Q: This summer I need to paint my house. I need your advice about a number of things. First is the color choice. My husband and I are involved in a daily cage fight about the color. I want to go bold. He wants a plain vanilla color. We have no intentions of moving if that matters. What paint would you recommend we use? What are a few of the best practices when painting the exterior of a home? Thanks for refereeing the bout in our make-believe octagon! I'm interested in who you think will win the bout. --Marilyn S., Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
A: All too often I'm called upon to intercede in marital home-improvement squabbles. You should see the messages I get via my "Ask Tim" page at AsktheBuilder.com. Oh, my!
You have provided a very important fact that makes my decision about the color choice quite simple. You said you've got no intention of moving.
I'm going to go off-topic for just a moment. About four years ago I discovered the true path to inner happiness. I connected a few dots about observations I made when out hiking and doing outdoor amateur radio with my best friend here in New Hampshire. He'd ignore me when I brought up topics that didn't interest him or agitated him. I had always marveled at him being the happiest person I'd ever met. Now I know why. He actively kicked any negativity in his life to the curb. Do that and happiness will flow over you all day like a giant waterfall.
With that said, if painting your house a bold color makes you happy, then by gosh do it! It's your home. Make a statement. Be fearless like the property owners in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico for goodness sake! Become a trendsetter in your neighborhood.
Before you commit to the final color, do a test panel on a large enough part of the house so you can really see what the color will be like. Paint at least 100 or 200-square feet of surface area, not some tiny patch. Look at the color for a week at different times of day. Stand back at the street or at a distance to view it, not just five feet away. Get a real feel for the bold color.
Let's discuss the paint to use. Years ago, I attended an editors' conference where a new urethane-resin paint was introduced to the marketplace. Urethane is sticky. You know this if you've ever applied it to wood floors. It grabs and won't let go. Did you know that paint is just colored glue? Yes, that's all it is in its most basic form.
You want to paint the outside of your home with the stickiest paint you can buy. About twenty years ago I painted the last home I built with this paint. I drove past it just a few months ago and it looks exactly like the day I applied the paint. The paint color was still rich, and I couldn't see one place where it had peeled or blistered.
Let's imagine you need to go out to dinner, and you've been working outside all day doing gardening in the hot sun. You're filthy dirty, you're sweaty and just plain gross. There's no way you'd ever just come inside and change clothes to go out. You'd take a shower first and get clean before putting on your fresh going-out-to-dinner duds.
You need to do the same with the outside of your home. But be careful. Don't fall into the pressure-washing trap. Too many people assume pressure washers are the best way to clean the outside of a home. In my opinion, they fall way short of that mark, and it's easy to explain why.
Is your car really dirty? Good. Go to a local car wash where you can use a pressure-washing wand to apply soap and then rinse your car. Use the pressure washer on your car as you might do it on your house. Keep in mind that if you get the tip of the wand too close to the surface of your home, you can damage it. So keep the tip back away from the car paint about 10 inches or more.
Pull your car out of the wash bay, park somewhere nearby and allow the car to air dry. Then take your finger over the dirtiest part of the car and wipe it with a clean damp paper towel. I guarantee you the paper towel will take more dirt off your car. Case closed. Wash your house like you used to wash your car. Use a soapy solution and a big brush RV owners use to wash their rigs.
Apply the new paint in the shade, not direct sunlight. Read the label on the paint can and follow all the directions to the letter! Do these things and you're going to be one happy homeowner. And the match goes to Marilyn! (Crowd cheers!)
(Subscribe to Tim's free newsletter and listen to his new podcasts. Go to: www.AsktheBuilder.com.)