Removing Paint From Cedar Shingles
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  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Donna in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    DONNA: I live in an old – it’s two-story, cedar-shingle house. And anyway, years ago I used to be able to put Olympic stain on it and I kept up the stain. But then they changed the law where I couldn’t stain anymore. So it was painted in the late – oh, probably ’99. Well, now the paint started peeling, so I had – one of my sons came and pressure-washed it.

    This was about two years now but he couldn’t get all the paint off. And it’s flaky and because of the shingles in these little grooves, you can’t get it all out. And I live in a two-tone house: a brown stain where the paint’s peeling and a green where the paint’s not peeling.

    And it looks terrible. And I’ve called – I’ve phoned two different contractors and gave them the address and they must have just come by and looked at it. And they never even called back, let alone stopped by.

    TOM: Chased them off, huh? Yeah.

    DONNA: Yes. Plus, they have to have a special license because the house is so old it has to be – in this state anyway, it costs them thousands and thousands of dollars because – or in case there’s lead outside in the paint. Well, it was stained, not painted.

    TOM: So, you know, aside from all the drama associating with this, it’s really quite a basic problem. When you have all of these layers of paint that are on the material over all of these years, at some point you’re going to lose adhesion to the original substrate, which is the cedar. The only solution, in that case, is to remove the paint to get down to the originally natural wood.

    So, pressure-washing is fine for cedar shingles, for the loose stuff.  But beyond that, you’ve got to scrape and sand. Because you’ve got to get some of that natural wood to kind of show itself through the remaining stained areas that are painted. Because once it’s ready – truly ready – where you’ve got all the loose stuff off and your surface has been abraded properly, then you can apply an oil-based primer. And the purpose of the primer is kind of layer – it has different qualities than paint.

    Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And so, if you use an oil-based primer on there, you’ll get very good adhesion to the cedar. Once that thoroughly dries, then you can paint on top of that. And the top coat of paint does not have to be oil-based but the primer does. That’s what’s going to give the adhesion. But you can’t just keep putting good paint over bad paint, otherwise the problem of peeling will just continue to repeat itself. Does that make sense, Donna?

    DONNA: OK. Thank you.

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