Pete Martin The Painter

A fresh coat of paint can change the mood of a room.

Pete Martin the Painter, Gloucester, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Rockport, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Martin the Painter, Manchester, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Essex, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Ipswich, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Wheham, MA;  Pete Martin the Painter, Hamilton, MA;  Pete Martin the Painter, Rowley, MA; Pete Martin the Painter, Beverly, MA;Pete Martin the Painter, Salem, MA:



Keeping up with New Technologies (An Educated Painter)

My grandfather use to paint. He painted steeples. I could never paint steeples for a living. I do not mind heights, but I have my limits. The painting profession has changed very little since the time that my grandfather painted…on the surface. But in reality better paints, better prep tools, and better safety tools are constantly being developed, and I want to try them all.

I am now working on my seventh year on my own. And, I have learned that there are essentially two types of painters when it comes to new technologies. Those that refuse to try new things, and those that are eager to try anything that makes their job easier and better. I am the latter. I am not saying that you cannot get a quality paint job from those that are set in their ways, but there is so much out there that can make painting easier on the painter and home owner, and hopefully make the job last longer.

Not everything that I try work. I have a lot of equipment in my storage garage that has not seen the light of day for quite some time. There are others that are game changers. I am going to talk about a couple of these briefly,


Festool is a German tool company. Although I am not a fan of Cadillac cars, the saying about them is apropos…Festool is the Cadillac of sanders. From what I have been told all of the tools that the company makes are top notch. I have a cousin that bought one of its sanders specifically designed for autobody shops. And, anytime that I have run into a carpenter that uses its tools they have high praise for them. I use the sanders. The reason that I use them is three fold. They are workhorses, they design a sander for almost every possible situation (I will soon purchase my sixth sander) and they are clean. The sanders attach to extractors (vacuums) that turn on when the sander is turned on and turn off five seconds after the sander is turned off. The extractor sucks up almost all of the dust…99% if the entire surface of the sandpaper is in contact with the surface being sanded. This means a much cleaner work site, and a lot less time spent cleaning.

Mad Dog Primers

Mad Dog Primers are a game changer. Essentially the primers are glue like. I use this primer on exterior jobs when the surface is in rough shape, or is difficult to prep properly. Such an example would be lead paint. Whenever I run into lead paint that is a really bad state of affairs I use Mad Dog. Mad Dog can be used over glossy paint without being sanded, and it can be used with somewhat weathered wood. When lead work is done, workers have to wear Tyvek suits, and plastic has to be laid out to keep dust from contaminating the ground. So, the less sanding the scraping the better. The company also claims that its primers allow the paint job to last up to twenty years. I have not been using it long enough to verify, but I have used it on wood that was so beat up that I felt it should not have been painted. Five years later and it still looks great.

Why I Do Not Like Behr Paint

I recently did a job that I used Behr paint. As every time that I use Behr, I did not purchase the paint. The home owner bought it. I have worked for these customers before, and they are very nice people, and I enjoyed working for them very much, but by the end of the job I had had enough of working with Behr. I essentially have a policy that as long as the customer is willing to spend the time to get the paint, I will use Behr. However, I am seriously considering adding on extra labor hours when using the paint. And, here are the reasons why:

  • Drag: When I cut in the ceiling and trim the paint dragged. The average person might not f drag. But, if you paint for a living you will feel it. The best way to describe it is that you have to work much harder to get a nice straight line in the cut. The paint is essentially working against you.

  • Drips: When I moved the paint from the cut can to the wall drips would go all over the place. This does not happen with higher quality paints. Why does this matter to a painter. When you step off the ladder and step on the drop cloth there is a good chance your foot is going to step in wet paint, which can then be tracked all over the house.

  • Drips and Sags on the Wall:. A drip is pretty self explanatory to most. A sag is like a really wide drip. I rolled out the wall and go back latter on to find drips and sags all over the place. This happens every time that I use Behr, and it is a pain to go back to fix, and I am always concerned that I am missing some. If you are a professional painter, you do not want to have to constantly going back to look for sags and drips.

