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2 posts from September 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Advice from the Pros:

Tips for Seamless Touch-ups


Sooner or later, freshly painted walls, trim, and cabinetry will need some touching up. This should be an easy job, especially if there's some paint left over from the original project, but too often the results are disappointing: The dings and scratches are gone, but now the walls have blotchy patches that are slightly different in color and texture. Here are some techniques that the pros use to avoid this problem.

Prepwork. Sometimes, a quick washdown is all that is needed to remove marks on walls and painted woodwork, particularly on durable, high-sheen finishes. Try a non-abrasive, mild detergent and a soft, cellulose sponge. Make sure that the sponge is wet to avoid damaging the surface. Avoid using paper towels or dry rags, as this will have a tendency to cause a burnishing effect, which is actual removal of the pigment from the painted surface. Even if you end up having to repaint, this is a good first step that will remove contaminants and improve adhesion. If there are holes or scratches, now’s the time to fill them with a quick-drying patching compound. Use a putty knife to fill the ding, allow the compound to dry completely, then sand it smooth with 220-grit sandpaper. To keep the patches from telegraphing through the new finish, prime them with a quality primer, giving the surface a uniform texture and porosity.

Limit the variables. Temperature and humidity affect how paint cures, and therefore its final color and sheen. So whenever possible, to try to simulate atmospheric conditions when you recoat--if your walls were painted in hot, humid summer conditions, those are the conditions that you want when you touch them up. If your trim was painted in the winter with the heating system operating and low relative humidity, repaint when the room is warm and very dry. If the paint was rolled on, try using a roller--or mini-roller--to reapply the paint. If the paint was originally brushed on, use a brush. Either way, you should always feather out the area. Start in the center of the damages area with a loaded brush or roller working outwards applying less and less paint. This will reduce the transition form newly touch up area and the old paint.

Darker colors (which require more pigment to produce) tend to have more sheen variance--and are therefore more difficult to touch up--than lighter colors. That's one of the advantages of Benjamin Moore's new waterborne Gennex pigments, which don't affect sheen. So touch-ups using a product like Aura are more seamless in any sheen.

Old vs. New Paint. The best choice for touch-up is paint left over from the original job. Don't keep leftover paint in its original can; instead, pour it into a smaller clear plastic container that it mostly fills, with a small amount of added water on top to prevent the paint from skinning (this is for latex paint only). Paint won't keep indefinitely, so if you're unsure about its quality--if it smells bad, for example, or has chunks in it--bring it to your paint store and ask them to check it out before use.

If you don't have any leftover paint, new paint is always an option, but because of batch-to-batch variation, even the best paint can still be within specifications and have slight differences in color and sheen that will become noticeable on a touch-up job. In difficult situations, where the touch-up isn't matching well, it may just be easier to recoat the entire wall from floor to ceiling and from corner to corner.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Advice from the Pros:

Painting Vinyl Siding and Window Trim

painting vinyl siding and window frames

If you're seeking advice about painting vinyl window frames and trim, you're not alone. This year, thousands of homeowners have replaced older windows with new, energy-efficient models, but many are not happy with the white frames. Sound familiar? The good news is that you're not stuck with white. It's OK to paint vinyl (window frames, shutters, siding or trim) as long as you follow a few rules.

  1. The first consideration is color. Vinyl has the potential to warp when over-heated. This affect is most common on larger areas like siding. Because dark colors absorb heat, it’s important that you select light colored paint. To know which hues are light enough for covering white vinyl, stay with a light-reflectance value (LRV) of 55 or higher. (You'll find LRV numbers on the color fan deck.) Better yet, ask your retailer to see the palette of vinyl-safe colors, which are reformulated with less of the darker pigments. And if your vinyl is not white, and you want to change the color, you can choose an LRV of less than 55--just be sure to not use a color darker than the vinyl's original hue.

  2. Proper preparation is the other key. New vinyl has no factory finish to remove, but its smooth surface needs a light sanding with 220 grit to give it some tooth. Clean away the sanding dust and apply a coat of Fresh Start All Purpose Primer (023), which gives the paint film an even better surface to grab on to. Follow with a coat of exterior waterborne finish such as Aura (634) or any good-quality latex or acrylic paint.

painting vinyl siding

There's hope for older vinyl, too. Here are some added considerations to ensure success in refreshing aging vinyl siding:

  1. Over time, vinyl loses its sheen and becomes chalky (usually an aesthetic issue rather than a maintenance requirement). Remove this by power washing before painting. Best way is to start up high and work down, making sure to aim the spray at a downward angle.

  2. If you see signs of mildew (common on older vinyl because of its rough surface), clean with an all-purpose cleaner or a bleach solution. Always protect yourself and surrounding areas when using bleach. Rinse thoroughly.

  3. Once the surface is dry, prime and finish as described above. As with any exterior painting, proper preparation and fair (and dry) weather are important for good results and long-term durability.