Nailing It Down — Paint is a key to making most houses look better

Today we’re providing some questions and answers about how to get — and keep — your home looking nice.

Remember, we at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor are here for your home maintenance questions. (Call Monday through Thursdays at 533-7828.) Who knows, maybe you’ll even see your question in one of our future columns!

Q. If there is one thing I can do to make my house look better, what would it be?

A. Great question and one we love answering in one word. Paint! For most homes around here — where constant dampness and salty air can make the need for painting more frequent — a nice paint job not only protects your investment, it also really spruces up your house!

By preventing moisture from getting into your siding and trim, a well maintained paint job helps prevent paint failure, mold, mildew, dry rot and even some unwanted bugs that thrive when those conditions are allowed to persist.

Depending on how close you live to the salt water and other factors, you need to consider painting your house about every five to nine years. However, you can prolong the life of a good paint job with a good scrub with a brush on an extendable pole in soapy water (Dawn) followed by a good rinse with a garden hose. Avoid power washers for this purpose because in the wrong hands they can cause damage to the paint and siding!

If your paint job is still looking good and you’re looking for something else to increase overall “curb appeal,” try acting like you are a potential homebuyer and ask yourself some tough questions about what you see when driving up to the house?

Are the garbage cans the first thing you see? Is there a pile of junk in the driveway, an ugly or even OK lawn? Is there a poorly maintained lawn edge that goes over the sidewalks or into the weedy garden beds and up through broken gate and twined through the cyclone fence that frames your property?

How about bags of garbage behind the garage or a junky, green moldy car or old boat full of compost and mosquito infested water that you have been living with for years, but no longer notice. Just a little elbow grease, in a short time, can make a remarkable difference in curb appeal.

Q. Painting the whole house can see so overwhelming. Where do I even start?

A. Before you get the paint, make sure to think of the other elements that will affect your paint job. These might include cleaning a mossy roof or unplugging and cleaning the gutters.

If you have a mossy roof, take a stiff broom and remove as much as possible. To kill the roots, use the powdered variety of Moss Off following the manufacturer’s directions.

When that’s done, clean the gutters, downspouts and fascia with soapy water and a soft brush, rinsing all thoroughly. Now you’re ready to prep for painting!

Q. What is included in a good prep for painting?

A. Think in terms of making sure the surfaces you plan to paint are ready to receive paint. That means using some good ole fashioned elbow grease.

Begin on the side with the most mildew and bad paint. Lay down tarps to catch the chips from scraping. Then apply 30 Second cleaner per directions and scrub vigorously from bottom to top. Then, let the concoction sit for less than a minute, finally rinsing all the surfaces thoroughly with clear water.

As we mentioned before, we do not recommend the use of a power washer, having seen so much damage from them over the years, and because you need to control the loose chips. When you’re done, take a break and let the house dry.

Q. What do I need to do to prime the house?

A. Make sure the walls are bone dry. Then spot prime all the bare wood surfaces with a good quality primer designed for the material you are covering and compatible with the paint you are going to use.

After the primer is dry, you’re ready to caulk the cracks and crevasses for appearance as well as weatherproofing around doors and windows. Choose a good quality, paintable, 35-year caulk.

A wet finger works well for smoothing any caulk line to perfection, keeping it in the crack and not creating an ugly smear or bulging mass. Seek perfection with this sticky stuff and it will greatly reward you in the finished product.

Once the caulk and primer are dry, you’re ready for a super paint job.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, or 1-866-533-7828, or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.