Painting Older Home Exteriors

Written by on October 17, 2013 in Home Maintenance, Lake Champlain Exteriors with 0 Comments
painting older homes

Todd, Tim and Sandy team up on prep.

Exterior Paint Restoration – Topcoat Style

While Topcoat has been a leader in painting custom new homes for the past 20 years around Lake Champlain, a considerable part of our business focuses on painting older home exteriors.

We were fortunate in 2013 to build many new client relationships in which we have provided exterior paint restoration services on older homes.

When Topcoat updates a home exterior, we design a maintenance plan for the property to ensure that it continues to always look and perform at its best going forward.

Challenges to Painting Older Home Exteriors

  • Lead Paint – Per EPA RRP Legislation, on homes built prior to 1978, we test for lead paint
  • Product Specification – Identifying existing coatings and specifying new ones
  • Condition of Exterior Surfaces – How to safely and effectively prepare for paint

All of these factors come into play during the estimating phase of a Topcoat exterior project.

Lead Paint

painting older homes

When we sand, we always have a vac attached to the tool to capture dust before it can become airborne.

Topcoat is EPA certified to address existing lead paint conditions, and our paint crew is educated on best practices for lead containment. We are well equipped with the very best HEPA rated dust extraction equipment to make sure that your family is not exposed to potentially harmful airborne contaminants during the surface preparation process.

The result is a cleaner job site everyday.

Fortunately, in the neighborhoods we work in around Chittenden County, the majority of the older homes that we work on have been updated or remodeled over time, and prior to RRP legislation that took effect in recent years.

On most of the homes that we service, the presence of lead paint falls below the minimum square foot requirements for RRP, so it is not a big issue. As a standard safety practice for our personnel and your family, we go the extra mile on dust and chip containment in all cases, every time. No one likes dust and paint chips blowing around the yard.

Product Changes

Perhaps the biggest challenge to painting older home exteriors is figuring out the product side of the job. In the past few years, paint manufacturers have been changing product formulations regularly, so it has become especially critical to figure out what new products to put on old houses.

painting older homes

Paint forensics…

In practical terms, oil paints and stains are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Under VOC regulation pressure, paint manufacturers have gradually shifted their product offerings to predominantly acrylic formulations.

We spend as much time as needed educating our clients about the differences in appearance and performance between the semi-transparent oil stain that is on their house, and the acrylic blends that we recommend and use.

Product sampling is an important part of the decision making process during product specification with a client.

We are confident in the products and the colors we propose, and we always seek final approval from our clients through our product and color sampling process. You won’t just be looking at a fan deck of colors. It’ll be on the house.

Awareness of Exterior Surfaces and Conditions

At Topcoat, a paint job is not just a paint job.

There is a considerable amount of “forensics” that go into a Topcoat project. We ask many questions about the history of the home and its past paint maintenance, including scouring the basement with the client to check out the old cans of paint that were left behind. While we are rarely able to use the old paints, they do help us figure out how to proceed with the transition to a modern paint job.

painting older homes

Safety and cleanliness first.

The other side of the equation is to figure out the type of siding and trim that are on the house. It is usually all wood, but species, condition, layers of paint, and exposures to weather are variables that are important to understand.

By gathering this information ahead of time, we are able to put together an appropriate surface preparation program that defines how we clean, scrape, sand, prime, caulk and repair surfaces prior to applying paint.

The One Thing That Hasn’t Changed

painting older homes

Settle for nothing less than a Topcoat experience.

While the rules of painting have changed greatly in the past few years due to stricter regulations, and the products are constantly changing, there is one thing that Topcoat has made sure to preserve.

Surface preparation is still the key to a professional paint job. And with Topcoat, the entire process is low impact on our clients, with the priorities of safety, cleanliness and organization.

Topcoat makes restoring your older home to its former glory a fun and exciting process. We would be honored to take a look at yours and explore the possibilities with you.



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Scott Burt

About the Author

About the Author: Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine ( since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. .


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