Patriot Painting is a Finalist for the 2014 Business of the Year Award. Winner will be announced May 23, 2014.
Mark & Jen,
Though preparing your home’s outside surfaces for painting is crucial, picking the right paint is just as important. If you don’t know the ins and outs of exterior finishes, you won’t be able to get the best results, aesthetically or in terms of protection.
How Paint Works
When paint dries, it produces a water-resistant layer that shields your house from most weather damage. Most of paint’s mass is comprised of colorants, binding agents, and solvents. Most paint also includes ingredients that make it protective against ultraviolet rays and mold, less difficult to apply, and/or less likely to splatter. Colorants consist of tiny particles joined by the binding agent, which also attaches them to walls and other features.
A substance with binding properties — such as alkyd, vinyl, acrylic, or latex — is typically included in the production of paint. All of these except alkyd consist primarily of water and result in water-based paint. In contrast, alkyd’s solvent is paint thinner, also known as mineral spirits. Before alkyd paint existed, non-water-based paint relied on plant oils (e.g., linseed) as solvents. Consequently, alkyd is classified as an oil-based paint.
Dry paint’s protective layer consists of binding substances and additional ingredients that remain when the colorants evaporate. The more binders and additives a paint has, the more effectively it will keep the house safe from the elements. Inexpensive paint may seem like a bargain at the store, but it costs more in the long run. Once it’s on your house, you can expect it to deteriorate more quickly and offer less protection.
From a scientific perspective, we’ve only scratched the surface (so to speak) of how paint works. Nonetheless, the difference between water- and oil-based paint is an important basic principle to understand.
Types of Paint for the Home
Just as there’s a rule of thumb about mixing beer and liquor, there’s one about how oil- and water-based paint interact. You can cover old latex paint with new alkyd paint, but the reverse is highly inadvisable. If you want to paint with latex on a wall finished with alkyd, you have to use a primer in between.
Neither water- nor oil-based paint is objectively better; which is right for your project depends on its nature.
Latex paint currently dominates the industry. Having water as a base allows it to dry rapidly and produce virtually no scent. In addition, latex paint is easy to wash off and has little impact on the environment.
Nonetheless, latex paint usually includes some quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some individuals are sensitive or even allergic to these chemicals. Fortunately, paint with little or almost no VOCs is available.
Water, the aspect of latex paint that accounts for its advantages, also causes a few of its shortcomings. It becomes difficult to use at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s easier to see brush strokes in the final result. Manufacturers have engineered a type of latex paint that works at 35 degrees or above. However, it still cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, while it’s being applied and directly afterwards. If it does freeze during that window, its protective abilities become significantly compromised.
The most important thing to know about latex paint is what sort of binder it contains. A high percentage of acrylic resins indicates a solid product. You may find such paints labeled as “acrylic latex.” If you can swing it, paint that’s 100 percent acrylic is the way to go. It tends not to splatter or chip, it brushes well, you can scrub it (once it’s dry) without fear of harming the finish, and it holds its color and gloss very well.
The main alternative to latex, alkyd paint is what many contractors prefer. It lasts, stains come out of it, and it doesn’t show brush strokes as much as water-based paint. When applied skillfully with a high-volume, low-pressure spraying device, it looks about as good as house paint can.
Alkyd paint does have a few downsides, however. Thanks to a significant concentration of VOCs, alkyd’s aroma is powerful, and it isn’t nearly as quick drying as water-based paint. While painting with it, you should open any windows and doors you can. Even so, your house will smell like chemicals for a time.
There are benefits to paint that doesn’t dry quickly. Perhaps the most obvious is that it continues moving after being applied, which gives the surface a more even look. If used overzealously, however, a coat of slower-drying paint can droop a bit. A finish with a saggy appearance requires another layer of paint, which can make the job drag on.
Shortcomings aside, well-made alkyd paint is very effective under the right circumstances. Indoor trim, cabinets, and doors are particularly well suited to it.
Alkyd and latex paints dominate the market, but they’re not the only types worth understanding. Elastomeric finishes live up to their name; their thickness and stretching power help cover cracks in masonry. Elastomeric paint can also be useful on certain kinds of wood.
While you’re most likely to encounter direct-to-metal paints in industrial contexts, some varieties are sold in regular paint stores. As you might imagine, these finishes work well with metal siding, especially steel. They’re nearly always used outdoors.
