Are you referring to latex or oil paint? Latex paints are used in 85-90 percent of all painting jobs in California. Latex is a water-based paint that cleans up easily with soap and water. With an oil-based paint, you need paint thinner, or turpentine, to clean up. Latex paints are much less harmful to the environment than oil-based paints, but are still considered to be hazardous materials. 

It is illegal to dispose of paint in the trash, sinks or storm drains due to the toxic impact on the environment, fish and wildlife. 

If the paint has completely dried in the can, then it is legal to dispose in the trash. Keep in mind that this only applies if the paint has dried out naturally inside the can. According to the Department of Toxic Substances, you cannot remove the lids and air dry the cans or add any agent to the paint to help it dry because this is considered treatment of a hazardous waste. 

Another option is to contact a local HHW — Household Hazardous Waste collection program. More information can be found at You can make arrangements to give them your unwanted paint, which is then passed on as is or reprocessed, strained and provided at low or no cost to groups and individuals. 

Mr. All-Knowing,
I really enjoy your column. Our HOA recently hired a company to redo our asphalt on our streets. They were using a blanket that they poured oil on and then covered with the asphalt. Could you tell me what this is for? Thank you,
Joseph C.

Hi Joseph,

Thank you. The blanket is called petromine. The purpose is to prevent crack transfers from the old material you have below that will have cracking and alligatoring in it. Without this blanket, which is acting as a slip sheet, the old cracks would come up into the new cap sheet. 

I see this being used more and more. It saves the HOA a considerable amount of money. Instead of completely breaking out the old street, taking it all the way down and starting from scratch, they remove the top portion, apply the petromine so it won’t crack out, and then add about a 1.5” asphalt cap sheet on the top. It’s much less costly and will last a few years, but does have some potential problems. 

My experience has been that once water gets between the asphalt and the petromine and is then baked by the sun, the surface will bubble and buckle. But if your HOA was looking for a low-cost asphalt resurface alternative that will last for a few years, this will work fine.      

Hello Robert,
I have a bedroom that is adjacent to my garage. I heard it is illegal to put a door from my bedroom to the garage. Is that true? Sincerely,
Petra S.

Hi Petra,

That is absolutely true. You cannot have sleeping quarters joined to the garage by a door due to fire and smoke safety regulations. 

Hi Robert,
We have wooden fencing at my house that requires a lot of upkeep. A neighbor just put in some vinyl fencing that looks good. He was saying it never needs painting, etc., but I was wondering how resilient is it in high wind areas? By the way, I like your column. I wear a large T-shirt if you are still offering them. Thank you very much,
Maria J.

Hi Maria,
The vinyl fencing is absolutely wonderful. In the last year or two, it has become available in different colors so you’re not limited to the original white. 

My recommendation, if you’re in a high-wind area, would be beef up the posts. Take a metal sleeve and sink metal posts into the ground set in concrete. Put the vinyl over that and then fill up the post about 25 percent up with concrete. Those posts will never come down.

You can certainly install the vinyl fencing without the added time and expense of reinforced posts, but with high winds, you will get flexing, which is what causes the planking to come apart. P.S. We’ve got plenty of T-shirts. Thank you for the question.

Hello Robert,
We’d like to put a bubble-wrap-type solar heating cover on our pool. Would you please tell me if you have any preference of manufacturer? Thank you,
William D.

Hi William,
If this is a commercial pool, in an HOA for example, then these types of covers are illegal. The reason being if a child were to step out onto the cover, they would get entangled in the plastic and couldn’t surface. It’s too hard to fight the water and the plastic, and the child could drown. 

I realize the winter is here, but the only cover you can use on a commercial use pool are the ones that are secured to the deck, automatically roll out and stretch tight above the water’s surface. If someone were to step or fall on one of these, they would not go to the bottom of the pool. 

Hello Robert,     
I’m not really sure what happened, and I probably should have written you before starting this project. I installed wooden floors in my home. This was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this but took my time and followed all of the recommended steps. The problem is now the wood has started to pull away from the wall. What is going on? Is the flooring defective? The manufacturer says it is “installer error.” Thank you,
Simone A.

Hi Simone,     
This is a common problem with wooden floors. To prevent this type of problem, remove all of the new wood flooring from the boxes and put it in the room where it is to be installed. Put the wood in several short stacks throughout the room. This allows the wood to get acclimated to the new space. Let the wood stand in that room for at least seven days. I’ve seen it stacked outside, in the garage, and even going directly from the truck to install. This will give you nothing but problems.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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