SW Paint and Primer advice for old clapboards...

sarahandbraySeptember 1, 2012

**cross-posting on paint forum**

We are at the painting phase after taking off the siding and I'm getting a little gun shy! T-minus two weeks!

We have the painter lined up and trust his prep work, attention to detail, finished product, etc.

What I'm not sure of is the product we should use for the longest hold. He has an exclusive with Sherwin-Williams but is pretty flexible using any of their paints/primers that we decide. As of now, we are down for "SW exterior primer" and "two coats of SW Emerald exterior paint." I know that Emerald is a latex paint (should we use oil-based instead?) and I'm not sure what type of "exterior primer" he is using.

The clapboard and trim and scalloping all seems to be in good shape with only one layer, maybe two of paint. There are not many exposed areas. I'm sure it's pretty dry underneath, however. It is not flaking though it does have that alligator look in some areas. Last time it was painted was probably the 1940's since the aluminum was put on in 1952. The window trim, which has been exposed, has more flaking of paint and looks dry.

I'm aware of all of the lead issues--wondering more about what primer I should insist the painter use and then what paint. Maybe he would be willing to go outside of Sherwin-Williams for the primer, if necessary, but it would be easier if I could stay within that brand.

I can't seem to get a decisisve answer on what would make the paint stick the longest without bubbling and flaking.



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Oil based primer is the way to go over old paint--then you can use either acrylic latex or oil for the top coats.

They did a pretty good job of matching colors from a photograph I had, but that was about fifteen years back, so they can probably do even better now.

My house had originally been painted chocolate brown with ivory trim, and when I bought it in '87 it was white. Neighbors told me the original colors, and I saw them on a box on the back porch, and still see the ivory on some of the window jambs. :)

My surfaces were in good shape also, but I admit we didn't do enough scraping of the trim, which has alligatoring. Even so, the body of the house is still good, with only a few spots which need touching up...but the trim does need to be redone--with better prep next time.

Fifteen years ago, I chose SW Superpaint, and it is holding up well, this time, looking at their site, I might go with Duration. AND, if you want, they still sell oil based paint and primers! I just saw they have 30% off until Sept. 3 on selected products, but I am sure your painter gets a professional discount, which my local store gave me on my paint purchase last year.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Thanks so much for your advice!

I can go with Duration--it's actually cheaper than the new Emerald. I wonder what the difference is...guess I can go to our SW store and ask. My brother-in-law is a SW rep for the marine/industrial end of SW, so I'm sure he would know, too. (though he wants me to side in vinyl!!)


    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:48PM
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"I can go with Duration--it's actually cheaper than the new Emerald."

the cost of the paint pales in comparison to the labor to prep and apply it.

It is rarely even worth considering paint cost in the overall scheme of things.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Circus Peanut

We just prepped and painted the old cedar shingles on our 1921 bungalow after removing the 1960's aluminum siding. We used SW exterior oil-based primer for wood (pink cans) and exterior Duration in the flat sheen, and are very pleased both with the quality of the paint during application and the finish quality of the final result.

So: thumbs up for SW oil primer + SW Duration!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:05PM
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I am sorry to report that I have had really bad luck with SW exterior housepaint.

I am a very experienced house painter so I doubt technique is an issue.

My old (original to the mid 19th c house) clapboards were heavily alligatored after umpteen years of heavy repainting and no scraping. The paint was highly chalky.

I painstakingly removed it all to bare wood, patched, scraped, sanded as necessary. Treated with a mix of turps and BLO as the wood was very dried out. Primed with SW best oil primer, and put two coats of best SW latex top coat.

Within a year it grew mildew and also cracked and peeled by the fifth year.

Fortunately I only had only time enough that summer to do done one surface, not the whole house. The remainder is still the old, chalky, even-more alligatored than before (because the unhappy SW experience was a decade ago by now) and it looks better than the SW side.

Part of the problem (which may apply to your old house as well) is that the modern paints create a more moisture-sealing film than the older ones. And in my poorly heated, uninsulated, and definitely un-vapor-barriered house interior moisture has to get out through the walls and it just makes a mess of modern paint films.

Frankly I am at a loss to know what to do with my house, but I definitely won't be using SW again. I have painted other buildings here with BM products and been quite happy.

Those buildings are unheated barns so that may make a difference. However the two rooms on the other side of the unsatisfactory SW paint are also unheated (even though part of the house) and always closed off from the main house when it is shut up for the winter heating season. (One is a wood-storage room and the other an unheated, unused summer kitchen.) One literally has a dirt floor and the other wood over a dirt-floored crawl space. The barns with BM re-painting have either dirt floors or old concrete.

I agree with Casey paint cost is not a factor to consider when deciding on what to use. Buy the best there is, no matter what it costs as the labor vastly outweighs it. I wish I could be more helpful in suggesting brands.

Just make sure it can work on old paint and an old house.

