How to Remove Wallpaper

Remove Wallpaper

It’s been hanging in your living room for 25 years and no matter how hard you try to ignore it, you realize that you just can’t go on with that old ugly wallpaper. It’s time for it to go.

But how do you remove wallpaper? If you have no experience with home improvement, it’s best to call a professional to remove the wallpaper in your home. This type of project can be extremely time-consuming and aggravating if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, if you’re up for the challenge, below is some advice on getting the job done right without ruining your walls.

First and foremost, it’s key to understand that every wallpaper removal job is different and depends mostly on the preparation performed prior to hanging the current paper. If the previous contractor or homeowner did not properly prime the wall, or he/she hung the current wallpaper over an existing layer, the job can get exponentially more difficult.

There are 2 main methods for stripping wallpaper: with chemicals or with a steamer. Using a steamer was popular a few decades ago, and they were often powered by propane (very unsafe). Today’s steamers are electric, but using them can produce varying results.

Most homeowners and contractors nowadays prefer to use a wallpaper-stripping chemical opposed to a steamer. To start, you’ll want to cover the floors with a drop cloth and plastic. Before spraying any chemicals, see if you can use a putty knife to lift up a corner of the wallpaper and tear a sheet off. If your wallpaper is vinyl, you’ll most likely be able to pull off the vinyl layer leaving the paper and adhesive behind. It’s helpful to do this step first, because the water and chemical mixture wont penetrate the vinyl.

Next, fill a standard garden sprayer with the recommended amount of water and DIF wallpaper stripping solution by Zinsser. This product is highly effective and preferred most by professional painters. The key to using this product is to spray a small section thoroughly at least twice (with 10 minutes in between sprayings) and make sure that the paper is always wet. Be as liberal with the solution as possible. The more you soak the paper, the easier it will be to remove.

If this isn’t effective at first, you can use a scoring tool to perforate the paper and help the solution get behind the paper and loosen the adhesive. Most painters shy away from using this tool, because when you go to pull off the paper, you the paper is more likely to tear in small strips rather than large chunks.

It helps to run a putty knife against the wall to lift up any stubborn paper and adhesive. Once you remove all the paper, spray the wall with DIF again and scrape with a wide putty knife to remove the majority of remaining adhesive.

After you’ve removed all of the paper and adhesive, you’ll need to thoroughly wash the wall with a soap and water solution. If you don’t remove all the adhesive, the primer and paint won’t create a proper bond with the drywall.

When you’re done washing the wall, let it dry and prime it with a high quality bonding primer, such as Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start. To save yourself a finish coat, you can tint this primer to match the top-coat. Now apply a finish coat in whatever sheen you choose and enjoy your new modern room!

How Often Should You Paint Your Home’s Exterior?

Exterior Painting

Aside from changing color trends, painting the exterior of your home is truly an issue of protecting your home from water damage. Water can cause wood to rot and metal to rust. Preventing these issues from occurring is well worth the investment in a new paint job. However, your exterior is composed of many different surfaces that have their own unique requirements.

Windows

Wood windows should be repainted every 5 years. If cost is a factor, and you’re not changing the color, you can often get away with just repainting the sills. Generally speaking, if bare wood is showing or the paint is cracking, it should be re-caulked and re-coated. You can start with an oil-based primer for superior adhesion and top coat with a semi-gloss latex paint.

Siding

Wood siding should be repainted every 8-10 years. Siding tends to show fading and wear well before deterioration becomes a maintenance issue. If your siding is in good shape and reasonably well-sealed, 2 coats of an acrylic paint or stain is more than sufficient. If there are cracks or blistering in the siding, sand down to bare wood, repair with wood filler, prime and then paint.

Decks

Decks done in a solid stain should last 5 years.  Transparent or semi-transparent stains typically last 1 – 3 years.  When re-coating, first pressure wash the existing surface, sand down any rough or flaking spots and re-coat with a new top layer of stain.

