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Painting-Related Questions and Answers

While homeowners often hope they can put off repainting their homes just one more year, such procrastination may be especially costly. An excessively wet winter, for instance, will 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.

Question: What is a painting contractor?

Answer: Painting contractors apply paint, stain, varnish, and other finishes to buildings and other structures. They choose the right paint or finish for the surface to be covered, taking into account durability, ease of handling, method of application, and customers' wishes.


Question: Where is lead paint found?

Answer: Most homes built before 1978 have some lead paint. Homes built before 1960 have the most lead paint. Lead paint can be present on any painted surface, but it is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and outside walls. Surfaces that have been repainted may have layers of lead paint underneath. A lead inspection can tell you where lead paint is located. Choose a contractor who has experience working with lead paint.


Question: How can I remove lead paint from my house?

Answer: Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems; someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. If possible, hire a certified lead abatement painting contractor. Certified painting contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules as set by their state or by the federal government.


Question: How do painting contractors know which paint applicator to use?

Answer: Painting contractors must be able to choose the right paint applicator for each job, depending on the surface to be covered, the characteristics of the finish, and other factors. Some jobs need only a good bristle brush with a soft, tapered edge; others require a dip or fountain pressure roller; still others can best be done using a paint sprayer. Many jobs need several types of applicators. The right tools for each job not only expedite the painting contractor's work but also produce the most attractive surface.


Question: What type of hazards do painting contractors face?

Answer: Painting contractors risk injury from slips or falls off ladders and scaffolds. They sometimes may work with materials that can be hazardous if masks are not worn or if ventilation is poor. Some painting jobs can leave a worker covered with paint. In some cases, painters may work in a sealed self-contained suit to prevent inhalation of or contact with hazardous materials. Painting contractors keep all these factors in mind for their own safety as well as their customers'.


Question: What types of exterior surfaces can be painted?

Answer: Good question! Almost any exterior surface can be painted; below we list the most common.

Wood siding Wood siding is very common and can be painted or stained. The most common woods used are cedar, redwood and pine. They are usually in the form of lap siding. Hardwoods are rare but are seen from time-to-time. Another wood siding is T-111. This type of siding is very difficult to keep painted due to the enormous amount of cracks in the plywood. Painting T-111 siding requires a lot of work and paint. If you have this type of siding and it is currently stained consider not painting. Re-staining T-111 siding is a good alternative to paint.

Masonite is an artificial material that can be smooth or embossed or wood grained. Masonite is a very stable material not prone to warping and splitting like wood. But painting Masonite siding requires back rolling, or there could be a risk of possible damage in the near future.

Vinyl and steel siding can be painted if a new color is desired or the original color has degraded over the years. There are a few things to think about. Overall, painting steel siding is the same as painting other types of siding. Painting vinyl siding and trim will require some extra steps, plus you have other options instead of painting. Vinyl siding can be revitalized, bringing back the original color. Although wood and Masonite are very common building materials, many homes are using different types of masonry to protect and beautify their exteriors.

Stucco is a very popular exterior finish used throughout the southwest as well as other parts of the country. It's understandable, due to the ease of maintenance and low cost to usable lifespan. Painting stucco is a great way to change the color or hide unsightly stains.

Concrete block is another wonderful building material. My favorite is split-face block, often used on commercial buildings. This material can be painted or stained to achieve many decorative affects. Painting concrete block is very easy and if done correctly will last a very long time.


Question: What type of exterior house paint should I choose?

Answer: Every house will need painting some day and someone will have to choose what type of paint to use. There isn't a simple answer, "Use this brand and it will last forever." The type of finish you choose depends on many factors. The type of surface affects the type of paint to use. For example, wood trim and siding expand and contract with the seasons, and can split over time. The paint needs to expand and contract with the wood without cracking. A good elastic paint is 100% Acrylic with a satin sheen.

The environment also affects the paint and the surface it's applied to. Regional weather extremes need to be taken into account. Every region has specific needs as to the best possible house paint to use. UV exposure is another factor that affects the finish paint. Most alkyd finishes degrade faster when exposed to UV light.


Question: What type of interior house paint should I choose?

Answer: Choosing interior paint is much easier than choosing exterior paint. Your needs and the environment are much easier to define plus it remains fairly constant over time. Plus the number of products is less.

Factors to Consider:
Choosing interior paint is much easier than choosing exterior paint. Your needs and the environment are much easier to define plus it remains fairly constant over time. Also, there are fewer types of products to choose from.

Factors to Consider:

  • Abrasion Resistance - Some areas of your home receive more wear and tear than others. These areas could be hallways, doors and trim, or a child's room. Alkyd paints can offer excellent resistance to scuffing and are a good choice for door, trim and floors. The acrylic paints offer lower odor, ease of application and excellent flexibility.

