Spring: a great time for painting

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Wed., Apr. 11, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Spring is perhaps the perfect time to give the outside of your house a true facelift. Of course, I'm talking about painting. Painting is usually a "love it" or "hate it" relationship. If you are in the latter group, do a little now, while it's cool outside, and finish the job in the fall.

A facelift might mean painting the window and door trim, as well as shutters and doors. If the whole house needs a better face to the neighborhood, create a plan to do the whole house by breaking it down into sections. Maybe the street-facing walls, windows and doors get done by the end of May, and the less visible sides get a clean coat before the cold weather arrives in late fall.

You will be fortunate if your exterior only looks drab and dull. It's more likely that the siding and trim will require some preparation and repair. That’s usually where people lose interest in painting. Just remember that every time you rush the preparation, you set yourself up for a shortened life cycle for the paint job. Spend too little time and effort treating the potential trouble areas, and the new paint will be jumping off the siding and trim before you know it.

Peeling or cracking paint is always a sign of either moisture in the wood or poor preparation of the surface before painting. Careful inspection will show you where you need to replace wood or shingles that appear to be holding moisture. Keep moisture out of the material by sealing cracks and joints with caulk. And if bushes are hugging the sides of the house for lack of pruning, they will stifle the airflow needed to pull moisture away from the house.

You have many new paint alternatives that were not available the last time you painted the house. “Paint and primer in one” is one of those alternatives. While more expensive than paint alone, it is less costly than buying a gallon of each. Shop around and get what you feel is the best advice.

None of the paint alternatives like to eat dirt, dust or mold. So wash the whole surface with a mixture of oxygen bleach. Use a brush or pump sprayer to apply it. It's hard to keep on vertical surfaces, so just try to keep the sides wet by reapplication. Rinse it with a garden hose, and let it dry very well. Power-washing is an alternative, but it might wear some of the open wood grain and damage some of your building material.

If your house was built with vinyl siding, you may be free to paint after cleaning and preparation. But many homes have the traditional natural building material siding. When wood shingles get old and are not well-maintained, they tend to split, bow or cup. They can be repaired, but if the condition seems beyond hope, and if they have been repaired already, replace the shakes with new ones.

Try to find the source of serious peeling problems. Don't just scrape and paint wood surfaces. It may not have been dried and prepared properly when first painted. Have the patience to scrape off the peeled paint, trying not to damage the wood. Use paint remover to clear big spots of paint before preparing the surface and painting again. Be sure to sand any areas you have repaired. The finished job will look better.

If peeling or other problems are evident around the entire structure, you will be in for a significant DIY project. If it seems daunting, consider having a professional do the job.

Examine joints between siding and trim, and around windows and doors. Remove any old caulking. Reseal joints with a clear, top-quality acrylic latex caulk, and allow it to dry at least one day before you prime or paint. Use a good wood patch to fill holes and cracks. If you have to scrape down to bare wood, or if you have to replace sections of natural product, most professionals and paint stores will advise you to first use an oil primer wherever there is bare wood.

The general theory is that you can use oil over latex, but not latex over oil. This is not a hard-and-fast rule. The newest, highest quality latex paints will take to a surface that has been painted with oil paint. If you have many layers of oil-based paint, stick to using oil on oil. Just be sure to sand the painted surface lightly to provide better adhesion.


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