Stucco

For stucco siding, stick to using a semi-elastomeric paint.  It’s not crucial but it’s found to be more durable over the long run.  A regular acrylic is sufficient, but typically won’t be as durable.  Once painted, stucco should last as long if not longer than its wood counterparts.

What Causes Paint to Peel?

Peeling Paint

So you just finished painting your room and it looks great! A few months later, however, the paint is starting to peel and come off certain areas of the walls and trim. You thought you did a great job painting, and you’re confused as to what went wrong.

To help you solve your peeling paint dilemma, read about the 3 main causes of peeling paint below.

1.   Improper Surface Preparation

Paint peels when it fails to adhere properly to the existing finish. If the wall has not been properly cleaned of dirt or other substances, the paint is not going to create a solid bond to the drywall. Make sure you lightly sand and wash the walls prior to beginning any painting project. Furthermore, apply a quality primer, such as Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start, to prepare your walls and trim for the new coat of paint. 

2.   Moisture

Moisture is one of a painter’s worst enemies. If the surface upon which you apply paint isn’t completely dry, the paint cannot properly bond to the surface. This can create bubbles under the paint that will eventually lead to peeling.

Even trace amounts of moisture can affect the adhesion of paints and penetration of stains. Thus, make sure that any surfaces you are finishing are completely dry before you begin work.

3.   Low Quality or Improper Use of Paint

If you purchase a new paint that is not the same type as what has already been placed on the walls, you’re asking for trouble. Whether it’s oil, latex or water based, paints of different types don’t usually mix well. If you have to use a different type of paint on top of another one, ask your local home improvement expert for a good primer that will help with the situation.

Another common reason paint can peel is if the paint itself is simply poor quality. Cheap paint is cheap for a reason. It may be able to dry properly if it is the only layer on the wall, but it may lack the adhesive needed to stick on top of other layers of paint.

All of the problems listed above can be easily avoided if the painter simply takes a little extra time to assess the situation and prepare prior to starting the paint job. Another way to ensure these problems don’t occur is to simply hire someone else to do it for you. If you’re in doubt of your abilities, hiring an expert may be the best solution in the long run.

 

How to Prep for Interior Painting

Interior Paint Prep

Between 10% and 40% of the time spent on any quality painting project is devoted to preparation. If the surfaces upon which you apply paint are rough, have many holes and dings, or aren’t properly prepared, no matter how much effort you put into painting, the completed work just won’t look pleasing to the eye.

By following the steps below, you can ensure that your next painting project gets done right the first time and lasts for years to come.

1.    Clear the room

You’d be surprised how much time you can save by painting in an empty room vs. a room filled with furniture and other décor. Avoid paint splatters and constant obstacles by removing most items from the space you are painting.

Cover the floors, fixtures and any remaining items with drop cloths and plastic sheathing to avoid drips and splatters.

2.    Scrape and Sand Flaking Paint

If the finish on the walls, trim or other surfaces you wish to paint is peeling, it’s necessary to remove all loose material before getting started. You can use a paint scraper, a spackling knife, and/or sand paper to remove the flaking material.

3.    Repair Holes and Seams

From small nail pops to visible seams and large holes, you’ll need to repair the drywall before you slap on any paint. While wall patches offer quick speed for repairing holes, they add material on top of the existing wall surface and require significant feathering with spackle to hide.

A better approach is to cut back the drywall to the nearest studs, add a new piece, lay drywall tape on the seams, spackle and sand.

4.    Sand and Clean

The key to a smooth paint job is sanding. Make sure all the repairs you made are sanded flush with the existing drywall. It’s important to give all surfaces a light sanding, dusting and wipe down to ensure proper primer and paint adhesion.

5.    Prime

All areas that have been repaired must be primed with a general latex primer to avoid flashing (this happens when unprimed areas pull all the moisture out of the paint topcoat causing the finish to differ from the rest of the area).

A great tip and time saver is to have your local paint store tint your primer a similar color to your paint to cut down on the number of finish coats required.

