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The Basics of Preparation

In previous posts I talked about some common paint problems you’re likely to see around your home or property. Fixing these problems is one thing, but what about preventing them?

In previous posts I talked about some common paint problems you’re likely to see around your home or property. Fixing these problems is one thing, but what about preventing them?

The easiest way to prevent most paint problems is with proper preparation of the painted areas. Preparation is the most important part of any paint job. It’s what sets the foundation for all the painting to come. With a solid foundation the subsequent layers of paint will adhere better, look better, and last longer.

Informed clients are aware of proper prep procedures and are on the lookout for slap-and-dash paint jobs that skip this important step. Don’t be shy about asking how your painter plans to prep your project.

Here are the four most basic steps in preparation:

1. Washing

            A surprising amount of dust and grime builds-up on the exterior surfaces of buildings. If the paint is applied before washing, it will stick to the dirt and not the surface below. This decreases the longevity of the paint job and will cause problems down the road. Washing should be done prior to painting to give the fresh paint a clean surface to stick to.

2. Scraping

            Good painters will scan the building in search of failing paint (chipping, peeling, cracking, etc.). These areas are then scraped with metal blades or wire brushes to remove the dead paint. If new paint is applied on top of the dead stuff, it’s not actually sticking to the building – it’s only sticking to layers that have already failed! So adequate scraping removes the failed layers, often down to bare wood, and sets-up the surface for the next stages of preparation.

3. Sanding

            Sanding smoothens the edges of scraped areas and removes any leftover bits of failing paint. It also roughs-up glossy surfaces to give new paint something to “bite” to. In many cases, sanding is the aesthetic part of preparation. We can do a lot of sanding, so that every little edge is smooth and barely noticeable. Or we can do just enough that the surfaces will be ready for priming and guarded against future failures. Good paint companies will work with you to decide how much sanding is appropriate for the level of refinishing (and price!) you’re looking for.

4. Priming

            Priming is perhaps the most important stage of preparation. Primer soaks into a surface and bonds to it at a molecular level. It’s also very porous, so paint is able to stick to it more easily than, say, bare wood or metal. It’s the foundational layer for every coat of paint that follows. If this layer is weak, problems can pop-up right away, or even many years down the road. Your painters should be priming any bare wood or metal surfaces.

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Each stage of preparation is important and together they form the solid foundation of a lasting paint job. It can sometimes be difficult to tell if painters are doing the right amount of prep. So be sure to ask questions about how your painters will be to prepping problem areas, and chose a knowledgeable company you can trust.