House Painting Blog

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This Week in Painting – July 14, 2012 (cont.)

Step 4: Prepare the Dif solution in a clean plastic bucket by mixing the Dif concentrate with warm water. Follow label instructions for proper mixing ratios. The solution is then ready for use. Fill the pump (garden) sprayer with the Dif/warm water solution and pump up the pressure. Adjust the nozzle to spray a fine mist. Starting at a top corner thoroughly wet the wallpaper with the spray mist. Be sure not to over saturate the paper so the water does not run-off.

Apply the Dif/warm water solution over all the wallpaper that is to be removed. Wait about 15 minutes and re-wet a second time. Allow an additional 15 minutes from the starting point before scraping.

Step 5: After two applications of the Dif/warm water solution have been applied to all the wallpaper, refill the pump sprayer with hot water. Work on one section at a time. First re-wet the paper with the hot water and then begin scraping. Use the six inch flexible joint knife to separate the paper from the wallboard. Working top to bottom or side to side, remove a strip at a time until the section is complete. Repeat the process across the entire wallpapered surface.

Step 6: When all the wallpaper has been removed, the wallboard still needs to be cleaned. Use a sponge and some Dif/warm water solution or just warm water to wash away any wallpaper adhesive residue. If any mildew is present, use a mild household bleach solution to eliminate it. Allow the wallboard enough time to completely dry before applying primer and paint.

This Week in Painting – July 14, 2012

Homeowners occasionally ask us how to remove wallpaper. The first thing to consider before removing wallpaper is the condition of the underlying walls. Wallpaper is usually installed over smooth wallboard or plaster. Depending on the desired wall finish, smooth or texture, the walls may need some additional work before they are ready for paint. Painting over wallpaper is an alternative to wallpaper removal although it is usually best to remove the paper.


  • Pump (garden) sprayer
  • Paper Tiger (waterproof wallpaper)
  • Sponge
  • 6 inch flexible joint knife
  • 1-1/2 or 2 inch flexible putty knife
  • Painters drop cloth – runner
  • Clean plastic bucket
  • Dif Concentrate Liquid Wallpaper
  • Painters plastic
  • Masking tape

There are a couple different methods of removing wallpaper. We like to use Dif Concentrate Liquid Wallpaper Stripper mixed with warm water. A solution of Dif and warm water is an effective way to dissolve wallpaper adhesive. That being said, the Dif solution must be able to permeate the wallpaper so it can liquefy the wallpaper paste below.

Step 1: Begin by removing all the electrical cover plates. Place a piece of masking tape over the plugs and switches. Be careful not to touch the electrical contacts. If the cover plates have been covered with wallpaper, place them in a bucket and let them soak in a small amount of the Dif/warm water solution. After fifteen minutes remove them from the solution and wipe away any paste residue with a sponge and clean water.

Step 2: Lay a painter’s drop cloth runner on the floor below the wall. Place some painter’s plastic sheeting over the runner and tape it to the baseboard with masking tape. This will help protect the floor from excess liquid.

Step 3: Before applying any Dif solution, try to remove the outer layer of the wallpaper. Using a putty knife, start at a corner or a seam and pull away the paper. With most vinyl laminates, the outer layer of paper can easily be separated from its backing. The remaining paper backing is easily removed with the Dif solution. Some common types of wallpaper readily absorb the Dif solution and do not require stripping away an outer layer.

With some water resistant, washable type wallpapers, the outer layer cannot be easily stripped away. This will prevent the Dif solution from properly penetrating down to the adhesive layer. There is a tool called the Paper Tiger that can be used to penetrate the surface of the wallpaper. It is a small hand-held tool that has wheels surrounded with hundreds of sharp points. Rolling it over the surface of the wallpaper creates small holes, usually deep enough to penetrate the surface but no so deep as to damage the wall.

For multiple layers and previously painted wallpaper, try to strip away the outer layers as with vinyl laminates. If this is not easily accomplished, use the Paper Tiger tool to score the outer layers.

To Be Continued:

This Week in Painting – July 7, 2012

Deciding on interior paint colors can be a challenging task. Choosing the wall paint color is the difficult first step of the color selection process. Once a wall color has been determined, there is an easy trick that many interior designers use to select a corresponding ceiling and trim color.

Designer Tip: Once you have established a wall color, take 25% of that color for the ceiling and trim. This is a way of creating a lighter value of the same hue. Less pigment is used but the ratio of the colorants with one another remains the same.

There are two ways to make a 25% formula paint color:

  • The paint store can make a quart of ceiling paint or trim paint to match the wall color. Mix the tinted quart with three quarts of its corresponding un-tinted (white) base.
  • The paint store can usually scale down the tint formula accordingly and add the colorants directly to the paint at the 25% value. This is easier because it does not require mixing at the jobsite.

There are advantages to using a color that is 25% of the wall color, on the ceiling. Lighter colors give ceilings an appearance of more height. Often, this is preferable because it helps give a room a feeling of spaciousness. It is also a reliable way to create a nice contrast between the walls and ceiling without worrying about incompatible colors.

Using a trim color that is 25% formula of the adjacent wall color is also a good way to highlight your trim details while creating a nice contrast. Many interior designers like to use the same color for the trim and ceilings so as to keep the color scheme simple. If your goal is to minimize the visual effect of your trim, painting trim the same color as the walls is the best way to achieve that goal.

The 25% formula technique works best for pastel and medium wall colors that are not too dark or too white.

  • If the wall color is very dark, in a deep or ultra deep base, 25% of the colorant may still be too dark for a ceiling and trim.
  • If the wall color is approaching white, 25% of the colorant will not offer much contrast.

It is always a good idea to make paint samples with the actual paint. This will give you a better idea whether the colors meet your expectations.

This Week in Painting – June 23, 2012

Someone recently asked me why their airless spray tip was giving them an uneven spray pattern. There are a few things that can cause this to happen. A proper relationship between the orifice size of the spray tip, the viscosity of the paint, and the pressure setting of the airless sprayer is important for an optimum spray pattern.

The first step is to identify the spray tip. Airless spray tips are available in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate most spray painting applications. An airless spray tip is measured two ways. Fan width and orifice (hole) size are displayed on spray tips with three numbers (four numbers for extra wide spray fans). For example, a 515 spray tip should be interpreted as follows:

515 – The first digit represents ½ of the fan width. Since the first digit is 5, this tip would yield a 10 inch width spray fan at a distance of 12 inches between the spray tip and the surface being sprayed.
515 – The last two digits represent the orifice (hole) size in thousandths of an inch. In this example the orifice size is 0.015 inches.

Some reasons for an uneven spray pattern are as follows:

  • The airless spray tip is too small and will not permit the paint to smoothly pass through the tip’s orifice. The optimum orifice size for an airless spray tip is determined by the viscosity of the paint material and the type of surface to be sprayed. Smaller orifices work well for thinner materials such as lacquers and fine enamels. Conversely, larger orifice size tips are best for heavier bodied paints. Sometimes reducing the paint’s viscosity by slightly thinning it or preparing it with the proper conditioner is all that is needed to help the paint pass more easily through the tip’s orifice.
  • The pressure setting on the airless sprayer is set too low and cannot adequately push the paint through the spray tip’s orifice. This often occurs with medium and heavy bodied paints. Most airless sprayers are equipped with a pressure control knob. Adjusting the pressure upward may solve the problem.
  • It is important that the airless sprayer being used can provide enough output to support the selected tip. Some of the smaller airless sprayers, especially many of the handheld units, cannot accommodate heavy bodied paints and spray tips larger than .015-.017 inches.
  • Airless spray tips will wear under normal use eventually causing the orifice size to increase allowing more paint to pass through the tip. The result is an uneven spray pattern. This is often the case with rental units when the spray tip has not recently been replaced.

This Week in Painting – June 16, 2012

Painting a garage floor can greatly improve the look and utility of a garage. Because the labor and materials required for painting a concrete floor are substantial, it is important to select an epoxy paint that can stand up to the challenges put upon it.

A garage floor ought to be coated with an epoxy paint that exhibits all of the following attributes. An epoxy paint should be resistant to water, oil and grease, and standard household and automotive chemicals. The paint should also be able to withstand tire abrasions. It should be a hard coating that is impact resistant. In other words, the epoxy paint should not chip or crack when items such as tools are dropped onto the floor. It should be UV resistant. Finally, epoxy paint should be able to endure the extreme heat generated from hot car tires. Hot tire pick up is one of the most common occurrences of epoxy paint failure. This poor adhesion may often be caused by too thin of a coating.

Two part epoxies, formulated for concrete are available in both a solvent base and a water base. Several manufacturers provide a urethane fortified clear topcoat that can be applied over the epoxy floor paint. Some manufacturers strongly recommend using this urethane topcoat. It provides most of the protection against UV damage. It also helps to eliminate adhesion failure due to hot tires. It improves resistance to abrasion. In general, the urethane coat(s) increase the longevity of the paint job.

Two part water base epoxies have one clear advantage over their solvent bases counterparts. During application, they do not produce the high level of toxic fumes compared to that of the solvent base epoxy paints. In fact, it is important to wear a half face piece respirator fitted with the proper cartridges and filters when applying solvent base epoxy. Some water base epoxy paints also have low volatile organic compound (VOC) content. In general they are much easier to use. The important question is whether they have the same qualities as the solvent base epoxies.

