Boost Your Curb Appeal with a Lick of Paint!
Imagine the curb appeal your home will have when you give it a beautiful exterior paint job. When it comes to improving your home, one of the quickest, easiest and least expensive ways to make a significant impact is to paint. Nothing revives weatherworn siding, perks-up tired walls or adds a touch of style and distinction better than a new coat of paint. Painting can be like instant renovation.
Not to suggest that painting is cheap. But the results are transforming. One of the most important decisions you’ll face is choosing the right paint. This is critical to whether or not your new paint job will look good and last. But choosing paint can be tricky–paints have gone through such dramatic changes in the past few years that it’s hard to know what to buy. Ask your paint decorator to help you choose. She/he will know what is best for the condition and exterior materials of your house, and also have an understanding of new products on the market.
Getting Ready Outside
You may choose to do this yourself or have your painter organize these preliminary steps.
When having the exterior of your home painted, start by having big items removed that could get in the way and make it more difficult to paint. These include downspouts, gutters, light fixtures, window shutters, and window and door screens. If you’re going to repaint any of these items, it’s a good idea to do so before re-installing them.
Next, make a thorough inspection of all wood surfaces in your home’s exterior. Caulk joints and seams if necessary. If there are cracks, they should be re-caulked.
If you are doing this yourself, bring a utility knife with you so that you can remove old caulk. Inspect the exterior for symptoms of rust where nail heads have come out. If you find any rust bleed, use a rust inhibitor primer to touch up nail heads. Using latex paint directly may promote rusting.
Cleaning and Preparation
No matter what surface you are painting, whether it is indoors or outdoors, you always need to properly clean the surface before you start priming or painting it. If you are cleaning an inside surface, using some mild, soapy water should be sufficient. Cleaning exterior surfaces, though, may require something with a bit more punch to it. Considering scrubbing the surface with a soft bristle brush or even giving the surface a power washing. To help prevent and combat the growth of mold and mildew, mix 1 part chlorine bleach with 3 parts water to clean areas affected by mold.
Paint is primarily a mixture of pigment, resin and a carrier. Titanium dioxide is the main, white pigment; relatively small amounts of other pigments are added by the dealer to tint the color. Resin makes paint adhere to a surface. Carrier is the evaporative liquid added to thin the mixture so you can brush or roll it on–water for latex paints or a solvent such as linseed or soybean oil for oil/alkyd paints. Paint also contains clay or other inert ingredients to adjust the paint’s sheen. And it may contain small amounts of secondary solvents that help gloss, drying characteristics and the like.
The amount and quality of each ingredient determine a paint’s performance and price. For example, paint with plenty of titanium dioxide has b hiding characteristics and, because this is the most expensive ingredient, costs more. Oil/alkyd paints that utilize odorless mineral spirits as a carrier are more expensive than those with regular solvents. With this in mind, price is a good indicator of quality.
Latex Versus Oil/Alkyd
When choosing paint, the most perplexing question for homeowners is often, ‘Should we use latex or oil/alkyd?’
One difference between exterior alkyd and latex paints is how they cure. Alkyd paints usually dry to the touch in 4 to 6 hours and can be recoated in 8 to 12 hours. They continue to harden several months after application, providing an excellent barrier to moisture. Latex paints usually dry to the touch in 30 minutes and, in warm, dry weather, are resistant to light showers or dew after about 4 hours.
Whether you choose alkyd or latex, flat paint is best on siding for resisting moisture, and semigloss or gloss types are best for trim and doors because of their durability.
For years, solvent-based paints were favored for woodwork, trim, some interior and most exterior surfaces because they flow uniformly, have excellent leveling characteristics, adhere well to surfaces (particularly chalky or poorly-prepared surfaces) and provide a tough, hard-shell finish. Also, exterior alkyds can be used in sub-freezing situations.
But now, change is in the wind – literally. Government air-quality laws are clamping down on the use of solvents in oil/alkyd paints. The problem is this: A gallon of solvent-based paint contains about two quarts of mineral spirits. These solvents evaporate into the air as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), causing pollution.
