How to prepare the building's exterior for painting

There are 10 steps to a quality exterior paint job:

  • If your building doesn't have a weep screed the painter should trench dirt away from the foundation so that the paint begins 3 inches below the surface; otherwise, you may expect the paint to begin peeling almost immediately.
  • Hydroblast (use a water pressure washer) to remove dirt, dust, and contaminants from the exterior surfaces. Use the chemical injection attachment to inject a mild solution of T.S.P. and household bleach to prohibit the growth of mold and mildew on the exterior.
  • Scrape all remaining loose paint and sand away as necessary.
  • Repair all damaged areas with appropriate repair materials. For severely damaged areas, your painter may recommend replacement or restoration of the wood or stucco with epoxy type materials.
  • If mildew was present, have your painter add mildicide treatment to the paint. This will help prevent any fungus or mildew growth.
  • Caulk all open joints that pertain to keeping the home weather-proof. Discuss any additional aesthetic caulking that you desire with your painter prior to commencement of work.
  • Use tape and/or plastic sheeting to cover all fixtures. Protect all critical areas with drop-cloths or painters plastic.
  • Prime all repaired areas, this will seal the surface and ensure proper paint adhesion.
  • Apply one or two finish coats. One finish coat is sufficient when you are keeping the same color. Otherwise, two finish coats is always recommended when changing to a new color.
  • Clean up all drop cloths, label all paints with color name and location used, and remove all trash.  Paint wide stripe along the side of the paint can to keep track of the different colors.


What are the reasons why I shouldn't always choose the lowest bidder on a paint job?

Any painter or contractor can start a job. It takes a professional with the proper budget to purchase the best materials, pay his overhead, and leave with a satisfied customer. Most likely the low bidder won't be around when there are complications or you need customer service.

Make sure you get references from customers and that the painter is has the proper licenses, insurance, and bonds.  


What is paint backrolling and when should this technique be used?

Back rolling is going back over surfaces that have been spray-painted to close pinholes or to ensure evenness. Backrolling also ensures that the paint will touch-up properly.


How do you protect my landscaping from paint and painters?

To protect plants and bushes during exterior paint jobs, it is essential to use lightweight dropcloths but to remove them each afternoon. Sawhorses can be used to prevent dropcloths from crushing extremely fragile plants. Painters need to be trained in the use of ladders and their placement to avoid damaging flowers and shrubs. It is always best to have the landscaper cut back bushes and trees prior to painting. 


How can I get rid of mildew on my house or deck?

Mildew and fungus can be removed from wood, stucco, or cement surfaces by washing vigorously - you may use a pressure washer - with a solution of one tablespoon of detergent, one to two pints of liquid bleach, and one gallon of water.  Then the area needs to be rinsed thoroughly.  Treat severely infested areas a second time after an interval of one to two weeks to further promote elimination of growth.  Allow walls to dry a minimum of 24 hours before the application of primer.


What kind of painting maintenace program do you recommend?

Painting maintenace and repair inspections should be done on a regular basis, but no less than every six months.  Walk your property looking for dry rot, cracks in the stucco, water penetration, rusting iron and chalking. Once a year rinse your home with the garden hose to remove the accumulation of surface dirt. It's a good idea to have your window washer scheduled for the same day if you have hard water.


Paint Technology
How long should interior and exterior paint jobs last?

Interior paint jobs should last 8 to 10 years or when there is a change of home ownership or a tenant moves out of a rental property. Some rental property management companies may paint every 2 to 4 years.  Nail holes from pictures and general wear and tear are factors in considering when to repaint interior walls.

Exterior walls can be repainted depending upon the type of building material.  Generally, the paint on exterior stucco walls will last 10 years; painted exterior wood walls will last 5 years; and painted iron railings and decorative accents will last 2 years respectively.

When is it appropriate to use elastromerics or waterproof paints?

Elastromerics or elastromeric paints are 100% latext paints specifically designed to provide flexible, high-build coatings that will expand and contract, and bridge hairling cracks in masonary or wood surfaces.  Elastromerics are extremely durable, mildew- and dirt- resistant, waterproof, and resist cracking.

In addition, elastomeric wall coatings can prevent water intrusion by literally shrink-wrapping your building. Any home that has been remodeled or had windows replaced is a likely candidate for elastomeric coatings.



When is it necessary to use a primer paint?

If you are painting a wood surface, you will usually require an enamel undercoat which will seal the pores of the wood and promote topcoat adhesion with minimal lifting of the grain. Some woods, containing extractives, cause stains which can be avoided by using a primer with stain-sealing capabilities.

Use a primer on drywall or plaster - either a simple primer that equalizes the porosity of the surface to promote uniform paint results or a stain sealer to cover water damage and other stains. A bonding primer, designed for surfaces where adhesion may be difficult to create (previously painted surfaces where intercoat compatibility results in excess chalking), should be used in these cases.

Stucco does not need a primer though there are 100% acrylic self-primer paints available.



How do we fix wood decks that have turned grey, some to black, and some of the wood is cracking?

Graying of wood is a natural process as the wood ages. You can have the deck pressure-washed professionally, using a commercial deck cleaner.

The blackened areas on wood are usually a combination of mildew and decayed wood that must be removed with cleaning. Cleaners are available that will clean and brighten the surface and clean the mildew.

Drum sanding is an excellent way to restore a clean and level surface. If your deck was never treated with a water-repellent, the wood absorbs the moisture and this coupled with expansion and contraction due to temperature changes causes cracking. The deck must be treated with a water-repellent. A pigmented water-repellent will last longer than a clear water-repellent.


Finishes and Color
How do I choose the right paint colors?

Choosing paint colors can be confusing.  Often, a painting contractor, in conjunction with a paint manufacturer's representative, will provide this service for free.

Ask your painting contractor for "draw downs," which are approximately 4 foot by 4 foot color samples painted on the walls next to a small section of the trim color.  Evaluate the paint colors in both morning, afternoon, and evening light as well as under artificial light.  

Even though you may like a paint color you've seen somewhere else, it may appear different in your location.  Factors such as natural light, the room exposure (North light is more gray), trim colors, room size, and more will affect how a color looks.


Did You Know?
The most popular home improvement project is house painting.

When accomplished correctly painting will add real value to your home, not just improving its resale value.

Lower utility bills and an emotionally pleasing environment are possible when using the best painting ideas and techniques.

Painting companies come and go faster than phone books can be printed. Getting your home painted can be frustrating enough without dealing with issues of poor quality.

If done by a true professional, a quality exterior paint job can maintain its beauty and durability for many, many years. Interiors even longer!