Painting Your Vinyl Siding

vinyl_roundedPainting your vinyl siding isn’t typically a project we’d consider “low-budget”. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, it really is. Here’s why: painting the vinyl siding of your home will produce a remarkable change. In fact, not many outdoor projects (if any!) are going to produce as profound a change in the curb appeal of your home. So, the project produces amazing results. And to get those amazing results, you typically only have to spend anywhere from $300 – $600 on paint. Add some supplies and figure in your time to do the work and you’re still talking about a relatively low expenditure to produce the biggest change possible without remodeling or re-siding your home. So, relatively speaking, it’s inexpensive when you consider the results!

Best of all, it’s not a difficult project. In fact, it’s pretty simple. Here are the basics:

CLEAN THE SIDING: Before you apply any paint, the siding needs to be cleaned and free from any surface contaminants. The paint you will later use bonds to the surface of the vinyl. If that surface is not clean and ready for paint, you can end up with the paint bonding to whatever contaminant was there (dust, dirt, etc). So, make sure you clean the siding.

And when it comes to cleaning, there are a couple of options. First, you can go to the old paint prep standby: TSP TriSodium Phosphate. It’s inexpensive and functions as a degreaser, mild deglosser, and cleaner. If you’re painting your vinyl siding, it’s perfect. If you have mold or mildew on the siding around your gutters or downspouts, just mix a little bleach in the TSP mixture.

Never use TSP on your siding if you’re only trying to clean it because it will dull the finish of your vinyl that you mix with water and it’s an excellent cleaner

A second cleaner that would be excellent on your vinyl siding is called Jomax. It’s designed to clean vinyl siding and if you use this in conjunction with a scrub brush and a power washer, you’ll be able to get the dust, mildew, and any other surface contaminants off the siding to make it ready for paint.

Jomax is safe to use on your vinyl if you’re only trying to clean it!

Whatever cleaner you choose, make sure you scrub with a scrub brush before rinsing with a power washer or a garden hose!

PICK YOUR PAINT: Once the siding’s ready for paint, it’s time to get the paint! We recommend Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select Revive. Revive provides excellent color retention, is resistant to mildew and can be applied as long as surface temperatures are 40 degrees Fahrenheit (and rising).

Revive is designed specifically for vinyl siding and comes in a wide palette of vinyl-safe colors. This is a big deal because when you use standard paints in non-vinyl-safe colors, you run the risk of warping, damaging, or even destroying your vinyl siding.

The short story is this: the old rule of thumb when painting vinyl siding is that you need to make sure you only select a new color that is the same shade or a little lighter than the original vinyl siding color. If you don’t do that, you run the risk that the new paint color (the darker color) will absorb so much heat that it will case the panels to warp!

Vinyl Safe Colors are another story entirely. With Revive and it’s incredible palette of colors, you can safely change your light tan siding into a charcoal grey with no worries whatsoever!

Below, we have a gallery showing you why you want to use vinyl safe colors! In the photos, the paint on the vinyl was simply regular exterior paint and a vinyl safe color wasn’t chosen. The new color was darker than the original vinyl and, in the sun, heated up so much that the actual vinyl siding warped, creating a problem that can only be fixed by replacing the siding. The lesson? Always choose vinyl safe colors!

APPLY IT and ENJOY: After cleaning and picking your paint (and vinyl safe color!) all that’s left is to do the work. Apply the paint on the cool side of the house, working out of direct sunlight. You can use a roller (we have various sizes), a paint pad, a brush (generally just for trim work), or even a sprayer (if you can safely do that without having overspray drift throughout your neighborhood!).

Painting the whole house is labor intensive. It will take you some time and it’s definitely a work out (you’re going up and down ladders all the time!). But, the good news is that once you’re done, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits for many years to come!

If you decide to tackle a project like this, stop out at any RepcoLite, Port City Paints, or Snyder Paints location and let us give you the full rundown regarding method and tools!

Color Me Home Episode 11: Brighten Your Basement Walls!

On today’s episode, Betsy and Dan discuss a question that comes up at RepcoLite Paints all the time: how do I paint my basement walls? Basement walls often present homeowners with a number of unusual obstacles when it comes time to paint them. In this episode, you’ll discover everything you need to know to confidently brighten up what can often be one of the darkest, dreariest places in your home!

