Need the truth on exterior home painting

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Hi, I'm in need of some help judging the different stories I get from several painters recently. I've been getting estimates to paint my house exterior (wood clapboard). Please give me your take on the following statements.
1a) You should caulk everywhere, including between the clapboard to seal the house from moisture and prevent pests from getting inside. ( I do have a big ant problem and see them crawling between the boards).
1b) You should never caulk between the wood boards because the house must breathe and adjust with the moisture and temperature changes.
---------------------------------------------------------------- 2a) The paint job should last between 15-20 years.
2b) The paint job will last up to 10 years.
---------------------------------------------------------------- 3a) Using rollers and brushes is superior to spraying the paint on.
3b) Spraying gives a more uniform paint job with no roller marks.
---------------------------------------------------------------- 4a) Painting the 1 story house (approx 1675 sqft) should take 3-4 days.
4b) Painting the 1 story house (approx 1675 sqft) should take about 2 weeks. ----------------------------------------------------------------
5a) You should putty over the nail heads to both make it look better and protect the nail.
5b) You shouldn't waste your time putting over the nail since it will come off within a few years. The primer and paint will protect the nail head.
----------------------------------------------------------------- 6a) Two coats of paint are essential. The extra coat will extend the life of the paint job.
6b) One coat is sufficient, and we put more paint on with that coat so it will protect better. ------------------------------------------------------------------
7a) Spot priming is fine, only on wood that is bare or where the old paint comes right off.
7b) It is good to prime the whole house regardless as to the condition of the wood or existing paint.
------------------------------------------------------------------ 8a) The new paint will only look as good as the old if the surface is still rough. Sanding the wood is for aesthetic reasons, not protection.
I've also been given estimates ranging from $2000-8600 and warantees from 2 years to 7 years, respectively.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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1 Caulk if it looks bad
2 A job can last only as long as the old paint , depending on its condition. It can last 30+ but will look bad alot sooner. Prep and paint and the painter are key, as in a clean surface, paint in shade not a hot or soon to be hot surface in sun. and not when above 85 or so. Use the best paint.
3 Spraying is optional , it will only look as good as the surface. A pro will brush after rolling, so no roller marks.
4 Painting will take as long as it does depending on prep and weather, you have a small house
5 Putty will flake off good caulk should not, it is a matter of looks.
6 On an old cracked surface 2 may be better for hiding imperfections but is not mandatory, depends on job.
7 Prime bare wood only and with slow drying old fasioned oil. If surface is chalky clean it good and only one paint made is designed for chalk adhesion it is made by Sherwin Williams and is expensive, but quality paint is.
8 New paint will only look as good as its surface, Gloss should be sanded for good adhesion
*8600 for a 1600 sq ft house, alot, but we cant see the prep needed. 2 yr warranty, a joke, 7 yr that is better Go look at their work, talk to customers
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seal it up. see below on how to keep it sealed.

ya the house must breathe. but not from between these cracks...

this totally depends on where you live, how much sun a given part of the house gets, etc. that said for latex, its b. a good oil paint job will last longer.

you tend to get a better coat of paint and are less likely to miss areas. it also requires a bit of a touch to make it look as good but its not rocket science. and nobody is gonna start that close at it anyway.

in theory if you put on enough paint it should be as good. in practice ive never seen a spray job on an older house that lasted anywhere near as long as a brush job.

for how many people? for one or two thats just crazy talk. also depends on some things. see below.

more reasonable. 1-2 weeks for two guys to do it right. also depends on trim situation, whether the trim is a different color. lots of factors.

you should make sure the siding is tight to the wall. if you have loose nails, remove them and screw it down. prime and paint as usual. as for your first question, when caulk fails between the boards its because the boards are loose.

one coat is never sufficient. the second coat takes 1/2 as long to put on if its done right after the first.

the primer job IS the paint job. prime the whole thing.

if you want new siding buy new siding. a good paint job entails scraping the loose paint, lightly sanding the house to rough it up, prime it, then paint it. if you want to sand the siding, just replace the siding with something better that doestn need paint and be done with it forever.

