10 Tips to Paint Like a Pro – Part 2

Tip 9: Theres a quick fix for sticky doors and windows

Have you ever tried to open a cabinet door that feels like it is glued shut? This condition is known as blocking, and it is common on places where cured latex paint tries to stick to itself, such as on wood windows, painted doors without weatherstripping, and garage doors. Most exterior paints are not resistant to blocking, so we apply a thin coat of clear Briwax to window sashes, garage-door panels, and places where doors meet door stops.

Tip 10: Don’t forget home maintenance

Most people think that if they clean their gutters twice a year, they’ve maintained their home. We recommend that our customers hire us to wash their homes every other year and to have us check the caulking and touch up the paint where needed. We have customers who have 11-year-old paint jobs that look nearly new. The cost for this service is usually under $1000 and can add years to a paint job. I’ve seen something simple like cracked caulking between trim and a windowsill ruin many window frames. These costly repairs could have been avoided with a $10 tube of caulk and a few minutes of work.

Sometimes you have to start from scratch

On old houses, paint can be in such rough shape that complete removal is the only way to go. We like a stripping product called Peel Away, which has the consistency of joint compound. We apply it with a mud knife in a 1⁄4-in.- to 5⁄8-in.-thick coat, then cover it with the waxy paper included with the product.

We leave it covered for 12 to 72 hours, checking it about three times a day until we see that it has worked its way through all the layers of paint. After scraping off the softened paint onto 6-mil plastic with a putty or taping knife, we apply with pump sprayers the neutralizer that comes with the product.

We work it in with stiff nylon brushes, let the wood dry for a couple of days, then neutralize and scrub again. The final step is a scrub and rinse with clear water. After the wood is dry, we check the pH with a test strip. If the pH is too high, we go through the neutralization process again. Once neutralization is complete, it’s important to check the wood’s moisture content before priming. Anything below 15% is acceptable. Peel Away is labor intensive, but when done correctly, it gives great results. On this house, we used it on the siding up to the bottom of the second-story windows.

NOTE: If you are going to try Peel Away, do a test spot first, because sometimes it works in hours and sometimes it takes days. Don’t apply more than you can remove in one day. Letting the wood sit bare for a couple of months isn’t a problem unless you live in an area with a lot of rainfall. If the wood is going to be bare for weeks or months, tack up some 6-mil plastic to protect it. When we need to protect bare siding from rain, we wrap the plastic around a 2×4 and screw it to the house. We keep the plastic rolled up as much as possible so that the wood under it can dry, and we let it down only when there is a good chance of rain.

Paint in the right order

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start on an exterior paint job. Below are outlines that show how we paint homes in good condition and homes that have been neglected.

Home with Minor PeelingHome with Major Peeling
1. Remove the shutters and screens.1. Remove the shutters and screens.
2. Wash the exterior, shutters, and screens.2. Scrape all loose paint and glazing putty.
3. Scrape all loose paint and glazing putty.3. Sand where needed.
4. Replace any rotten wood.4. Wash the exterior, shutters, and screens.
5. Sand all scraped areas.5. Check the scraped areas, and sand where needed.
6. Spot-prime all bare wood.6. Replace any rotten wood.
7. Apply caulk and glazing putty where needed.7. Prime all wood.
8. Brush all overhangs and high trim.8. Apply caulk and glazing putty where needed.
9. Paint all siding.9. Paint all shutters.
10. Paint the windows, doors, and trim.10. Brush all overhangs and high trim.
11. Paint the porch floors.11. Paint all siding.
12. Hang the shutters and screens.12. Paint the windows, doors, and trim.
13. Paint the porch floors.
14. Hang the shutters and screens.

DIY one side a time

If you are a homeowner trying to tackle a large exterior paint job yourself, my first advice is to set plenty of short-term goals. If you set out to paint the exterior of your house without a plan, you’re going to run out of steam or end up hating painting. I recommend working on one side of the house at a time, preferably starting on the least visible elevation. This will give you time to develop your technique and to perfect your painting skills. If you’re like me, there are probably a few projects around the house that you haven’t finished, so you don’t want to add exterior painting to the list. With such a long-term project, you’re likely to get rained out on occasion. I suggest keeping some work in reserve, such as prepping and painting shutters and sashes, that you can do in the garage or basement on rainy days. Make sure to protect yourself and your family from lead paint by avoiding any dry-sanding or scraping and by keeping a neat work area free of paint chips.

How to Tackle a DIY Whole-House Paint Job
1.Remove all shutters and storm windows or screens.
2.Remove all loose window glazing.
3.Glaze the windows where needed.
4.Scrape and sand the overhangs.
5.Wash and prime the overhangs.
6.Scrape and sand the siding.
7.Wash and prime the siding.
8.Scrape and sand the windows, doors, and trim.
9.Wash and prime the windows, doors, and trim.
10.Scrape and sand the shutters.
11.Wash the shutters.
12.Wash, prime, and paint the shutters.
14.Paint the overhangs.
15.Paint the siding.
16.Paint the windows, doors, and trim.
17.Clean the windows.
18.Hang the storm windows or screens.
19.Hang the shutters.

Photos: Patrick McCombe except where noted

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