Category: Consumers

These are typically posts that are directed to consumers and not contractors.

Should I “back-roll” after spray painting a house?

20130927_122153  Back-rolling/brushing is a process of rolling or brushing after you spray the paint onto the substrate. It should be an “absolute” must when painting houses with “Wood” substrates. However, Is it necessary for “Aluminum or Vinyl” siding?

Spray painting applies the paint to the surface allowing the paint to dry and trap millions of microscopic air pockets underneath. As paint ages the resin oils that bond the paint pigments together begin to weaken. When exposed to high temperatures the trapped air pockets begin to expand, and causes a premature failure of the entire paint job, in the form of “bubbles“, “cracks“, “peeling“, and “chipping“.

Back rolling and brushing Increases adhesion forcing the paint into the grain, and pushing the air bubbles out, that would otherwise be trapped in the texture. This method will add at least 3 years to any paint job.

While some painting companies claim that spraying achieves the same superior cosmetic appearance, back-rolling/brushing  coats will “always” have superior durability because the paint has been worked into the substrate instead of simply laying on the surface.

WE USE spray machines to deliver the paint from the bucket to the substrate, but then use rollers and brushes to spread the paint and work it into the grain. The sprayer simply is the fastest way to deliver paint to any substrate, but the best workmanship always goes beyond that stage. One must spread the paint and work it into the grain in order to achieve the best “adhesion“, “durability” and “uniformity” for a superior end result.

With regard to a “uniform” appearance, if one just sprays the paint on the substrate, you will see the “overlapping” sprayed areas. When one uses a roller or brush to spread the paint, the overlapping sprayer marks will no longer be present.

Don’t be impressed with how fast a contractor can paint your home. Speed only lends itself to cutting corners, and inferior work. Quality work is worth the time it takes to complete it. Remember, you’ll be looking at it for the next 5-plus years.

You’ll  get what you pay for! …


Vinyl Siding and Your House

Vinyl Obscures Historic Details (see larger image). The eaves have been boxed in, obscuring decorative brackets. The layer of new siding has diminished the profile of the window and door moldings, creating a visual flatness. At one time, patterned shingles were probably used on the second story of the turret. But we will never know, because they are covered by modern-day siding. Photo © Jackie Craven / S. Carroll Jewell

Vinyl Obscures Historic Details (see larger image). The eaves have been boxed in, obscuring decorative brackets. The layer of new siding has diminished the profile of the window and door moldings, creating a visual flatness. At one time, patterned shingles were probably used on the second story of the turret. But we will never know, because they are covered by modern-day siding. Photo © Jackie Craven / S. Carroll Jewell

Builders love it, environmentalists hate it. What’s the truth about vinyl?

The advertisements seem so enticing. Install vinyl siding, they say, and you will never have to paint your house again. Unlike wood or cedar, this durable plastic will not rot or flake. Vinyl is available in several dozen colors, and can mimic architectural details that were once made from wood. It’s no wonder that vinyl has become the most popular siding material in the United States and is quickly gaining momentum around the world.

But, wait! What the ads don’t tell you can cost you dearly. Before you install vinyl siding over wood clapboard or cedar shingles, consider these important factors.

1. Health Concerns

Vinyl is made from a PVC, a plastic resin that contains the hazardous chemical, chlorine, and stabilizers such as lead. In high temperatures,PVC releases formaldehyde, dioxin, and other dangerous chemicals. A series of scientific studies has linked the PVC used in FEMA emergency housing with respiratory problems. Dioxin, which is released when vinyl siding is burned, has been associated with a wide range of diseases from heart disease to cancer.

Siding advocates such as representatives from the Vinyl Siding Institute say that these hazards are overstated. While fumes from burning vinyl may be unhealthy, vinyl burns more slowly than wood.

Learn More:

2. Durability

Advertisements often imply that vinyl siding is permanent. It is true that vinyl will last a very long time. (That’s why it is so difficult to dispose of safely.) In extreme weather, however, vinyl is less durable than wood and masonry. Violent wind can get underneath the thin sheets of vinyl siding and lift a panel from the wall. Windblown debris and strong hail can puncture vinyl. New developments are making vinyl is stronger and less brittle, but the plastic sheets will still crack or break if struck by a lawnmower or snow blower. Damage cannot be patched; you will need to replace a section.