Below is a list of leading epoxy paint products for concrete floors. Give these products a thorough review before making a decision. Check the comparison charts and see the different characteristics of the products. There are striking differences in the mil thickness between the different products. Some epoxies are up to 7 times thicker than other competitive products. Also compare prices because the paint is expensive.

After you have selected a particular product, follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper method of application. Application techniques do vary. Some thicker coatings require the use of a squeegee and a paint roller. Each brand of epoxy paint is typically accompanied by all the necessary preparation products such as cleaner/de-greaser, acid etch, and concrete patch.

This Week in Painting – June 9, 2012 (Cont.)

How to Paint a Garage Floor - Continued:

  • Muriatic Acid is usually sold in a 30-40% solution. It should be further diluted into a 10% solution. One gallon of diluted acid solution will etch about 100 square feet. A one car garage is approximately 200 square feet and a two car garage is typically about 400 square feet. For a two car garage, place three gallons of clean water into a plastic five gallon bucket. Slowly pour 1 gallon of Muriatic Acid into the three gallons of water.

    Use the garden hose to dampen the floor with water before applying the acid solution. At this stage, it is assumed that the concrete is clean and free of contaminants. If any water beads up, the concrete is not ready for the etching process. Further cleaning or possible removal of an existing coat of penetrating sealer is necessary. If the water soaks into the concrete, the floor is ready for the acid solution.

    Pour about one gallon of liquid acid solution into the sprinkle can. Distribute an even coat of liquid over the floor surface. Etch around 100 square feet at a time. The acid solution should effervesce on contact with the concrete. Scrub the bubbling acid with the stiff bristle broom for a few minutes. Once the scrubbing is complete, allow a few more minutes for the acid solution to finish the etching process. The acid solution should be in contact with the concrete for a total of about 20 minutes before rinsing with the garden hose and nozzle. Rinse thoroughly for several minutes using a large volume of water. This will dilute any acid residue. Repeat the process on the other sections of floor until the etching is complete. Sometimes a second application of concrete etching is necessary for very hard, smooth concrete.

  • The concrete must be neutralized before any paint coatings are applied. Acid etching typically lowers the pH well below 6. A pH close to 7 is ideal for paint application. A pH below 6 or above 9 can damage paint coatings leading to paint failure. The alkaline concrete cleaner used to clean the floor can be used to neutralize the concrete. A diluted household ammonia solution consisting of 20 parts water to 1 part ammonia also works well for neutralization. Pour either solution onto the concrete floor and spread it around with a broom. Allow a few minutes before rinsing the floor with water.

  • A garage floor should be coated with a paint that is resistant to water, oil and grease, and standard household chemicals. The paint should also be able to withstand abrasions. Finally it should be able to endure the extreme heat generated from hot car tires. A two part epoxy paint formulated for concrete is the best choice for this type of application. Two part epoxies are available in both a solvent base and a water base. The important question is which epoxy product can live up to expectations.

To be continued:

This Week in Painting – June 9, 2012

I am often asked how to paint a garage floor. The labor and materials required for painting a garage floor, although somewhat substantial, may be worthwhile because a tidy floor can really improve the look of a garage.

If a concrete slab is not waterproof and moisture is able to seep through it from the ground below, the concrete surface should not be painted. Perform a moisture test. Firmly secure the entire perimeter of a small sheet of plastic, about 2 ft. x 2 ft. or a plastic bag to the floor with masking tape. After 24 hours has passed, check for moisture under the plastic. If the slab is noticeably darker in color, there may be some presence of moisture.

There are a few basic steps involved in painting a concrete floor. Assuming that a concrete garage floor has not been previously painted or sealed with a penetrating sealer, the following steps apply:

  • The first step is to thoroughly clean the concrete floor. Garage floors have the tendency to collect petroleum based stains such as oils and grease. Alkaline base concrete cleaners/degreasers are commonly used to eliminate these types of stains. Many concrete cleaners/degreasers, such as Rustoleum EpoxyShield Heavy-Duty Degreaser, are available as concentrates and can be diluted with water. Cleaners/degreasers are also available as non-concentrates. BEHR 1-Gal. Concrete and Masonry Cleaner and Degreaser does not require dilution with water.

    Alkaline concrete cleaners are similar to most cleaning products insofar as they do require scrubbing as part of the cleaning process. This enables the detergent to properly penetrate the stains. A medium to stiff bristle broom works well for scrubbing concrete. Multiple applications may be necessary for stains that have penetrated deeper into the concrete. The oily residue should be rinsed with clean water and removed by mopping, ragging, or vacuuming.

  • After the cleaning and degreasing have been completed, the concrete floor needs to be etched. The purpose of etching concrete is to enable the subsequent paint coatings to properly adhere. After the etching is completed, the floor surface should feel as rough as a piece of 120-150 grit sandpaper.

    Etching concrete is usually accomplished using Muriatic Acid or Sulfamic Acid. Sulfamic Acid is not as strong or corrosive as Muriatic Acid and may be a good choice for anyone not experienced working with acids. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions listed on the etching product.

    Acids are dangerous and must be used with the utmost care. They produce very strong fumes which can cause significant health risks to the user. Provide adequate ventilation. Use a half face piece respirator for lung protection. Be sure to equip the respirator with the proper cartridges and filters designated for acid fumes. Wear waterproof gloves and protective clothing. Use protective goggles or glasses. Immediately wash off any acid that comes in contact with your skin.

    Tools for applying an acid solution include a plastic sprinkle can, plastic five gallon bucket, stiff bristle broom, and a garden hose, preferably with a nozzle.

To Be Continued:

This Week in Painting – June 2, 2012

We are often asked when painting ceilings, if we can also paint the recessed light trims. Recessed (can) light trims are available in many configurations but they commonly consist of a trim ring and a baffle. Trim rings are designed to lay flat on the ceiling and cover the gap that forms between the metal light can and the edge of the sheetrock hole. Baffles are the trim pieces that create the inside lining of the metal light cans.

We generally do not paint the baffles. They are better left unpainted for two reasons. Many paints do not perform well with the excessive heat generated by light bulbs. Some paint colors may also reduce the reflective quality of the light.

Conversely, we do paint the light trim rings. Even though light trim rings are manufactured in a few custom colors, white is by far the most common color. These trim rings are typically available in plastic or factory finished metal depending on the style of the recessed light. Painting the trim rings the same color as the ceiling helps to reduce their visibility. This is also true for bathroom fan covers and air duct grilles.

The question that arises is how to paint plastic or factory finished metal. Ideally you want to use the same finish paint as you used on the ceiling drywall. The trick is to first use a fast dry all purpose primer that will stick well to almost any clean surface. We use XIM solvent born, Bonding Primer Sealer 400W in an aerosol spray can. This is a very easy way to prepare the trim ring surfaces for any acrylic latex or oil based paint. For polypropylene plastic it is best to use XIM Plastic & Vinyl NT Bonding Primer.

Before beginning with the painting, remove the light trims from the ceiling and lay them out on a suitable work surface such as a sheet of plywood, painter’s drop cloth, or piece of red rosin paper. If the trim rings cannot be separated from the rest of the light trim mechanism, some masking is necessary to protect areas that should remain free from paint. Safe release masking tape and masking paper works well for this procedure. When painting with XIM or any solvent base paint, be sure to provide adequate ventilation.

Shake the spray can of XIM primer vigorously for about a minute. Spray an even, light/medium coat over the surfaces to be painted. Avoid spraying too heavy of a coat. Allow two hours to dry before applying the finish coats of paint.

The finish paint can be brushed or sprayed. We like to use a 1-1/2 or 2 inch paint brush, nylon/polyester combination for acrylic latex paint and china bristle for oil base paint. It often takes two coat of the finish paint for good coverage. When the paint is completely dry, the light trims are ready to re-install.

This Week in Painting – May 26, 2012

Someone recently asked me how to paint brick that has not been previously painted. I am a fan of natural brick but I do understand why some people want to paint it. Painting a brick fireplace or an interior brick wall can significantly brighten up a room. Painting brick requires the same basic fundamental steps as most other materials:

  • Wash/Preparation
  • Prime
  • Paint

A brick wall, like other surfaces needs to be free from contaminants before primer and paint can be applied. In many cases, a careful cleaning with a broom and vacuum may be sufficient. If a brick wall surrounds a fireplace opening, it most likely needs a more thorough cleaning. Either tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) or laundry detergent is an effective cleaner for removing smoke and soot. Both products can be mixed at 64:1, warm water to cleaning agent or ¼ cup of cleaner per gallon of water. A nylon scrub brush works well for scrubbing uneven surfaces such as brick. Use a one or more dampened knit rags to wipe away the loosened soot. Frequent rinsing may be necessary for areas with excessive smoke deposits. Care should be taken to protect all adjacent surfaces from damage. Some painter’s plastic is a good way to shield the floor from water stains.

Once the cleaning has been completed and the brick is completely dry, the primer coat can be applied. It is best to use a good quality, all purpose acrylic primer on masonry surfaces such as brick. We often use ICI Gripper or Devoe Primz 220 for this type of application.

