Exterior Painting is A Fair Weather Project!
Exterior painting is a fair weather project. Spring and late summer/early fall are two of the best times of year to give the exterior of the old homestead a fresh coat of paint. This is primarily because paint is best applied when temperatures are relatively mild.
Unfortunately many folks are under the assumption that a coat of paint should only be applied when a color change is desired. While color is an important factor in the overall appearance and “curb appeal” of the home, a more important reason is to safeguard the exterior from deterioration due to sun and rain. Therefore, a fresh coat of paint will not only improve the home’s appearance it also provides a protective shell which will extend the homes lasting quality.
Where to begin. Any paint pro will tell you that at least two thirds of a painting project lays in the preparation work. The balance is technique, paint quality and the tools used to apply the paint. Therefore, before the first drop of paint is applied, there are several steps which must be followed.
Dense shrubbery, vines and trees which come into contact with the home’s exterior should be thinned. An alternative is to “tie back” the greenery drawing it away from the house using twine and a couple of stakes. All shrubbery should be covered during both the preparation and painting process to avoid sustaining damage. Use light canvas or plastic drop cloths. Never leave the drop cloths on the shrubbery overnight as it can prohibit them from “breathing” and result in damage.
The next step is to remove any loose, flaking paint and surface oils and debris which could prevent the new paint from sticking. One of the most effective ways for a do-it-yourselfer to do this is by using a power washer or “water blaster”. This is not the spray nozzle that you attach to your garden hose. It is a power tool that can produce between 1300 and 2500 pounds per square inch (psi). It’s similar to the water pressure produced from the wand at the neighborhood do-it-yourself car wash.
While traditionally a pressure washer is rented from a paint outlet or tool rental store, recognizing the high consumer demand, manufacturers are stocking home improvement centers with models designed specifically for use by the do-it-yourselfer. All you need to do is connect your garden hose to the pressure washer and go for it. If mildew is a problem, some pressure washers have a suction port which will allow you to mix chlorine bleach with the water.
Be cautious when using a power washer. It can literally cut through wood siding like a saw blade. The right tip, the proper distance (10 to 12 inches) and constant movement are a must. Safety goggles, gloves, a ball cap and protective clothing will prevent personal injury.
In addition to the power washer, professionals use heat guns, torches, sandblasters and chemical strippers to remove paint. We are reluctant to suggest these methods to the do-it-yourselfer due to the skill which is required to safely perform the task.
For those living in older building which may be covered with lead-containing paint we strongly recommend that the building not be sanded. The dust created by sanding can create a health hazard. A professional using one of the alternative methods above (excluding sandblasting) is preferred. The chemical stripper is one of the safest and most effective where lead is involved.
Once the exterior has been washed and all chipped and peeling paint removed it’s time to spackle and caulk. Voids and low spots should be filled with a high quality exterior grade vinyl spackling compound. The material is best applied with a four inch putty knife. Once dry it will require a light sanding followed by a second coat and a final sanding. Cracks in siding, stucco and gaps in trim around windows and doors should be caulked with a paintable latex caulk that contains silicone.
Rust spots at gutters and downspouts should be scraped with a wire brush, wiped down with vinegar caulked with a “liquid metal” type caulking and primed with an oil base primer. Bare wood and vinyl patch locations should also be primed with an oil base primer.
As regards to finish, one of the most user-friendly exterior house paints is latex. Latex paints are water base and can be cleaned up with soap and water. What’s more, a high quality, 100 percent acrylic, exterior grade, latex paint offers high abrasion resistance and superior lasting quality. To get this you’ll have to invest a bit more up front. Stay away from the three to five dollar per gallon specials. Plan to spend in the neighborhood of ten to twenty dollars per gallon. The better quality paint will end up saving you money in the long run.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.