Liquid vinyl coatings, which are sprayed on like paint, may prove to be more durable than vinyl panels. However, liquid vinyl coatings are difficult to apply correctly. Numerous problems have been reported. (See Miracle Liquid Siding Products, on Ask the Builder.)

3. Maintenance

Wood must be painted or stained; vinyl requires no paint. However, it’s not exactly true to say that vinyl is maintenance-free. To maintain its fresh appearance, vinyl siding should be washed once a year. Any wooden window sashes and trim will still require routine painting, and ladders leaning against the house can scuff or crack the vinyl siding.

Unlike wood and masonry, vinyl siding presents its own breed of maintenance worries. Moisture trapped beneath the vinyl siding will accelerate rot, promote mold and mildew, and invite insect infestations. Left uncorrected, dampness in the walls will cause wallpaper and paint inside the house to blister and peel. To avoid hidden decay, you will want frequently re-caulk joints between the vinyl siding and adjacent trim. Roof leaks, faulty gutters, or other sources of moisture should be repaired without delay. Vinyl siding may not be a wise option for an older home with a chronically damp cellar.

4. Energy Conservation

Be wary of a vinyl salesperson who promises very low energy bills. Vinyl siding can help, especially the more expensive grades of insulated vinyl, but vinyl siding is, by definition, a superficial treatment. Regardless of the type of siding you choose, you may want to install additional insulation inside the walls.

5. Color

Vinyl is available in more colors than ever before, and new vinyl siding does not fade as quickly as older vinyl. Also, the pigmentation is baked through instead of applied to the surface, so vinyl won’t show scratches. Nevertheless, depending on the quality of vinyl you buy, expect some fading after five years or so. Time and weather will also alter the gloss of your vinyl siding. If a panel is damaged, the new replacement panel might not be an exact match.

After you have lived in your home for a number of years, you may grow weary of its color – especially if the vinyl has grown dim and faded. You can paint the vinyl, but then the vinyl is no longer maintenance-free. In general, the color of your vinyl house is the color it will always be, until you install new siding.

6. Historic Preservation

With a careful installation of a better-quality vinyl, the siding will truly fool the eye. Yet no matter how closely vinyl resembles wood, any artificial siding will diminish the historic authenticity of an older home. In many cases, the original trim and ornamental details are covered or removed. In some installations, the original clapboard is completely removed or seriously damaged. Vinyl siding will always alter the overall texture and proportions of the house, changing the depth of moldings and replacing natural wood grain with factory-made embossed patterns. The result is a home with less appeal, and diminished value.

For more information, see the U.S. government preservation brief, Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings.

7. Property Values

As the quality and variety of vinyl improves, acceptance is growing. More and more new homes in the United States are constructed with vinyl. On the other hand, vinyl is not the siding of choice for upscale, architect-designed homes. Many home shoppers still perceive vinyl as a tacky shortcut, a cover-up for possible problems, or at the very least, a low-budget solution.

What Do People Think?

We took a poll of our readers to find out what they thought about vinyl siding. Out of 2480 total responses, the vote was nearly dead even:

Vinyl is…

  • 51% said attractive, if installed properly (1268)
  • 48% said unnatural and unappealing (1212)

Alternatives to Vinyl Siding:

What to use instead of vinyl? Check out Exterior Siding Options >>

Pressure Washing Your Home?



Let’s talk about the purpose of power washing a home. Here are some things you should know.