After the primer is completed, inspect the brick wall and especially the mortar joints for cracks and loose mortar. It is much easier to see any damage after the primer has been applied. Loose mortar can easily be chipped away with a hammer and small chisel. Use quality elastomeric caulk to fill cracks and areas where loose mortar has been removed. Be sure to wipe away excess caulk with a damp cloth. You may want to use foam backer rod for cracks wider than ¼ inch that are too deep to fill with caulk. Big Stretch caulk also works well for larger cracks.

When the caulking has completely dried, the paint coats can be applied. A quality interior latex paint is a good choice for properly primed brick. In fact, you may decide to use the same paint on the brick as you use on the other walls in the room.

A brick wall can be primed and painted with either a paintbrush and roller or an airless sprayer. An airless sprayer equipped with a 015 spray tip is a good choice for this type of application. If the job is relatively small or you do not have access to a sprayer, a paintbrush and roller will get the job done. Use a 2-1/2 or 3 inch nylon/polyester paintbrush and a combination lambskin/synthetic roller ranging from ¾ inch to 1-1/2 inch depending upon the roughness of the brick wall.

This Week in Painting – May 19, 2012

We recently discovered a product called “Chalk Paint” which is part of a larger product line of decorative paints and waxes developed by Annie Sloan. Chalk Paint is a low VOC paint that is ideal for furniture and cabinets where an antique look is desired. It is even durable enough for floors when top coated with their varnish. In fact, it can be used on many different interior and exterior surfaces. Because Chalk Paint adheres well to most surfaces including previously painted coatings, priming is not necessary.

Chalk Paint is typically applied at can consistency with a paint brush. By simply diluting Chalk Paint with water, it becomes a wash/stain that can be used to highlight wood grain. It can be applied in a thickened form to create a decorative mottled effect. Thickening the paint can be accomplished by removing the lid from the can and leaving the paint exposed to the air for a period of time. Chalk Paint is also ideal for rub through finishes.

Chalk Paint is available in 27 distinct colors. These colors can be intermixed with one another to create many additional custom colors. The product line also includes a clear wax and a dark wax. The clear wax can be intermixed with Chalk Paint to create a variety of colored waxes. The dark wax works well to highlight irregular surfaces. These water repellent waxes can be used over the paint finishes to add durability and achieve a unique appearance. Check out Annie Sloan’s web site for a more detailed explanation of how to use these products.

Chalk Paint along with the accompanying waxes offers many possibilities for decorative painters. I have not yet had the opportunity to use Chalk Paint extensively because I just recently discovered this product. That being said, I believe its ease of use makes it a good choice. Chalk Paint can be applied over existing paint coatings unlike some other similar products. The ability to create custom color waxes is also another advantage. I think this product is especially useful for those of us who like to refurbish old furniture pieces.

This Week in Painting – May 5, 2012

Last week we looked into the process of painting aluminum siding. As a follow up I want to briefly touch on vinyl siding. These two types of siding are similar insofar as their colored finish is part of the manufacturing process. With the passage of time, the quality of the finish can diminish.

Vinyl siding is exterior cladding primarily composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. Pigments are another ingredient that gives vinyl siding its color and resistance to the harmful effect of UV light. After years of exposure to the elements, vinyl siding tends to fade, chalk, collect dirt, and lose its overall appearance. If a thorough cleaning is not enough to rejuvenate the look, painting is a good solution. Vinyl siding requires the same basic fundamental steps as is the case with most other materials, for a proper paint job:

  • Wash / Preparation
  • Prime
  • Paint
The first step is to prepare a surface that is free from contaminants and otherwise ready for primer. The next step is to apply a coat of primer that is suitable for vinyl siding. The final step is to apply a quality exterior acrylic latex painted finish.

Surface Preparation
Over a prolonged period of time, vinyl siding can collect contaminants such as dirt, grime, and mildew. Surfaces can also become chalky. A good cleaning solution coupled with scrubbing action will most likely remove these types of contaminants. Simple Green House & Siding Cleaner is a non-toxic, biodegradable concentrate that works well for vinyl siding. Laundry detergent, about ¼ cup per gallon of water is also an effective cleaning solution. There are several other available cleaning products that could be used. Most manufacturers of vinyl siding have some limitations on the amount of water pressure that should be applied to their product. It is best to check the siding manufacturer’s specifications before using a pressure washer.

The same cleaning process that was described in last week’s article about aluminum siding can be used for vinyl siding. If a pressure washer is to be used, the wide angle spray tip will help to avoid excessive pressure that could damage vinyl siding. Try not to aim the pressure washer wand in an upward direction so as not to allow water to get behind the siding. Also use caution when cleaning around openings such as windows, doors, and electrical outlets.

Priming and Painting
Vinyl siding has the tendency to expand and contract more with temperature extremes than other common types of exterior cladding. Excessive deflection could cause the vinyl siding to become warped. For this reason, very dark colors are not recommended. In general, it is best not to paint vinyl siding any darker than its original color.

A good quality all purpose acrylic latex primer such as ICI Gripper or Devoe Primz 220, should be used on vinyl siding. Oil base primer is not recommended. An all-purpose exterior acrylic latex paint can be used for the finish coats. The use of high quality paint will maximize longevity.

This Week in Painting – Apr 28, 2012

Someone recently asked me how to paint aluminum siding. We regularly paint over new aluminum but only on occasion are we solicited to paint an entire house clad with weathered aluminum siding. After some reflection, I recognized that weathered aluminum siding is similar to many other weathered surfaces found on homes insofar as it requires the same fundamental steps for a proper paint job:

  • Wash / Preparation
  • Prime
  • Paint

The first step is to provide a surface that is free from contaminants and otherwise ready for primer. The next step is to apply a coat of primer that is suitable for aluminum (the right kind of primer). The final step is to use a quality exterior acrylic latex paint for the painted finish.

Over a prolonged period of time, aluminum siding can collect contaminants such as dirt, grime, and mildew. Oxidization can also cause aluminum surfaces to become chalky. A good cleaning solution coupled with scrubbing action and/or pressure washing will most likely remove these types of contaminants. Simple Green House & Siding Cleaner is a non-toxic, biodegradable concentrate that works well for aluminum siding. Laundry detergent, about ¼ cup per gallon of water is also an effective cleaning solution. There are actually several cleaning products on the market that could be used to clean weathered aluminum siding.

Begin the cleaning process by waterproofing all the electrical outlets. This can be accomplished with painter’s plastic and red vinyl duct tape. Apply the cleaning solution with a soft to medium bristle scrub brush. A scrub brush that can be attached to a telescoping extension pole increases reach and leverage making it easier to work from the ground. The use of a scouring pad placed on a pole sander head, attached to an extension pole is also a very effective way to eliminate chalky surfaces. After scrubbing a small section, thoroughly rinse with clean water. A garden hose with a nozzle will work. A pressure washer with the wide angle cleaning tip may be preferable for extremely chalky surfaces. The high pressure water helps to remove any contaminants that the scrubbing may have missed.

Allow the aluminum siding to thoroughly dry, two or more days before applying a prime coat. Many experts claim that only oil base primer formulated for aluminum should be used. They state that the ammonia contained in many latex primers will chemically react with aluminum ultimately causing paint failure. On the contrary there are many latex primers that do work well for aluminum. I regularly use ICI Gripper and Devoe Primz 220 on aluminum surfaces with great success. Their ease of use and superior adhesion qualities make them a good choice. Rust-oleum also makes a quality latex aluminum primer. An all-purpose exterior acrylic latex paint can be used for the finish coats. The use of high quality paint will maximize longevity.

The primer and finish paint coats can be applied by brush, roller, or spray. I prefer to use an airless sprayer equipped with a 515 or 615 spray tip for this application.

This Week in Painting – Apr 21, 2012

As the weather improves, many people are contemplating exterior painting maintenance. Homes that are sided with shingle sidewall can be some of the most difficult to repaint.

It is important to identify the existing coatings on shingle sidewall before proceeding. A new coat of finish must be compatible with the existing coating. Cedar shingles are typically painted with exterior latex paint, water base stain, or oil base stain.

Shingle sidewall should definitely be spray painted with an airless sprayer. All the corners formed by overlapping shingles and the gaps that exist between shingles are extremely tedious and time consuming to cut-in with a paint brush.

Existing Paint
Shingle sidewall that has been previously coated with exterior latex paint should be recoated with a premium acrylic latex paint. A 513 or 515 airless spray tip is well suited for spraying most exterior latex paint products on shingle sidewall. Some viscous paints do require larger spray tips. Back-brushing or rolling is not usually necessary with typical medium/heavy bodied exterior latex paints.

Existing Water Base Stain
Shingle sidewall that has been previously coated with water-base stain can be directly recoated with either latex stain or paint. If the existing coating is a transparent or semi transparent stain, an additional coat of stain will result in a somewhat more opaque appearance. The general rule is such that as successive coats of stain are applied, the transparency of the stain coatings diminishes.

Because latex stains are thinner, less viscous coatings than exterior latex paints, a smaller airless spray tip such as a 410 or 411 should be used. Back-brushing is highly recommended to achieve an even coating and avoid runs and sags. Back-brushing should follow closely behind the spraying before the stain has a chance to set-up. A 3 or 3-1/2 inch nylon/polyester paint brush is suitable for this task. This is an ideal job for two painters.

