Tommy’s Tips: External Decorating

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The weather window for exterior decoration is closing fast, and leaving it for another year or two maybe a serious mistake!

A well maintained home is a great long term investment, apart from looking great, and being the envy of your not so responsible neighbours, (lazy so and so’s!) who say they “can’t afford it”, or say “they are making economies!”  99% of the time this proves to be a false economy depending on the orientation of your house.  In general terms house exteriors require re-decorating every three to five years. This is normally dependent on how exposed to the weather they are, any side exposed to the sun all day, will make the decoration deteriorate much quicker than if it were in shade, sometimes as much as half the time.  When re-decoration is carried out on a regular basis, normally a light rub down with a fine sand paper, and a thorough wash down and rinse with sugar soap is sufficient to give the paint work a good key to receive the new under coat and top coat.  Whereas, if left too long, the old paint work starts to split, which allows water in, which is then trapped inside the paint, and starts to rot the wood very quickly, which unchecked could mean new sashes at the least or complete new windows at the worst. 

The same applies to soffits and fascia’s, so simply unclip the guttering (which means it gets cleaned out!) rub down the fascia and soffit, (this is where an electric sander comes in handy, I have conventional, palm and orbital sanders, the orbital one being my favourite as the sanding discs are Velcro’s and simple to change!) Undercoat (I usually apply two undercoats) then a top coat! Clip the guttering back in, and apply a coat of black gloss to the gutter and down pipe.  Contrary to popular opinion plastic is not invulnerable to the weather, it becomes brittle and discoloured so always keep it protected and smart by painting it!  In a conservation area, you are allowed to use plastic guttering and down pipes, providing they are painted (beware of lots of plastic because it can be very nosy as it clicks and creaks in the sun!)  Avoid painting natural stone cills or features, as moisture may get trapped behind the paint, and could damage the natural stone!

If the paint work has been left, and the paint has started to split, but hasn’t rotted the timber, you will have to burn off the paint, and start from scratch. To remove the paint, you can either use a blow torch or hot air gun, but make sure NO HEAT is applied to the glass, as it will crack, and the cost and agro of re-glazing will need to be added to the bill, along with any collateral damage that may occur.  All windows and doors should have a good waterproof mastic seal between the frame and the masonry with the proper frame sealant,  and try to match the paintwork colour, or as near as, after the repainting is completed. 

Any masonry should be painted with a suitable breathable masonry paint. Any new or bare wood should be treated with knotting fluid, and suitably primed before applying undercoat and topcoat.  I am not the greatest painter in the world but I do enjoy it, and the best paint job is always achieved by proper preparation work, and that is really reflected in the finish!  For interior woodwork, I normally recommend an eggshell finish (which is almost matt) but outside I would recommend gloss!

I have just finished trying out some very expensive exterior paint, by one of the best known brands in the country, and its water based!  Now I know it is better for the environment, but it didn’t cover like an oil based gloss, it was like an eggshell, no a satin finish, and you could see the brush marks in it, so we will be rubbing it down and re-coating in an oil based gloss! 

Lastly when I paint windows I tend to overpaint, onto the glass a little to seal the window, and when the paints dry and hard, I use a razor blade glass paint stripper to strip back the excess. So if your place needs painting, get your brushes out, and do it before the bad weather comes! The paint supplier with the best deals, and where the trade go to buy their paint is Chris Stevens of Holloway Road London, and that’s where I go to buy all my paint.

Tommy Walsh

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