In all, D'Amato and his team will spread and spray 53 gallons of paint and finishes on this house: 8 gallons of sealer, 15 gallons of primer, 15 gallons of the burnt-orange body paint, 12 gallons of trim paint and 3 gallons of deep green on the shutters. Total paint cost: $1,530. If he were charging a client, D'Amato estimates the total for materials and labor would come in at about $20,000. "The scraping to bare wood is what really elevates that price," he says. A less vigorous scrape could drop the cost by half, to as little as $10,000. As the sprayer's compressor groans and the last coat hisses into place, D'Amato's affinity for his craft suddenly makes perfect sense. Once forlorn, just another big old Boston-area house gone to seed, the Victorian is now breathtaking. Sweaty, rumpled and dappled orange, D'Amato shades his eyes and takes a long, loving look at the flawless facade. "This is not a color change," he says. "This is a transformation." An Expert Evaluates Old Paint
1. CRACKS. Numerous horizontal and vertical fissures signal that oil-based paint is losing its grip and must be removed. When the buildup is more than 1/16 inch thick, as it is here, sheer weight is part of the problem. "There's just too much paint on this place," Andrew D'Amato says. 2. GRAY WOOD. Weathered wood makes a poor base for new paint. Because sunlight degrades the lining that holds wood cells together, surface fibers no longer bond to the wood underneath. New paint will stick?but just to a surface that's about to be sloughed off. Peeling will reappear. 3. BRIGHT WOOD. Underneath all the gunk is wood that looks as good as new?and may be even better at holding paint than clapboards sold today are. Old clapboards often came from trees that grew slowly and were rift-sawn to minimize warp.
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