- Posted by Hinged
Whenever I start a sentence “when I was a kid”, my kids roll their eyes and remind me in no uncertain terms that they have already heard all about how we walked to school “uphill, into the wind, each way, miles in the snow…every day… barefoot…” Whatever life lesson I am hoping to impart never makes it out. Bear with me, because, when I was a kid, pretty much every summer we were painting our house. We would spend weeks lugging ladders around and slapping more paint on ourselves than the siding. Everything would look great when we were done, but by the next spring our white colonial would need paint all over again.
Our paint jobs failed for a variety reasons.
This was the mid 1970s and lead as an ingredient was being phased out of house paint. The manufactures had not perfected making paint without lead and it just didn’t spread and adhere the way paint does today. Money was a factor which is why we did it ourselves and my father purchased paint based on price not quality. Most importantly, we never did a thorough job preparing the house before applying the paint.
Here are some tips to help you get the most from your home’s paint job.
House paint today is much better than it was 40 years ago and almost all major brands, when applied correctly, will give you years of protection. Currently most higher grades of paint are made with titanium. It allows paint to be spread thinner yet still cover and conceal the surface you’re spreading it on. You will pay less for a clay-based paint without titanium, but it will take more coats and not be as durable. Skimping on the paint is a false savings; at the end of the day, you’ll probably spend just as much or more for inferior results.
Counting all the finishes available and all the brands, there are almost as many kinds of paint as there are colors. For exterior use the two basic categories to consider are oil and acrylic latex.
Oil was the gold standard and is perceived to last the longest. It spreads smoother and covers better than any other type of paint. However, over time it is more likely to crack, fade or yellow. Another negative with oil paint is that it gives off harmful Volatile Organic Compounds, (VOCs). While this is a bigger concern when working indoors, it should still be a consideration.
Acrylic latex paints are available with low and no VOCs. Today’s latex paints go on almost as smoothly as oil and should last as long or longer. Their ease of clean-up usually tips the scale in their favor.
If your home is already painted with oil-based paint, you’ll have to keep using it. Applying latex over oil is risky. Without the right prep and primer, it won’t adhere very well. You can tell what kind of paint is on your house by checking a chip. If it is brittle and snaps instead of bending, it is probably oil based. If it bends easily it is probably latex. Another way to test is to soak a white rag in rubbing alcohol and wipe it on the wall. If any hint of your paint rubs off onto the rag, it is water based. Rubbing alcohol will have no effect on oil based paint. If you’re still not sure, take a sample to a good paint store and let them test it.
If your siding is new or was never painted, you should also consider stains. Solid cover stains give the house the look of paint, but the stain penetrates the wood and is less likely to peel or chip.
You’ve picked your color and decided on what type of paint or stain, now the real work begins: surface preparation. Failing to adequately prepare your siding will lead to the failure of your paint job as sure as death and taxes. You must have a clean, dry, smooth, stable surface before you can start. This means all the dirt and dust has been cleaned off, all rough edges between layers and all peeling and loose layers have been scrapped and sanded off. You will also need to remove and replace any rotted material. When everything is done, you’re ready to prime. Use a quality primer that is compatible with your paint and make sure that all raw wood is covered.
Power washing can be effective for loosening paint and removing dirt, but too much pressure, a nozzle with too tight a spray pattern or spraying in one spot for too long can drive water deep into the pores of your siding. Priming and painting before the wood has dried out traps the water inside. Moisture leaving your siding and trim can take your freshly applied paint with it. A large sponge, mild detergent and a garden hose can be just as effective as a power washer.
For scraping away loose paint, use a sharp scraper carefully. Push the scraper along the direction of the wood’s grain and go from wood patches toward painted patches. For sanding same thing, move in the direction of the wood’s grain and if you’re using a power sander keep it moving. Too much pressure will clog the abrasive paper so try to keep a light touch. How smooth is smooth enough? Use the rule of thumb. If you can feel it with your thumb, you’ll see it when it’s painted.
Once everything is scraped and sanded, you’ll have to get rid of all the dust with a vacuum or compressed air. Using a dry paint brush with the vacuum or air nozzle works great. When everything has settled give it the white glove test to make sure you really have gotten rid of all the dust. If your home was built before 1978, don’t attempt anything that involves scraping or sanding without following EPA lead paint regulations. Many lumber yards and paint stores offer courses and certification.
Good painting preparation takes longer than paint application. As I learned when I was a kid, skimping on the prep will mean repainting a lot sooner, so take your time and do it right.
If this sounds like more than you want to take on, we recommend getting estimates from some of the painters featured on Hinged. They have all been in business for years, with skilled workers and great service. Not to mention that Hinged makes sure they are current on their insurance and licenses.