6.    Paint

Now that you have adequately prepped your area for painting, it’s time to coat the surfaces with the finish paint you have chosen.

If you are painting a room that requires multiple gallons of paint, it’s a good idea to mix them all in a bigger bucket to ensure the color is consistent throughout.

You’re now ready to complete your painting project. Good luck!

How to Repair Ceiling Water Stains

ceiling_stain

A stained ceiling can be a real eye sore. What’s worse, is that it may be the result of an ongoing problem with plumbing in the floor above. And if you are attempting to sell your home, it’s often a red flag for inspectors that there may be some plumbing issues in the house.

Before you slap some paint on the ceiling to cover up the stain, follow these steps to ensure you properly address the issue.

Assess and Fix the Leak

If you don’t properly take care of source of the leak, fixing the spot on the ceiling will be in vain. Check the area above the ceiling to determine from where the water leak originates. Most stains occur on the ceiling in the first floor of homes and are caused by leaks in toilets and showers in upstairs bathrooms.

If you notice peeling caulk or pooling water, it may be a simple fix to replace with new sealant. However, if there are no visible signs of where the water is coming from, it might be best to call a plumber.

Prepare the Surface

After you have properly addressed the leak, you’ll need to prepare the surface before you paint.

If the drywall on the ceiling is damp or broken, you’ll need to patch it. After replacing the drywall, spackling and sanding, you’ll need to prime the repaired area before you can paint.

If the drywall is in good condition, you’ll need to coat the stain with a pigmented shellac to prevent it from bleeding through the topcoat. Next apply a quality paint and primer and your stain should disappear.

Considerations

It’s likely that you will need to repaint the entire ceiling to avoid slight color and gloss differentials on the repaired area.

Which Colors Help Sell Homes?

Selling Your Home

All Homeowners hope to sell their homes quickly, but recently, it has been a buyer’s market. Give your self a leg up from the competition by staging your home properly. To ensure you rope in buyers, make sure that the paint in your home is fresh and the colors are appealing to a wide audience.

Exterior Paint Colors 

Curb appeal can help capture buyers as they pass by your home. Ensure that your house catches their attention in a positive way by choosing the right exterior paint color.

In choosing a color, it’s best to take a look around the neighborhood to see if there are any color trends present. While you want to stand out, think of going for a similar color as your neighbors, but just one shade lighter or darker. Owning a green house amongst a sea of beige homes doesn’t draw the attention you or prospective homeowners seek.

A few other things to keep in mind when choosing an exterior paint color are as follows:

  • Take into consideration other existing colors and features on your home exterior (e.g., stonework, bricks, roof, fixtures, etc.)
  • Complement your landscape
  • Choose a color that’s right for your home style (e.g., some Victorian homes can take on color to bring out their numerous woodwork details, while most Colonial homes stick with a simple white pallete.)

Interior Paint Colors

While you may enjoy bold colors, such as deep reds and blues, not every prospective homebuyer will have the same taste. It’s often best to attempt to please the masses by choosing a neutral, warm paint scheme or a crisp and cool color pallete for the majority of the home’s main living area.

If you’d like to add a bit more interest to make your space memorable to buyers, consider adding it in the following rooms. 

Kitchen

Most wall space in kitchens is taken up by cabinetry, leaving very little area for wall paint. However, since most of a family’s time is spent in the kitchen, it’s necessary to give a bright and joyful look. Consider light greens, yellows, or beiges.

Bedroom

A bedroom is a retreat from the stresses of everyday life. You’ll want to convey this mood in the room’s paint color. Think about using relaxing colors such as earth tones, or cool grey colors.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are typically smaller spaces, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick with white to make the space seem larger. Often you can use subtle tones of greens, blues, and yellows to add interest without making the space feel closed-in.

Overall, the colors in your home should give buyers a sense of calmness and comfort. It’s generally a good idea to go with lighter shades of color so that homeowners won’t need to apply a primer or several coats of new paint to hide what’s existing.