You might get good advice on John Leeke's Historic House Forum. People are very knowledgeable and helpful there. Paint is one of their obsessions, too.

I look forward to pics of your house when it's done.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Treated with a mix of turps and BLO

and you wonder why the primer did not stick?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 4:57AM
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I used SW 100 Primer, followed by SW Superpaint on my exterior 6 years ago. This was all done by a crazy DIY'er with no previous experience painting houses! I found the SW superpaint to go on quite nice with both a sprayer, then I back rolled it.

This was a total strip down with infrared stripper, sand and reapply to 90 year old cedar siding. It looks like new to this day. No peeling, cracking or any problems, in water laden pacific NW.

The prep makes the difference- I think many paints are good out there, but it all depends on the time taken to really prep the surface. Everyone recommended oil primer, but I was afraid to do so after my neighbor's house bubbled with oil primer. So, I went with latex. But, I also stripped all the old stuff off...



And, after:

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Um, the BLO and turps mix is NOT the reason for the problem. It's a standard, recommended, pre-treatment for extremely old, resinous, (i.e old growth pine, fir or cedar), partly weather-exposed, wood. Besides, that's what's under the still-sticking BM primer and top coats on the other buildings. In my case it is the unsatisfactoriness of the SW paint.

The BLO component of the pre-treatment step has recently come into question in some quarters as a possible substrate for subsequent mold issues. However, again, it's under the BM paint with no problems seen. Some people have recently chosen to use organic BLO (it's quite pricey and I don't see a difference in other tests) or use a concoction made partly with Penetrol as recommended by the Forest Service. Old wood -and mine is more than 160 years old - is a very different from modern materials and requires different prep steps.

Perhaps the difference between my experience and that of Olhousegal's is that my project preceded the Duration formulation, and of course, I am in a much more severe climate where temps of -25F are routine. The OP and I live in the same region, which is why I piped up with my experience.

My steps were the same as OHG's: I painstakingly went back to clean wood, too. That's part of the reason I was so disappointed with the results.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Would someone please fill me in on what "a mix of turps and BLO" is?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:01AM
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turpentine and boiled linseed oil

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:37PM
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Thanks for all of the opinions and ideas!
I am going to bite the bullet and use SW products--not due to cost but mainly b/c I like the prep work and finished product of the painter. He frequently works on local big old homes simar to mine...us his cost makes it possible for us to paint. Much more and we would have had yet another DIY project on our hands with little kids and full-time jobs.

Paint is pretty "tight"--maybe 2-3 layers, no bare areas really..minimal flaking. House will be washed, scraped, sanded, primed, two coats of paint.

I guess I was looking for answers on oil vs. latex primer and then what two topcoats? Emerald by SW only came out in May, so I'm both excited and nervous to have it used. Quite the gamble--though the company (of course!) says it is amazing ;)

Fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:24PM
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"Treated with a mix of turps and BLO as the wood was very dried out."

The EPA mandated changes in ALL paints (especially alkyd (oil) paints) mean that old methods like turpentine and BLO must be evaluated against the new paint formulations.

Things like drying time, exposure during drying (sunlight) all can affect the ability of subsequent coatings to adhere.

The paint we have available now is NOT anything like the stuff from even 20 years ago, let alone even further back.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Its all about the prep - thats all Im adding to this.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:10AM
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What I have to say won't make you feel better, but you should know it anyway. I live in a historic district with hundreds of surrounding homes from the mid-to-late 1800s. It's always wonderful to see one of them rescued, and it's not an infrequent event. When one is finished I love to walk by and gaze admiringly. The new paint always looks wonderful, mostly great color schemes, with everything picked out nicely.

The bad news is, when I walk past 3 to 5 years later, the deterioration in the paint is amazing.

It's too many houses with too many different painters and paints to blame it on paint or the methods, seems to me. I've wondered (and worried) about this for a long time (we haven't painted yet). So when I read liriodendron's post, it seemed to make sense to me. Might well be something about old houses and modern paints.

I do hear that there are painters who offer a 10 year warranty (?). Seems to me that if you can find one who offers such and has been in business at least 10 years, that might be a consideration.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:15PM
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The new paints are almost all latex.

the VOC restrictions have forced massive reformulating of alkyd paints, and in some places they are no longer even offered for sale.
Penetrol can be added back in to improve performance, though a hired painter runs running afoul of EPA rules by adding back the VOCs.

Even the latex paints have faced reformulation (mainly over VOC content) ad are no longer as effective.
Adding Floetrol to them helps.

Paint has also been thickened up under the guise of 'covers in a single coat' (qand also uses less VOCs) and generally it does NOT perform as well.

brushing on paint to wood clapboards (especially old ones) is the only way to get a film that has any chance of lasting.

A good paint and prep used to produce a paint job that would often last close to 10 years in mid l attitudes.

Five seems to be the limit with the 'better' paints.

That means right away you use twice as much.
It does not appear the EPA considered that problem.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 6:08PM
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