Silicone Caulk: The Cheese Grater of the Home Improvement World

danger2OK, that title is convoluted at best.  But it’s more attention-grabbing than the first title I tossed up there:  Silicone Caulk–Use With CAUTION.  Yeah, after typing that, I almost fell asleep.  So I changed the title in the hopes of infusing it with energy and lively interest.

Anyway, if you read the earlier post about cheese graters, you’ll realize what I’m getting at here.  If you missed the post about cheese graters . . . well, you need to check it out (here!).

The point of that post was to poke fun at myself and stress the point that there are certain items out there . . . in the wide, scary world . . . that look innocent, but can really screw up your day.  Cheese graters and dental picks are just a couple.

Today, we’re shifting back into the world of home improvements and were going to talk, as the title suggests, about the Cheese Grater of the Home Improvement World:  Silicone Caulk.

See, silicone caulk, if you’re not familiar with it, is a type of caulk that sticks tenaciously to almost any surface.  It’s also extremely water resistant.  Those two qualities make it tremendously useful . . . but also, “sneakily” dangerous.

Let me explain:  silicone caulk is so resistant to almost everything, that nothing . . . NOTHING . . . will stick to it.  It repels water, moisture, paint and even itself.  And that’s where the danger lies.

Every now and then, folks pick up a tube of silicone caulk by accident at a home improvement warehouse.  They just wander down an aisle, grab a tube and take it home.  Then, they go ahead and do all their caulking.  They caulk around their woodwork, around their windows, around their crown molding . . . they caulk everywhere.

And then, after all that work is done, they start painting.  And that’s when they notice that the paint doesn’t seem to be sticking.  At all.  Wherever they applied their caulk, they discover the paint won’t adhere.

Now normally, when this happens, people are sad.  They’re frustrated.  They’re angry.  But they’re usually not flipping out yet.  And this is because they don’t understand the nature of silicone caulk.  They figure they’ll just buy some new caulk–some paintable caulk–and they’ll put that over the silicone.  Or, worst-case-scenario, they’ll prime all the silicone caulk with a special primer before they paint.  Either way, they figure there’s a relatively simple solution.

But unfortunately, there’s not.  As I mentioned earlier, nothing will stick to silicone caulk.  I even used ALL CAPS to express that idea.  Nothing will stick to silicone–not even silicone.  And that means the only way to truly fix the problem is to remove the caulk.  Completely.

Now, for some people, caulking and painting a room is bad enough.  Not everybody wakes up every morning, just longing for another paint job to accomplish.  But even if you like painting and caulking, nobody likes caulking, painting, discovering a problem, removing the caulk, scrubbing the walls, re-caulking and finally re-painting.  That’s just no fun at all.

And that’s why I’m suggesting that silicone caulk needs to be used with caution.  In the right situation, it can’t be beat.  In a bathroom, between your tub surround and your tub, it’s ideal.  But in an area where you plan to do some painting . . . avoid it like the plague.

Taking the Confusion out of the Painting Equation

bigstock-picture-of-bored-and-tired-you-87363971_smallerFor the last couple posts, I’ve been recounting sad and potentially awkward moments that served to illustrate my broader “paint point.”  See, by telling you all about my pie making fiasco or my scooter-building screw up, I tried to convey the importance of following a recipe or a set of instructions.

When you follow the steps for any given project, things go smoothly.  When you branch out on your own and think for yourself and build or bake on the fly . . . well, it’s not uncommon to have experiences like those I wrote about.

Well, this idea–following a specific order or set of instructions–doesn’t only apply to scooters and pies.  It also can help you make sure that any decorating project you tackle goes smoothly and turns out well.

Believe it or not, there’s a definite order in which you should make your home decorating selections.  Working outside of that order . . . or jumbling that order up . . . often leads to complications and frustration and confusion.  To keep your project on track, follow this order:

FURNITURE:  Start with the furniture that will go in your newly remodeled room.  If the furniture is not changing, move on to the next step.  But if you’re thinking about purchasing new . . . here’s the place to start.  Don’t start with a trip to the paint store–start at the furniture stores.  And the reason is simple:  nothing more directly relates to the comfort of a room than the furniture we put in there.  When it comes to selecting furniture, you want to have the world “wide-open” in front of you.  You don’t want to be limited to a handful of color options because you’ve already painted your walls.  You want absolute freedom to pick whatever couch or chair or bed or table suits your fancy–no decorating limits at all.

FLOORING:  After furniture, it’s time for you to pick out flooring.  Again, you don’t want to be limited by paint colors when it comes to your flooring selections, so choose them early in the project. This may not seem important, but it is.  We see it all the time at RepcoLite:  folks find paint colors they like and then look at carpet.  They find a style of carpet they love, but then find themselves utterly depressed and frustrated when they learn that carpet doesn’t come in a color that works with the colors they’ve painstakingly selected.  Avoid this mistake by starting with carpet very early in the process.

WINDOW TREATMENTS:  Now, this doesn’t apply to every room or every remodel project, but when it comes into play, be sure to select these items before moving on to your paint.

