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Thursday, May 25, 2006 07:41 am

Painting vinyl siding

Some basic rules for freshening up the surface of your home

art3073
Dear Gene: Is it possible to paint vinyl siding? Will the paint eventually wash off? — A.L.
Vinyl siding can be successfully painted if some basic rules are followed. An important point to remember is that vinyl siding should not be painted a darker color than the original color. This is because dark colors cause the siding to absorb more heat and expand excessively, which can cause twisting and buckling. In many cases, you will be limited to light pastel colors and white. The siding should also be thoroughly cleaned of any mildew, chalk, and other surface contaminants that could cause poor paint adhesion. This usually means pressure-washing the siding. It is usually best to have an experienced washer operator do the work. Water must be kept from getting behind the siding, where it can damage the underlying structure. Experts agree that it is important to pick a high-quality paint, preferably with a flat or satin finish. The paint can be a premium acrylic latex or a paint containing urethane. Two coats are generally recommended. If your vinyl siding is dirty and dingy, it is possible that cleaning alone will be enough to restore a good appearance.
Dear Gene: I have an 8-by-8-foot plaster wall in my kitchen that is covered with Z-Brick, an artificial brick. A cabinet is fastened to part of the wall. I’d like to remove the bricks and refinish the wall. How do I go about it? — L.M.
You should temporarily remove the cabinet first; it will complicate any method you use to renovate the wall. The only way to remove the bricks is to chisel and pry them off. An old wood chisel and a mallet should do the job, but be sure to wear goggles, gloves, and other protective clothing when knocking off the bricks. There will also be adhesive residue that will have to be chipped and scraped off. It is certain that quite a bit of damage will be done to the plaster. It is quite possible you will need an expert plasterer or drywall contractor to put the wall into finishing condition. I think it would be much easier to remove the cabinet and baseboards and then cover the bricks with drywall, fastening it to the wall studs with screws that go right through the bricks. Just two sheets of drywall would be needed for this small wall, keeping joint-taping to a minimum.
Dear Gene: I have an iron railing on my front steps that continues to rust and stain the concrete steps. I have used rust-resistant paint and primers, but the stains continue to appear. Can you help? — D.S.
The rust is probably originating in the flange or base, where the railing’s post is attached to the concrete steps. The bottom of this flange probably has deteriorated paint and is the most likely place for water to collect and cause rust. To solve the problem at least temporarily, you will have to remove the railing and flange from the steps. Remove rust from the flange with a wire brush or rust remover. Prime and paint all surfaces with rust-resistant primer and paint. Also remove any rust stains from the concrete — a product called Zud, sold at many supermarkets, will often remove rust stains. When reinstalling the railing, use screws that have been treated to resist rust and corrosion. For a permanent solution, consider replacing the iron with a rustproof material such as aluminum, stainless steel, pressure-treated wood, or composite (wood and plastic mixed together). Alternative materials should be available at home centers and building-supply outlets near you.
Gene Austin says he became a do-it-yourselfer by necessity some 40 years ago when he bought his first house, a fixer-upper that needed a lot of work. Over the last 20 years, he has helped thousands of other weekend warriors through his home-improvement column.
Send questions and comments to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com or 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Distributed by Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
© Gene Austin 2006
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