If you’re looking for a finish characterized by uncommon strength, epoxy paint might be for you. Exclusively an indoor product, it stands up to chemicals and is often found in garages, whose floors tend to experience a great deal of wear and tear.
A wood porch floor is a fine place to use urethane enamel. It’s not easy to scratch, and it offers the sort of bright sheen associated with oil paint.
Obeying the adage that everything old is new again, paints made in pre-industrial ways are making a comeback. These finishes eschew artificial ingredients, instead favoring colorants and binding agents derived from plants and other sources in nature. Some paints of this type manage to be both aesthetically pleasing and resistant to wear.
Picking Outdoor Paints
If only you could choose a kind of exterior paint once and be done with it. For better or worse, it’s not that simple. The finish you need for a given project depends in part on the surfaces it involves. Siding and wood both swell and shrink over the course of a year, due to temperature changes and weather conditions. You’ll want to cover them with a paint that can do the same. A pure acrylic paint, for example, should be flexible enough to avoid cracking.
Wherever you live, there are surely climatic quirks that will impact your outside paint jobs. Cold, heat, dampness, and dryness all have different effects on exterior finishes. Your area’s weather profile will help you decide which type of paint to buy. One additional factor related to climate is ultraviolet light. Sunny places are a challenge for alkyd paint, since UV causes it to break down more quickly than it normally would.
In general, a store that specializes in paint offers better advice than a big-box store. Consider this when deciding where to purchase paint. Paint-store staff can be highly informative when it comes to the finer points of painting exteriors in your particular neck of the woods.
Like nearly every aspect of house painting, there’s an element of trial and error in figuring out which paints work best with which surfaces in which season. The more outdoor painting you do, the wiser you’ll get on the subject.
Selecting Paint for Indoor Projects
Deciding on paint for inside your home is not nearly as complicated as picking outdoor finishes. For one thing, the “climate” of your interior space should be fairly consistent, and it’s usually simpler to get the lay of the land and determine what’s needed. There are also fewer paints to choose from.
Things to Keep in Mind
Standing Up to Scratching – No two rooms get the same amount of use. In terms of the impacts they have to absorb, kids’ rooms differ from doors, hallway floors differ from trim, and so on. Alkyd finishes are hard to scratch, so they work well on floors, doors, and trim. Acrylic paints, on the other hand, are elastic, go on easily, and don’t smell much.
Dampness – In bathrooms, pools, and steam rooms, paint can be highly affected by moisture. Whether a finish is oil based or acrylic, it should stand up to water pretty well. That said, acrylics tend to outperform alkyds in humid areas. The wetter a space is, the glossier your finish should be.
Glossiness – Glossier paints last longer, stretch more, and don’t scratch as easily as their matte counterparts. They’re also better at standing up to scrubbing and water. Your paint’s level of glossiness should therefore depend on what kinds of surface(s) you’re working with, and how you want them to look.
Hue – If you need to apply several layers of paint to a surface, an acrylic finish might be best, since these produce thick coats and dry quickly. How colorful you want your home to be should also factor into your paint shopping.
Parts of a house that get a lot of “abuse,” such as doors and trim, are good candidates for alkyd paint. That’s because oil-based finishes are tougher in the face of repeated, long-term impact (of sneakers against baseboard trim, for example). Ceilings and vertical surfaces, which suffer less, may do well with an acrylic finish.
Provided that you have plenty of time to paint, and appearance is your priority, the rich, smooth look of alkyd paint might be apt. If time is of the essence, on the other hand, acrylic paint’s ability to dry quickly could outweigh the virtues of an oil-based finish.
The Importance of Well-Made Paint
In addition to decorating, paint can help protect a home from the elements. For that reason, it’s not a good idea to use paint of low, or even mediocre, caliber. Even excellent finish, in order to be effective, must be applied with skill after the appropriate prep work (e.g., priming and caulking) has been completed.
Well-made equipment and paint, paired with skillful work, can create very durable work. Saving money on paint and tools in the short run can cost more later. Further coats may be needed, and problems related to the materials’ low quality may require fixing.
If paint that costs $10 more per gallon lasts six years longer, is it a worthwhile investment? For most homeowners, the answer is yes. Painting one’s house is a big project, and having to do it only once a decade is something many people are willing to spend a little extra money on. When you factor is the cost of the work, whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring someone, spending less time and money in the long term sounds quite appealing.