if the 2000 job is guaranteed for 2 years and the 8600 is seven years, you get more warranty by having 4 2000$ jobs done every two years. this would probably be better than the 8600$ job... 8600 is also soo00 close to a siding job that would last for 20-30 years that it would be hard to swallow that cost...
anyway my 2 cents...
randy
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Xronger since the lead was taken out of oil and compared to latexs of even 15 years ago there is no comparison . Latex lasts longer on wood. Even 10 yrs ago you would not see a warranty offered with oil, but with latex yes. Sherwin williams best has a lifetime warranty, it will look like crap in 20, but bonds like glue, and actualy has a polyurethand bonder in it. Latexes outperform on wood, they have expansion abilities of wood that will ruin Oil paint
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im just parroting what people have told me about oil. i dont touch the stuff myself, too much of a pain to use... i think maybe my painter friends use that lasts longer line to justify charging much more to apply oil paint <g>
ive heard that poly latex is good in places where temperatures dont vary too much because it will still crack, but again thats second hand info.. where i live now surface temps of the paint will vary from well over 100F to well under 0 (-30 i think was the low last year). from what ive seen, nothing holds up all that well except stains. if i were starting fresh here i would use oil stains on bare wood.
randy

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David Roberts wrote:

Calk where needed. Sounds easy, but a good pro will know. Not everything should calked. In general cracks protected by overhangs should not be calked. Insects will not be stopped by calk.

It depends on the prep, the local weather conditions, the prep, the condition and type of wood, the prep, the quality of paint, and did I mention prep?

Which ever one is used by the best professional. That will almost always be brush and roller.

It depends on how many people you have working, the conditions of the surface that need to be addressed (did I mention prep was important?) weather conditions etc.

Good contractors will use putty. It will look better and may (depending on the situation) last better.

Almost always two coats will be better. Of course two poorly applied coats are not as good as one well applied coat. Just look on the can of paint. They will say two coats. It works better. The guy who wants to use one coat is not planning on getting the job next time.

Yes and yes. It depends on the condition of the surface. This is part of the prep work. Did I say that prep work was important?

That advice comes from your painter who wants to spray one coat spot prime no putty on nails is planning to do a rush job faster than anyone else tells you that 10 years is max life for paint and does not think prep work is important. You will be lucky if he wants to powerwash it as his only prep.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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The *best* house paint job means the ugliest house. For the longest time. Scraped and sanded and primed everywhere. Uuuggglliiee!
.....that is, ofcourse, until the paint is actually applied. (Or perhaps all-over primer first.) Which is the shortest part of a good paint job.
Banty
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You don't caulk between the clapboards--in fact, they sell wedges to install between clapboard siding so that it will breathe better.

Not many paint jobs will last ten years. The better the preparation and the better the paint, the longer it will last.

Most pros use both an airless and a roller. You use the airless to spray on the paint and then "backroll" the paint into the siding with an 18" roller. This is the best way.

If it is one color, the house can be sprayed/backrolled in a couple of hours. The real work that takes time is the preparation--this could only take a few hours or several days--it depends on the condition of your house.

If the nail heads are okay you can just paint over them. If they are rusty or loose I would replace them and put a dab of caulk over the head before painting.

Two coats are much better, however, I would recommend using SW Duration that is a true one coat coverage. Duration is almost twice as thick as regular paint, self-priming, and offers a lifetime guarantee against certain problems.

You can spot prime if there aren't too many bare areas. Full priming is only required on a house that hasn't been painted before--that is what primer is for, to prepare the bare wood to take a coat of paint. If the house is already painted, full priming isn't necessary.

Sanding is to remove peeling paint. Latex paint will stick to about anything without any sanding so it isn't necessary to sand before painting unless there is a problem with the existing coat of paint.
What I would recommend is to use TSP to clean the house before it is pressure washed. The TSP will not only clean the siding but will also degloss the paint.

