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Fresh paint combats bugs, mold and mildew

Ahh, the long, sunny days of summer! Just as the summer weather is perfect for outdoor activities, freedom and vacations; it’s also the best time in the Pacific Northwest – especially near the coast – to get out your paint brushes for painting or staining the exterior of your house.

Around here, most houses need a fresh paint job every five to nine years. Is this the year for your house?

As we’ve recently mentioned, an annual quick wash and rinse can increase the longevity of your paint job. So, if this isn’t the year to repaint your house at least consider washing it.

When it comes to painting, whether you decide to do it yourself or hire someone, it’s good for you to know some tips for a good paint job.

In last week’s column, we took you through all the important details of prepping the house. This week we’re focusing on the actual painting.


After you’ve carefully scraped, washed, primed and caulked, it’s time to open up that can of paint!

Just like it’s not ideal to paint in a downpour, it’s also not recommended to paint any surface in the direct sun. Doing so can cause the new paint to “skin-over,” resulting in poor attachment to the siding, even blistering.

Painting in the direct rain or when moisture in the form of fog is expected can also cause problems. You can put a nice coat of paint on during a drizzling day, but it may not be there the next day. So, if you need to paint in the rain, try attaching tarps to the gutters and pinned to the ground to make a fly tent to work under.

If you have the luxury of choosing the weather, we recommend starting early on a dry, warm morning with either the south or the west wall. As the sun goes overhead, do the north wall, then the east wall, etc., staying out of the direct sun and avoiding any hot wall surfaces until they cool. It really is a tried-and-true system!


If you decide to apply your paint with a sprayer, we suggest using it to load the wall area in front of you, then immediately back-brush the sprayed surfaces, catching the drips, evening-out the thick and thin spots and maximizing the bond of the paint to the siding. This way you’ll never have to dip your paint brush in a can again and you’ll get the job done fast.

Spraying out too far past your ability to back-brush can cause the paint to sag, drip, glop and surface-dry. In other words it won’t be the best job.

Another caution: Don’t paint too late in the day. In late summer and early fall, we often have fog in the afternoon. Painting late in the day, can result in trapped moisture behind the paint. The next sunny day, the heated moisture can turn your hard work into a paint-blistering nightmare.


What about the window sills and trims? The bottom of the window, called the "sill,” is where all the rain running down your windows ends up. Notice it is well sloped for water run-off and usually projects beyond the siding so the water will drip straight to the ground.

The condition of these window sills is critical. When left unpainted, the sun and rain will make them crack and absorb water rather than shed it away.

Gradually, the absorbed water will create perfect conditions for this wood sill to decay, eventually, all the way into the house framing, sheathing and interior wall surfaces. The bugs will feast and the seeping molds and powdery mildews will take over the wall.

Major damage and major expenses usually follow this lack of concern for timely caulking and painting.


Doors require the same initial scrutiny and timely care as windows. We often find dry-rot where the metal threshold meets the wood jambs. If minor deterioration has occurred, you can scrape out the rot and treat with bleach to kill any remaining fungus. (Dry rot is a fungus.)

After everything is dry, fill any holes or large cracks with wood putty, sand smooth, prime and double coat with good paint.

At the same time, check out the general operation of each door. A door will operate quietly with a drop of oil at each hinge pin. If the insulation strips are in good shape, there will be no gaps for air to enter around or under it. And, the locks will work smoothly when the door is properly aligned and the locks get a shot of silicone.

Painting your front door in an eye-catching-color lets everyone know where you’re entry is and will enhance your new paint job, too.


When you’re painting your house is a good time to determine if your house numbers are prominently displayed. Not only will this aid delivery trucks and out-of-the-area friends to find your house, it is also a safety measure so that firefighters and police can quickly find you in an emergency.

It doesn’t hurt to even have two sets of numbers, one near your front door and one on the fence near a driveway or in another helpful location. Whatever color or style you decide on, make sure it is easy to see and read from the street.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

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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