Cost Estimate for an Outdoor Painting Project
If your house is on the smaller side, and you use paint that costs $15 per gallon, you may spend $250 on paint and equipment and $1,500 on the work itself, for a total of $1,750. If you have to repeat the entire process in four years, your total expenditure in less than a decade is $3,500, provided the prices of paint, tools, and labor haven’t increased (not a sure thing, by any means). In contrast, higher-quality paint that brings your total to $1,850 could last eight years. During that span of time, the cost differential between using less expensive paint and better paint is a whopping $1,650.
If you’re using pricier paint, you may insist on more careful preparation and work, which can add to your labor cost. Still, you’re bound to save a significant amount of money by going with high-caliber paint — and skilled, experienced workers — from the start.
Versatile green — the new neutral — brings a fresh vibe to both commercial and residential interiors.
Green is taking its place as a super color in interior design. Elle Décor called the color a big trend to watch this year. House Beautiful said it’s the hue “that goes with everything.” Both Sherwin-Williams and Pantone named versions of it as their color of the year for 2013 (Aloe and Emerald, respectively). The color green is popping up everywhere — bedrooms, health-care facilities, offices, even restaurants — and designers are using the hue in original, and often unexpected, ways.
Perhaps green’s biggest appeal is its versatility. “Green lends itself to a lot of different applications,” says Nita Posada, senior associate at SRG Parnership, Inc. in Portland, Ore. “It’s not something you immediately see and say, ‘Oh, that’s a hospital color,’ or, ‘You only see that in a restaurant.’ Green is a color that can work in a lot of different ways.”
Interior designer Peggy Oberlin of Naples, Fla., calls green the new neutral. “Green contrasts wonderfully with most colors,” she says. “As a background, it adds depth and interest a beige could never do.”
Oberlin also notes green’s effect on mental and physiological processes, making the hue particularly apt for spaces like bedrooms that require a soothing presence. “We often think of blue as the go-to bedroom color because it is very calming and relaxing,” she says. “Green does a lot of the same things blue does — it will lower your respiration and heart rate — but it’s more psychologically therapeutic and healing.” Its connection to the outdoors also makes green appealing, Oberlin adds.
Green can be energizing, too. For the Shriners Hospital in Portland, Ore., Posada chose a bright yellow-green because it helps stimulate activity and movement for the facility’s young patients recovering from orthopedic surgery. “In areas of rehabilitation and patient care, we really want the patients to be active,” Posada notes, adding that the nurses’ stations and reception areas also prominently showcase green.
The use of green often varies by region. In Florida, for instance, Oberlin finds her clients gravitate toward green because it reflects the state’s lush landscaping. At Bellevue City Hall in Bellevue, Wash., Posada incorporated green into the terrazzo entryway floor, as well as office spaces, “to bring the natural environment indoors, especially because it’s very gray and cloudy a lot of the time.”
Another reason Posada selected green: It was the perfect way to refresh spaces that once served as inspiration for the Dilbert cartoon. “We wanted to liven up so it wasn’t just a big cubicle farm,” she explains.
Although the use of green differs from project to project, Oberlin has noticed certain shades gaining favor, including grassy greens and blue-green shades such as teal or Sherwin-Williams Aloe (SW 6464). “The dreary gray-green has gone by the wayside because of the interest in pops of colors,” she says.
The fresh airiness of green influenced ceiling and wall treatments at Barbatella restaurant in Naples, Fla. Grizform Design Architects created and installed ornate green panels made of plaster, plastic and high-density foam. “We wanted to take the concept of ornament and decoration to the extreme,” says Griz Dwight, the firm’s principal and owner. “We felt that a little bit was going to be good, a little more would be great and full covering would be fantastic.”
The challenge when using green is to find the right color match for a project. “When you say ‘green,’ everyone thinks something different, so you have to come up with a lot of options,” Posada explains. “Some people react to it and say, ‘Olive green reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen,’ or ‘That makes me think of the ’80s.’ People really connect with green.”
To view the myriad selections in Sherwin-Williams “Green” color family, click here.
BY HOLLY O’DELL
2013 BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust
Never underestimate the influence that shading, hue, and surroundings have on our perception of colors. The exact same color can look dramatically different under the right conditions. Watch this video to see how.
When painting your house, always apply a wet sample and wait for it to dry.
A look at how color helps express the core beliefs of the world’s major religions.
