Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This post is suppose to go up on Wednesday mornings but thanks to my friends at Yahoo it is a little bit late. Regardless, Bills post are big hits and I look forward to them every week.

Preparation is the key!

Ok, regardless of our political leanings, we can all agree that spring is here. That means is may be time to think about painting the outside of your home. I covered some of the things to look for in a previous column. I want to go a little more in depth on preparation this week.

It seems these days that there are MANY more painting companies out there than ever before. Why? Blame the economy! With new construction grinding to a halt, a lot of new home painting contractors are out there with nothing to do. Why is this a problem? Many of them are no as familiar with painting existing homes. It’s a totally different ballgame. Not only are these people bringing prices down (good for the consumer) they are lowering overall quality and longevity (bad for the consumer!)

PAINTING IS NOT A COMMODITY! All painters are NOT created equal.

I don’t care what the paint companies say, no paint project is going to last without proper preparation.

1: Power washing. This important step is designed to clean the dirt and chalk from the siding, trim and windows. Chalk is the white film that appears as your paint wears out. It is much more apparent on cheaper paints, but it is considered normal. Power washing can also remove loose paint from your home. Small electric washers just won’t cut it, neither will most 5hp washers. It takes a little practice to use the right pressure and distance to balance between cleaning and doing damage.

This is what happens when you don’t power wash! The chalk won’t let the new paint stick and it comes off in sheets!

2: Scraping. This is an important step and should be done in conjunction with power washing. Use of sharp, carbide tipped scrapers will do a better job of removing paint than cheap scrapers. The goal is to remove ALL of the paint that is currently loose and maybe a little more just to make sure. Again, the whole point is to have a sound surface for the new paint to stick to.

3: Caulking. This is a tricky one! First of all, use a good quality caulk. Caulks are graded by life expectancy, from 25 years to 55 years. Will they really last that long? Probably not! Higher quality caulks will last longer by staying flexible longer. Whatever you do, DO NOT USE SILICONE! Paint will not stick to silicone caulking. Different homes require caulking in different places. It is possible to do too much caulking. The goal is to keep air and water from getting behind the surface, whether it be stucco, wood, fiber-cement or composite siding. Make no mistake, water WILL get in, do you have to give it a way to escape. A professional painter knows how to do this properly.

4: Priming. This is where the new home painters usually fail big time. Priming takes time and costs money. If they do prime, they may use a cheap latex primer. It just doesn’t work as well as an oil-based primer. Usually the only areas that need primer are just where you have either new or bare wood. Most siding comes pre-primed as does some composite trim. If your home wasn’t primed in the past, you will know it soon after the power washing begins.

When these steps are performed properly, you ensure that you fresh coat of paint will last as long as it can. Be sure to use only 100% Acrylic paint for the outside of your home. A satin sheen will look nicer, but also last a good bit longer. Instead of absorbing the sunlight as a flat paint would, it reflects it, leading to longer life.

I’ve been painting homes in the Kansas City area for more than 15 years. There is little I haven’t seen or had to deal with in the past. This is why the Kansas City Star chose me to be the painter on their “Handyman” panel that runs in the House and Home section. If you have any questions for me visit my blog at:

Thanks for reading!