Episode Outline

  • Check for Moisture and Determine the Cause! (2:28)
  • What is Efflorescence? (6:50)
  • Fixing Moisture Issues Inside! (8:27)
  • Fixing Moisture Issues Outside! (12:16)
  • Getting the Walls Ready for Paint (16:17)
    • Dealing With Efflorescence (16:40)
    • Remove Flaking Paint (18:36)
    • Remove Dirt and Grease (19:48)
    • Kill Mold and/or Mildew (21:30)
    • Dry the Walls (22:22)
  • Painting a Bare Wall with No Moisture (23:03)
    • Betsy’s Easy Test for Moisture (23:45)
  • Painting Bare Walls that Have Moisture Issues (26:58)
    • WaterBlock (27:10)
    • Applying WaterBlock (30:24)
  • Painting Previously Painted Walls (33:16)

WaterBlock by Insul-X

As we mentioned in the episode, WaterBlock is a masonry waterproofer that needs to be applied over bare concrete in order to be effective. In the episode, we debated whether or not it was tintable. Turns out, it is! You’ll be limited to lighter colors, but it definitely can be tinted. If you’d like more information, check out the podcast. Or, you can click the button below and download the Technical Data Sheet!

Download WaterBlock Info

Popcorn, Get Your Popcorn!

popcorn_ceiling1White, yet iridescent snow hovers lightly over the streets and surrounding homes of west Michigan, resulting in a pictures phenomena. A canopy of matured, snow-covered trees lines the drive leading to our home, and is accompanied by a creek that acts as a point of reference to visitors who have made it to the bridge. Right now the bridge still has a thin layer of ice on it, while beneath, the creek, glistening by the cold winter’s rays, still runs quietly past the snowy banks.

By early February, rumor spread that Spring may be traveling north earlier than expected, and for myself, the earlier the better. I’ve never really have been cut out for cold temperatures. Although Winter brings beauty and relaxation, with warmth comes the opportunity for easier transportation and the psychological persistence and motivation to accomplish greater tasks.

But Spring’s not here just yet. And there’s plenty of work to be done in our home renovation. Still, I can’t help but be amazed at the progress we’ve made. Six months have passed since we started this project and everything seems to be going as planned. We’ve replaced shingles and flashed the roof surrounding the fireplace. We’ve expanded the living room by replacing a load bearing wall with a sturdy beam. We’ve added recessed lighting to the living room and front office. And finally, we’ve replaced the plumbing in the upstairs master bathroom to accommodate a walk-in rain shower.

With the cold of Winter still to pass, I find myself thinking about other interior projects that I can tackle. Now, I have to say, being one who has an obsession with “DIYing,” I pay attention to many home improvement shows. One of my favorites, and I’m sure many of you can agree with me on this, is “Fixer Upper.” On that show, in Episode after Episode, I started noticing a trend regarding ceilings. Almost every time they encountered a popcorn ceiling, the solution was the same: All that texture has to come down!

The more time I spent fulfilling my winter-bound projects, the more I found my eyes drawn upward to our popcorn ceilings. From there, it didn’t take long before that “Fixer Upper” solution was playing in my head: All that texture has to come down!

I discussed this with my boyfriend Patrick, and discovered that he didn’t necessarily agree with me. He wasn’t convinced that the popcorn was an eyesore. Of course, he was eventually overruled! However, the only way it was coming down was if I did it myself. He wanted no part of the hassle and mess, and I didn’t blame him. After all, I didn’t know what to expect, either.

Thankfully, my younger sister Leah was a gracious help, and we decided to tackle the project.

To alleviate some of the mess, and to make pick-up a little easier, first prepared the floors with Husky 3MIL plastic sheeting. The same garden sprayer we used to peel off wallpaper was our biggest asset: Two gallons of very hot tap water were added to the sprayer. We then sprayed that water in circular motions on the ceiling’s popcorn texture. (Please Note: Enough water should be sprayed on the ceiling to penetrate the popcorn texture, close to saturation, but not to the point that water is dripping onto the floor.) After five to ten minutes has passed, Leah and I each used a 6” Hyde joint knife at a forty-five degree angle to scrape the popcorn onto the floor below.

I found that scraping popcorn was extremely easy, and actually, quite fun! The texture scraped off like butter when wet, and turned into a muddy, paste-like texture that was easily manageable.

In the end, I was extremely pleased with how our ceilings turned out. Leah and I were able to remove popcorn from four rooms and a hallway in only a day’s time. Now we’ve got a smooth drywall surface that’s ready to be touched up, primed, and painted. Which is a project I’ll save for another post!

Supplies Used:

  • Hand held 2 gallon garden sprayer
  • 6″ Hyde Joint Compound Knife
  • Husky 3 MIL Plastic Sheeting
  • Laddeer
  • Extremely hot tap water
  • Large garbage can for cleanup!

 

The Great Flaking Paint Disaster of 2016

Peeling paint. Pattern of blue grunge material. Damaged paint. Scratched old plate

Photo courtesy of bigstockphoto.com

In our home, the previous owners painted a 4” wide border around the ceiling in the living room. On that border, there were a few small spots where the paint was flaking off. On a Saturday morning a couple of weekends ago, my wife was out of the house for a couple of hours, so I thought I’d surprise her by touching those spots up.

