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Proper preparation is key to look, longevity of paint job

Most folks aren’t thrilled at the prospect of painting their house. But typically it’s the tedious prep work before painting that is the most dreaded chore.

Monotonous as it is, properly preparing your house for paint is critical to the look and longevity of your paint job.

We mentioned last week that most houses in this climate need to be painted about every five to nine years. When was the last time you took a good look at your paint job?

Remember, a good scrub, may be all some houses need to be spruced up! But, if the paint is peeling or cracking, it’s time to gather your gear and tackle the prep work before painting your house.

Or, gather up our gear. Yep, you heard that right. We have paint prep equipment available for loan free of charge, no power washer though.

We believe that having well-painted, well protected houses, helps our community in several ways. So, if you’d like to borrow some equipment – such as scrapers, putty knives, wire brushes, caulk guns, two gallon pump sprayers for cleaner, extension poles and scrub brushes, pails, hose-end nozzles, rollers and roller racks and even ladder safety standoffs, give us a call at (360) 533-7828 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. We require a modest deposit which is returned when the tools are returned.


Do you know if your home has lead paint? If it was built before 1978 it might. There are simple test swabs available at paint stores to determine if it does. When you paint a house that has old lead paint, you must take extra safety precautions.

Because any home built before 1978 could have lead-based paint, it is important to remove the peeling flakes with care. There is a direct link to potential lead paint poisoning in young children and animals when the chips or dust are ingested or breathed. So let’s be careful on how we do this chore.

First, stretch wide tarps under the working areas to catch all the paint chips. Then scrape all blistered and cracked paint until it can no longer be scraped off. Power washers tend to blow the chips everywhere into the air creating a potential problem. Avoid it.

“Working wet” is a good idea so that the flakes don’t fly around. Catching the paint chips on the tarps makes it easier for you to properly dispose of the paint chips in a sealed garbage bag in the trash can.

Avoid sanding unless it is wet sanding with wet-able sandpaper. Spray water from spray bottles onto the surfaces as you go so you can reduce potential lead –based paint hazards. By never letting your house get to the point of having to scrape and sand before painting is the best, proactive approach to avoid releasing any lead that may be in your paint. A swab test is a good first start. There are pros out there you can hire to test the whole house for lead.

For more tips on prepping a house with lead paint, check the internet for lead-safe work practices.

The next prep is 30 Second Cleaner sprayed on a dry wall surface, then lightly scrubbed with a soft boat brush on a pole handle or extension. 30 seconds to one minute later, flood-rinse away from where you will apply it next. Doing small areas works best and working low wall to high.

Again, pressure washers blow chips around the neighborhood and carry with them the risk of penetrating too deeply into the siding and even damaging other components of your house. A flooding nozzle on a garden hose is well suited to this task.

After you have washed and rinsed the house from top to bottom, take a break and let the house dry. It only takes a couple hours instead of weeks from pressure washers.

The walls will dry rapidly on a warm day and you will be ready to spot prime all the bare wood surfaces with a good quality primer designed for the wood or composite you are covering.

When the primer is dry, it is time to caulk the cracks and crevasses. This is not only for a better looking paint job, but also adds to weatherproof around the doors and windows. Invest in a 35-year paintable caulk like Quad– your time is worth it!

Take a wet finger to smooth caulk lines so that you don’t create a bulging mass or ugly smear. Be as careful and perfectionistic as possible with the caulk, there are some tools out there to help. Properly applied, it will help the whole paint job look professional.


We still have several painting tips up our sleeve – including how to work in very hot weather. Stay tuned for more how to’s in next week’s column.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is ADA compliant, complete with a designated disabled parking spot, ramp and ADA compliant restroom.

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