In any case, solvent paints that comply with these guidelines don’t really have advantages over water-based paints. They dry slower, are more difficult to apply, and cost more.
Although water-based paints contain various levels of the regulated solvents (in an “alkyd-modified” latex, there may be as much as one pint of solvent per gallon), solvent levels in all water-based paints fall short of the limits. These new regulations are good news for most people. The environmental constraints have forced better technology than we had before. New water-based finishes have improved immensely.
The only place really left for alkyds is trim around the front door, and maybe the windows. If there’s an older coating of oil-alkyd paint and the finish is flaking or poorly prepared, it may be smart to seek out an oil-alkyd paint that complies with regulations. Judging by the tightening standards, there may come a day when all paints are required to be zero-VOC. Eventually, latex may become your only choice.
Latex paints: vinyl-acrylic, acrylic alkyd-modified?
Latex paints are not all the same. Although the first latex paints were named after their synthetic “latex” rubber base, synthetic rubber isn’t used anymore. Now the term “latex” encompasses all water-borne paint. But within that category, you have choices, notably vinyl-acrylic, 100% acrylic and alkyd-modified latex.
Vinyl-acrylic latex is the least expensive but suitable for most interior walls and for shorter-durability exterior walls. High-performance interior paints are 100% acrylic; they have better color retention, better adhesion and, in the case of the enamels, better gloss than vinyl-acrylics.
High-quality exterior paints are either 100% acrylic or alkyd-modified latex. Both are excellent. But if the siding was previously painted with an alkyd or is chalking, you may want to consider using an alkyd-modified latex. Alkyd-modified latex does a better job of penetrating and anchoring the coating on a chalky surface. Some manufacturers consider 100% acrylics to be their best products.
The Paint’s Sheen
Paint may have any of several lustres. From dull to shiny, they are: flat, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss and gloss Canada, satin falls between flat and eggshell). Each company has slight variations in the level of sheen in each category.
A paint’s lustre depends upon its mixture of pigment, resin and inert ingredients. Paint with less pigment and more resin is glossier than the reverse. Enamel is a term that usually denotes an extra-smooth, hard surface coating–the result of using plenty of resin in the formula.
The glossier a finish, the more durable and washable it tends to be. Flat paint is great at hiding irregularities and surface imperfections, important for both exterior and interior walls.
Pearl and eggshell paints are a compromise; they partially hide imperfections and are more washable than flat paints. Exteriors typically call for flat or satin wall paints and semi-gloss on trim.
Another distinguishing characteristic of good paint is coverage, sometimes called “hiding.” When a label says “one-coat hiding,” read the fine print. An interior or exterior finish that is guaranteed one coat, without any exceptions, should cover in one coat when properly applied. Obviously, one-coat hiding is a major labor saver and well worth paying a premium to get.
The determining factor for good hiding is the level of titanium dioxide in the mixture– the more it contains, the better the hiding. Some flat paints utilize cheap fillers to achieve high levels of hiding; unfortunately, the rest of their characteristics, such as scrubbability, fall short.
Stains come in transparent, semitransparent, and solid-hide formulations. Solid-hide stains, the most durable and protective type available, are essentially wood-toned paints. Semitransparent stains are the right choice for areas where you want to show the natural grain of the wood. Transparent formulations are used where you want to display the wood’s natural beauty while offering a degree of weather protection.
When Do You Need A Primer?
You need a primer when the surface to be painted is porous or the paints are incompatible (such as when you apply latex paint over alkyd).
An existing painted surface in good condition and compatible with the finish coat may not need an additional primer.
Final Advice about Paint
When you buy paint, go with reputable brands. Tailor your choices to the project, but don’t waste your time or money on low-quality paint. There are significant differences between cheap and quality paints, particularly in characteristics such as hiding and washability. You’re also more likely to find a more extensive color palette in the quality lines.
Don’t forget to check the warrantee on the label–this is a benchmarking device that normally gives you a fair measure of the differences between quality levels of various paints.
This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF