When and How to Paint and/or Stain Your Home

More than likely your home has a few things that require stain varnish or paint on a regular basis. Spring is the perfect time to start checking your home for spots that need a little touch up as well as touching up the varnish or paint in places you know are prone to deterioration.

Start by looking for the worst spots if it’s been awhile since the house was properly maintained you need to start looking for rotted wood and cracked siding. If something is completely rotted out you’ll need to replace it (read my article on replacing rotted wood). Get these spots taken care of first before the water starts to infiltrate the structure, then move on to anything that looks black or stained. Black or stained spots will need to be sanded, scraped or both and possibly wood bleached or cleaned with a wood cleaner. Try to get all the staining out of the wood before moving on. Next you will need to stain.

Make sure you cover any areas that you don’t want damaged or stained by the stain with tarps or drop cloths. Make sure the stain you are using matches with the existing stain by applying some on a piece of wood that is the same species as what you are going to be staining. You can then compare this to the existing stain to check the color match. If you don’t have a matching stain take a sample of the color to your local paint or hardware store and have them do a computer match. Make sure to test the stain in an inconspicuous spot before staining the whole piece as sometimes the stain will take differently to your project than it does to your test piece. You may also need to apply a second coat to get it a bit darker. If the match is not perfect get some containers and try mixing your stain with a lighter or darker stain to obtain the correct color or take it back to the store and tell them it needs a bit more of this or that color.

Follow the stains instructions for drying time and then apply a varnish of your choice. The type of varnish will determine how you want to apply it, for homeowners I would recommend a wipe on as it is easier to use and you will be less likely to get drips. You will need a few more coats if you decide to use the wipe on stain but it also tends to dry faster. In general you can put about 3 coats on a day, wait until it is tack free before applying each coat. Let the varnish cure until you can sand it and it produces a white dust generally if you just wait until the next day it will be ready for sanding use 240 or higher and lightly sand away any imperfections. Next clean the area and apply 3 more coats repeat the above process one more time for a total of 9 coats and you’re done.

If you have a new home check the following spots on a yearly basis or have your local handyman do touch up where he deems necessary to prevent extensive work such as that outlined above.

  1. The bottoms of wood windows tend to accumulate condensation and we often find black stain or rotted sash’s from this. If you put a coat of varnish or paint here once a year it should stay in good shape. If you find any staining make sure to take care of it right away. If you end up replacing window sash’s you will more than likely be spending $350.00 to $550.00 or more just for each sash. These can add up to a very pricey invoice very quickly.
  2. Nobody likes to get up on the roof but if you have siding that is within inches of the roof line make sure you put an extra coat of paint here each year. In Southeast Wisconsin the weather can be brutal in the winter your roof will likely gather snow in these spots and cause premature aging.
  3. Check the seams and corners where your gutters come together this is another spot that an extra coat of paint will do you good each year. As the seams begin to leak your fascia will start to rot away. Although it’s sometimes possible to replace fascia that is behind a gutter it’s never easy and is usually more expensive.
  4. Where your gutters drain if anything comes into contact with your siding add some extra paint. All the extra rain that comes down your gutters has to come out somewhere and if it washes against the siding it will cause premature aging of the paint.
  5. At ground level. Everything that comes in contact or close proximity to the ground should get extra paint. All the rain splashes against the lower portion of your house; additionally, the snow builds up here and once again causes premature aging of the paint.
  6. Usually included in the above category is anywhere that a hose bib is hooked up or hung. Hoses tend to leak water a little bit higher than water will splash especially when wound up on a reel.
  7. Cabinet doors and drawers and trim underneath sinks or outside of showers or tubs tend to get a little more abuse. Add an extra coat of paint or varnish every few years. This largely depends on who’s using the sinks and tubs and how careful you are about keeping water contained, but if you have kids it is likely that they are not as good at this as you are.
  8. Any southwest facing parts of your home. In Southeast Wisconsin southwest exposures will get the most sun exposure as well as more wind and driving rain. If you only have time or money to paint one side of your house make it this side.


If you think all of this is too much to handle call JAMES ALLEN BUILDERS our handyman will come out and take care of it for you or set up a maintenance plan so we can make sure these things are taken

Justin Swanson V.P.

1-262-327-3907 Were Here to Help!!!

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