I grabbed some sandpaper and set out to accomplish what I should have been a 5 minute job only to find that wherever I touched the sandpaper to that border, the paint fell off. In huge patches. It was terrifying. Everywhere the sandpaper touched, a silver-dollar-sized section of paint came loose from the ceiling and fell to the floor like huge a snowflake. I would sand in ever expanding circles, expecting (hoping) to find some section of paint that was still stuck to the ceiling, but no. No matter where I sanded more and more flakes started falling. At that point, the kids came in, saw the mess on the floor and all the missing paint on the ceiling, and said “Mom’s going to kill you when she gets home….”

Oh, of course my wife wasn’t going to kill me. Probably. I was concerned, however, about the problem that I now had on my hands. If you’ve ever dealt with peeling paint issues, then you know the frustration and anxiety I was feeling.

See, these are problems that have to be fixed the right way. There are no shortcuts. There are no quick fixes. Fixing it the wrong way, the quick way, usually ends up creating bigger problems down the road. Instead, fixing a problem like this takes patience as well as some blood, sweat, and tears. Here’s how you do it:

STEP 1: FIND OUT WHY IT FAILED

The first step to fixing anything at all is finding out why it needs fixing in the first place. You can treat the symptoms, but it’s likely the problem will recur until you actually address the problem that caused the failure in the first place. In my instance, with the peeling paint on my ceiling, the problem was caused (as is usually the case) by poor surface prep. When I examined the paint chips I found that the backs were gritty and chalky. That means the grit or powder was there before the paint was applied. The paint stuck to that rather than the ceiling itself and thus came off easily when bumped or stressed.

When it comes to peeling paint, surface contamination of one kind or another is typically the cause. Sometimes it’s drywall dust, sometimes it’s due to cleaning agents, soap films, or other contaminants like that.

Surface contamination is the one of the typical causes of many paint peeling problems. The other main cause is due to the painted surface simply being too smooth or hard. Sometimes we paint over a glossy, hard enamel finish and the new paint peels right off when bumped or scratched. Without scuff-sanding or priming surfaces like that with primers like BIN primer from Zinsser, you’re just asking for the paint to fail.

So all that to say, if you’ve got a peeling paint problem of your own, the place to start is by doing a little detective work. Figure out why it peeled. From there, you’ll be able to plan the next step in the repair process.

STEP 2: LET THE SCRAPING and SANDING BEGIN!

Once I figured out the reason my paint failed, now all that was left was to do the work and fix it the right way. Sadly, that’s easier said than done.

See, when it comes to peeling paint, the only solution is to get all of the loose paint off. All of it. If paint is left on the surface, it’s absolutely necessary that it’s left there only because it’s stuck so well it wouldn’t come off!

So, to get the paint off that border section of my ceiling, the only fix is for me is to get out a paint scraper, some sandpaper, and go to work. It’ll take some time and it’ll create a fair amount of mess, but any shortcut I take will only result in bigger problems down the road.

For example, on my ceiling, with the paint peeling as badly and easily as it is, if I were to paint over that old paint–even though some areas seem to be adhering quite well–the surface tension of the new paint as it dries would likely be enough to pull loose new sections. Soon, that paint I’d left on the ceiling would be coming off and taking all of my new paint with it!

To avoid that, the right solution is to get all of the loose paint off. Once that’s done, a second part of this step is to go around and give some attention to all the areas of paint that remain on the surface. Most likely, when you examine these spots, you’ll see rough edges where the remaining paint meets bare spots on the wall. These spots will not be filled and disappear when you apply your new paint. In most cases you can minimize the visual appearance of these spots by sanding all the edges of the remaining paint. Sand the spots smooth in order to create a smooth transition from the bare surface to the remaining paint.

Also, if you determine that the reason your paint is flaking is because the surface you painted is too shiny or smooth, then you need to make sure you scuff sand the surface with a 150 – 180 grit sandpaper.

STEP 3: GET THE DUST OFF

Once the sanding/scraping process is complete, it’s absolutely imperative that the surface be as dust-free as possible. That may mean wiping it down with a damp rag or it may mean vacuuming it with a shop-vac. Either way, that surface needs to be dust-free or the problem will just repeat.

Likewise, if the paint failed because of an oily residue left by a cleaning agent or something else, the surface needs to be washed well with a degreasing agent like TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) before any new painting is done. Remember:  without eliminating the source of the failure, the problem will only repeat.