This is very subjective. I would look for someone who is a member of the PDCA, has been in business at least 5 years, and leaves a list of 50-100 references.

Bruce A.& B.Construction Houston, Texas www.1-866-Roof-Men.com
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David Roberts wrote:

Answers: 1b (a good paint job seals the boards), 2a, 3a and 3b (ok modern airless spray gun puts on a lot of paint), 4a (professional, airless should take one day, two at the most) 4b (if me), 5b, 6a, 7a, 8a. Cost depends on a lot of things including location, amount of trim and windows, whether it is brush or spray, etc. I would say anything in excess $3500 would be excessive.
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David Roberts wrote:

Just out of curiousity, have you considered siding? How many times would you have to paint in order to recoup the cost of siding?
FurPaw
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(David Roberts) wrote:

You should caulk any gaps that won't be sealed by a couple coats of paint. As a practical test, if you can slide a credit card into a gap, caulk it.

It'll breathe *through* the wood -- and through the door every time you come or go.

With proper surface preparation and a premium quality paint, yes.

With proper surface preparation and a good quality paint, yes.
With poor surface prep, or a cheap paint, you might be lucky to get five years.

Yeah, including a uniform paint job on anything that the prep crew didn't remember to mask off. It's a hell of a mess. It's fast, though, which means less time spent for the painter and thus higher profit.
If the guy who told you that rollers and brushes are superior to spray is the same guy who told you the job should last 15 to 20 years -- hire him.

Highly variable, depending on the skill of the painter, the method of application, and the size of the crew.

True.
Oil-based primer and paint, yes. Latex primer and paint, no.

That's generally what the manufacturers of the better paints recommend.

Naaah. Two thin coats are better than one thick one.

Somewhere in between the two strikes me as about right. If the old paint is loose, even if it doesn't "come right off", it should be scraped to bare wood (and then primed, of course). Areas in which the existing paint is in good condition *and* well-adhered to the wood probably don't need repriming, but it doesn't hurt.
A couple of "gotchas" to look out for:
1) If the house is already painted some medium to dark color, spot priming may give a spotty appearance to the final coat, because the spot primed areas will be lighter than the rest of the wall. In this case, either the primer should be tinted, or the entire house should be primed.
2) The guy who says to prime the entire house may be wanting to do a quick job here: it's faster to just prime everything, than to scrape the areas that need scraping, and then spot prime them. If the guy advocating spot priming is going to go to the trouble of scraping loose paint (and if he's the same guy that says to putty the nails), let him do it.

Sounds about right. Beware, though: on older homes, the paint may be lead-based. Sanding that stuff is a Bad Idea.

I'm guessing there's a direct relationship between price and guarantee, right? You can probably figure out why.

Ask for references from all of them.
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You've gotten all these different prices and different opinions because the painters are all working their own agenda; some are pricing for a good job, some for a not-so-good job. Write your own specs and have each painter give you a price. Note how some of them will whine about you "not needing to do" certain steps you specify. As others have noted, prep is key; so some of the following steps may or may not be applicable. Here are the basic steps for a good job:
1. Pressure wash the house. 2. Sand down to bare wood. 3. Replace any cracked or broken boards. 4. Tighten up all the nails. 5. Set the nails below the surface with a nail set. 6. Prime the entire house. 7. Putty/spackle, and caulk all holes and cracks, including all the siding gaps. 8. Hand sand. 9. Prime again. 10. Hand sand. 11. Two finish coats, oil or latex, your pick.
--
Jedd Haas - Artist
http://www.gallerytungsten.com
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Definitely *not* a good idea. If there are gaps in the siding, as the OP described, this will force a lot of water behind the siding. Not a place you want water.
Even if there are *not* gaps in the siding, pressure washing is still questionable IMHO: the pressure can be high enough to damage the siding.
If it needs to be washed, wash it by hand.

The entire house??? Naaaah. Totally unnecessary. Sand the parts that need sanding (if any).

Should be done *before* sanding, so that sanding can remove any unevenness or splintering that occurs during board replacement.