Existing Oil Base Stain
Existing oil base stain can be recoated with oil base stain, water base stain, or latex paint. Because exterior oil base stains are formulated to penetrate into the pores of the wood, they can create difficulties when applied over existing oil base stain coatings. If a fresh coat of oil base stain cannot adequately penetrate into the wood pores, it will not dry properly. The result can be a glossy, sticky mess. When existing oil base stain has become unsound for reasons such as years of weather exposure, it most likely can be recoated successfully with oil base stain. The problem lies with the protected areas of the house where the existing stain is in good condition.

Oil base stain can be applied in the same manner as water base stain. Back brushing is also recommended. A 3 or 3-1/2 inch china bristle brush works well for this task. An existing coat of oil base stain can also be directly top-coated with water base stain or painted with a coat of exterior latex primer and one or two coats of acrylic latex paint.

This Week in Painting – Apr 14, 2012

Stucco is a popular building material used for residential exterior siding. There are some guidelines to consider when painting new stucco.

Stucco is a cementitious material that typically consists of sand, Portland cement, lime, and water and in some cases it may contain additional additives. When applied to wood framing, stucco is usually attached to wire lath which in turn is attached to the structural framing. Wood framing must be protected by a water resistant moisture barrier such as asphalt building paper or other types of engineered building wraps, before the wire lath and stucco are applied. Stucco can also be applied directly over properly prepared masonry surfaces such as brick, block, and concrete.

If possible, new stucco should be allowed to cure for thirty days before primer and paint topcoats are applied. Painting un-cured stucco can result in paint failure. White powdery deposits from minerals and soluble salts also known as efflorescence is a common problem. As trapped moisture migrates toward the stucco surface, it carries these mineral deposits with it. This can cause paint discoloration and in some cases adhesion problems. High alkalinity (pH greater than 11) associated with un-cured stucco can also cause paint burn. An adequate cure time will help to eliminate these problems. If new stucco must be painted before it has completely cured, it is best to use an alkali resistant masonry primer such as Sherwin Williams Loxon conditioner masonry primer.

New stucco usually develops some cracks during the curing process. As the water is eliminated and the stucco hardens, hairline cracks less than 1/16 inch tend to occur. One coat of acrylic masonry primer and two topcoats of acrylic masonry paint applied with a paint roller will typically fill these narrow cracks. Paint application with an airless sprayer will not effectively address hairline cracks.

Stucco cracks with a width greater than 1/16 inch generally require a filler to bridge the gap. Brush-able elastomeric filler works well for cracks up to a width of 1/8 inch. This type of filler is easier to work with if the new stucco has already been painted with a coat of primer. Brush the elastomeric filler directly onto the cracks. It is very important to feather the edges of the filler lines with the brush. Failure to do so will allow the filler lines to remain visible after the topcoats of paint have been applied.

Thicker grade elastomeric filler can be used to fill stucco cracks greater than 1/8 inch. It is available in cartridges where it can be applied with a caulking gun or standard containers where it can be applied with a flexible putty knife. It is important to feather the edges of the filler lines as is the case with the brush-able elastomeric filler.

Painting new stucco with a roller does a far better job to fill all the stucco pores than an airless sprayer. A 1 to 1-1/2 inch lambskin or lambskin/synthetic combination roller cover is well suited for most stucco textures.

This Week in Painting – Apr 7, 2012

This is the time of year when exterior painting takes a prominent position on many homeowner maintenance lists. Exterior painting can often be fairly time consuming. This is especially the case for open eaves when painted with a brush and a roller.

Open eaves are a style of overhang common to many homes. This type of overhang consists of exposed rafter tails that extend perpendicular from the exterior wall, covered by roof sheathing. A fascia board is typically applied to the rafter tail ends. Sometimes rain gutters are applied directly to the rafter tail ends instead of fascia boards. Blocking may also exist between the rafter tails at the top of the wall. These blocks are often referred to as freeze blocks.

The box like configuration of open eaves makes it almost impossible to complete the painting using only a roller. The inside corners typically require cutting-in with a paint brush. Switching back and forth between a roller and a paint brush can be awkward. Working directly above your head compounds the difficulty of the task.

We almost always, with very few exceptions spray paint open eaves. Painting with an airless sprayer equipped with the proper spray tip can easily complete the task 4 to 8 times faster than painting with a brush and roller. Because open eaves are not large flat areas, controlling the paint output is a big advantage. We often use a 515 reversible spray tip. A 413 or 513 spray tip will also work well but may require a small amount of paint conditioner or water to reduce the viscosity of the paint. Despite the spray tip, always check to see that the spray pattern is even before proceeding to paint.

Spray painting does require some masking to prevent damage from overspray. On the other hand, much of the same masking should also be completed when painting with a brush and a roller. For instance, all windows below the overhangs should be covered to protect them regardless of the method of paint application.

The roof area directly above the overhangs may be subject to paint overspray. Brushing and/or rolling the gutters and front side of the fascia boards will greatly reduce the likelihood of paint overspray from landing on the roof. Using a spray shield will further reduce the chances of overspray fallout on the roof. A piece of cardboard 1 ft. by 3 ft. works well as a shield. Hold it on the outside of the fascia board while spraying the underside of the eaves.

When the overhangs and exterior walls are to be painted the same color, spray painting the eaves also serves to cut-in the top of the walls. If the walls are to be painted a different color than the overhangs, they can be cut-in after the eaves have dried. In the case that the exterior walls do not paint, place a layer of masking film with the hand masker at the transition between the eaves and the walls.

This Week in Painting – Mar 31, 2012 (Cont.)

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  4. After the prep sanding is completed, apply an even coat of Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner to all the wood surfaces that shall receive stain. Use a lambs-wool staining pad for easy application. After a few minutes have passed, wipe away any excess conditioner with a clean cotton cloth. We allow a minimum of 4 hours of dry time before applying stain. Even though this extra dry time is in direct conflict with the Minwax label instructions, I believe it is a better approach.
  5. Apply a coat of Wood-Kote Jel’d stain with a lambs-wool staining pad. Working with pigment stains requires wiping away all the excess stain. Only apply the wood stain to areas that you can wipe within 5-10 minutes so as not to allow the stain to set-up (partially dry). Very warm weather conditions may reduce this set-up time. Use clean, soft cotton knit rags for this task. Inspect each cabinet piece to be sure that all the excess stain has been removed and the color is even. Allow the stain to dry overnight before applying lacquer coats.
  6. When the stain has completely dried and a visual inspection shows the consistency of color to be satisfactory, it is time to apply the lacquer clear coats. We often use the pre-catalyzed lacquer by Chemcraft. An airless sprayer, Graco 390 equipped with a 310 spray tip is well suited for spraying lacquer coatings. The pressure setting should be as low as possible but high enough to have an even spray fan without spray lines. Check out setting up an airless sprayer for additional information.
  7. Spray an even coat of lacquer base vinyl sanding sealer on all of the stained wood surfaces. Regarding the cabinet doors and stain grade shelves, lay each one flat and begin by spraying the back sides and 4 edges. Wait about 30 to 60 minutes for the vinyl sanding sealer to dry before flipping the pieces and spraying the front sides. The face frames are a little trickier to spray. A certain amount of overlapping at the face frame intersections occurs when spraying these vertical surfaces. Try to avoid excessive buildup that can cause the sealer to sag.
  8. After the sealer has completely dried about 30-60 minutes, hand sand with a 320 grit silicon carbide sandpaper or an ultra fine sanding sponge. Sand the surface to a smooth finish. Avoid sanding directly onto corners in order to prevent over-sanding and damage to the underlying stain. Remove the sanding dust before applying a second coat of sealer.
  9. Spray a second coat of vinyl sanding sealer following the same process as step #7.
  10. Sand the second coat of vinyl sanding sealer following the same process as step #8.
  11. Spray two coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer following the same process as with the vinyl sanding sealer. All 4 coats can be applied in the same day.
  12. If possible, allow the lacquer coatings to dry overnight before re-installing the cabinet pieces.

This Week in Painting – Mar 31, 2012

We are currently working on a residential remodel in Portola Valley, CA. The general contractor just finished installing new cherry wood cabinets in several rooms throughout the house.

Color Samples
Before we could start working on the cabinets, we needed to create a color sample that matched the existing cherry wood casework. Some extra scrap pieces of solid and veneer cherry wood were available to test stain colors. Cherry wood is one of a few wood species that does not require pre-stain wood conditioner to avoid blotchiness. For our scenario, we decided to use the pre-stain conditioner anyway to help reduce the color intensity of the stain.

After the pre-stain conditioner was completely dry, we applied a coat of oil base pigmented wiping stain to our sample boards. Jel’d stain by Wood-Kote offers a wide selection of colors to choose from. This time we tested the cherry color stain and matched the color on the first try. Many color matches take a few attempts to get them right. We then finished off our sample boards with the appropriate lacquer clear coats, two coats of vinyl sanding sealer and two coats of pre-catalyzed satin lacquer (20- sheen). After the sample was approved, we were ready to begin.

Stain and Clear Finish
The following steps describe the procedure that we used for this particular job. This process is quite basic and can be helpful for many cabinet staining projects.

For this particular job, the drawer boxes and the interior portions of the cabinets behind cabinet doors consist of pre-finished maple ply and do not require any additional finish.

