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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Cleaning Before You Paint Could Save a Lot of Money

Springtime is paint-season for many Florida homeowners who want to freshen up the outside of their homes after a cold, wet winter of mold and mildew. It is also the best time to paint your home’s exterior before the long, hot, humid days of summer when the work becomes twice as hard. Before you grab that bucket of paint and paint brush there are several things you need to consider this year.

First and foremost, like many things in the building supply world, paint is in short supply. Builders throughout the area are having to hunt exhaustively to find paint, and specific types of paint are much harder to find than at any time in the past couple of decades. Also, as prices have risen significantly, get ready for real sticker shock. Don’t expect to find any $12 per gallon paint. A good quality exterior paint is going to cost, at minimum, $40 per gallon with each gallon covering somewhere between 300 and 400 square feet. Labor rates to apply paint is going anywhere from $1 to $3 per square foot depending on the nature of the home.

In short, it is going to be very expensive to paint this spring so be prepared.

Even if you are determined to change the color on your home’s exterior, before you paint, you should clean the outside of your home. The biggest mistake homeowners will make is to confuse dirt and mildew with a need to re-paint. On top of that, many do-it-yourself homeowners and unscrupulous painters will just apply new paint over dirt and mildew. It is very important to know that dirt and mildew will bleed through new paint in just a matter of months.

Often, if a home’s exterior is thoroughly cleaned properly, there is no need to repaint unless there is flaking, fading, or chalking of the paint itself. Whether you hire someone to clean your home’s exterior or not, make sure the correct products are used to clean and kill the mold and mildew. Bleach alone will not do it and bleach will only discolor the mildew and not kill it. It is vital to use cleaning solutions that kill the mildew and mold.

If you are considering cleaning your home yourself, a TSP, trisodium phosphate cleaner, will do a good job killing the mildew and mold. If this is followed up with a bleach and rinse of the surface, there is a good chance all the grime, mold, and mildew will disappear. Just pressure washing with water will not eliminate the source of the discoloration of your paint. Also, don’t be scared to apply some elbow grease to hard areas.

Stucco exterior walls, along with porches and drives with knockdown, are very stubborn areas to clean. Although pressure washing can make cleaning easier, failure to use the correct cleaners will not correct the core issues. Stucco coatings can be more difficult to clean because homeowners tend to be a little more inattentive to daily sweeping and cleaning which allows mold and mildew to grow deeper in crevices. Sweeping the porch and drive daily, along with a monthly washdown, can keep paint in those areas looking good for many years.

Here is the best part of today’s tips and recommendations. If, after you thoroughly clean the exterior surfaces of your home, your paint looks worn and beaten, you can always move forward with painting it. But if the color on your home looks refreshed and revitalized after it is washed, then it probably just needed a good cleaning and new paint is not required. So why not try thoroughly cleaning your home’s exterior before paying too much for expensive paint and labor. It’s amazing what a little cleaning can do to your home’s appearance and this year, it could save you a substantial amount of money.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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