LESLIE: Barry in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?
BARRY: Well, I have an arbor outside my house. The beams of my house extend out from the roof and it makes an arbor outside. And I’ve painted it a couple of times and the paint keeps wearing off and I’m afraid the wood’s going to start rotting. And I’m wondering if I should do something special to protect the roof – protect the wood – like maybe put some water seal on it. Or I even thought about maybe putting some metal stripping but that might get wet and make it rot even worse. I just really want to protect that wood.
LESLIE: Well, I think, first of all, let’s talk about the process of which to properly paint exterior wood.
Now, to start, you want to make sure that you’re getting off anything that’s sort of peeling and not sticking. So, if you can, you want to either scrape some of it away but without damaging the wood. So you can also use a chemical stripping agent, which would take the paint off of the wood. Get as much of it off as you can and then get it nice and smooth. Sand any rough areas if you’re stuck with them.
And then I would use an oil-based primer and an oil-based paint if you’re allowed in your area, because that’s truly going to adhere. The trick is that wood’s got to be bone-dry before you go ahead and paint it. Because if it’s slightly wet, nothing is going to adhere properly. And that truly will help out a ton.
BARRY: OK. So just use oil-based instead of latex paint?
TOM: Yeah. But as Leslie said, you’ve got to get down to the wood. Because if you’ve got multiple layers of paint on there, it’s just going to keep delaminating between the surfaces of the paint, especially being in such a wet location. So you want to get the old paint off, make sure it’s super dry, an oil-based primer, let it dry real well and then a good-quality topcoat. And I think you’ll find you’ll get a lot more years out of that surface before you have to do this again.
BARRY: OK. She also said – it sounded like she said I needed to get down and smooth the wood but this is – it’s rough cedar, so …
LESLIE: I mean only if you’ve got areas where you’ve got unevenness from any paint that might not come off, just so you’re not seeing that sort of rippled edge of the old paint with the new paint. That’s truly the only places that I would do it.
TOM: And you can also use a wire brush, too, if it’s a rough cedar.
BARRY: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, as well.
TOM: We just want to make sure you get rid of everything that’s loose there, you really get down to an original surface, so you have something that can really bite – that new paint can bite into.
See, the primer is kind of the adhesive here. And that’s why it’s such an important step. If you do a good-quality primer, that’s going to really bind to the wood and bind to the paint and try to keep the whole system together. Because it really is a system. We don’t think about paint as being a system but it is. The binder sticks to the wood and the paint – the topcoat sticks to the binder.
BARRY: OK. Great. So oil-based primer topped with oil-based paint.