Exterior paint is the final layer in a building wall envelope system. We recently ran into a home in Newton Massachusetts that seemed like it needed to be painted every two years because the paint wouldn’t adhere to the siding. Often times poor moisture ventilation is the culprit causing this pealing.
In New England we have hot humid summers and dry winters. During these dry winter months even just a small amount of moisture from running the shower or cooking in the kitchen can raise the humidity level in the interior of the home. The water vapor wants to equalize between the interior and exterior of the home so there needs to be a way for this water to escape. The best way for this water to escape is through gable end vents. It’s also a good idea to be sure there is an easy path for the moisture to escape through the lap siding.
While it’s important to caulk along edges of windows and doors anywhere moisture can enter the end grain of the wood, lap siding should never be caulked as it prevents ventilation and can cause peeling. When we run into homes like this one in Newton that have excessive peeling we sometimes recommend installing siding wedges. These wedges pictured are installed every eighteen inches or so in areas with heavy peeling and can give the moisture and easier path to escape than through the paint film helping to ensure a long lasting paint job.
We are currently working in an apartment in Cambridge so that it is ready for the next tenant to move in. The apartment hasn’t been painted in quite some time and the last time the trim was painted oil based paint was used. Oil paints provide a durable, glossy protective shell, but if not prepped properly for the next coat of paint a pealing nightmare will result.
First things first, you have to be able to identify that the existing paint coating is oil. Any reputable painter aught to be able to identify this, however if you are looking to hire a painter be sure that they offer a warranty on their work and are well enough reputable enough that they will still be in business down the road to honor the warranty if need be. Failure to properly prepare oil based paint for the next coat will inevitably result in paint failure.
You’ve probably seen this type of paint failure before. Have you ever been able to scrape paint off with your fingernail? Or pulled latex paint up and seen it come off easily stretching out like a balloon? This often happens when painting over metals, plastics or oil based paint because the smooth glossy surface that was being painted over wasn’t dulled property or primed with a bonding primer. A bonding primer is a primer designed to go over slick, glossy or hard surfaces that paint or regular primers won’t stick to. Before oil based paint is painted over it needs to be sanded down to remove the glossy sheen. A bonding primer can then be applied. The first thing we do is apply a small test spot of the primer to be sure there won’t be any problems. There are thousands of different types of paint and unpredictable chemical reactions can occur between different products. The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America developed the tape test to test for proper adhesion and this is the test we use. The tape test is performed by scoring an “X” in the test spot of primer. A piece of scotch tape is placed over the “X” and pressed down. After thirty seconds the piece of tape is pulled up. As long as no paint comes up with the tape we know there is good adhesion and the rest of the surface can be primed. Included in this post is a picture of one of our painters, Donald, applying a bonding primer by spray application for the Cambridge apartment job.
We recently completed this exterior paint job on a home in Newton. Whenever a contractor, but especially a painting contractor, is working on old New England Homes they need to be aware of the lead paint hazard and properly deal with it. Lead paint dust can harm children and babies that aren’t even born. Removing, sanding, scraping or disturbing lead-based paint in anyway can increase the risk to your family. The EPA put out a rule requiring all contractors to follow specific guidelines when dealing with lead-based paint.
This is a picture show the proper setup for dealing with lead-based paint. Note that all windows in the work area are closed and sealed. The ground is covered by plastic extending ten feet from the work area and the plastic is anchored to the building and weighted down by heavy objects. Gilson, one of our painters, is cleaning up using a HEPA vacuum. When we left the job site it was left clean without a single paint chip to be found.
Following these cleanup procedures isn’t only important for protecting homeowners, it’s also necessary for protecting property managers. Any property manager that hires a contractor that doesn’t follow lead-safe work practices can be subject to a fine up to $37,500. This doesn’t just apply to large property management companies, if you own a duplex and rent out half are subject to this law.
The law goes beyond just proper cleanup procedures – all these procedures need to be properly document and filed. In fact, the most common way the EPA is investigating non-compliance with the law is through documentation audits. If you are a property manager you can be sure Hamel Painters is keeping these documents filed and you are protected.