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Need to repaint our house - many questions!

Hello all,

My wife and I have decided we've got to get our house repainted. Not only due to the color, but also due to the status of the paint that's currently on the home. We have a house built in 1948 that has wood siding.

In many places the paint is bubbling, splitting, and flaking off. It appears that it was a shoddy paint job slapped on over a previous paint job. We can't tell how many layers of paint there are, but the paint chips that come off are pretty thick.

We've got a few concerns about repainting the house, and before we get quotes I wanted to raise them here and get your responses.

1. Does all the paint have to be stripped off the house before a new coat goes up?
2. How do we know if the paint below is lead free? Is that something we should worry about? We have a 7 month old infant and I wouldn't want to expose her to any dangers.
3. Would it make more sense to explore new siding for the house?

Thanks all.

Re: Need to repaint our house - many questions!

With so many unknowns, you owe it to yourself to think about replacing the wood siding. There are a few more practical exteriors than wood siding, for your location, near the beach.

So before you talk to painters, get some estimates for stucco or other ideas.

Re: Need to repaint our house - many questions!


A house of that age could very well have some lead paint on it. It was produced up until the early 70's and was legal to use up the existing stock until 1978. You can buy a test kit at Home Depot for under $30. If it does have lead on the house and there is considerable preparation neccessary, look for your estimate to go through the roof! If a contractor disturbs more than 6 square feet of siding, he must take extensive measures to control the flying dust and chips. Of course, this drives the cost sky high. The Feds have really nailed painting contractors around the country with fines that virtually put them out of business. However, you as a DYI homeowner are exempt from that law.

To answer your question as to whether the old siding has to be sc****d clean: no it does not, but you want to get down to paint which is still firmly holding. Of course, the more scraping and feathering with sandpaper, the better the final appearance. A flat house paint will hide surface imperfections better than higher sheens. Do prime the entire house. If the siding is redwood or cedar, use an oil based primer. Otherwise, an acrylic primer is fine. If your final paint color is a strong color, have the primer tinted toward the final color. My preference is for a premium 100%acrylic paint with 100% titanium dioxide as its white pigment. "Pennywise and pound foolish" applies when it comes to housepaint. That said, some of the national brands are unjustifiably expensive. $25 to $35 will buy excellent housepaint.

Siding that has had a history of bad peeling will probably continue to have peeling problems, regardless of how much preparation is done. Granted, today's acrylic paints are much better at holding than the oil paints of decades past.

Personally, I would look into replacing the siding, especially if you are in your home for the long run.
I have Hardi-Plank on my home and have been very satisfied with it. It holds paint well, won't burn and insects don't like eating it. Changing the siding would also give you the opportunity to tighten up the house with new rain screen and possibly additional insulation. A 1948 house would have had only minimal insulation. You could use solid foam sheets on the exterior or inject additional insulation into the wall cavities.

Whatever the new siding, consider mounting to battens, rather than directly in contact with the rainscreen. This minimalizes any chance of water reaching the sheathing. It also provides a thermal break to keep the suns heat from being passed into the walls. Further, it allows the back of the siding to breathe and dry out - the probable reason your old siding peeled in the first place.

Just some options, but then, it is easy for me to spend your money! :)

Re: Need to repaint our house - many questions!

Thanks guys. All of the detailed direction has really gotten us thinking about what to do with our home.

We're in a pickle I suppose, since my wife and I are paralyzed a bit with remodels in our house due to our fear of cost expansion/scope creep when we remodel. We're concerned about the unknowns and slightly knowns, and what that will mean.

Replacing the siding sounds like a great option. And if we're adding new siding, we should add insulation. We should probably get our old wiring upgraded, since the walls will be open. If there is any termite damage that we haven't seen, that could be corrected. My fear is the overall cost of all of these things combined.

Regardless, I'm going to start getting quotes so I can at least get some sense of possible costs!

Re: Need to repaint our house - many questions!

If money is no object, you can do it all at the same time. But otherwise you need to make a list, wait until you have all the funds available and ready to go to it all. They projects be cheaper to do with the exterior walls down.

However some of the things could wait, depending on the situation. For instance, if you have electric wires in flex, you can pull new wires later, even with the walls up. Same is true with blown insulation.

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