NEW JERSEY HOUSE PAINTING BLOG
For New Jersey's
Old Homes, Preparation
is Key to a Long-Lasting Paint Finish
That great-looking exterior on a well-maintained house goes a lot deeper than the paint. Sure, hiring a professional painter who uses high-quality paints is a good way to ensure that your home sparkles.
But that sparkle won’t last long if the house hasn’t been expertly prepared for painting. If you want your exterior paint to last more than a year or two, you need a painter who knows what steps to take before the first can of paint is pried open.
Wood siding must be sanded thoroughly, mended for cuts and gouges, treated to prevent cedar tannins from bleeding through the paint, and primed with at least one coat, preferably two. Gaps between trim and siding should be thoroughly caulked. Only then are the clapboards ready for finish paint.
Painting your exterior without this prep work is like trying to build your house without a foundation – no matter how good it looks at the start, it will soon show the ill effects of improper preparation.
Laura Whitmire of Maplewood, N.J., saw this first-hand when she and her neighbor had their houses painted within weeks of one another. The neighbor hired a painter who offered a slightly lower bid, but the low price had a high cost: The painter skimped on preparation.
Whitmire paid slightly more, but her painting contractor took the time to painstakingly prepare her siding for painting. At first, the two homes looked fantastic side-by-side, but within a year, paint began peeling off the house of Whitmire’s neighbor. He called Whitmire’s painter, George Mera, owner of Independent Painters.
“He wanted to know why his house was peeling and hers looked great,” Mera said. “It’s because his painter didn’t prepare the house properly for painting.”
Most houses in Maplewood, South Orange, Chatham, Westfield, Summit and other northern New Jersey towns were built before 1970 and have been painted numerous times. After years of weathering and moisture, the paint layers begin to lose their adhesion.
For houses that have been painted at least five or six times, the best solution is to sand the siding down to the bare wood. While this approach may be slightly more expensive on the front end, it will save the homeowner in the long run because the new paint job will last years longer.
This was the difference between the work Mera did for Laura Whitmire and what the other company did for her neighbor.
“They sanded,” Whitmire said of her neighbor’s crew. “But not down to bare wood. Our house, George’s crew sanded all the way. The wood was brown.”
After his house peeled, the neighbor ended up hiring another contractor and thus ended up paying a lot more in the long run.
Most homeowners will only have to sand down to the bare wood one time during the time they own the house, Mera said.
In addition to proper sanding, steps must be taken to prevent tannins from bleeding through the fresh paint. Tannins are released from woods such as cedar and can cause discoloration of the exterior paint.
It is important for painters to prime knotty spots and tannin-stained areas with long oil primers, because they penetrate furthest into the wood. Because so many houses in northern New Jersey were built with cedar siding, Mera uses primers specially formulated to prevent bleed-through.
Using one or two coats of primer before moving to the finish paint is essential to a good exterior paint job. Many surfaces aren’t ready to serve as the base for a single coat of paint. They may soak up too much paint or soak it up unevenly, leaving the surface patchy or discolored.
Primer helps the top coat adhere better, smoothes out rough surfaces and saves having to apply so many coats of the more-expensive finish paint. The result is a smoother, even finish.
If your painter does all of these steps right, your house should look like new for years after he finishes painting.