Buddhism: The rainbow of Nirvana
In late May, on the full moon of the lunar month, Buddhists observe Vesakha — the day marking the Buddha’s birth and enlightenment. Devout worshipers honor the occasion by donning plain white robes for prayer. But their minds and spirits will be a rainbow of color.
In Buddhism, color goes much deeper than surface decoration; it symbolizes state of mind. Buddhists believe that meditating on the individual colors and their essences is a way to achieve spiritual transformation.
Blue, for example, symbolizes coolness and infinity. Oxymoronically, the emotion associated with blue is anger, but meditating on the color is believed to transform anger into wisdom.
Red symbolizes blood, fire and the life force. It’s associated with the notion of subjugation, but by meditating on the color, Buddhists believe the delusion of attachment can be transformed into the wisdom of discernment.
The highest state of all is to attain “rainbow body,” when mere matter is transformed into pure light. Just as the visible light spectrum contains all color, the rainbow body signifies the awakening of the inner self to all possible earthly knowledge before stepping over the threshold to the state of Nirvana.
Hinduism: Vital red and sacred saffron
Designers and devout Hindus have something in common: They both know color plays an important role in creating an environment that enhances mood and well-being. In Hinduism, proper use of color is believed to keep people happy and cheerful. Hindu artists use color when representing the deities to symbolize their essential qualities.
Red, a sign of both sensuality and purity, is the hue used for important occasions, such as weddings, births and festivals. Brides wear red saris and put red powder on their hair parting, and at death, a woman’s body is wrapped in red cloth for cremation. During prayer, red powder is tossed upon sacred statues, and deities who are brave are often shown wearing red.
Saffron, the burnt-orange hue of the precious spice, is also a sacred color in Hinduism. It represents fire and the burning away of impurities, and is the color worn by holy men.
Yellow is the color of knowledge and learning, happiness and peace. Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna and Ganesha are traditionally shown wearing yellow, and single girls wear yellow to attract a mate and ward off evil spirits.
Blue is a brave and manly color, symbolizing determination and strong character. In Hindu religious art, Lords Rama and Krishna, who devoted themselves to protecting humanity and destroying evil, are often shown wearing blue and having blue faces.
Islam: A green tradition
When you visit mosques and other sacred Islamic places, chances are you’ll see a lot of green. The hue has a special place in Islam, and is often used to represent Islam to other world religions.
Why is green so important? Some say green was Muhammad’s favorite color and that he wore a green cloak and turban. Others believe the color symbolizes vegetation and life. In the Qur’an, it is written that the inhabitants of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk.
The color green is so strongly associated with Islam that it was absent in many medieval European coats of arms. During the Crusades, green was the color used by Islamic soldiers, so Christian soldiers generally avoided it.
Christianity: Colors in the sanctuary
While symbolic colors rarely appear in the Bible, color is widely used in Christianity, primarily in liturgical decorations, such as banners and vestments.
- Black, which represents death, is the liturgical color for Good Friday. It can also represent sin, which results in death.
- Blue, the color of the sky, is symbolic of heaven and of truth and is gaining favor as the color for Advent in order to differentiate it from Lent (see purple below).
- Green is the color of plant life and spring and thus represents the triumph of life over death. It’s the liturgical color for the Trinity season in some denominations and is also used during Epiphany.
- Purple, the color for penitence and mourning, is the traditional color for the seasons of Advent and Lent. Purple is also the color of royalty, demonstrating the anticipation and reception of the coming “king” (Jesus Christ) celebrated during Advent.
- Red, the color of blood and fire, is the liturgical color for Pentecost and to commemorate martyred saints.
- White, a symbol of purity, innocence and holiness, is used during Christmas and Easter, and is sometimes represented by silver.
Judaism: True blue
Blue is often associated with the Jewish faith because it’s the color used for Hanukkah decorations. But the hue has a much deeper symbolic significance. Blue represents the sky and spirituality. The Israelites used an indigo-colored dye called tekhelet for coloring clothing, sheets and curtains. In the Torah, the Israelites are commanded to dye one of the threads of their prayer shawl with tekhelet so that when they see it, they will think of the blue sky and God above them in Heaven.
Blue is also associated with the 10 Commandments. When Moses and the elders went up to Mount Sinai, they saw God standing on a sapphire pavement, and the tables of the law were made of sapphire stone.
Red and white also have significance in Judaism. Red symbolizes blood and sin, while white represents purity from sin. Red, white and blue represent fire, water and air, and also stand for judgment, kindness and mercy.
By Kim Palmer
Skipping the Tape – Do you have the skills to get straight lines around the woodwork, windowsills and door frames? Grab the painter’s tape and get the nice, clean edges you want.
Painting Without Primer
Primer gives paint a good surface to adhere to and brings out the true color of the shade you’ve chosen. Going without it can lead to poor results.
You took the time to fix every imperfection with patching compound. Wait. Make sure it’s completely dry before you sand and prime. Otherwise, all that patching was a waste of time.
Paint Buildup on Pad Edge
When using edge pads around ceiling edges and corners, make sure to wipe off excess paint frequently to avoid marking the surface.
Brushing When You Should be Rolling
For a large interior area, a roller will do a better job in less time. Select the right nap roller for your sheen of paint and try to avoid pushing the roller into the wall when you paint.
Underestimating How Much Paint Needed
The pros say you need one gallon for every 400 square feet. Plan ahead and you can avoid running back and forth to the store with a paint swatch in your hand.
Assuming Walls are Clean
Paint looks much better when it has a good, clean surface to stick to. Wash your walls before painting and get professional results you can be proud of.
Painting When the Humidity is High
When the air is full of moisture, water-based paint takes longer to dry. If the weather winds up more humid than expected, take the day off and wait for a dry day.
Skipping the Surface Prep
Your new paint won’t stick to glossy, dirty walls that are in bad condition. Take the time to prep, or you’re bound to have problems down the road.
When using latex paint, wet your brush bristles with water and shake the brush dry before you dip it in the paint. The brush will hold more paint and deliver better results.
Buying any Paintbrush
When you’re choosing paintbrushes to use with latex-based paint, nylon/polyester blends produce the best results. Turns out polyester is good for something besides sport shirts.
Painting with Furniture in the Room
Getting paint off your furniture is a lot of work. If you can’t move it out of the room, at least make sure it’s completely covered with a drop cloth.
Failure to Protect the Floor
Paint has the amazing ability to go all the places you’d least expect it to. Before you pop the can open, make sure you have a drop cloth over everything and the edges are taped.
Unless you like the look of splattered paint, we recommend that you slip plastic bags over your doorknobs and tape the edge to avoid unsightly paint splatter.
Painting the Wall Plates
Want professional-looking results? Take five minutes to remove the wall plates and tape around your light switches and electrical outlets.
House painting is a bigger process to plan than you may think. Many people want to change the way their home looks but they don’t put enough time into the process of choosing the right color. You can just choose a color that you like, right? While this may be the case for you, realize that there is more into choosing a house paint color than just your tastes, especially if you intend to sell your home in the foreseeable future. In fact, the right home colors can actually influence the way people see the home and its perceived value. Because of this, you may want to think about the options in house colors a bit more carefully.
Tips to Consider
When it comes to house painting, a variety of factors will play a role in the decision you make. The following are a few tips to help you to get the most value out of your home, whether or not you are selling that home anytime soon.
1. Focus first on choosing colors that will enhance the value of your home by being neutrally appealing. If you love the color purple, go for it, but know that it is a color that not everyone likes. If you choose a color that is more suitable to a wider selection of people, that will increase the value of the home.
2. Know the mood that colors evoke in people. Colors of all sorts can enhance or take away from the mood of the room. If you are going to manage a successful house painting, choose the right colors. Blue is a color that is optimistic and tranquil and red is one of excitement and energy. Green is mental balance and a grounded, loyal look. Orange is the color of loyalty.
3. Get the lighting right. One of the mistakes you can make when selecting house paint is not to look at the color under the right amount of light. Be sure to use a bright light in the space when you have paint swatches up to compare the various color tones. This will play a difference on a sunny day, for example.
4. Choose the right type of paint. In bathrooms and in kitchens, it is critical to have a paint that will stay strong against moisture. A paint you can scrub is another important investment because it allows for the paint to be scrubbed free of fingerprints.
5. Go for what you love. When selecting paint colors, especially for a home you plan to live in, choose colors that represent you and that appeal to you. After all, if you are unhappy in the space, the value of the house really is not that important.
Taking all of these things into consideration is important when it comes to selecting the right paint for your home. No matter if you need help or not with house painting, a quality job makes the most difference.
Patriot Painting Professionals, Inc is a residential painting company in Denver, Colorado.
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