  1. Detach all cabinet doors, drawers, and stain grade shelves from the cabinets. Remove the hinges from the doors and the face frames. Assign a number to each cabinet door and the adjacent interior section of cabinet. Label each cabinet door along with its corresponding hinges. Regarding door number 1, you can designate 1A for the top hinge and 1B for the bottom hinge. With a pencil, mark the area of the cabinet door that the hinge covers. With the same designations label each hinge on a piece of masking tape. Labeling is actually more important than it may seem to be. It will make the re-installation process much easier.
  2. With the use of a hand masker, cover all the cabinet openings and drawer boxes with 3M - 1 inch, 2060 masking tape and 9-12 inch masking paper. The masking will help to protect the pre-finished interior sections from unnecessary damage.
  3. Apply PL Wood Patch to any nail holes, dents, or deep scratches on the cabinet face frames, doors, drawer faces, and stain grade shelves. Choose a filler color similar to the wood color. Prep sand the wood surfaces with 150-180 grit silicon carbide sandpaper. Be sure to sand in the same direction as the wood grain. The prep sanding will remove dirt, smudges, and minor scratches as well as smooth over any filler spots. Be careful not to over-sand any areas with wood veneer.
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This Week in Painting – Mar 24, 2012

In the previous article, we discussed the steps for preparing Douglas fir for a clear wood finish. Once the holes and voids are filled and the prep sanding is completed, we are ready to apply clear coats. When choosing a natural color, no staining is required.

There are several different types of clear-coat products available for wood finishing. Each product type has its own unique characteristics.

Water-base polyurethane

Application – brush, roll, and spray
Clean-up with water
Low odor

Oil-base polyurethane

Application – brush, roll, and spray
Clean-up with mineral spirits/paint thinner
Medium to strong odor


Application – spray, brush (must be a brush-able lacquer)
Clean-up with lacquer thinner
Very strong odor

Conversion Varnish

Application – spray only
Clean-up with acetone
Very strong odor


Application – brush, roll, and spray
Clean-up with denatured alcohol
Medium to strong odor

There are both advantages and disadvantages to each of the clear coat products listed above. Some things to consider when choosing a clear finish are as follows:

  • Type of use
  • Method of application
  • Ease of application
  • Dry time
  • Sensitivity to strong odors and fumes
  • VOC content

Lacquer finishes are popular in the painting industry because of their ease of application, fast dry time, and good durability. There are three general categories of lacquers available for wood finishing.

Nitro cellulose: An inexpensive, fast drying production lacquer that provides a reasonable amount of durability. Its slight amber tone helps to warm natural and dark wood finishes. Because this type of lacquer does tend to yellow over time, it is not well suited as a finish over light colored woods and white stains (washes). Nitro cellulose lacquers also tend to be somewhat brittle.

Cab-acrylic: With similar working characteristics to that of nitro cellulose lacquer, cab-acrylic is an alternative where yellowing is an issue. It is crystal clear and does not yellow as it ages. Its acrylic resins also allow for a surface film that is less brittle than that of nitro cellulose lacquer. Greater flexibility increases durability. Cab-acrylic lacquer is somewhat more expensive than nitro cellulose.

Catalyzed (pre-catalyzed and post-catalyzed): Application and working characteristics of nitro cellulose, catalyzed lacquer offers superior durability to water, chemicals, and abrasion. It cures chemically rather than exclusively depending on solvent evaporation. The catalyst is typically added to pre-catalyzed lacquer at the factory while post-catalyzed lacquer requires the user to mix the catalyst with the lacquer.

We often use the pre-catalyzed lacquer by Chemcraft for many clear wood finishes including Douglas fir. This type of finish can only be applied by spraying. An airless, HVLP, or conventional air sprayer works well for all lacquer coatings. We like to use an airless sprayer equipped with a 310 spray tip, for cabinets, doors, and interior trim. A total of 3 to 4 coats are necessary to achieve the proper film thickness. One or two coats of pre-catalyzed sanding sealer followed by two coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer will suffice. Take all necessary safety precautions when using lacquer.

This Week in Painting - Mar. 10, 2012

Douglas Fir is a species of wood that lends itself well to a clear wood finish. It is often used for interior woodwork including doors, windows, and trim. Vertical Grain Douglas Fir, also known as VGF, is frequently used for interior trim boards, i.e. door and window casings, baseboards, etc. because of its straight grain pattern. Douglas Fir with a clear finish, no color added, has been a popular choice throughout the years, especially for Craftsman style homes. The natural look can be achieved by applying clear coats directly to the unstained wood. Even though this appears to be a simple process, the preparatory steps must be completed before any clear coats are applied.

Interior woodwork, especially trim boards fastened with finish nails require some amount of filling. Before proceeding, a decision should be made whether to fill the nail holes before or after the clear coats are applied. This will determine which type of filler product to use.

We like to fill nail holes, cracks, and gouges before the clear coats are applied. PL Wood Patch works well for this application. It is a solvent base filler made from actual wood fibers. When applying this type of product, it should be slightly overfilled. Once the filler has completely dried, it can easily be sanded flush, with 150-grit sandpaper, to match the profile of the surrounding wood surface. This product is available in a variety of colors designed to replicate different wood species. It can also be tinted with colorants.

Making the proper colored filler for unstained wood is the tricky part. Douglas Fir with a natural finish, clear coats only, tends to significantly darken over an extended period of time. If you tint the filler to perfectly match the wood at the point of finish, the filler will eventually appear much lighter than the surrounding wood color. The solution to this problem is to make a filler color equal to or slightly darker than the estimated color that the wood will eventually assume. Douglas Fir tends to move toward an orange-brown direction over time. We often add a small amount of yellow oxide and burnt umber colorants to PL Wood Patch natural color filler to compensate for the warming effect of the wood. Warm, orange-brown filler, not too red and not too green should do the trick.

After all the filler has been applied, thoroughly sand the woodwork with 150 to 180-grit sandpaper. The goal is not only to smooth out the filler spots but also to eliminate all the blemishes in the wood. We like to use a silicon carbide abrasive for wood prep. A block sander, palm sander, or orbital sander works well for flat surfaces while a sanding sponge and folded sandpaper can be used for irregular profiles. If the 150-grit sandpaper leaves any sanding scratches, do a follow up sanding with 180-grit sandpaper.

In the next article, I will have a follow up discussion about clear coats and their attributes.

This Week in Painting – Mar 3, 2012

This week we revisited a new home where we recently completed the interior and exterior painting. The general contractor is in the process of building a new Teak deck around the swimming pool.

Teak is one of a few exotic hardwoods sometimes used for decking. It has a very high density and contains a significant amount of natural oils. These characteristics give Teak some capacity to withstand the harmful effects of nature’s elements. On the other hand, the ability of Teak to absorb penetrating oils and stains is severely limited.

The general contractor wants to treat the Teak wood with a coat of clear penetrating oil/sealer before installation. This makes it possible to oil all four sides, for added protection.

Sealers and stains formulated for decking do require some amount of penetration to properly function. Hardwoods such as Teak, Ipe, and Camaru will not readily absorb deck sealers and stains. The key to success is to etch the wood before applying finish. Etching is a process to increase the porosity of the wood. This preparation is worthwhile whether the wood is new or weathered.

Oxalic acid, which is the primary ingredient in a good number deck brighteners works well for etching most types of wood. Hardwoods require a slightly stronger Oxalic acid solution than the softer wood species, such as redwood do. We often use the Penofin product, “First Step Prep for Hardwood”, especially formulated for hardwoods. Standard concentrated wood brighteners such as “Cabot Problem Solver” or “Behr Wood Brightener” also work well when used at full strength.

Apply the wood brightener to the hardwood decking with a sponge, brush, or low pressure hand pump sprayer. For our project, we used a sponge applicator to avoid waste, because the wood is not yet installed. Moderately scrub the Oxalic acid solution with a nylon bristle scrub brush. Allow the acid solution to set a few minutes before thoroughly rinsing with clean water. The decking must be completely dry before any sealer or stain can be applied. The dry time depends upon weather conditions.

Use a penetrating oil/sealer or stain designated for hardwoods. We are using the “Penofin Penetrating Oil Finish for Hardwoods”. Apply an even coat of the penetrating sealer to the wood surface. I prefer using a paint brush over other paint applicators because the brush bristles help to work the oil into the wood pores. Wait up to 10 minutes for the penetrating sealer to absorb into the wood. Wipe away any excess oil with clean, lint free knit rags. Because penetrating sealers and stains for hardwoods are typically oil base products, it is extremely important to remove excess material. Failure to do so will prevent the sealer or stain from drying properly. Caution: soak the oily rags in water to avoid spontaneous combustion.

Following these steps for new or weathered, unsealed hardwoods will optimize the performance of the sealer or stain. Keep in mind that wood decks require regular maintenance at least every 2 to 3 years.

This Week in Painting – Feb. 25, 2012

We often discover areas of dry rot when we perform exterior repaints. Dry rot is a term used to describe wood decay caused by a particular type of fungus. Woodwork exposed to moisture penetration is vulnerable to this condition. The fungus breaks down the wood fiber causing the infected area to become spongy and weakened.

Repairing dry rot damage with a clear penetrating epoxy sealer and epoxy wood filler can be easier and less expensive than replacing an entire wood element. This type of fill repair is ideal, providing the dry rot damage is not too widespread. An infected area surrounded by stable, undamaged wood is a good example of where epoxy wood filler is suitable.

