Always Learning, and Always Standing By Our Work

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/01

If you skim through our blog articles and social media profiles, you’ll see our most attractive, eye-catching work. That’s obviously the type of content we enjoy sharing, and the content that our fans and clients like to see. 

No organization is perfect, however. We all make mistakes and learn hard lessons now and then, but we believe that the measure of a business (and a craftsman) is found in how we respond to these learning opportunities.  

Today, we’re going to face one head on, and share a few key insights along the way that will hopefully help with your next San Diego painting project.

What To Expect When Painting an Older San Diego Home

Before we dig into the story of this particular South Park home, let’s run through a few general considerations. Hopefully they help you make an educated choice as you paint your older San Diego home.

#1: Exposure To the Elements

The east and west sides of your home tend to have similar levels of moderate exposure. 

The north side has the gentlest experience, but the south side faces relentless sun and weather, making it the most prone to deterioration. The takeaway? A lighter, more budget-friendly prep process that works for the west, east, and north sides may not be able to handle the southern exposure. 

#2: Decades of Accumulated Paint

If you own one of our older local beauties, it has likely been painted MANY times. Some sections may be holding strong, while others start to chip and crack. In order to do the job right, this requires scraping, sanding, and repair. 

For this kind of chipping/cracking, you can either fully strip the siding (very costly!), scrape and sand, or use a technique we call “feather edge sanding.” This means that you leave the well-bonded original paint, only sanding the edges to smooth the surface so that it’s blended and smoother looking after the new paint is applied. Otherwise you can tell where the original paint was left, vs. the fully sanded sections. 

#3: Lead Paint

If you have an older property, the likelihood is fairly high that lead-based paint is present. It’s important to remember that sanding will create lead dust which is a no-no.  If LBP is present that will be disturbed, certain procedures for removal and containment must be followed. Our team is lead-safe certified, and knows how to navigate these considerations. 

#4: Color and Temperature

Our San Diego sun is such a blessing, but as we touched on above, it can really take a toll on your home’s paint. Especially if you use a dark color, you have to be aware of the extreme heat that it can (and will!) retain. 

#5: Blisters

Remember how we mentioned above that unless the surface is fully stripped (a large investment), there will be portions of older paint that are feather-edge sanded and covered by the new paint? In some cases, especially if a lot of heat is involved (exacerbated by a dark paint color), blisters can form as the new paint builds a sort of surface tension over the old, and its own weight pulls it away from the siding. This is not an uncommon issue, even if all the right steps and techniques are used. 

Peeling Paint on a South Park Craftsman Home

With those considerations outlined, let’s take a look at the timeline of this South Park project and what went wrong.

  • October of last year we painted the home, with a special focus on the heavily-weathered south side (it was in much worse condition, and needed a lot more attention).
  • Even after extensive scraping and rough sanding to knock off sharp edges, the homeowner still wasn’t pleased with the appearance of the south side of his home, understandably. Feather edge sanding was not part of the proposal, and not clearly explained. 
  • The onsite foreman decided to use a wood filler that could be sanded smooth, offering a more uniform appearance.
  • The result? It looked much, much better! We then primed the siding with a well-known product that we have used for over 30 years.
  • Finally, we applied the finish coat with flat paint in a fairly dark color.

At this point, the owner was satisfied and our story seemed to be ending well.

So, What Went Wrong?

Here’s what happened next:

  • Just a couple of months later, blisters began to appear. And not just here and there - we’re talking hundreds of them across the heavily-sunned, 100-year-old wood siding. 
  • As we peeled the blisters back, we could see that the primer had delaminated from itself!
  • We called our product manufacturer’s representative out to take a closer look. After offering a couple of theories that just didn’t stick (pun intended), he admitted that he had never seen this happen before. We were offered 5 gallons of free paint toward the repairs… 

We think that the problem could be traced back to the wood filler we used, although the filler itself never came off. It must have been contributing to the moisture being drawn out on the darkly-painted, very hot south side of the home. 

Our takeaway was that we can never use fillers to blend siding, especially if a dark color is being used on an old surface. 

What Would We Do Differently?

This was a perfect storm of dark colors, old siding, lead paint, and trying to make the customer happy at the expense of delivering less attractive (but better!) options.

Here’s what we would do differently:

  • More clearly outline the risks, considerations, and options at the onset of the project
  • Avoid using filler to help smooth the surface
  • Recommend a different color choice, or at least clearly articulate the risks involved in painting an old home a dark color in full sunlight

The Value of Hiring a Painter That Stands By Their Work (even when something goes wrong!)

With nothing being contributed by the manufacturer (beyond the 5 gallons of paint), we paid for the labor, scaffolding, chemical stripping, and finish paint required. It was a huge expense to rectify the issue. 

So, why are we sharing this?

It’s not just a “woe is me” story. We want you to know that we take our clients’ satisfaction (and our reputation) extremely seriously. If we have made a mistake or there is a legitimate issue, we’ll own it and do what’s necessary to make it right. 

The benefit to hiring a company with nearly 40 years of local experience is that you are hiring a company that is committed to long-term relationships and reputation. We will never be cheap painters, and would never want to be. The value we provide is that we offer very good service, then stand by our work, and by our clients, even if something doesn’t go right. 

Have a question? Please feel free to reach out!

Call Chism Brothers today!
(858) 454-3850
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