BATHROOM & KITCHEN FIXTURES:  If you’re working in your bathroom or kitchen, this is the point–after floors and window treatments (and furniture if applicable)–where you would nail down your faucet and fixture selections.  By this point, you’ll have some idea where your project is heading and you should have very little trouble selecting the right items.  In fact, it’s very interesting.  Start with this step (as I’ve done) in a bathroom remodel and you’re only heading for heartache.  You walk into the store, look at hundreds of options of faucets and you pick one based on what you think looks cool.  Later, as the room starts to take shape, more often than not, you find that while your faucet may look cool . . . it no longer fits with the decorating scheme you’ve got going.  However, if you approach this selection at this stage in the process . . . after your floor and window treatments . . . chances are you’ll be able to instantly eliminate 1/2 of the faucets.  You won’t want the bronze ones.  Or maybe, with your decorating scheme, you’ll realize that the chrome-look is definitely not going to work.  Whatever you decide, the bottom line is that choosing this item at this stage in the process will simplify your selection process.

LIGHTING:  This step could easily be lumped in with the above step.

ARTWORK & WALL HANGINGS:  Now’s the time when you start to flesh out your decorating.  You’ve found furniture, flooring, window treatments, fixtures (lights, faucets, etc.) and now’s the time you start putting some color and fun on your walls.  Pick items that will look good with all your other selections–pick items that will develop your theme or the feel you want the room to have.  Pick these items and limit them only by the items you’ve already selected.

PAINT:  Believe it or not . . . NOW’S finally the time you head to the paint store.  See, paint should be your last selection in the entire process.  And the reason is very simple and very straightforward:  paint is changeable.  When you find a couch you like, you’ll probably have 10 (at most) potential fabric options.  Same with everything else on our list.  The only thing that is completely fluid when it comes to decorating is your paint.  At RepcoLite, we can match your paint to whatever colors you need.  We can pull a fleck of color out of your throw pillow.  We can pull colors out of your artwork.  We can match a twist of fabric in your carpet.  Paint is completely adjustable and, as such, should be the last thing you select.

Following that flow of events when it comes to any decorating project is going to simplify your project immensely.  The days of frustration and confusion will slip away and you’ll find yourself actually enjoying the journey–not just anticipating the destination.

Painting Metal Roofs: Some Do’s and Don’ts

bigstock-roofer-builder-worker-with-pul-52436509_smallerEvery summer, we talk to a number of folks in our stores who are curious about the right way to paint an old, rusting metal roof.  They want to know what types of products to use, they want to know the steps involved, they want to know what cleaners they should purchase (and also, at least a little bit, they’re wanting us to tell them that the surface is unpaintable and should just be left as is).

Well, sadly, for many of these folks, we don’t tell them to leave it as is.  You just can’t do that.  Metal roofs, when they exhibit signs of rust, need to be painted in order to be protected.  Failing to protect and coat them properly will lead to larger and more expensive (and, of course, painful) failure down the road.

So, let’s cut to the chase:  if you’ve got an old metal roof that needs to be painted, here’s what you need to do and what you should use:

Supplies:

Wire Brush or a wire wheel on an angle grinder.
TSP cleaner
Power Washer
Rollers, Brushes, etc.
Met’l Clad 449 Rust Inhibitive Metal Primer
Met’l Clad or Glo-Enamel oil base topcoat in desired color
Ladders/scaffolding as needed
Scrub brush

Steps:

Wire brush or grind as much of the loose, flaking rust off the roof as possible.  This is a critical key to the success of your project, so take the time necessary to do this part right.

Once the rust is removed, it’s best to still wash the roof down to remove any grease, grime, or contaminant that might be there.  Apply TSP (mixed according to directions on label) and scrub with the scrub brush.  (And this probably doesn’t need to be said, but BE CAREFUL.  A wet roof is obviously extremely slippery and potentially hazardous–so do as much of the cleaning as possible from a scaffold or a ladder.)  Once you’ve scrubbed the roof, rinse it off well with a power washer and allow it to dry.

After the roof has dried, simply apply the 449 Met’l Clad primer using a brush, roller or spray.  Allow this product to dry for at least 24 hours.

Once the primer coat has dried, we recommend that you apply two coats of your oil-based finish paint–whether it’s the Met’l Clad or the Glo-Enamel.  Products should have about 24 hours between coats.

Tips:

Start early in the day and quit when the roof gets too hot to work on.  Working on a roof when it’s extremely hot can be tough on you . . . and tough on the paint you’re trying to apply.

Exercise extreme caution.  Whenever working at heights of any level, remember to take things slowly and take nothing for granted.  One slip or missed footing can result in months and months of recovery time!  So be careful!

While Latex paints are absolutely perfect for the sides of metal buildings, they’re not quite as durable for the roof.  Remember, a roof doesn’t have just the sun to deal with:  it’s pelted with driving rain and is subjected to Michigan winters and piled up snow.  All of these things will damage a Latex paint quicker than they will an oil.  So, for your metal roofs, stick to oil!