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What makes a great exterior paint-job? Some suggestions...

Just read the directions. Why wait for all else to fail?

I’m always surprised to see how many finishes fail simply because people don’t read the back of the can. For example, most paints don’t like you coating bare wood without priming first, and most stains will fail if you apply them in direct sunlight. Good manufacturers test their product to see what works best. Put their experience to work for you.

Whether it’s your fence, the trim around your doors and windows, your siding, a garage door or entryway, an exterior paint or stain should look good, protect your home and last. I've posted pictures of a few of our exterior finishing projects.
     We completed this exterior in September of 2006 - it's a charming older home in Kelvin Grove. Picture taken July '08.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Benjamin Franklin probably wasn't thinking of exterior finishes when he said this, but the advice fits. 

  • Remove loose and failing paint. It won’t matter how strong the adhesion properties of the new paint are if the inner coat fails.

  • Fill any cracks or holes with a premium outdoor quality filler to discourage moisture penetration. Fill any holes or impressions in flat, horizontal surfaces like column capitals or railings so that moisture can’t find a place to sit.

  • Deal with any mould or fungal issues before you apply any finish. We’ll remove the growth (we do this with a bleach/salt solution. If you’re curious, the salt is TSP or tri-sodium phosphate), but it’s even more important to deal with the underlying cause. Where there’s mould, there’s moisture. A usual culprit is siding or a fence board too close to the ground. Moisture becomes trapped where your lawn or shrubs contact your siding or fence – mould and rot can set in. A few minutes with a weed trimmer is usually the solution here – and much less expensive than replacing fence boards or siding.

  • During the winter months, keep finished surfaces clear of the elements. Snow can accumulate on flat deck surfaces or against the bottom of your fence or siding. When  the sun reflects off the surface and melts the snow  water traps against the finish and can sit there for weeks or months – even when the temperature is below freezing! Then you’ll have problems. When we perform an estimate we’ll let you know where we think you’ll find the potential problem areas – no charge.

We completed this exterior at around the same time as the Kelvin Grove home shown above. It was newly constructed in Elbow Valley at the time. Both pictures - this home and the one above - were taken in July of 2008. Both finishes were completed in September of 2006 - nearly two years before!

"If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

I don't think Ben Franklin coined this quote, but it's still good advice. 

Stick with product you know works.

All products don’t perform equally – even when produced by the same manufacturer. I’ve seen cases where product that performs magnificently is manufactured under the same roof as product that fails abysmally. Sometimes these products sit next to each other on the same shelf at your local retailer.


We were asked to repair several deck finishes in Riverbend in 2004 because a major home improvement retailer put on a promotion for a particular manufacturer’s deck product that failed miserably. This product was so poor that Consumer Reports Magazine™ published that they had stopped testing it after just a few hours. Yet the interior and fence/siding products from the same manufacturer are fantastic. Part of the promotion for the poor deck product was the fact that the "do-it-yourselfer" could clean up his brush and roller with soap and water. But I don’t think he even needed the soap (or the water!). Some of the finishes we saw had already started failing within just a few weeks of application.

Very frightening.

We research our product choices through such consumer review media as Consumer Reports Magazine ™. But even so, and as much as possible, we’ll stick with product we know performs well from personal experience. In the before-and-after shots you see here, the “after” shots are taken up to three years after the work was completed. It’s one of the methods we use to ensure the product we choose can perform.

We finished this entryway in November of 2005. The picture was taken in July of 2008 - almost 3 years later! Arguably, black with a sheen is the worst color for showing problems, but this door still looks fantastic. Click the image for a high-res view.

We finish wooden entryways as well - next time we update our website I'll post a few.

This Elbow Park home's finish was in rough shape when we got to it. We completed repainting in October 2006. 

Here's it is in July of 2008, almost two years after we completed the project.

The West side of this same home was particularly rough. Sometimes when a finish fails the only answer is to remove it. We painstakingly extricated the failed finish with a belt-sander, elbow grease and a lot of patience.

And nearly two years later the finish still looks great. This picture was taken in July of 2008.

 Here's a shot of the whole house from the Southwest. This home is a testimony for good product choice, thorough preparation and solid workmanship.

Construction had only recently been completed on this behemoth in September of 2006 when we commenced this project. If you can believe it, there's a sizable chunk of house to the right that wouldn't fit in the picture.

This picture was taken in July of 2008 - we completed the finish in October of 2006. That's nearly 2 years. Click the image for a high-res look.

So why wait up to three years to take the "after" shots?

It gives us a chance to see:

  1. how well the product we chose works, and
  2. how thorough we were with our prepwork.

You see, if you’re our customer, putting a smile on your face keeps us in business – and if our work looks fantastic up to three years after the fact, you know we did good.

Call today for a free estimate!

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Last modified: Wednesday Jan 10, 2024