  • Why power wash
    • The purpose of power-washing is to simply clean the substrate of dirt, dust, mold, mildew, etc. It really isn’t intended to be a power “scraper”. Using it for this purpose can damage soft wooden substrates such as cedar, pine, etc. It can “Fur” and “Gouge” the wood by holding the wan to close to the substrate. If your using it to remove paint chips from the house, you had better plan on putting tarps 25 feet out from the house, or have a lawn vac available to vac up all the paint chips that will litter your yard. If this is a case with removing lead paint, “It is Illegal to do so!“. If you have young children that play in the yard, they may ingest some of the chips and end up with lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning causes nervous system disorders especially in younger children, which can result to physical and mental disorders, or even be fatal in the case of very young children.
  • What are you trying to accomplish
  • Using additives
    • Be careful when using additives, such as; “TSP” (trisodium phosphate), “bleach”, “Simple Green“, etc.,  that when used incorrectly can damage the substrate.
  • There is a correct “Method of Application”
    • Depending on the purpose there is a “method of application” that is correct for each purpose. Probably the most important thing to remember before using additives is to thoroughly soak the area where you intend on applying the additive. WHY? Soaking the area hydrates the wood and pushes the additives to the surface of the wood where you want them. That is what you’re trying to clean. The water that is soaked into the wood acts as a barrier to keep unwanted additives from remaining deep in the wood, and over time compromising the wood itself.
    • Be aware of the “Soft Wash Method” which was designed for cleaning roof tops. There is a difference between the roof shingles, and the soft cedar wood that is used for siding. While chemicals work well on roof shingles, left for long periods of time they will separate the glue used to bind the wood pulp together in the construction of siding. This is the process actually used in manufacturing paper.
    • Here is the process for pressure-washing the siding of a house
      • Thoroughly rinse the siding to hydrate it.
      • Apply the additives, and wash the siding with a brush. Remember, if you’re using a bleach mixture (typically 1-part bleach to 4-parts water) use a cleaner mixture at the same time. i.e. “Simple Green” Why? The beach is used to kill mold and mildew, while whitening the substrate. The additive such as “Simple Green” is a cleaner and will wash the substrate. They both should be used together if one is to use bleach. In the case of “Simple Green” you can use it alone with excellent results
      • Rinse the substrate thoroughly
      • Allow to dry thoroughly! Do no paint while the substrate is still wet  or damp!!
      • Apply the primer, and finish coat to a dry substrate.
      • NOTE: in the case of decks, one should consider using a “Brightener” before staining or painting.

Watch this short video on “wood brighteners”



questions and answers street signQ.  What is your pricing structure? How do you determine the price you will charge?

A. We in most cases use a “Time and Material” method. We have known many painters that have lost healthy sums of money due to rigid quotes. They do not leave room for things that crop up during the process, and in most cases there will be something that has not been accounted for. If this lost of income due to misquoting is allowed to continue, the contractors may soon find themselves out of business. This is common with large contractors that are involved with large projects. We will typically give an estimate of what we feel this price will be, but always leave room for unexpected issues that surface typically when we are into the work. The flexibility of this method is wonderful should the owner wish you to include work that has not been outlined on the original contract. The circumvents the need to have additional contracts. All that is needed is an addendum describing the work to be included. A “Change Order” as it’s called in the business. The pricing is the same as all other work. Time and material.


If you’re the type of individual that will not consider a “Time & Material” method, then consider these possibilities.

EXAMPLE 1: Let’s say that a contractor has given you a quote to paint the exterior of your home. They look at it and don’t see anything wrong, so they give you a quote of $7,500 to – Wash, Prep, Prime, and apply 1-top coat. So part way into the process they find out that they not only underestimated the labor hours, but they underestimated the amount of paint they would need to do the job per the contract specs. What can happen is that the contractor will start to cut corners. Thinning the paint to make it stretch, rushing the workers which leads to sloppy work, not caulking areas that should be caulked, spot priming instead of full priming, spraying and not back-rolling or back-brushing, etc. This leads to inferior workmanship, which results in you having to repaint the house much earlier than necessary. We find evidence of this all the time.

SOLUTION: Using the “Time & Material” method, there is no need to cut corners. In fact, contractors are motivated to do more detailed work because they are being paid to do it. Painters are not being rushed and a good foreman will walk the site daily to ensure that quality workmanship is being met so that the price being charged is justified for the work that is being done.

EXAMPLE 2: While workers are up painting the soffits and fascia boards, (these basically are the boards that are under the gutters) they find that some soffits and fascia boards are rotted behind and need to be replaced. Most ethical contractors will bring this to your attention, and give you a quote to repair them, but they’re companies out there that do not have qualified carpenters on staff, so they will just paint over the soffits and fascia boards as to not delay the job. In addition they may not be qualified to give you a price to repair the damaged areas. This is sadly poor service to the customer.