Sometimes a visual inspection is all that is needed to reveal areas of wood decay. The wood surface may even have a concave appearance. Often a visual inspection is not enough and it is necessary to poke at the wood surface with a scraping tool to find the soft, spongy wood.

Use a small scraper, such as a 1 inch putty knife scraper to remove the damaged wood fibers. The goal is to eliminate all of the decay. Scrape back the soft, spongy wood until you reach the unaffected areas. Take out any loose debris before treating the cavity with epoxy sealer.

Clear penetrating epoxy sealer is a two-part catalyzed liquid formulated to penetrate into wood. Upon drying, it hardens within the wood pores helping to reinforce and strengthen the surrounding wood fibers. Epoxy sealer consists of two components, parts A and B. They must be mixed together with the proper mixing ratio specified by the product manufacturer. We use an epoxy sealer by “Restor-it” with a mixing ratio of 1:1.

After mixing, the epoxy sealer should be generously applied to the entire surface area of the cavity until the wood is fully saturated. Allow the liquid sealer to dry overnight before applying the epoxy wood filler.

Epoxy wood filler is a two-part, catalyzed fill paste that is well suited for dry-rot repairs. Some attributes of epoxy fillers include high strength, negligible shrinkage, and good adhesion.

Epoxy wood filler consists of two components, parts A and B. The two parts must be thoroughly mixed together so that the fill paste can properly harden. Always refer to the manufacturer’s directions for the proper mixing ratio. The product by “Restor-it” has a 1:1 mixing ratio for their epoxy wood filler. Using two separate putty knives, place the proper amount of each component on a flat surface. Fold the two parts together and repeat the process until the paste has a uniform color.

Apply the epoxy wood filler to the damaged area with a flexible putty knife. Mix only enough material to fill even with or slightly below the wood surface. Do not overfill. Although epoxy wood filler can be sanded, it is very difficult. If you choose to slightly under-fill, the epoxy filler can be primed and topped with polyester filler, which is easily sanded.

This Week in Painting – Feb 18, 2012

Someone recently asked me whether I had a good technique for painting interior doors with a paint brush. They were specifically asking about applying paint to Colonist style doors, which have six panels.

I always recommend that the paint application should only take place after the doors have been properly prepped, i.e. thoroughly sanded, detailed with polyester glazing putty, and spot primed as necessary. Any needed masking and covering should also be in place.

The next step is to prepare the paint. Place about a quart of paint into a clean plastic bucket. It is usually a good idea to pour the paint through a fine mesh strainer bag to filter out any solid particles. Use some paint conditioner to extend drying time and increase workability. For acrylic (water base) enamel, add 1-1/2 to 3 ounces of Floetrol and 1 ounce or less of water to the quart of paint. For oil base enamel, add 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of paint thinner to the paint. Stir thoroughly until the paint has an even consistency.

For doors with panels such as a Colonist door, I like to use a 2-1/2 inch paint brush. Nylon or blended nylon/polyester paint brushes work well for acrylic enamel. China bristle or a bristle/ox-hair blends are well suited for oil base enamel.

six-panel doorI find it helpful to break down a door face such as a six-panel Colonist door, into individual elements. These consist of panels, rails, and stiles. Because it takes an average person 20 to 30 minutes to brush a six-panel door face, it can become difficult to maintain a wet edge. If you brush each element, one by one, you can better control the workability of the paint and ultimately achieve a smoother finish.

If you begin with the uppermost left panel and systematically work your way through the six-panel door, there are 15 total elements. Paint each individual element complete before moving to the next element. Carefully wipe away any excess paint on adjacent surfaces with a slightly moistened, lint free knit rag, so as not to allow excess paint to set-up. This is especially important when it will take several minutes before the adjacent area is to be painted.

The finish brush strokes should always be in the same direction as the wood grain:

  • panel centers-vertical
  • panel edges-horizontal and vertical
  • rails-horizontal
  • stiles-vertical
The goal is to have even brush strokes with a smooth transition between the individual elements. The vertical brush strokes from the stiles should not carry over onto the horizontal rails and vice versa.


  1. Upper left panel
  2. Upper right panel
  3. Stile between upper panels
  4. Center left panel
  5. Center right panel
  6. Stile between center panels
  7. Rail between upper and center panels
  8. Lower left panel
  9. Lower right panel
  10. Stile between lower panels
  11. Rail between center and lower panels
  12. Upper rail
  13. Lower rail
  14. Left stile
  15. Right stile

This Week in Painting – Feb 11, 2012

When the time comes around to paint walls and ceilings, selecting paint sheens can sometimes be a stumbling block. Even though the majority of walls and ceilings within homes are painted with a flat or matte finish, there are some situations where a higher sheen is advantageous. We know that glossier paint sheens are much more durable and easier to clean. The problem is that they tend to show the imperfections of drywall to a much greater extent. Sometimes, choosing an intermediate paint sheen is the best compromise.

Bathrooms are a good example of where a flat or matte finish is most likely inadequate. Bathroom walls and ceilings are subjected to a much greater amount of moisture than other rooms in the house. They typically require more frequent cleanings.

Many Homeowners and Architects choose an eggshell sheen for bathrooms. Eggshell is a low sheen, slightly above flat. It is popular because it is somewhat washable and at the same time does well not to highlight the potential flaws inherent to drywall. I believe that an eggshell sheen is a good choice for bathrooms that have low to moderate usage and good ventilation. Excessive moisture does tend to water spot eggshell finishes.

The next step up in paint sheen is satin. Satin sheen is a good choice for bathrooms with normal use and some ventilation. Satin sheen is more durable than eggshell but not so glossy as to draw attention to the drywall. It can withstand a fair amount of abrasive-free scrubbing and does not easily water spot.

Semi gloss is the next paint sheen in line. Semi gloss is very durable and can withstand higher levels of moisture. Unfortunately, the greater level of sheen does bring to light any drywall imperfections. It becomes a question of utility vs. appearance. For bathrooms that are subjected to heavy use, semi gloss may be the best choice.

Deep and Ultra Deep Colors
You may be considering painting some walls around the house with a dark color. Dark colors are attained using deep or ultra deep tint bases. Because these tint bases require large amounts of pigments to achieve the desired colors, they tend to easily scuff or burnish in a flat finish. This may not be the case for all paint brands, but it is definitely true for many. On the other hand, deep and ultra deep colors in an eggshell sheen are much more durable than they are in a flat or matte finish. They should not easily scuff under normal conditions.

Wear and Tear
Painting walls in an eggshell sheen may be a good alternative to a flat finish for any walls located in areas around the house that are subjected to higher levels of wear and tear. This is often the case for higher traffic areas such as hallways and stairwells. Even though paint manufacturers claim that flat and matte paint sheens are washable, their durability is limited.

This Week in Painting – Feb 4, 2012

If you are planning on doing interior painting, some prep work is probably on the agenda. Interior woodwork, i.e. doors, door frames, baseboards, etc. often needs some attention. Unsightly holes, gouges, scratches, and dented corners can result from normal wear of everyday life. This is especially apparent in older homes where the woodwork may have been painted over and over again without any fill repairs. With a little extra labor and the proper wood filler, you can restore tattered woodwork to look as good as new.

Polyester Spot Putty
Using appropriate filler is the key to successful wood restoration. Polyester spot putty is a two part, catalyzed filler that works very well for wood fill applications.polyester glazing putty It can be used as a surfacing compound to fill shallow scratches and under-filled nail holes. Polyester wood filler can be used to repair broken and dented corners, damage often caused by moving furniture. Unlike spackle, polyester wood filler dries hard so it can be sanded to match the profile of the surrounding wood. It also performs well to fill larger holes and gouges in woodwork.

We often use the Evercoat 400 Polyester Glazing Putty and corresponding cream hardener. Easy sanding and minimal shrinkage make it a good choice for detailing wood trim.

Two part fillers consist of filler paste and cream hardener (catalyst). These types of catalyzed products require mixing the correct ratio of the two parts. If they are not mixed, the filler paste will not dry.

Mix a small amount of filler paste with an appropriate amount of cream hardener. The mixed material will dry within a few minutes, so only mix a small amount of material to optimize workability and avoid waste. The filler paste and hardener can easily be mixed together with a small flexible putty knife on a smooth, flat surface such as a clean piece of plastic or wood. Always follow product label instructions.

Apply the catalyzed wood filler to the damaged areas of the woodwork with a flexible one inch putty knife. A larger putty knife may be preferable for large areas with scratches. It is best to slightly overfill the damaged areas. Once the filler is dry, it can easily be sanded with 150 grit sandpaper to perfectly match the profile of the wood surface. Feather sand the edges of the wood filler so it is not visible after paint is applied.

Spot Primer
Before applying the finish coats of paint to the woodwork, the wood filler should be spot primed. A quick and easy method of spot priming is with a spray can of interior primer. The fast dry oil base primers are very convenient for this task. A quick shot of primer on each fill spot is sufficient. The best part is that there is no clean-up. Once the primer is completely dry, lightly sand the primer spots with 320 grit sandpaper. You may also choose to spot prime with a brush and a water base or oil base primer.

Sanding Supplies

Sanding supplies for house painting typically include sandpaper, sanding sponges, sanding discs for orbital sanders, and precut sandpaper and sanding screens for pole sanders.

