Painting in Partnership listens to our ideas and needs and blends them with their skills to come up with a very unique and satisfying result each and every time.
- A. & C. Yeshwant, MD, South Barrington
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Archive for Exterior Preparation and Painting

A Bad Case of Mildew on the Eaves of your House? – A Proposed Diagnostic and Solution

Mildew on the Eaves of a House

Mildew on the Eaves of a House

Mildew is a particular type of mold. On the exterior of a house, it is most commonly found on the North side, away from the sunlight. To survive, Mildew needs darkness, food and moisture. Power washing alone does not kill mildew. A bleach solution (coupled with a cleaner) has to be used. This is our standard approach to effectively deal with mildew.

The attached picture shows a bad case of mildew. At best, it makes the house look dirty. At worst, it makes the surface look downright bad! I saw the house in the attached picture earlier in the week. At first, my recommendation, after killing the mildew, was to use two coats of a proven mildew-proof paint on the eves to prevent or delay the future growth of mildew – the client seemed really interested. However, upon second thought, I asked myself: “will my paint solution get at the root of the client’s problem?” I had to answer NO! I then proceeded to ask the client if his bathrooms were venting into the attic. His answer was yes! He also said that the last painter painted his vents shut.

I advised my client to consult with a contractor about rerouting the venting for his bathrooms and getting new vents for his eves. The client may still decide to use mildew-proof paint on his eves, but his long-term problem will now be solved. Looking for the client’s long-term interest, we call that in my company “Taking a Custodial View”. We believe in that approach.

Ensuring Safe Access to Paint Chicago’s Exterior Building Surfaces

An important part of our work as house painters involves the paint restoration on century-old buildings in Chicago. Some are wood-frame houses like the one in this picture. Others have elaborate metal cornices and bay windows. Ensuring safe access for the preparation and painting of the surfaces is of foremost importance.

Boom Access to Building Facade

Boom Access to Building Facade

The house in this picture is located in one of Chicago’s many old neighborhoods. It is about one hundred twenty years old and presented a number of challenges from an access point of view. Two of the obstacles were the front porch/steps and the other was the roof of the bay window. We accessed that a forty-foot ladder could reach some of the gable surfaces, but not all. So we had to look into using a boom.

At first, we thought that a sixty-foot boom could access the highest areas from being parked in the street. However, because of the proximity of two trees, we determined that a shorter forty-foot boom should be used, so it could clear the tree branches. The trees also made it necessary to park the shorter boom on the sidewalk and close the sidewalk to pedestrian traffic. Since the boom had to jump the curb, we set up a temporary driveway with 2×8 and 2×4 lumber. Three sheets of ¾” inch plywood were used to protect the sidewalk and parkway.

Once those factors have been assessed and decisions have been made about equipment and procedures, an equally important aspect has to do with securing Chicago permits to have access to the public ways. In this case, we needed three permits: fifty feet of curb space to move and park the boom, sidewalk closure and barricade for pedestrians and temporary driveway for the boom. We also resorted to the services of an expeditor to facilitate the process. In all, the cost of the rental, permits and expeditor fee was about $2,000 for three days of use.

Safety is paramount on projects like this. Our employees have gone through training to be certified as boom operators. We take our preservation work on Chicago’s old structures very seriously.

Peeling Solid Color Stain on Cedar Siding?

Peeling Solid Color Stain over Ceder Siding – Part 1

Solid color stain is not supposed to peel (like paint does) when applied to cedar siding. The unfortunate reality is that peeling solid color stain is a common occurrence. Many factors can contribute to this problem.

First, many house painting contractors promote the use of a two-coat paint job as offering greater value than a one-coat job. The homeowner assumes that two coats ought to be better than one. However, unless a second coat is needed to ensure good coverage (because of a change in color or a very worn original coat), a second coat only adds thickness to the coating. In the long-term, those multiple coats of stain cause the stain to behave like paint and peel. Generally, homeowners should resist the temptation to accept the second coat of stain, at least without asking the reason for that recommendation.

Peeling Solid Color Stain over Ceder Siding – Part 2

Other factors can also contribute to the peeling stain problem. Failing to kill mildew spores in the cleaning process can cause the last coat to delaminate from the previous coat. Power washing alone does not kill the spores – a diluted bleach solution does! Staining or painting over mildew spores gives them darkness, which helps them to propagate under the last coat and cause coating failure.

