Dear Ken: I have a home out east and am going to paint the exterior this year. There are no trees on the property to provide protection and so the paint suffers from extra sun and wind. Could you please recommend a good quality paint? — Mike
Answer: As opposed to many of the things we buy, the quality of paint really does vary a lot with price. Good paint goes on easier, splatters less, has a better can-to-can color match and will last a year or two longer than cheap paint. Just as long as you pick a name brand product at the paint store, home center or hardware store, you’ll be all right; and, within their products, pick near the “top of the line.”
Finally, how well a paint job holds up is, to a great deal, dependent on preparation. Scrape and/or wire brush all loose, checked or cracked areas and then spot prime your work with a good exterior undercoat first; I like Bullseye 1-2-3 or our old friend KILZ. This step is especially important for clapboard-style, hardboard siding. Hand prime under those exposed edges so they don’t start delaminating prematurely.
Dear Ken: I have one turban vent for my attic. I close it off in the winter. Is this a good idea? My home is about 1200 square feet. — Jay
Answer: As long as you have another passive vent or two — like flat roof or gable vents — for routine ventilation, you’re OK. The answer would be different in say, the Midwest, where moisture is much more problematic. Here, our dry climate usually soaks up excess humidity before it has a chance to impact the insides of our homes. You are undoubtedly saving a little gas money by closing off that vent, but don’t forget to uncover it around the first of April.
Dear Ken: Our front door is fiberglass, faces east, and there is sun damage. It is medium oak in color, and is streaked and looks awful. Can something be done to repair it? — Melissa
Answer: Fiberglass doors are a great choice, regardless of which direction they face. They don’t warp, have an insulating core and are a perfect imitation of their more finicky wood cousins. Some sort of stain must have been applied to the outside. Why not leave that warm wood tone inside, but apply paint to the weather-exposed surface? Scuff sand first, then prime, followed by an accent color to highlight the entrance to your castle. The paint will hold up better than stain, and it’s a breeze to renew anytime you want.
Dear Ken: I have a kitchen with vinyl-coated wallpaper. It was so well applied that there isn’t a loose spot on it. Can I paint over it? Would I need to use a primer first? Also, the wall behind the sink is that fake brick. Can I paint it, too? — Ginny
Answer: After it’s done, it’ll look like, well, painted wallpaper. The old texture will probably show through, and you won’t be happy. Besides, painting over a wall covering sometimes relaxes the glue and loosens it up — so you’ll have twice the mess!
Let’s try a little harder to remove it. Buy a scoring tool at the hardware store. This is a little gizmo about the size of a computer mouse and has tiny, rotating, sharp-pointed blades underneath that nick the wallpaper to allow an enzyme wallpaper remover to soak in.
First, try to grab a corner to at least pull the decorative layer off the wall — which will probably leave just the underlying paper backing. Then vigorously score the surface. Mix the remover in some warm water according to directions. Mist it on -two or three times and wait about 20 minutes. You should then be able to scrape the residue off with a wide blade putty knife. Finally, soak a car- washing sponge in the liquid to remove the last of the glue and water and you’ll be ready to prime and paint.
The old “Z-Brick” on the wall can be painted just like regular masonry. Apply an interior primer and then a couple of coats of a semi-gloss latex paint. But really, this material is so “‘70s”, that even painted it will look dated and dreary. It should pop off the wall easily, and then you could apply a more modern glass or ceramic tile material.
Dear Ken: I have a trilevel house. The upper level is cold in the winter and quite hot in the summer. It has about 9 inches of insulation in the attic. There aren’t any soffit vents in this part of the house. Is that part of the problem, too? — Carl
Answer: You have two corrections to make here. Your attic isn’t vented very efficiently. Add at least two soffit vents (the ones behind the gutters) to each side of the upper roof space plus equivalent openings near the peak. This allows proper circulation and not only keeps the house cooler in the summer, but it also prolongs the life of the shingles and insulation. Then add another 6 inches of blown insulation over what you have, being careful not to plug up those new soffit vents!
Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 4 pm Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit aroundthehouse.com