  • Humidity - Exposure to water will have a huge effect on the life of the finish. In areas such as bathrooms, saunas, and pools this is especially true. Both top quality oil base and acrylic finishes are resistant to moisture. The acrylic paints are better in most situations. Higher sheens should be used in areas that receive more humidity.

  • Sheen - The sheen of the paint affects how strong and flexible the paint film is and the abrasion resistance. The more sheen, the more resistance to washing and the affects of abrasion. Choose a paint sheen that matches the conditions of the surface and your decorative needs.

  • Color - Intensity of color and the need for multiple coats affects your choices as well. Water base paints dry faster, allowing you to apply another coat sooner. Quality acrylics are thicker and offer better coverage. Top quality interior acrylic house paint is the best choice for ceilings and walls plus most surfaces. The alkyd finishes offer a harder film that can take more of a beating, hence the preference most pros have for using oil base finishes on trim and doors.

    Choosing interior house paint comes down to the amount of time you have to accomplish your project and the desired decorative appeal. If you need a super smooth paint finish, choose an oil base but if this project has to be finished ASAP choose the fast drying acrylics.

Choosing interior house paint comes down to the amount of time you have to accomplish your project and the desired decorative appeal. If you need a super smooth paint finish, choose an oil base but if this project has to be finish ASAP choose the fast drying acrylics.


Question: What should I know before I paint the exterior of my home?

Answer: Next to using top quality paint, exterior paint preparation is the most important house painting technique. Inadequate or incomplete painting preparation is the major reason for failures of the finish. You will want to know the extent of the surface preparation needed. A thorough and complete examination of the entire home is in order. Take your time and pay special attention to the areas that need to be fixed.

Peeling, blistering and chalking are significant indicators of problems with your house paint. Water leaks will show up as discolored areas or rot. Discolored areas could indicate the presence of mildew. Fully remove mildew and repair any sources of moisture before applying primer.

After repairs are made, prevent the mold and mildew from recurring. The condition of the paint could tell you where the problem originated. Often the exterior needs the most time and effort to prepare due to the many surfaces exposed to the harsh weather and intense sunlight. The preparation can amount to 50% or more of the time it takes to paint a house.

A good place to start is with pressure washing. A clean surface is a crucial exterior painting preparation step that needs to be done at the beginning.

The next step is scraping and sanding. There will always be the need for sanding. This is the most labor intensive part of exterior painting, but the most important. There are environmental concerns with any scraping and sanding of the existing finish. If your home was built before 1980 the exterior finish might contain lead based paint. You need to know what to do and not to do.

The other aspects of this process are caulking, masking and priming. Top quality products are required in the beginning in order for the final look to be its best. After all preparation is finished, choose the best exterior paint and exterior painting techniques for your project.


Question: Is it hard to paint and stain exterior windows and doors?

Answer: Wood windows and doors often need some TLC. These items are constantly on the move and usually will require refinishing before the siding. It is very hard to have lasting results with old windows and doors, but it isn't impossible. Window and door construction can consist of wood, exterior grade MDF, steel or fiberglass. All of these materials can be painted. Wood and fiberglass can also be stained.

Painting wood windows is a very common project while most steel or steel clad windows are prefinished. These, too, can be painted if the factory finish has faded or a different color is desired.

Many homeowners are installing new doors manufactured out of steel and fiberglass. These modern materials last a lifetime and can be stained or painted. Painting a steel or fiberglass door is a straightforward project with several application methods.

Staining and finishing an embossed fiberglass door can be a bit tricky. A few tricks will help, but patience will be the most important skill you can have. Staining and finishing exterior wood doors is much easier.


Question: What do I need to know about painting exterior trim?

Answer: The most satisfying part of exterior painting is putting the finishing touches on the trim. This draws the entire house together. The parts considered trim are fascia boards, gutters, vertical and horizontal pieces of wood forming bands, corner boards and door frames. Soffits can also be included if this is the look you like. Most of the time, soffits are painted at the same time and the same color as the body of the house.

Types of materials most often used for exterior trim are wood, Masonite and exterior grade MDF. Even vinyl and steel can be used as a decorative cover over other materials. All are paintable with the proper preparation and primer.

Exterior painting methods while applying the finish paint to exterior trim include brushing, rolling or spraying. Typically, brushing is used but rolling can speed things up a bit. Spraying exterior trim is done only rarely; an example would be a large Victorian with extensive amounts of wood trim.


Question: 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?

Answer: 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 it 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.


Question: 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?

Answer: 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, and all windows should be thoroughly caulked, sealed, and primed.


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

Answer: 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.


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

Answer: 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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The Painters Express

Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-8313
Email: Info@ThePaintersExpress.com

The Painters Express

Missoula, MT 59801
Phone: (406) 544-0562
Email: Info@ThePaintersExpress.com

24 Hour Turn-Around Service  *  Missoula (406) 544-0562    *    Kalispell (406) 257-8313  *  Licensed and Insured

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