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Hold That Paintbrush Right There...

Jul 26, 2008
Best time to paint is in the summer. Heck! - It is even pleasant out there wielding the old paintbrush; blue skies above and listening to the birdsong (get those earplugs out of your ears!). This time of the year there are no worries about damp levels of the atmosphere or frost or rain. However, it is not advisable to paint in direct sunlight, so chose your area according to the time of the day that the sun shines on it.

How is it that some neighbors do not seem to have to paint their exterior as often as you? Could it be the type of paint they use? Or perhaps it is their preparation work? Most likely it is both.

Preparation work is very important and especially on an older house, it can make the difference between a professional job and an amateur's job. We all know never to paint over mildew or dirt, but do we all do a thorough job of removing it. Just a wipe with a cloth before the paintbrush swooshes over it is not the way!

Mildew should be left to soak in a mix of three parts water and one part bleach. Leave this on the mildew for twenty minutes, then rinse off. Clean off any remaining mildew with a bleach and detergent mix. Once the mildew is removed, leave the wood for a week to allow for it to be thoroughly dry. Dampness always rises up to the surface as it dries; this means that if you paint too early your new coat of paint will bubble and blister.

Of course, you must wash all the paintwork and if you are going to lightly sand it then you must wash over the sanding job, after you have completed it.

Imperfections, or spot repairs, must be done before the first coat, or primer coat. Once you have made the repair then apply one coat of primer just to the spot; if it looks like it will still show a surface difference, add one more coat to the spot.

Another job that must be taken care of before the first coat of paint goes on is to replace cracked or split siding boards. The temptation is to repair them, but unless a first class job is done, water will find its way in! If water intrusion does occur, this is usually followed by the expansion of the board which will cause blistering and/or crack the paint.

All this and you haven't even started to paint yet! When you are sure everything is dry, apply the first coat of the correct primer to the whole area. To choose the 'correct' primer, you must first decide on the type of paint that you will use.

Oil based paint has to go over oil based paint, but if you can choose most people go for acrylic latex. Gloss paint is easier to clean, but it also shows every imperfection; semi gloss is a good compromise. With brushes you can either spend an arm and a leg and keep them forever, or buy cheap throwaways and save cleaning.

House painting can feel like a mammoth task or it can be a peaceful chore and give you a Zen-like satisfaction; may the Force be with you.
About the Author
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