Paint and Colour – helpful tips

Decide if you want to preserve, restore, or rehabilitate.

  • preserve = maintain existing colour and paint type
  • restore = change colour and paint type to match selected historic period
  • rehabilitate = update colour and paint to a sympathetic but not necessarily historically accurate treatment

 Choose an appropriate colour.

  • Check Municipal Heritage Committee guidelines for your house or district.
  • Compare earlier paint samples or photographs of your house.
  • Avoid too many accent colours.

Choose the right type of paint.

  • Consider:  the existing paint, the surface to be painted, your desired finish.
  • Choices include primers and sealers, oil-based paints, latex acrylic paints, milk paints, calcimine/whitewash, clear coat finishes.
  • Consult the Region of Waterloo Practical Guide to Paint and Colour [pdf] for more information.

Whether you hire help or do the work yourself, preparation is key.

Without proper prep, painting is a waste of time and money!

 You may not need to repaint, just clean surfaces.

  • Surface grime and organic matter make paint look dull and dingy.
  • Wash this away with soapy water.
  • You may not need to repaint.

Solve mildew, chalking, and staining problems before you repaint.

  • Mildew is a black fungus that feeds on the nutrients in paint.
  • Test with a drop of household bleach. Mildew will turn white.
  • Prevent mildew by scrubbing with a soft brush and a mixture of one cup non-ammonia detergent, four cups bleach, 16 cups water.
  • Rinse well. Repaint with mildew-resistant paint.
  • Chalking is the sun-caused breakdown of resin in oil-based paint.
  • Test by rubbing your hand on the paint. Your hand will turn gray.
  • Remove chalking with a stiff brush and mild detergent solution.
  • Rinse thoroughly, dry, and repaint with high quality acrylic latex paint.
  • Stains may be from rusting of metal. Sand. Repaint with rust-inhibiting paint.
  • Stains may caused by chemical reaction between moisture and compounds in red cedar or redwood. Wash with 1-1 solution of denatured alcohol and water. Rinse. Apply stain-blocking primer.

Know when to wash, when to rough up surfaces, or when to remove old paint.

If hiring professionals, ask what prep they will do.  Make sure their preparation work is appropriate. 

  • Hire a qualified contractor.
  • Ask for a list of previous projects.
  • Ask for references, and check them out.