  • HIde: This is the ability of a paint to hide the color underneath it. Some colors have a really hard time doing this, such as reds and some yellows and oranges. I was covering a blue with a peach. This should have not be a problem, but I had to roll a third coat of the peach.

  • Backrolling: This was only a problem with the ceiling paint, which I believe was Behr’s lowest quality ceiling paint. When you roll a wall or ceiling, the roller is often moved all over the place to make sure that everything is covered. Periodically a back roll is done. This is done with a dry (not a lot of paint on it) roller. The roller is very lightly rolled over the paint in a straight line. This is to get a smooth and even appearance. The Behr ceiling paint set up so fast that it was almost impossible to back roll. And, in general just rolling with it was like working with paste. It did not want to roll.

There are also some things that home owners should really think about when purchasing Behr.

  • .Touch Ups: Behr paint does not retain its color very well. The few times that I have attempted to touch up with Behr it has not gone well. One time I had to repaint an entire great room because a few small touch ups stuck out like a sore thumb.

  • Knowledge: The people working at Home Depot behind the paint counter know nothing about paint. They are not the people to ask about advice. Over the summer I painted an exterior with Behr. After I had gotten a big chuck of the first coat on, I took a close look at the paint I was using. The Home Depot store had given the home owner interior paint.

  • Cost: The argument that I always make to customers is it really worth the cost and time to drive well out or your way to purchase a few gallons of paint that is of lower quality just because it cost $10 less a gallon

  • Trust Your Painter: I did a big repaint of an entire house. Customer bought the Behr paint. He bought way too much. I could have purchased a much better paint and a more appropriate paint (they bought paint for the trim that really was not well suited for trim) for less money than what they spent on the Behr paint.


I recently painted a two car garage ceiling (pictures are below). It had a lot of stains on it. When home owners want me to fix stains, they almost always assume that I am going to use Kilz. This product has be marketed as a great stain blocker. It might block some stains, but not all. In the past it has failed to work for me. Therefore, if I am dealing with stains, I use Zinsser’s Bin. It has never failed. Bin is a nasty product to work with. I always use a throw away brush, or assume that the brush that I am using will be trashed after I am done.

Bin is a shellac based product, and has a very watery consistency. If you are doing a big job (like an entire ceiling) you will need to vent, or if it is too cold out to vent, wear a mask. I suggest using a mask for any big job with Bin. For job that is in the pictures below, I used a mask, wore long sleeves, a hat, rubber gloves, and work glasses that covered the side of my eyes. the glasses and my my gloves were covered with paint specks. Luckily I was able to clean off the glasses with denatured alcohol.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture after using the Bin. One coat did a great job at covering the stains. Sometimes, two coats are needed. But, it is important to ethat even if the stains can still be seen, the shellac keeps the stain from coming through to the latex finish coat. Only when the stain is still really noticable after a first coat of Bin, will I use a second. On this job, the Bin did such a great job with one coat, that I was able to finish the job with only one coat of flat white paint. This was a garage ceiling, so the home owner was not overly concerned with the ceiling looking perfect. If I was painting a bedroom or living room, it is most likely that I would have applied a second coat of ceiling paint.

Fixing Corner Bead on Plaster Wall

I recently finished up a new construction home. The job that was done by the the plasterers was, to say the least, sub par.  We noticed that one of the entrance ways in the kitchen had a long crack about 1 1/2 inch away from the corner all the way up the side of the entrance. This is a good sign that the corner bead is separating from the wall. When I knocked out the plaster to repair it, I found that there was no wall for the corner bead to attach. The plasters had put no blue board behind the bead board.

Durabond (a very strong type of joint compound) was put in the gap, and then fibafuse (a fiberglass joint compound tape that is seven times stronger than paper tape) was used to help ensure that the crack does not come back. It look brand new once sanded, primed and painted.



You Must Prime! "Paint and Primer" in one wil not work

I recently painted a living room that had a few areas were the paint was failing.  One area was much worse than the rest. For this I followed my typical procedure. I got rid of all of the loose paint. and then put some spackle on area that had no paint. I must note that spcakle is really not designed for this purpose. It is more of a hole filling product. If I had more than one area that needed attention then I would have used joint compound to skim coated. But, when you want a quick turn around, on a small job, I find that spackle works well.  I use the spackle  to obtain a smoother appearance. Once the spackle  was dry, I sanded the area. When I did this more of the paint came loose. So, I once again took off the loose paint and used the spackle. This time I used a hair dryer to speed the drying time of the spackle. When I used the dryer, paint on the area below the patch was flapping (like in the wind).....more loose paint! What was going on?  I looked at  a piece of paint and found that the back of it was not white. This indicates that the walls were not primed before they were painted. Sometimes painters use tinted primer, but this was not the case.

This picture shows the backside of the paint I pulled off the wall. Behind it is pure white primer.

This picture shows the backside of the paint I pulled off the wall. Behind it is pure white primer.

So, the only real solution to the problem is to take off all of the old paint, fix any imperfections that come with removing the paint, sand, prime and then paint. Most people do not want to pay for this to be done. I informed the home owner of what was going on, and why it is happening. What I wound up doing is I put a coat of primer on the failing area, put some spackle over it, sanded and painted. It is not a perfect fix, and most likely there will be an issue in the future with failing paint.

The lesson is that there is no such thing as paint and primer in one. Primer is designed to have more grip to it than finish coat paints. If you have raw wood, plaster, blue board...ect., the best practice is to prime with an appropriate primer and then paint with a finish coat.

Horse Hair Plaster Repair

These walls were in really rough shape. The home owner wanted the wallpaper removed and then painted. I suspected that the horse hair was in poor condition, and boy was I right. When touched the plaster would crumble, there were numerous cracks, and in many places the plaster had broken away from the lathing, which resulting in the wall moving when touched.

To stabilize the plaster I used Mad Dog Deck Fix, which was recommended by Mad Dog. Around twenty-five plaster buttons were used to secure the plaster to the lathers, and copious amounts of joint compound and a fair amount of joint compound tape was used to fix the cracks and smooth out the walls.

One Old House Transformed with New Trim Color

I thought the same thing that the home owner did when I saw this house....grey and yellow do not go well together on this house built in the 1700s. I would like to take credit for the color choices, but that was all the homeowner. We changed the trim from a yellow to brown, and the doors were changed from a maroon to a golden orange. The results were drastic, and the feel of the house was transformed.

This was a lead job, which is why there are a couple of pictures of us in tyvek suits. The home owner took these pictures.

There are a few spots, you may notice, that have not been painted. These areas are being repaired by a handyman, and we will return later in the summer to finish it up,. The home owner is also having us paint the gutters and down spouts brown when we return.

When to Look for a Painter

Good contractors, in my experience, are hard to come by. What do I mean by good? Shows up on time, returns calls, texts, and emails in a timely (notice I did not say within a few minutes) fashion, knows his or her trade (can do the work properly), knows his or her limitations (a one man show should not take on jobs that should require a large crew).

Since good contractors are in high demand, they are generally pretty busy. So, if you call a guy to paint your house that has been in business for ten years, and he tells you he can start tomorrow it might be a red flag. There are of course always exceptions to the rules.  When I first started a little over four years ago I was hardly ever booked out more than a couple months. The winter is the slow season for many, they might be available tomorrow. Maybe a big job has been delayed, and you happen to call him when he is scrambling to fill the void.

 If you have a time line forwhen you want the work done, you should call a painter as soon as possible.  Especially if it is exterior work.  Exterior work is for many painters their bread and butter.  Many home owners will take on interior work, but do not want to deal with exterior work. Also, the importance of doing the job right is that much more important on exterior, home owners hire professionals.  Often, painters will start booking exterior work the Fall before the forthcoming exterior season, which usually begins around mid-May in southern New England.    Therefore, if you want to have your deck done prior to your annual Forth-of-July BBQ, it is best to not wait until the first week of June to find a painter.  If you have a graduation party that you want work done prior to, it is best to call many, many months ahead of time.  If you own a seasonal property, do not wait until you open the house in May to start looking for painters for work that you want done (this includes interior and exterior). By the time you get the work done, the season may be almost painters towards the end of the season, and they should be able to put you on their list so that as soon as the new season begins they can start the work.

The point I am trying to get across, is that good painters are busy. And, unless they have just started their business, they do not have open schedules just waited for a phone call so that they can have work for the week.  And, there really is not such thing as a painting emergency...getting a dinning room painted before the guests arrive for your Christmas party might be a priority for you, but few painters will be willing to rearrange their schedules and tell other customers they have to wait in order to get the work done. It is best for you to decide what you want done well in advance, and they start calling painters right away.

Coffered Ceilings

Well, this was supposed to be a much bigger post about a recent job that I did in my own home removing wallpaper that was not installed properly. This resulting in a very time consuming removal and a lot of repairs before the walls were ready to be painted.  However, I posted the pictures on my phone on Facebook as a video, and for some reason I can no longer find them on my phone, nor can I get them in picture format from Facebook. I tried posting the video here, but I just could not get it to work.


Well, the other big part of the job was fixing the coffered ceiling. A coffered ceiling is a ceiling that is broken into sections by trim. When painted properly they look great. When the trim is painted the same color as the ceiling their is really nothing special about them...the trim blends into the ceiling and is lost. To make matters worse on this job was that that last time the trim was painted it was rolled and the stipple from the roller was on the trim. Trim is supposed to not have stipple on it.


Painted Beams! Fixed

Do you own home that has exposed beams.  There are a lot of them in the northeast. They are beautiful, unless they are painted.  I recently bought a 200 year old home. The downstairs apartment had beams in them that were painted. It was a lot of work, and I was not able to get all of the paint out of the crevices, but I am very happy with the results.  If you have painted beams, give me a call.

Someone decided that painting 200 year old beams was a good idea!   

Someone decided that painting 200 year old beams was a good idea!


I think that this looks a lot better.

I think that this looks a lot better.

New Face for an old House

First looked at this house last year.  It was built around 1860, so it has 150 years of paint on it. And a lot of the paint was lead.  The paint job was ugly.  Essentially, at one point some of the paint on the clapboards had been strip while some of the old lead paint had be left in place.  Wherever the lead paint remain it was just an eyesore. It was thick, and cracking and in many places just falling off the wood.

There are a lot of challenges to removing lead paint.  The home owner wanted all of the ugly stuff gone. First, it is a lead job, so we have to follow all of the regulations when dealing with lead. Second, lead paint is as hard as nails.  Most of this paint had to be taken off with a paint shaver, or we used heat guns on the trim.  Even our most powerful Festool sanders were no challenge to the lead paint on the house.  The sandpaper would gum up in no time at all.  Using the heat guns was a slow and meticulous process. And the paint shaver can be really rough on the wood.

As a side note, we were not doing an abatement job. Those types of jobs are an entirely different beast. We were just working with lead safely, and we were not removing all of it.

Also, we are doing this house in stages. Essentially this stage included the walls that face the road, not including the porch area.  Some of the work that is not completed is due to waiting for the carpenter to complete his work. To give you an idea of the extent of such work, it took two guys approximately eight days to do this work...but in the end they were very happy with the end results


Kitchen Cabinets

Just finished these up last week. They were cleaned with TSP, sanded, primed with Zinnser Cover Stain, sanded, and then two coats of California Ultraplate. I brushed them, as opposed to spraying. 

Let's Talk About Decks, Porches, and Front Stairs

It is that time of year...early Spring with thoughts of enjoying long warm days outside, and ending your day with a grilled steak and cold beer on your beautiful deck.  The problem is that when you look outside your back window that deck is far from beautiful.  Although structural sound, the last time it was cleaned or stained was well over a decade ago. Before you decide to do anything to the deck, take a quick glance at this blog which will hopefully help you moving forward.

Decks Take a Beating

It is important to realize that decks take a pounding.   In the Winter they are bombarded with snow, ice and sleet.  It the Summer they are in constant sun, or shade which can encourage mold and mildew. And, they are constantly walked on, and have furniture dragged across them in the warmer months.  The reason for pointing this all out is that unlike the rest of the exterior of your home, whatever you put on a deck it will not last as long as the paint or stain on the rest or your home.  For the horizontals (the stuff you walk on), you can expect to have to stain every couple of years, if you want to protect the wood and keep it looking good.

There is no Quick Fix

A lot of companies such as Behr and Rustoleum are selling products that you just roll or brush on your deck without and prep and it will restore the beauty to you once ugly deck.  These products are nothing more than thick paint and they do not work.  Go online, not to the website of the company that sells the product, and read the results.  I am often find online reviews very dubious, but in this case they are right on.  I have seen failures of this stuff many times.  And, once they fail you have not only wasted your time money, it is now going to be more difficult to do the job correctly due to the need to remove the "quick fix" before a real stain is applied.

Preparation is Key

If the deck has grey wood it needs to be removed.  This can be done with sanding or with chemicals.  If it is big deck I recommend chemicals.  It will also need to be cleaned.  Some products will remove grey wood and clean. You will also need to neutralize the chemicals that remove the grey wood. 

Choose the Correct Stain

No matter what stain company you decide to go with there a few things you should consider.  Solid stains should not be used on the deck (the part that you will walk on and drag furniture across). Solid stains are only made in acrylic and they do not penetrate into the wood as non-solid stains do.  Therefore they will begin to wear soon after they are applied.  Go with a semi-solid, semi-transparent or transparent stain on the deck.  If you really do want the solid stain look on the deck, you can do something called a wet coat with the a semi-solid. This requires the second coat to be applied before the first coat is dry.  Therefore you have a coat of stain that has penetrated the wood, but looks like a solid.  Although there are many good acrylic stains, I still prefer oil over acrylic. I think that they just last longer. 

The Key is Maintenance

Once you spend the time or money (or both) getting your deck to look nice, the key is to not let it deteriorate to a level that it will once again need grey wood removed.  Cleaning and applying a fresh coat is much easier and cheaper than a total redo.


Finley and Marlboro Blues

Here are a bunch of pictures from a recent repaint.  This is the job that I spoke about in my last blog concerning using paint samples which you can view here. As you can tell from the pictures, this was a fairly big job..a lot of the joint compound tape had to be removed and replaced.  I use Fibafuse which claims to be 70% stronger than paper, and has the added advantage of being porous.  This means that air bubbles under the tape, which can happen with paper, are not an issue.

Benjamin Moore Regal Select Finley Blue was used in the bedroom and Benjamin Moore Aura Marlboro Blue was applied in the bathroom.  Both were done in eggshell.  Advance white was applied to the trim and Benjamin Moore 508 ceiling paint, which is an ultra flat pain, was applied to the ceiling in the bedroom.  Aura eggshell white was put on the ceiling in the bathroom.

Paint Samples--Use Them to Avoid Disaster (well not quite a disaster)

I just finished a job that took a bit less than two weeks.  The job consisted of a bedroom, what I have been calling an entrance hallway. and a medium sized bathroom.  The hallway is attached to the bedroom, so that when you walked through the bedroom door you have to walk about 10-15 feet before you actually get into the bedroom.

In the bedroom, where the wall meets the ceiling, all of the joint compound tape, was failing. The ceiling was slanted going from about seven feet to about 12 feet. There were also several areas in the hallway and bathroom that had failing joint compound tape. Plus the room was full of furniture..not easy to move around in.

Before any paint was put on the wall the joint compound had to be fixed. This involved removing the old tape, sanding the ridge resulting from the removal of the old tape.  I am not sure if all painters do this step, and I generally only do int on corners.  I find it often very hard to apply the new tape without applying too much mud. I also had to add the additional step of putting Durabond into the gaps between the wall and the ceilings. This job was very similar to a job that I did in the fall of 2014.  You can check out the blog on this job here. The gaps were most likely the reason that the tape failed. Once the new tape and mud was applied everything had to be cleaned, then sanded. All of the new joint compound had to be primed before it was painted (no paint in primer in one will not work). On the ceiling areas that were primer were painted with ceiling paint, and then the entire ceiling was give a coat of Benjamin Moore 508 ceiling paint...great paint...usually one coat will do.  All of the trim was give one coat of Benjamin Moore Advance semi-gloss.

All of this work took me about 5 1/2 days.  then the walls paint went on.  I am not sure of the total surface area...I usually guesstimate and adjust the price of paint based on what I used.  The first coat in the bathroom and hallway took one gallon, so I am guessing the wall surface in was about 800 square feet.  I put on the paint on the largest of the walls before my morning break, and the the homeowner looked at it after it had dried a bit, and she did not like the color! Obviously, I had suggested to her that she might want to try a color sample, but she said that it was not needed. 

The home owner commented that she thought that the color would be darker, and it was a bit darker once I applied the second coat, but still not as dark as she thought it would be.  When first viewing the color she told me that she would get used to it.  And, I did go back several days later and she told me that she did like the color, and was very happy with the way the job turned out. She was lucky.  I have had customers learn that they dislike colors very much after I apply them.  This particular customer did tell me that she still was not overjoyed with the bathroom color, but she would get used to it.

When you factor in the price of labor and materials, paint is a small fraction of the overall cost of most paint jobs. However, if it is not the color you you expected, it can ruin the entire job. And, even though paint is not overly expensive, applying it can be costly.  Also, if you have a very large room that requires several gallons of paint, and the painters bought all of the necessary paint already, replacing it with a color you like can get expensive. Therefore, it is always a good idea to get a sample of the paint that you want to put on the walls. And, put it on several walls.  The walls in the room will not get the same light, and therefore will look different from one wall to the next throughout the day.  It is also best to view the color throughout the day.  The color will not look the same in the mid day light as it will in the evening when the only light source will be artificial light. 

What are you paying for when you hire a painter

I thought that this might be a good time to explain, for those that care to know, what goes into running a small painting company. And then perhaps they will better understand what goes into the cost of hiring a legitimate painting company.

Paint companies are not simply a DIY guys (or gals) that you are hiring to paint your room.  What I mean by this is that painting a room for a professional painter is more than just purchasing a couple brushes, a roller, drop cloths and a couple gallons of paint and then painting your room for a fee.

Painters have a ton of equipment that they do not charge home owners for directly.  When I write up a contract, the expenses that I charge to home owners go into four categories: labor, expenses, paint, and materials.  Labor and paint are pretty straight forward.  The difference between materials and expenses might need a little explanation.  Materials encompasses the sundries that can be easily quantified and charged to the home owner.  Such items include such things as sandpaper, blue tape, and joint compound.   Expenses, although they sound much like materials, are costs that really can not be directly charged to a home owner, but must be accounted for in order to ensure that a painting company can make a decent profit.

 I try to only take the equipment that I need to a job.  This way I take up as little space as possible space in the clients home.  However, even as a one man show, I own fifteen ladders. Why? different jobs require different ladders. I own a three piece, sixteen foot extension ladder.  Since it has three sections, instead of two, it is very compact when it is not extended, which makes it easier to move around the inside of home.  It is very useful when I paint stairwells. I also own a couple of ladders that allow me to set them up on stairs.  Even though I own these ladders, I do not use them on every job. 

Ladders are a fairly durable item, and they will last a long time. But there are many tools that will eventually need to be replaced. And, pros do not like to purchase cheap equipment.  Paint brushes can cost anywhere from $15 to $40 and not every paint brush is appropriate for every job.  Many painters, including myself, have certain paint brushes that they use for each type of paint they use.  Paint brushes have a fairly short life span if used a lot.  There are also tools that last longer, but will need maintenance and eventual replacement.  These include items such as sanders, dusters, brush cleaners...ect

Other expenses that must be accounted for by paint contractors, in order for them to run a profitable business, are the costs such as insurance, fees, and rental space costs.  Registering a company with the state cost money.  If a contractor is certified to work with lead, he must figure in the cost to take the class and the license from the state.  Liability and vehicle insurance, and workers compensation (if he has employees) are all necessary if he runs a legitimate company.

Thus, when a paint contractor gives you an estimate, he is giving you a price based on what it will cost him toto cover his expenses and make a profit.  He cannot simply only figure in the costs of the specific items (roller cover, paint brush, blue tape, paint) used on the job, and the amount of time that it will take to complete the job.  Doing so, would quickly lead to the painter to look for employment in another field.

Why I Buy Local

I was in the paint store that I purchase most of my materials the other day, and while I was waiting in line I heard a women ask, what I assumed was her husband, "why does a gallon of paint cost $60?"  I almost turned to them and told them why, but I held my tongue.

What would I have told them? My simple answer would it have been....because it is darn good paint.  Do not believe the hype from that box stores that continually tells us that they have the best rated paint.  It is not the best. It is not terrible paint, but it is not the best.  Quality paints that I use on a regular basis such as C2, Benjamin Moore, California, and Pittsburgh make better paints.  Their paints are easier to work with, cover better, they hide (the paint underneath) better, and they retain their colors much longer.

I would have also told them, if they had the time, that the box stores pay minimum wage to its employees and the only thing that they know about paint is how to mix the colors--a box store employee once told me this when I was stupid enough to ask him a couple technical questions concern paint.  And, sometimes they have trouble doing this simple task of mixing paint.  When it comes to matching paint, the only ones that I trust are real paint store employees.

What does this lack of knowledge mean. Let me relate a story that a paint store owner recently related on a website for professional painters.  An older women came into his store asking how to properly treat her deck.  She had gone to one of the box stores and bought the thick deck paint/stain that is very popular with home owners lately...the stuff you just roll onto your weathered deck...and looking deck.  Well surprise, it did not work.  To me this is not a surprise, I have been told by more than one home owner that have used these products that they do not last. The women went back to the box store and asked why the product had failed after three months.  She was told that she did not do use enough.  The second time she applied more, and then it failed after five months.  Finally she went to a real paint store.

The paint store owner told the women how to properly prepare the deck to be stained.  She had been told employee of the box store that not prep was needed. A very brief overview of proper deck prep is needed. At the very least a deck needs to be cleaned to remove mold, mildew and dirt. If grey wood is present it also needs to be removed.  Good adhesion of stain and paint is not possible if dirt is present, and applying either to grew wood will lead to premature failure of the coating.  So, yes, the women did need to prep the deck.  But, the box stores are all about convince home owners that paint projects can be "easypeasy." When she was at the real paint store, she was told the proper products to purchase in order to complete the job. When she was told the price of the products she apparently told the owner of the paint store, that he was ripping her off and stormed out of the store.

The reality is that the box stores have turned a big project such as repainting a great room or staining a deck into an easy one day task.  "No primer needed"..."No need to clean or sand the deck."...Just apply the product that is 50% cheaper than what is sold in paint stores and enjoy the rest of you weekend.  Home owners have been so inundated with such garbage, that when they are told the real price of doing the job properly they believe that they are being ripped off.

The simple fact is that the paint in real paint stores cost more because they sell really good paint, and the employees are very well trained and very knowledgeable about what they sell.  And, they are paid a good wage, and not a minimum wage with little more training than how to mix paint. Thus, in order to keep these well trained employees, the owners must have higher prices for their better quality paints.  In the two paint stores that I frequent the most, they have have had almost no turnover of employees in the three years that I have been purchasing products from them.


Ipe Porch

I recently refinished an Ipe porch (pictures are below)  And, it was quite a learning experience.

For those that are new to Ipe wood, Here is a bit of information that I learned before and during the process of restoring this deck. And, by restore I mean that the deck had not been treated for several years the wood had greyed.

  • Ipe wood is native of Central and South America. 
  • Ipe wood is extremely hard.  It sinks in water.
  • Ipe, I was told, is very hard to burn.
  • Ipe is beautiful, but it also require a lot of upkeep.

When I say hard, I mean hard.  It is often referred to an "iron wood." Let me relate my experience with the wood so that you can get an idea of what this means. I had hoped to use a deck sander to sand this porch which was just under 750 square feet.  However, almost every piece of wood was concave, and thus the deck sander would only sand the edge of the wood. I needed to get a sander that I could use to sand the entire piece of wood.  It took me a little over two days with a power Festool sander to complete this deck. I used 60 grit paper and I had to replace the sandpaper every 24 square feet. Festool sandpaper is the most durable sandpaper that I have ever last much longer than most of the paper you will get in a hardware store. The Ipe wore the paper out. 

When sanding, I was told by more than one individual that 80 grit is the highest grit that should be used on Ipe. Anything higher will polish the wood...close the grain so that it will not accept an oil.

First the porch, and this is true for any porch or deck, had to be cleaned. It is not necessary to own a power washer to clean a deck.  In fact, if you do not have a lot of skill with a power washer then you should not use one with Ipe wood, damage done by the washer will stick out like a sore thumb.  I treated this deck three times and never used a power washer...just a stiff brush, elbow grease, and a hose.

After it was cleaned, the sanding commenced.  Never sand then clean.  Sanding before you clean will embed the dirt into the grain of the wood

If you have an Ipe deck or porch and you do not know what it was treated with the last time it was finished, then it has to be removed.  I used Benjamin Moore remove to take off any remaining oil that had been previously used.

Finally, I used a brightener to bring the wood back to its original color...before the elements had gotten to it.

Then, one coat of Penofin Hardwood oil.  This is the fist time that I used this product.  Pretty simple to apply.  Temperature of the wood must be above 45 degrees.  I applied with a brush, let is sit between 20-30 minutes and then wiped of the excess.  I started in the middle of the deck and moved towards the sides.  I started out doing two feet of at a time. I did one side, let it sit, while I did the other side.  I wrote down the time that I finished applying the oil so that I would not wipe it off too early. By the time I was done, I had work it out that the optimal area to do was 4 feet of wood at a time (the porch was 12 feet wide). By the time I applied the oil to 4 feet, it was time to wipe the last four feet that I had oiled.


Dirty Tongue and Groove Ceiling

This exterior ceiling was cleaned about a month before I started the rest of the job.  When I cleaned it, it was very dirty.  House is near a heavily used road and the ceiling was essentially black.  There was no intention to refinish the ceiling, but when I came back to do the other work, I noticed that most of the urethane was almost gone.

The grime had stained the wood, and it was a lot of work to get it looking good again.  I was not able to get all of the stains out, but I was very happy with the end result.

The images progress from the condition that I found it when I arrived, partially sanded, totally sanded, and two coats of spar urethane (it still needs one more).


Why Sand?

At a recent job the client that I was working for wondered out loud why the walls in the house looked so bad--the paint came off very easily.  I asked her if she had sanded before she painted. She said no. 

The purpose of sanding is to create a surface for the new coat of paint to grab on to.  The only time that it really is not necessary is when painting over flat paint, but even then I sand just for extra piece of mind--except on flat ceilings of course.

At another job, i was working on a stairwell and the paint on the skirts was peeling off very easily.


Oil paint was not sanded before painting with a latex paint

Oil paint was not sanded before painting with a latex paint

There really is only one solution to this problem: scrape, wash, sand, clean of dust and paint.  I could have just sanded and painted.  However, the substrate, the old paint that I would have been painting over, was still unstable--it was not adhering properly.  And the new paint would not look good long.  One ding, which is easy on stairs, and the peeling would start up again.

Luckily there was only a little bit of scraping to do.  Imagine if I had en entire wall, or many walls that this was happening.  An, easy repaint will quickly become very expensive.