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Paint maintenance for interior and exterior surfaces.

Paint Maintenance for Interior and Exterior Surfaces

Successful paint maintenance for interior and exterior surfaces depends on three key factors which directly influence product performance: the selection of the best product for the job, proper surface preparation and proper application techniques. In addition, a general knowledge of the reasons for painting and of common paint problems is essential.

Once the property manager is familiar with these areas, he or she can expertly choose the best product to ensure a long-lasting, low-maintenance paint job.

Reasons for painting

Basically, painting is used for decoration, protection, and illumination. Decoration is perhaps the number one reason for painting. The use of color combinations which are pleasing to the eye creates a pleasant environment in which to work and live. Our environments are that much more improved when they are given a fresh coat of paint.

Protection is also a very important reason for painting. Paint is used to protect such surfaces as wood, steel, and masonry that are destroyed by continued use and exposure.

Painting is also used to help solve illumination problems. Excessive glare of working light or low light levels are common in places of business. Walls and ceilings are painted to reflect artificial light in soft uniform tones that are restful to the eyes. In homes, soft color tones that reflect light evenly through a room can accentuate the beauty of furniture and fixtures.

Paint failures, causes, and cures

The failure of a paint to perform properly is the most common reason behind constant repainting work. Some of the more typical paint failures and the factors that cause them are moisture; alligatoring, cracking, and wrinkling; chalking; mildew; and checking.

Many paint failures result from moisture, either in the form of vapor trying to escape from beneath the paint film, or moisture in the form of rain, sleet, or snow trying to penetrate from the outside. The result - peeling, blistering, and flaking. To remedy this problem, the source of the moisture must be located. Then, the best method for eliminating the problem - caulking cracks, holes, and seams, and/or adding wedge vents, louvers, or exhaust fans - should be selected.

For wood surfaces, the paint should be scraped at least 12 inches out from the problem area and sanded to fresh wood, feathering on the edges. Composition board and hardboard cannot be easily sanded without damaging the substrate, so extra care must be used on these surfaces. The final step is to prime the surface with a wood primer.

For heavy peeling on metal surfaces, all paint must be removed and the surface washed with an appropriate solution, rinsed, and thoroughly dried before priming.

Intercoat peeling is the peeling of a topcoat down to the previous coat rather than the substrate. Intercoat peeling usually occurs on horizontal surfaces such as window sills or beneth overhangs. This type of peeling is usually the result of painting over water-soluble salt crystals left behind during condensation and evaporation. These salt deposits may not even be visible.

When intercoat peeling occurs, the paint should be removed and the area thoroughly washed with detergent and water, rinsed well with clean water, and allowed to dry. The surface should then be primed and a topcoat applied.

Alligatoring, cracking, and wrinkling usually result from applying several heavy coats of paint without sufficient drying time between coats, or from an undercoat which is not compatible with the finish coat. The problem occurs because the film is so thick it cannot expand and contract at the same rate as the substrate.

To remedy the problem, the old paint should be stripped to the original substrate with a power sander, chemical paint remover, wire brush, or a burner. For example, bare wood that has been exposed to weathering should be sanded to fresh wood, then primed and finished with one manufacturer's products.

After many years, a paint film breaks down to a powdery substance, causing a condition known as chalking. Chalk on any surface must be removed by washing before repainting because paint will adhere only to a sound surface. The surface should be washed with detergent and water, then rinsed well with clean water, and allowed to dry before repainting.

Mildew is a fungus that attacks any surface and can be found in virtually every climate, especially where dampness is prevalent. At times it is difficult to determine if a substrate is dirty or mildewed. If the discoloration can be removed by washing with bleach, the problem is mildew.

Mildew can be somewhat difficult to eliminate permanently. For best results, the surface should be washed with a powdered household detergent in water and rinsed thoroughly. Next, it should be scrubbed to remove mildew with a mixture of one quart household bleach in three quart of water. After the bleach has remained on the surface for a few minutes, it should be rinsed with clear water. All of the mildew must be removed or it will grow and pop through the topcoat.

Property managers should make sure that maintenance workers wear protective goggles and gloves when using bleach. Household bleach should never be mixed with ammonia, due to harmful vapors. In addition, the surface must be allowed to dry thoroughly before being painted with a mildew-resistant coating.

Checking is a cracking condition which occurs on plywood. Plywood is prone to cracking because of its method of manufacture, which involves peeling thin sheets of wood from logs. The stress later shows up as cracks, which widen during expansion and contraction from moisture and from temperature fluctuations.

If the cracking condition is not extensive, the surface can be sanded smooth and then primed with a wood undercoat product. If the checking is extremely severe, the surface is not paintable, and the plywood must be replaced.

To prevent checking of newly installed plywood, the surface should be sanded and primed with a latex wood primer before topcoating.

Selecting the right

coating for the job

One of the best ways to assure a long-lasting paint job that requires minimum maintenance is selecting the proper coating. To help determine this, property managers should consider how the paint will be used, whether a latex or an alkyd paint should be selected, and what type of finish will be required for the project.

Usage requirements usually refer to the type of environment in which the painted surface will be exposed. For example, will the paint be used in an area that requires frequent repainting because of a high turnover rate? Or, will it be used in a lobby or other high-visibility areas where appearance and infrequent repainting is a consideration? These factors will determine which coating is appropriate.

The next consideration is choosing between a latex or an alkyd coating. Latex paints, those with water-based resins, have the following advantages over alkyd paints (oil-based): * Ease of application * Fast dry * Clean up with water * Excellent durability and weatherability * Blister resistant - vapor transmission * Applicable over numerous substrates including drywall, plaster, wood. galvanize masonry Alkyd paints have the following advantages over latex-based paints: * Good flow and leveling * Hides high solids, high build * More tolerant of poor surface preparation * Low temperature application * No freeze hazard * Minimum shrinkage during curing * Good block resistance * Stain resistant * Good early water resistance

Once a latex or an alkyd has been selected, determining paint finish is the final step in paint selection. Architectural paints are available in a variety of finishes, including flat, egg-shell, semi-gloss, and gloss. While the industry has no definition to differentiate among these, most labels will include information on the finish type. But when selecting the appropriate paint finish, some general rules apply.

As gloss increases, the durability of the finish increases, thus, a gloss finish is recommended in high traffic or highly exposed areas. A flat finish gives a richer, more decorative appearance and is used in areas where the finish can enhance the decor.

Preparing the surface

Proper surface preparation is essential to ensure adequate paint adhesion and carefree maintenance in the long run. The service life of a paint will be reduced by an improperly prepared surface. As much as 80 percent of painting failures can be directly attributed to inadequate surface preparation.

Selection of the proper method for surface preparation depends on the substrate, the environment, and the expected service life of the paint. Economics, surface contamination, and effect on the substrate will also influence selection of the surface preparation methods.

Several factors must be considered for proper surface preparation. As mentioned earlier, not only can moisture affect a surface after it has been painted, but it can also affect a paint job during surface preparation.

Air surface and material temperatures are additional considerations prior to, during and after coating application. Most paints should be applied at temperatures from 50 [degree] to 85 [degree] F, and no painting should be done above 90 percent relative humidity. Removal of all contaminants, including grease, dirt, paint, oil, tar, glaze, efflorescence, and other loose particles and materials is required by a recommended method.

The surface condition must also be taken into account. The removal of all surface imperfections, including hollow areas, bug holes, honeycombs, voids, fins, marks, and all protrusions and rough edges is required to provide a smooth continuous surface of suitable texture for proper adhesion of the paint. Imperfections may require filling, as specified, with a material compatible with the primer and/or finish coat. The addition of hardeners, sealers, curing compounds, and other treatments may be required to properly prepare the surface for coating.

Previously painted surfaces present a unique problem for property managers. Maintenance painting will not always permit complete removal of old coating prior to repainting. In this situation, the property manager must do whatever surface preparation he or she can to assure a clean, smooth surface. Limited surface preparation is better than none at all.

Regardless of the surface, all contaminants must be removed from the surface of a material prior to painting The methods for removal - scraping, scrubbing, blasting, cleaning with air pressure or steam, solvent or detergent washing, and so forth - should be done according to the manufacturer's recommendations for the product.

Utilizing proper

application techniques

Proper application of the paint is also an essential ingredient for a successful painting job. Attention must be given to selecting the proper method for the product and the surface.

Limitations of budget, type of paint, and location of the job will decide the proper application method to use. Some coatings can only be applied by specific methods and any attempt to compromise can result in an inferior job. As a general rule, paint-can label directions should be read and followed.

Standards of workmanship are also critical to ensuring a proper paint application. The paint should be applied according to film thickness specified by the manufacturer. Application tools such as brushes, rollers, and sprayers are typically used for most paint jobs, but it is always best to refer to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Critical areas such as corners and edges, which are sometimes difficult to reach and where failure is more susceptible, should be inspected thoroughly. A key point to remember is that multiple thin coats are better than a single thick coat.

And finally, property managers should follow manufacturer's instructions for general care and washing since certain cleaning solvents may damage the paint.

Preventive maintenance

In all, the best maintenance for any painted surface is preventive maintenance, which involves selecting the best paint for the job, proper surface preparation, and application techniques. By following these steps and manufacturer's directions, property managers can be assured of a long lasting paint job which requires minimum upkeep.

Carroll R. Bennett is architectural market manager for The Sherwin-Williams Company Stores Group Cleveland. Ohio Benett has been with sherwin Williams for 15 years.

PHOTO : The durability of exterior painted surfaces will improve if the property manager selects t he best paint for the job, has the surface prepared properly; and ensures that paints are applied correctly.

PHOTO : Alligatoring and cracking usually result from applying several heavy coats without suffici ent drying times between coats or from applying a finish coat that is incompatible with the undercoat.

PHOTO : Blistering of a painted surface may result from paint that is incompatible with the surfac e, from water vapor condensation, or from plumbing leaks in the walls.

PHOTO : Peeling paint is usually caused by painting over water-soluble salt crystals left behind d uring condensation and evaporation of water inside the window.
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Title Annotation:Operating Techniques & Products Bulletin 395
Author:Bennett, Carroll R.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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