surfaces can be subjected to extremely harsh conditions. In
southern climates, high temperatures subject paint films (as
well as other construction materials) to repeated expansion
High humidity and air borne mold spores make mildew
growth inescapable. Insects and storms can damage wood.
All of these factors, and more, can cause damage to, or
failure of, the paint film. To perform properly, an exterior
paint should retain some flexibility, even after fully
This characteristic will allow the film to expand and
contract without developing cracking. cracking will permit
water intrusion and subsequent peeling, as well as create
the potential for more extensive damage.
A 100% acrylic latex paint will provide this flexibility.
Alkyd paints continue to harden over time. As they do so,
they become brittle and develop cracks.
Because of their chemical composition, alkyd paints are also
more susceptible to mildew growth than latex paints. For
these reasons, alkyd paints should be used sparingly on
The process for preparing exterior surfaces for painting
begins with a thorough cleaning. Dirt, mildew, and other
contaminants should be removed. (The section titled Mildew
Removal explains this process.)
Loose paint should then be removed by scraping and/ or
sanding. The edge of the area where the paint has been
removed should be sanded. This will improve the appearance,
as well as reduce the likelihood of the old paint loosing
All bare wood and exposed metal should be primed with an
appropriate primer. The primary purpose of a primer is to
improve the adhesion of the paint to the substrate.
Consequently, it is important to use a primer specifically
formulated for the particular surface and compatible with
the paint which will be used. Generally, it is not necessary
to prime over areas with intact paint.
The final step in preparation is caulking. As a general
rule, adjoining wood surfaces and areas where different
construction materials meet should be caulked. However,
excessive caulking can actually create problems by
preventing moisture from escaping from walls, soffits, etc.
Proper preparation is crucial for a quality paint job.
Applying paint over a dirty or contaminated surface will
compromise the adhesion of the paint, resulting in premature
On many structures, preparation will comprise the largest
part of the job.
Paint can be applied by spray, brush, and/ or roller.
Spraying is the preferred method, as it allows for more
uniform coverage. However, spraying is not always practical.
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