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Exterior Paint Problems

A fresh new coat of paint can totally transform the exterior of your house. The appearance and value of your house will improve and the paint will also provide many added benefits to the lasting quality of it. Quality paint can protect a home against damage from environmental elements such as moisture, ultra-violet rays and even structural pests. However, lasting quality and protection involves more than just a coat of paint. The right preparation, superior materials and quality workmanship are also essential to a thriving paint job.

In general, exterior painting is more complex than interior painting due to the various environmental elements to which a home's exterior is subjected. Peeling, blistering, chalking, and rust, mildew, cracks and chipping are some of the most common exterior paint problems. Below are some descriptions of what causing these paint problems and ways to prevent them from happening.

Peeling: The most common cause of peeling paint is from too many coats of old paint. Other factors that cause peeling include moisture and a poorly prepared surface that is chalky, dirty, greasy or slick. Proper preparation before a paint job can prevent peeling from happening. If it’s too late, and your exterior paint is already peeling then you can remove it by sanding, scraping, power washing or using a heat gun. The use of a torch is also a method for removing peeling paint, but it is recommended that you leave it for a painting professional due to the fire hazards involved.

After you have removed all of the peeling paint, it is vital for you to repair bare wood and voids by using a high-quality exterior grade vinyl spackling compound. Then you should sand these areas. Shrinking may occur so be prepared to add more than one coat. Lastly, all patches should be spot-primed with a high-quality oil-base primer-sealer. These steps are crucial to preventing your next coat of paint from peeling in the future.

Blistering: Blistering is usually related to a moisture problem. The blister forms when water vapors attempting to escape are trapped by the paint. To prevent this form happening, you should always let new lumber fully dry before painting. Additional causes of blistering include excessive heat, painting in hot weather, overly thinned paints and poorly prepared surfaces. You should always have a vapor barrier below the siding to help prevent moisture-related blistering. Also, interior moisture control and insulation at exterior walls can assist in preventing blistering.

Chalking: At some point or another we have all noticed that powdery substance on the exterior siding of a home. Most people don’t think twice as to what it is. Well it’s actually the result of a chemical breakdown of the ingredients in paint and is referred to as "chalking." Environmental elements break down the pigments, binders and solvent in the paint. Chalking is also commonly caused by poor priming, overly thinned paint or applying the paint too thinly.

The good thing is that chalking can usually be easily removed by washing the surface with a solution consisting of powdered laundry detergent and water. Simply apply the solution, then take a clean clothe or nylon brush and forcefully scrub the surface. If this doesn’t clear away the chalking then the surface should be washed using trisodiumphosphate (TSP). Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Unfortunately, TSP will most likely dull the finish and you will have to apply a fresh coat of paint once the chalking is removed. If your exterior is experiencing a heavy case of chalking, you may want to use a "surface bonder" in conjunction with a primer to enhance finish coat adhesion. In any event, it is definitely worth your time and money to properly prime and paint your siding in the first place.

Rust: The main cause of rust stains are deteriorated nail heads. When moisture and nails mix, nail heads begin to rust and create spots on painted surfaces on your home. This problem is caused by using uncoated steel nails where excessive moisture exists under the paint. It is suggested that rusting nails be removed and replaced with new hot-dipped galvanized nails or ceramic-coated construction screws because these fasteners are rust-resistant.

Sometimes it isn’t practical or possible to remove rusty nails. In such cases, the nail heads should be lightly sanded with sandpaper and dabbed with a rust converter. Also, all the surrounding siding that contains rust stains should be treated with a shellac-based primer-sealer that is designed to resist bleed-through. A finish coat of paint can then be applied over the primer.

In addition to repairing and replacing the nail heads, you should consider fighting the moisture problem that caused the nails to rust in the first place. Do this by locating the source of excessive moisture. Check for leakage from the eaves, evaporation from nearby plumbing pipes, and possible sweating caused by heat from a bathroom or kitchen. If the source can be located, try eliminating the problem by shutting off the condensation that causes the moisture.

Cracks and Chips: Painted finishes often come down with the cracks and chips illness. In painting terms it is called "alligatoring." It gets this name because the patterned cracking on the surface of the paint film resembles the regular scales of an alligator. This condition frequently occurs when hard-finish paint is applied over soft paint or when flat paint is applied over high-sheen paint. Alligatoring is a definite sign that major prep work needs to be done on the exterior surface and it usually involves scraping, sanding, filling and priming.

Mildew: Mildew is a universal problem that results in the formation of brown, black or gray spots or blotches on the surface of paint or caulk due to the presence of fungi on the surface of the paint. It typically begins to grow on walls with a northern exposure and the underside of eaves because these areas are damp and receive little or no direct sunlight. Common causes for mildew growth are when you use lower quality paint with an insufficient amount of mildewcide, paint over a substrate or coating on which mildew is present, or fail to prime bare wood before painting.

To remove mildew you should first make sure that the discoloration really is mildew, and not just dirt. You can do this by applying a few drops of household bleach to it. Wait about five minutes and then rinse the area. If the dark color disappears then the problem is probably mildew.

You can remove all mildew by scrubbing with a diluted household bleach solution made of one part bleach and three parts water. Make sure to take the proper safety precautions by wearing rubber gloves and eye protection. Also, make sure to leave the bleach on the surface for several minutes before rinsing.

You should then thoroughly clean the surface with a detergent solution to remove dirt and other organic material that mildew feed on. Do this by hand or with a power washer and then rinse the surface again. Once it has dried, apply one or two coats of top quality acrylic latex paint. This type of paint contains extra mildewcide and will resist mildew more efficiently than other paints.

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