Continue reading "Sanding Supplies"

This Week in Painting – Jan. 28, 2012

This week we started an interior repaint on a contemporary style home in Portola Valley, CA. Because this type of architectural design has a minimal trim detail, the majority of our work consists of painting interior walls and ceilings. The large windows allow a great deal of natural light to stream over the smooth drywall bringing any defects to attention. It seemed like a good opportunity to review the proper painting steps with my crew.

Most residential repaints require an adequate amount of masking and covering, including protecting the electrical outlets. Once that is completed, the next step is to prep the drywall. Pole sanding is an important step to flatten any excess paint build up as well as to improve adhesion for the new coats of paint. Using 150 grit sandpaper will usually do the trick. Filling holes and voids with spackling paste is also important for a quality finish. In our case, a minimal amount of spackling was necessary.

Painting interior walls with a paint roller and a paint brush seems like a fairly simple task. If you are planning to paint drywall, the goal is to apply the paint evenly and not leave unsightly brush and roller marks such as lines, ridges, and a heavy texture from the roller. This is especially true with smooth drywall. It has a tendency to show every imperfection.

Even though a quality paint job does largely depend upon implementing proper painting techniques, using the wrong tools, paint brush and roller cover, will cause the most competent painter to struggle.

When working with latex paint, we like to use a paintbrush constructed from a blend of nylon/polyester bristles. A 2-1/2 or 3 inch brush is a handy size for cutting in paint.

It is helpful to discern the differences between roller covers before making a purchase. Roller covers are constructed of either natural or synthetic fibers. Both categories of fabric have advantages and disadvantages. We like to use lambskin roller covers. These natural fibers pick up and release paint quicker than polyester but they are susceptible to some matting. Nevertheless, the natural fibers make it easier to roll the paint evenly, free of lines and ridges. Some painters swear by the polyester and lambskin blend. They claim that the blended roller covers/sleeves offer the advantages of the natural fibers without the matting characteristics.

It is also very important to choose the correct roller nap/pile length. The nap length should be selected base upon the roughness of the walls. For smooth drywall we prefer the 3/8 inch lambskin when using latex paints. Longer roller nap will leave too thick of a paint texture on a smooth surface.

To be able to properly use a paint roller requires some accompanying tools. They include items such as extension poles, paint roller trays, roller tray liners, paint buckets, and paint bucket screens. For additional information, go to setting up a paint roller.

This Week in Painting – Jan. 21, 2012

Even though staining cabinets is a reasonably simple task, there is one thing in particular that can cause frustration, dry glue spots. They form an invisible surface film preventing both pigment stains and dye stains from functioning properly.

Stain grade cabinets are constructed from both solid wood and wood veneers. Solid wood cabinet face frames are typically glued at the joints (where two separate pieces of wood are joined together). Cabinet doors and end panels are often constructed using wood veneers. A veneer is a thin covering of wood glued to a solid core composed of a different material such as a high density particle board. Glue spots tend to occur at areas where the different strips of veneer are joined together, for instance where a door face meets the edge banding. Cabinet Makers try not to leave excess glue on the wood surfaces but they are not always successful.

Because dry glue spot form a hard surface firm, they in essence create a barrier preventing a pigment stain from depositing on the otherwise irregular surface of the wood. Likewise, glue spots prevent a dye stain from penetrating the wood fiber. Once the stain is applied, the glue spot appears as a blemish. The result is a spot much the same as the natural color of the wood surrounded by wood stained to a new color.

The frustrating thing about glue spots is that you cannot really see them until you apply the stain. Trying to remedy the difficulty at that point can be disruptive. The problem is compounded when the wood previously had a coat of pre-stain conditioner applied to it. Sanding off the dried glue will also remove the pre-stain conditioner causing the sanded spot to absorb more stain than the adjacent areas.

When staining cabinets, the best way to avoid having to deal with annoying glue spots is by doing a thorough prep sanding before applying any pre-stain conditioner or stain to the wood.

For solid wood, a preliminary sanding with 120 grit sandpaper will cut through the glue. Give special attention to areas around joints where glue spots usually occur. A follow up sanding with 150 -180 grit sandpaper is needed to remove any sanding scratches from the previous sanding.

For wood Veneers, the first sanding should be performed using 150grit or even 180 grit sandpaper. More caution need be taken with wood veneers because of their delicate nature. Some veneers are very thin making it easy to over-sand and damage them. As with solid wood, give special attention to areas around where different strips of veneer join together. This is where glue spots usually occur.

An optional step is to wipe a small amount of mineral spirits (paint thinner), with a rag, onto the areas in question. This will slightly darken the wood and help expose any traces of glue. Always follow good sanding practices. Be sure to keep the sandpaper flat and always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

This Week in Painting – Jan. 14, 2012

The unseasonably warm weather in the bay area has given us the opportunity to paint exterior galvanized gutters in January. Therefore I decided to reexamine the painting process for galvanized metal. There are a few different schools of thought about how to paint new galvanized metal. The goal for any painter is that the paint coats, beginning with the primer coat, adhere well to the galvanized surface. The question is whether the bare metal should be etched before the primer coat is applied.

Some painters take the approach that using a proper 100% acrylic primer suitable for galvanized metal surfaces is all that is needed to guarantee adhesion. They do recommend washing the gutters beforehand with an appropriate cleaner such as TSP, to remove any oils or other contaminants that might prevent the primer from functioning properly. A few manufacturers, such as Rust-Oleum, offer self etching primer products for bare metal and aluminum. This type of primer is supposed to etch and prime in one easy step.

Many old school painters wash galvanized metal with white vinegar before applying a coat of primer. White vinegar is primarily composed of acetic acid and water. It is not only an effective cleaner but it has the ability to slightly etch metal. One clear advantage of working with white vinegar is that it does not present the health and safety risks that stronger acids do.

We use a Jasco product called “Prep & Prime” to etch galvanized metal before painting. This product is primarily a Phosphoric Acid solution. It is sold in a diluted state with an acid concentration of 15.0-40.0%, according to their Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Jasco “Prep & Prime” has a dual purpose. It can be used as etch for galvanized metal. It also serves as an effective rust converter for ferrous metals.

The proper use of this product as a metal etch requires additional dilution of 3 parts water to 1 part “Prep & Prime”. Always add the acid solution to the water. Apply Prep & Prime with a paint brush, let stand for 15-30 minutes, and rinse with clean water. Always take adequate safety precautions when using any strong acid. Wear chemical resistant gloves for hand protection and chemical splash goggles for eye protection.

A primer coat can be applied within 30 to 60 minutes after the metal has been thoroughly rinsed and dried. We use an all purpose primer/sealer by Devoe Paint. The product is “220 Primz Kilstain-WB”. One excellent attribute of this primer is its superior adhesion properties. It can be top-coated in four hours. I recommend using two coats of a premium quality exterior acrylic paint.

This Week in Painting – Jan. 7, 2012

One of our current projects involves staining cabinets. These are new cabinets constructed from white oak. The homeowner and the architect wanted a relatively light color stain with a matte finish. They also wanted the finish to have the feel of natural wood instead of the clear surface film typically produced from lacquer or polyurethane coats. Finally, they requested low or zero voc paint products to be used for the entire project.

Trying to find an interior wood stain and finish that is also an eco friendly product can be a challenging task. Traditional water base and oil base stains are not low voc products. In addition, they require protective clear coats such as lacquer or polyurethane. These clear coats have already been ruled out because of the thick surface film that they produce.

Certain manufacturers, such as AFM Safecoat and Bioshield have led the way in the area of non toxic paints and stains. They produce a variety of all natural products including penetrating oils, waxes, stains, sealers, and glazes. Penetrating oils and clear sealers typically produce sheens somewhat glossier than a matte finish.

Several months ago I discovered a product called Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus. It is primarily used as a hardwood floor finish but it also works well for finishing stain grade cabinets. It is only compatible with unfinished wood and cannot be applied over existing coatings. The Rubio Monocoat product lines have been used extensively in Europe but the demand is rapidly growing in the United States.

Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus is available in two products, “Natural Oil Finish” and “Oil Plus 2C _ Finish + Accelerator”. “Oil Plus 2C_ Finish + Accelerator” is a two part catalyzed material with a faster curing time than the “Natural oil Finish”. Both products are available in the same 35 unique colors. All of the colors can be blended to create additional custom colors.

In addition to the wide selection of colors, Rubio Monocoat offers several pre-color treatments. “Fumed” and “Smoke” are two separate pre-color products that chemically react with the tannic acid present in the wood to create gray and ammonia-smoked colors respectively. Precolor Black and Precolor Aqua are two other lines of pre-color treatments.

The Rubio Monocoat “Natural Oil Finish” met all my wood stain and finish criteria for this particular project.

  • zero VOC
  • matte finish
  • no thick surface film
  • good durability
Some additional attributes of Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus
  • one coat finish
  • no overlap
  • extensive color selection

My approved sample consisted of a 1st coat of pre-color smoke followed by a finish coat of Natural Oil Finish (2 parts “Natural”, 1 part “Smoked Oak”). The Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus only requires one coat to produce a durable finish.

No special tools or equipment are needed to use these Rubio Monocoat products. A stain applicator or a nylon/polyester paint brush along with some clean knit rags is sufficient.