Another insidious cause of solid stain failure on cedar has to do with dead wood fiber on the face of the siding. When the peeling stain is scraped off, dead wood fiber often stays stuck to the back of the flake. This is a telling sign of the problem. No stain, or paint can adhere to dead wood fiber, leading to major coating failure. When this condition exists, we have noticed that the sun accelerates the demise of the coating, by causing countless hot/cold cycles (even many times a day). If a tree shades a portion of the house, that portion may not exhibit the problem, or very little. The North side of the house may also show little sign of delamination as well.

Peeling Solid Color Stain over Ceder Siding – Part 3

Peeling Solid Color Stain over Ceder Siding – Part 4

We are often asked what may have caused the dead wood fiber in the first place. We have two main theories. One is that the siding may have sat unfinished for too long after it was installed on the house. The other has to do with moisture. We have noticed that the siding in problem houses is almost never back-primed, which causes the moisture to penetrate into the wood and migrate towards the exterior of the siding. The hot-cold cycles degrade the wood behind the coating and cause the stain or coating to fail. A failed or poorly performing vapor barrier may also aggravate the problem, by allowing more moisture to penetrate into the siding.

The bad news is that there is no easy or inexpensive way to deal with the problem. Extensive scraping and sanding is needed. We also cannot guarantee that the problem will not reoccur. In fact, the stain or paint that will not come off at this time will likely come off later. The best outcome you can hope for is to eventually get ahead of the problem. Unfortunately, the most permanent solution is to remove the siding, install a new vapor barrier and prime the new siding on all sides before its installation.

As house painting contractors in the Chicago area, we have a passion to get to the root cause of the problems we encounter, so that we can devise the best possible solutions and create the most value for our clients.

Stenciling Garage Doors? Why not!

Exterior painting does not have to be limited to just the colors you select for the painting project – it can involve decorative painting as well. When you pull up to your house at the end of the day, the first thing you see is your garage door. It can be a welcoming feature of your house, something that will bring a smile to your face every day.

Decorative Painting on Garage Doors

As an illustration of this concept, I would like to tell you about the painting of the garage doors for the shop/office building for Painting in Partnership. Shortly after building this structure on the rear of the property where my house is located, my wife suggested we dress up the doors to give them more pizazz. I liked the idea. So she proceeded with developing a 3-color stylized leaf pattern, which we would then stencil unto the panels of the garage door. To complement the garage door motifs, she designed a stylized tree with the same leaf pattern for the entrance door.

Wow! I thought those were cool designs. So I proceeded to execute the painting. The main materials besides the paints were the plastic sheeting for the stencils and the stretchable tape for the curvy lines of the tree, plus a good measure of patience and attention to detail. The major challenge was to maintain crisp stencil lines, in spite of the strong wood grain texture of the garage door.

Paneled garage doors present wonderful opportunities to use decorative painting to make a statement by introducing a splash of color, on otherwise plain surfaces. As house painting contractors in the Chicago area, we thrive on using color and custom patterns to enhance the beauty of clients’ home environments.

A Red Door for Jonathan’s Custom Playhouse – The Meaning of Red Doors

A four-year-old boy named Jonathan is now the lucky occupant of this custom-built, custom painted and landscaped playhouse. His parents were the winning bidders at a recent auction for The Ronald McDonald House Charities. We were asked to contribute to the project by donating the custom painting services, including the color consultation for this good cause. We gladly accepted.

Custom-Painted Playhouse

The house where Jonathan previously lived had a red door. After the family moved to their new house, Jonathan told his mom how much he missed his old house’s red door. During the color consultation, his mom asked us if we could find a way to incorporate a red door in our recommended color scheme. We said that it should be no problem. Jonathan got to have his red door. He was overjoyed!

This week, I attended a presentation where the speaker talked about the meaning of red doors through time. I thought it was interesting, so I did a little research on the web. I will pass along some of the information I came across.

A red door means “welcome”. The tradition of red doors dates back centuries. In religious circles, the red doors of churches indicated a place of sanctuary, refuge and safety. Those inside of the walls of the church would be protected, both physically and spiritually. In Feng Shui, a red door symbolizes “the mouth of the home”. By painting the door red, you invite positive energy into the home. In China, doors are often painted a fresh coat of red just before the Chinese New Year to invite good luck and happiness. And then, there is Albert Einstein who painted his door red, so he could find his house more easily!

As color consultants and house painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, we recognize the power of color to improve the quality of life for our clients and are committed to make that contribution available through our painting.