Consumer GuidesPainting & Staining

Paint Early

While homeowners often hope they can put off repainting their homes just one more year, such procrastination may be especially costly this year. The excessively wet winter following six years of drought increase the likelihood of peeling and flaking paint, damage to siding and internal water damage that will require far more expensive repairs in the future.

Q: My house is only five years old, and though the horizontal siding on the front seems fine, the siding on the back of the house is starting to split and pull apart along the bottom. Do I need to paint so soon?

A: New houses are often built as quickly and economically as possible, and frequently receive a quick single coat of paint without benefit of primer/sealer. I have seen new houses in need of repainting within three years and found areas on them which were never painted at all! That siding damage you describe is evidence that the wood is not protected, and if you ignore it, it will absorb more water, dry rot could set in, and you would find it necessary to replace in the future.

If you act now, that minimal damage can probably be wire-brushed to remove the loose, flaking paint, primed to seal and protect the wood, and painted with a top quality paint. You would find that a good re-paint will last years longer than the original job that came with the new house!

Q: I’ve noticed that the wood trim around the windows and doors is pulling away from the body of the house and the nails are rusted and popping out. Could I just repaint the trim?

A: Absolutely not! This is evidence of water seeping behind the trim because the house was not properly caulked and sealed and the nail heads were not primed before painting. It is only a matter of time until you will see damage inside your home, such as water or mildew stains on the drywall, behind wall coverings or in the carpet.

Consult a professional painting contractor to assess and repair the damage before it continues. You may need to replace some of the trim, because it may be warped and unable to fit tightly to the house. Then all nails must be reset, all windows should be thoroughly caulked, sealed, and primed.

Q: I notice a fine powder residue on my hands if I rub the side of the house . Will painting over it solve the problem?

A: No. In fact if you do that, you will soon have paint peeling off, in sheets possibly, and need to hire someone to thoroughly remove the existing paint by scraping and sanding, re-prime and re-paint at much greater expense than if you treat the problems correctly now.

This condition is called chalking, which is caused by inferior paint, improper use of interior paint outdoors, or failure to properly prime and seal the porous surfaces before painting. It’s a good idea to pressure-wash the entire house, and if chalking remains, prime with a quality oil-base or acrylic latex primer, and repaint with a top quality paint, made with acrylic binders for proper adhesion.

Q: The three bids I have collected on repainting my house vary a lot in price. How do I determine which painter to choose?

A: The most important element in a paint job is the preparation, followed by the quality of paint. In the previous example, the cost a reputable licensed painting contractor would have to charge to properly treat the “chalking” surface, primer coat, and paint with special products would be higher than someone who just quoted a price to paint over the problems with standard paint.

That’s why it is important to consider the true value of the job you will be paying for rather than choosing by price alone. Make sure you walk your property with each contractor, discuss what needs to be done and why, and include everything, including warranties, in the written contract. If a cheaper price means the painter is skipping things like proper preparation before painting, thorough caulking around all windows, care of your landscaping, etc., you are hardly saving money!

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