This Week in Painting – Dec. 31, 2011

With the year coming to a close, I decided to take a look back at what could be considered a hobby – painting and refinishing furniture. Finding a nice piece of solid wood furniture at a garage sale or on the sidewalk waiting to be disposed of is the first step. A worn or damaged finish is usually the only reason an otherwise nice piece of furniture is available at a bargain basement price.

A while back I spotted a pine wood coffee table in front of a house, available to anyone who wanted to claim it. When I first saw the table, I was too busy to stop. No one else seemed interested being that it was still there the following day. I decided to help myself to the giveaway.

After a close inspection I noticed some minor damage to the pine veneered table top. I also saw several other nicks and dents scattered all over the table. In addition, the original stain and clear finish was shabby. This was a perfect candidate for a new painted finish.

My tool list

  • 5 inch random orbital sander
  • Graco 390 airless paint sprayer with 25 foot hose
  • 310 reversible airless spray tip
  • 1-1/2 flexible putty knife
  • Clean 2 gallon plastic bucket
My material list
  • Polyester spot putty with hardener for filling nicks, dents, and scratches
  • 6 sanding disks (150 grit) for the orbital sander
  • 6 sheets of 150 grit sandpaper for irregular surfaces
  • 3 sheets of 220 and 320 grit sandpaper for sanding between coats
My paint list
  • 1 gallon Devoe Interior / Exterior Latex Primer “Kilstain-WB”
  • 1 gallon Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell “Light Blue no. 22”

Step 1:
Thoroughly sand the flat areas with the random orbital sander and the irregular surfaces by hand. The old finish does not have to be completely removed but rather properly etched.

Step 2:
Mix a small amount of polyester spot putty paste (½ teaspoon) together with a dab of cream hardener. Readily apply it to any dents, nicks, and scratches. Slightly overfill but avoid mounding the filler. Repeat the process until all the filling is completed.

Step 3:
Sand all the filler spots with 150 grit sandpaper. Remove all the sanding dust with a duster brush or a vacuum cleaner.

Step 4:
Spray a coat of Devoe primer. After the primer has completely dried sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Step 5:
Spray a first coat of Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell finish. Spray a second coat after the first coat has completely dried. Sand lightly between coats using 320 grit sandpaper.

Upon completion the coffee table looked brand new. It took 4-5 hours of time and about $60 of materials and paint to do the job. You get both a good value and the satisfaction of recycling a piece of furniture. If you enjoy this type of task, it is definitely a worthwhile endeavor.

This Week in Painting – Dec. 24, 2011

We recently started a new project in Woodside, CA. The project consists of interior and exterior painting and staining of a large custom home currently under construction. The mild weather has given us an opportunity to proceed with some of the exterior staining.

All of the exterior soffits (overhangs) and a few of the exterior walls are finished off with smooth surfaced, kiln dried tongue and groove cedar boards. This wood was specified to be coated with a semi transparent exterior wood stain.

The stain color and type of stain were decided upon earlier in the planning stages. Before making any color samples, a decision of whether to use oil base semi transparent stain or water base semi transparent stain had to be made.

There are a few things to consider when choosing exterior wood stain. Although oil base semi transparent stains do penetrate into the pores of the wood well, they do have some drawbacks.

Most oil based exterior stains only allow a one coat application. A second coat of oil base stain will not properly penetrate resulting in a shiny, sticky surface film. This can create a problem for touch-ups and future maintenance. To be able to re-stain with an oil base product and achieve good results requires removing any previous coatings that might inhibit the new coat of stain from penetrating into the wood pores.

Even though a semi transparent water base wood stain will not penetrate as deeply into the wood pores as an oil base stain, it will dry with a uniform surface film. Water base exterior wood stain can be applied in multiple coats without negative effects. Keep in mind that additional coats do reduce transparency. Several coats will create an opaque finish.

Stringent VOC regulations have decreased the workability of oil base exterior stain. Often, all the stain does not completely penetrate into the pores of the wood, resulting in excess stain on the wood surface. The extra stain needs to be wiped away within a few minutes after application to avoid creating an unwanted surface film. Conversely, water base exterior stain does not require wiping. If properly applied, it dries to an even surface film.

The clean-up of water base exterior stain is also much easier than that of oil base stain. No difficult disposal of mineral spirits and oily rags is necessary.

After several considerations we decided to use the Sherwin Williams “Woodscapes” semi transparent water base stain for the finish on the exterior cedar.

In addition to using the water base exterior stain as a finish, we also used it to seal the back side and the two edges of each cedar board before the carpenters installed them. This process (back priming) really helps to protect the wood from taking on moisture.

This Week in Painting - Dec 17, 2011

Just this week we started a new project in Palo Alto, CA. It is an Eichler home that is undergoing a major remodel. Our job is to perform the interior and exterior painting. We were asked to provide a few interior wall color samples for various rooms throughout the house. Physical color samples of the actual paint really help with the color decision process.

The homeowner specified zero VOC paint by YOLO Colorhouse for all the interior painting. A zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) interior paint product must have VOC content less than five grams per liter before the color is added.

Because YOLO Colorhouse paints are not readily available in the Bay Area, I thought to ask the homeowner why she chose this particular brand of paint. Her reply was that the colorants added to the paint do not contain VOC’s. I checked the YOLO Colorhouse website to verify the VOC content of their colorants. Their information regarding colorants is as follows: “There are various types of colorant systems available, some are zero VOC and some have VOCs. Depending on where you buy your YOLO Colorhouse paint, you could get color which will add VOCs to the YOLO Colorhouse zero VOC paint base. Many of our dealers use our recommended zero VOC colorants, but some of our retailers use more traditional colorants. We have indicated dealers using zero VOC colorants by placing a green dot next their store name in our retail section.”

This was a reminder that many paints classified as having zero VOC content exceed the five gram per liter threshold after the colorants are added. Just about every paint manufacturer has a zero VOC product line but they do not necessarily have colorants free from VOC’s. Wherever you plan to purchase zero VOC paints, always inquire about their colorants so you know exactly what you are getting. In the coming weeks I will compile a list of zero VOC paints with zero VOC colorants.

This Week in Painting - Dec 10, 2011

Just this week we revisited a home on the San Francisco peninsula, which has been an ongoing project for past six years. In March, 2010 we painted a stucco retaining wall surrounding a large parking area. This wall stands approximately thirty six inches tall and thirty inches thick. About three to four weeks ago the wall underwent some alterations. Two passageways with steps were added. Our job was to paint the new stucco patches and touch up and marks on the existing paint. Plenty of the original paint was on hand. It seemed simple enough.

A well known colorist had provided the custom mixed paint for much of this project including the Pratt & Lambert paint for these stucco walls. The custom mix was a dark brown color with some red tones. Custom deep colors require adding a sizeable quantity of pigments into a deep or ultra deep paint base.

Here lies the problem. As soon as we started painting we could see that the fresh paint was much darker than the existing paint. In less than two years the dark brown color had faded significantly. This was a reminder of how severely, deep and ultra deep custom colors do fade. We ended up having to repaint all the walls to achieve color uniformity.

The point to take away from this is that if you are going to use custom deep and ultra deep colors, do expect fading. Some deep tones are available as ready-mixed colors direct from the factory. They are somewhat more fade resistant than the custom tinted deep and ultra deep paint bases. The downside is that their color selection is limited. When the time comes, be prepared to repaint rather than just doing simple touch-ups.

This Week in Painting - Dec 3, 2011

Choosing a Painting Contractor
Choosing the right painting contractor can be a challenging assignment. As consumers, we all want the best value in exchange for our hard earned dollars. The dilemma is that the cheapest painting estimate is not necessarily the best value. Without additional information consumers can be easily misled by price alone.

The old adage that time is money does hold true with house painting. The bottom line of a painting estimate usually reflects the time required to complete the job. One could assume that a more expensive painting estimate would allow more time to complete the painting project. Conversely, a cheaper estimate would reflect a quicker completion.

Apples to Oranges
Different painting contractors do not necessarily have the same vision of what a professional paint job should be. Some painting companies are built upon delivering high quality craftsmanship. A typical painting estimate might include thorough masking and covering, meticulous surface preparation, professional paint application, and the use of premium quality paints. On the other hand, painting companies that specialize in delivering economy to their customers must use time saving methods. Paint prep is one component of painting where considerable time can be saved. The use of cheaper grade paints is another way to control costs.

The outcome of a paint job is not solely based on the time spent to complete it. A painting company that employs talented, highly skilled painters and is run efficiently can produce a better paint job in the same amount of time as a poorly run painting company with a high rate of employee turnover.

The Selection Process
A common practice is to obtain multiple (three) painting estimates. Beforehand, take into account your expectations of budget and outcome. Once you make that determination, look for a painting contractor that could best fit the bill. A very cheap painting estimate might not meet your expectations of quality. A painting proposal based upon very high quality work may be a budget buster.

The best way to find reputable painting contractors is through the referral process. Friends, co-workers, and family members are a good source for recommendations. Respected general contractors in your area are another good resource for references.

Ask the painting contractors to provide you with detailed estimates. Request information regarding the following: masking and covering, surface preparation, method of paint application, number of paint coats, types of paint, number of painters to be used on the job, and estimated time to complete project. Customer referrals from each painting contractor can also be helpful. Gathering knowledge about these items will give you more insight about what value you will get for your money.

Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.