STEP 4: ROLL ON THE NEW PAINT

When the surface is completely clean (and I can wipe it with your hand and not have a chalky, dusty residue come off on my palm), then it’s time for my new finish paint. (In certain situations, a primer might be recommended. You’ll probably want to talk to someone at RepcoLite if you have any questions about whether you need a primer or not.)

I’ll probably apply a primer coat to my ceiling just to be safe. After that, I’ll roll on two coats of finish and finally, after all of that, I should be done and the living room will be better than before. And, best of all, it should look good and resist flaking or peeling for years to come!

Peeling paint can be a very frustrating situation. And when it happens to us, we may find ourselves tempted to take a shortcut or an easy way out. However, in a situation like this, shortcuts just don’t produce good results. Instead, take the time to do the project the right way. It’s a lengthier, more time-consuming fix, but it will give you much better results (and save you a lot of repeat work) in the long run!

The Fabric Softener Fix for Stripping Wallpaper!

IMG951538

On August 28, 2015, we finally closed on our home in Fruitport, Michigan. Being a short sale, Patrick and I had been waiting since late February of that same year to sign the documents, solidifying the closure. I knew it would be months before we could move in, even after the closure, but that was the least of my worries. We were inching closer to our ultimate goal of remodeling a home. Standing two stories tall, half brick-half vinyl siding, attached garage, on just shy of an acre, seven bedrooms, and three and one-half baths, we were eager to start our adventure in reconstructing and cosmetically reconditioning a three thousand square foot, 1970’s retro home.

A twenty foot dumpster had barely enough space for all the garbage and debris we removed from the home. White ceramic tile and soiled carpet had been pried and stripped from the floors; drywall torn down in the master closet, living room, basement, and upstairs spare bathroom; three layers of shingles had been removed from the roof surrounding the fireplace. Yet, despite all this, the most agonizing and time consuming demolition project was still ahead: the removal of the wallpaper!

Throughout the whole process, my most valuable resource was Patrick’s mom, Phyllis, and her sister, Aunt Diane. Thanks to their much-appreciated help, we were able to remove the majority of wallpaper from six walls, including the kitchen, two bedrooms, a master walk-in closet, and two bathrooms in two days time.

However, even though we got the job finished in the end, it wasn’t without some complications. In fact, after many “oops” and a bunch of experimentation as to what solutions and tools to use, it occurred to me that stripping wallpaper was going to take a lot more time and patience than I had anticipated. Who knew that dogs of all shapes and sizes holding balloons could be so intimidating? (see the photos!) It only took us three walls of peeling quarter-sized paper pieces, one-by-one before I was found myself ready to defeat.

It was around that time, at the moment of near despair, that we decided to shift gears and try something different.

After reading somewhere that fabric softener actually helped in the process of removing wallpaper, we decided to give it a try. After all, what was there to lose?

So, in a yellow garden Sprayer, we combined 1/2 gallon of SUPER hot water (though not quite boiling) with 1/2 gallon of fabric softener (we used the least expensive!) along with 1 cup of DIF Concentrate Wallpaper Remover.

Using a PaperTiger by Zinsser, I scored the wallpaper in circular motions. And here, I’d like to urge a little caution: I cannot stress how important it is not to press too hard when scoring. Using too much pressure with the PaperTiger can easily result in damaged drywall. Light to medium pressure works just fine.

To prevent damage to our sub floors, we used Blue Painter’s Tape to stick plastic sheeting to the top lip of all base boards to catch excess solution that dripped from the walls.

(On a side note: If you find yourself removing wallpaper in a room or setting where you’re concerned about using a garden sprayer, you can get the same effect by using a spray bottle filled with solution!)

Anyway, once we had all the prep work done, we sprayed our new solution onto the walls and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then scraped it off using a variety of different wallpaper scrapers and putty knives.

The paper came off with remarkable ease and we realized we were finally closing in on finishing the project. A second application of solution was applied to clean what residual glue was left after the wallpaper had been peeled away. After a final wipe down using a sponge and hot water, the walls were left to dry.

Removing wallpaper isn’t typically an easy or fun project, but with the right tools, a little elbow grease, and the right team of determined women (in our case!) you can get it done in a short amount of time.

For us, when all was said and done, we celebrated our accomplishment with a well-deserved Mr. Scribbs pizza and I found myself considering the next step in this renovation!

Supplies Used:

  • Extremely hot tap water
  • Fabric softener (Any kind works: We used the least expensive)
  • DIF Concentrate wallpaper remover
  • Hand held 2 gallon garden sprayer
  • 5-in-1 Hyde hand tool
  • Bucket of hot water
  • Large yellow sponge and bucket of hot water
  • Painter’s tape
  • Painter’s plastic
  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Lots of patience!!