SOLUTION: Using the “Time & Material” method, carpenters can be brought in to do the necessary work while compensation is determined for the service without loss to either the painting company or the carpenter. In fact the painting company can usually incorporate the service while still making a profit. This is the best solution for both the painting contractor, the homeowner, and promotes excellent relationships among tradesmen.

NOTE: I will say this however, “Ethics” play an important role with this payment arrangement. It is important for the homeowner, to “trust” the contractor. The foreman should review work performed daily, if possible, with the homeowner in addition to providing the homeowner with weekly reports that state the work that was done and the cost for that work. This way the homeowner can review the costs and work completed and determine if the charges are within reason.

I have based my reputation on fair and ethical practices and never allow workers to take advantage of this structure by working more slowly. The customer is not billed for breaks of any kind, and a detail of time spent on the job is given to the customer weekly and during each phase. i.e. prep phase, primer phase, topcoat phase, etc. This way the customer has something in writing which documents the charges for labor. click here  (we will be posting a sample of this document soon) to see an example of such a statement. It is for this reason I am proud to state; we have not had issues with such a payment structure.


There is a simple art to using an airless paint sprayer to paint the exterior of a house. And in some cases the interior. But let’s talk mainly about the exterior of a house in this blog.

Here are the tips we’ll talk about …

How to hold the spray gun:
Contrary to what everyone has heard, It’s better to hold the gun closer to the substrate. About 5-6″ will be just fine. It’s not important if you spray a bit to heavy, because you’re going to back-roll and back-brush what you’ve just sprayed, working the paint into the substrate while you smooth out the paint. This way the coat is consistent. If one just sprays without back-rolling and back-bring, the result is an uneven distribution, and the paint is not massaged into the substrate like it should be, which will give the best protection and he longest life to the paint job.

How to apply the paint on the siding:
The key is to hold the spray gun the same distance from the substrate. When you’re moving your hand don’t fan it from left to right because that’s how you get over-spray. And don’t hold the spray gun 12-16″ away from the substrate, because the wind will blow half the paint away from the substrate causing you to use more material than necessary. Remember, the key is, if you back-roll and back-brush, it doesn’t matter how you apply the paint on the substrate, because you’ll even it out when you back-roll and back-brush. So you can spray “side to side”, ‘up and down”, or in “circles” if you want to get silly. It doesn’t matter, because the process of back-rolling and back-brushing will level the paint and work it into the substrate. Insist that your contractor back-rolls and back-brushes when spraying!

How much paint should be sprayed on the siding?

Spray a generous amount of paint on the substrate. Then use a 4″ mini roller to spread out the paint. Don’t leave it to thick, or two thin. The best rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the roller sleeve. If it starts to get flat you’re rolling to thin. The roller should stay fluffy and sound wet when you’re rolling just the right amount.

What direction should I spray?

It really doesn’t matter until you come up to a corner trim piece, a window, door, soffit, or the foundation. Here’s a trick. Especially coming close to the foundation or a window.

Windows – tilt the gun away from the window on an angle. Better yet, start from the window and spray away from it at an inward angle. This way you won’t get over-spray on the window
The Foundation – When spraying close to the foundation, don’t spray the last coarse of siding. Instead spray the one above it, and spray the paint on heavy. Then use the roller to pickup the paint from the upper coarse, and just roller the last coarse. This way you won’t risk getting spray on the foundation.

Do I need to tape and cover windows, doors, trim, and the foundation because of over-spray?
If  you do, than you don’t know how to spray. A good sprayer can actually cut with a sprayer by tilting the sprayer away from the areas that you don’t want to spray. In addition by holding the sprayer closer to the substrate, you not only save paint, but you don’t deal with over-spray. AND you can paint when it’s a bit windier than normal.

Should I back-roll and back-brush or just spray? 
ALWAYS !! Insist that you’re contractor back-roll and back-brush. It will add an average of 3-years to the life of your paint job. In addition the paint job will look richer and deeper in color.


painter with spray gun

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