Your steps are out of order again. Priming comes *after* puttying and sanding.

Ridiculous. One prime coat is enough -- as long as it's applied at the right time, i.e. *after* puttying and sanding, not before.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Prime, then paint. The whole point of priming is to give the top coat a good surface to grab onto. It's a total waste of time to sand *after* priming.

Got that part right, anyway. :-)
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Jedd Haas wrote:

Not always a good idea. Pressure washing can cause problems. Under the right conditions with a good crew it is a good idea. Note Jedd did cover this under his comment "some of the following steps may or may not be applicable"

Not a bad list and if your comment "some of the following steps may or may not be applicable" is taken seriously it is a very good list.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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First, I'd like to thank you all for your comments. I was hoping to get a consensus and seemed to get partial agreement in some areas, disagreement in others.
Some questions posed I'll answer: 1. [QUOTES] Yes, the $8600 quote included the 7 year warantee and suggested 15-20 years and would brush/roll the paint. The middle estimate only had the 2 year warantee and claimed it was because they handle houses across the country in less favorable climates (snow, etc)
2. [NEW SIDING] No, I haven't considered new siding (vinyl?) because I assumed it would be much more costly. I will investigate.
3. [PESTS] I don't believe I have any serious infestation problem with the ants, I've had Terminix come out and spray as well as an inspection. They concluded that it was fairly normal for the seaon and area I live in.
4. [ROLL vs SPRAY] The other estimates who suggested spraying usually mentioned rolling afterwards to get into the cracks. It sounds like there's not a huge difference as long as the painters are careful in taping things up well. Generally people never said brush/roll was worse but maybe not necessary.
5. [CAULKING] I heard quite the debate on whether to caulk between boards or not. I agree that no amount of caulking would keep out the pests. The writer who mentioned that they sell a specific device to go in between the boards sounded the most believable.
6. [TIME] When I suggested the 3 days vs. 2 weeks quote, that included the entire paint job (prep, paint, etc..). It sounded like anything under 6 days would be a poor job. The number of people quoted was usually 3-4.
7. [PRIMING] I heard mixed opinions about spot priming vs. priming everything. My house has been painted previously so I would think that any time the paint is scraped off to expose the bare wood priming is necessary. Priming on top of existing paint is perhaps not necessary.
8. [CLIMATE] I live in Northern California and get a decent amount of sun. The moisture we get is usually in the winter or fog this time of year.
9. [OIL vs. LATEX] I hadn't anticipated starting a debate between the two and it hadn't occurred to me to even ask. I guess I've been using LATEX inside and assumed OIL was the old way, too messy, and not necessary with the advances in the LATEX.
10. [COLORS] I had planned to use 3 colors, one for base, one for trim, and one for the doors. The house is currently a lighter color than the new will be. I don't believe the existing paint is lead based, it's not too old but was never done well it seems.
I'm leaning towards the middle quote (~$6500) which would take 6-7 days, spray and roll, 2 yr warantee that he will up to 3 yr. 3/4 quotes said it was wrong to ever caulk between the boards.
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sounds to me like its for some very specific use. ive never heard of such things for plain old siding. doesnt sound like anyone else has either. doesnt mean they dont exist... ask someone who sells them.
randy
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City of Charleston SC recommends them for older houses. TB
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Just for clarification, the caulking is not between clapboards (the horizontal line). It is placed where the clapboard meets a vertically oriented board, i.e. a corner board, window or door trim, hence it is a vertical line of caulk.
-al
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Yes, my house currently has caulking in the horizontal gap between the clapboards. Most painters said it would be too much work to try and remove so they would just leave the old there. It would be easier to just replace the siding itself I guess.
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Check out my story about how long a paint job lasts and why, at the Historic HomeWorks library:
http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/qa/qa07.htm
You'll also find a series of paint and coatings articles that might be helpful:
http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/library/library.htm
John by hammer and hand great works do stand www.HistoricHomeWorks.com
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