Different Types of Deck Stains

Arborcoat

Deck stains are used to protect and preserve the wood of your exterior deck. They offer UV protection, water repellence, mold and mildew resistance, etc. Deck finishes come in many different types of opacity and bases.

Deck staining can be a “chore” for residential homeowners and unfortunately walking into you local store may produce some of the worst options available. Not all deck stains are created equal and there is not a perfect stain type or brand that will outperform all the others.

Water-Based Deck Stains:

Water-based stains have recently become the norm. The main reason for the vast amount of water-based stains on the market today is related to changes in VOC laws across the country. Many states have adopted or soon will adopt lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) regulations. This has prompted stain manufacturers to increase production of water-soluble decking stains.

Pros: Water cleanup, less chance of mold or mildew growth and they are environmentally friendly.

Cons: Do not penetrate as deeply as an oil-base stain. Slightly harder to apply as they dry quicker. Can be prone to peeling and wearing.  

Oil Based Deck Stains:

Oil based decking stains have been around for 20-30 years. They are typically made up of natural and synthetic oils. Many contain oils such as: Linseed Oil, Paraffin Oil, Tung Oil, Rosewood Oil, Etc.

Pros: Excellent penetration into wood. An oil molecule is smaller in size then a water molecule. Better a deck stain can penetrate, the better the performance. Easier to apply. More natural looking.

Cons: Stronger odors, longer drying and curing time. Some oils can promote the growth of mildew. Some oil-based stains will darken in color over time.

Solid Deck Stains:

Solid deck stains look like paints. They cover the wood so you will not see the wood grain anymore. Once you apply a solid decking stain there is little chance you will ever be able to go back to a transparent stain. Solid stains come in both oil and water based versions.

Pros: Excellent UV protection.

Cons: Films on top of the wood and do not penetrate well. Prone to peeling. Looks like a paint. Harder to apply. Cannot be removed with a deck stain stripper effectively.

Semi-Solid Deck Stains:

The Semi-Solid Deck Stain will only show a small amount of wood grain as they contain a high amount of pigment. They are offered by a limited amount of manufacturers. Semi-solids can be both water-based and oil-based.

Pros: Very good UV protection

Cons: Only a small amount of wood grain will show. Oil-based semi-solid versions will penetrate and perform much better the water-based versions.

Semi-Transparent Deck Stains:

Semi-transparent stains contain pigment that highlights the natural grain while sealing the surface. The semi-transparent wood and deck stain is most popular. Both water and oil-based are available.

Pros: Average to better then average UV protection. Shows natural grain. Very good penetration. In most scenarios can be cleaned and re-coated easily. Can be removed with a deck stain stripper.

Cons: Most water-based versions perform poorly compared to the oils. Many states with the Low VOC laws have a limited amount of quality oil based stains available. May need to buy online if in a Low VOC area.

Transparent Deck Stains:

Transparent deck coatings look the most natural as they contain minimal pigment. Average life of a transparent decking stain is about 1 year. Mostly oil-based only are available.

Pros: Very easy to apply and reapply as needed. Natural looking.

Cons: Below average UV protection. Typically need to be re-coated annually.

Clear Deck Finishes:

Clear Deck Finishes offer little to no UV protection and will gray quickly. Typically used as sealers.

Pros: Does not change the appearance. Extremely easy to apply.

Cons: Grays and oxidizes in months.

Low VOC Stains and States:

There are currently 17 States that restrict Decking Stains and Coatings. These states require a lower amount of Volatile Organic Compounds to be released into the air. This mainly affects oil-based coatings. By lowering the amount of “solvents” that can evaporate into the ozone you need to increase the amount of “solids”. This can cause issues with oil-based stains as they may have drying and curing problems. There are still a few good oil-based stains available in Low VOC States but not as readily available at your local stores. You may need to go on the Internet to find them and have them shipped. A couple of examples would be TWP 1500 Series and Armstrong Clark Wood Stains.

Current Low VOC States:

California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Northern VA, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana.