An ideal day for outdoor painting is 21C and sunny, with moderate humidity.


Colour and style are both important elements in any home design, exterior or interior.


When you’re working outside, take your cue from the neighbours and the natural colours of gardens and building materials. Take a look at homes similar to yours in the immediate neighbourhood. This will help you to develop a look that harmonizes with the rest of the street while still being uniquely your own.

Use the colour of the roof or any other large area that won’t be painted as the starting point for colour selection. A well-designed exterior will typically have no more than four colours in the palette. One will be the main body colour for the walls, another will be the trim colour for window and door frames, a third will be an accent colour for shutters, barge boards and similar architectural decorations, and the fourth will be a strong “punch” colour for the front door, and only for the front door. Don’t use it for the garage door, or your garage will become the dominating feature of the house, when it should be the entrance door.

Benjamin Moore’s Historical colours, with their grey tones, are always popular for outdoor use. Hues that would be considered muted when used indoors will look quite different when viewed under changing natural light conditions. When making your final decision, take the paint chips — whatever the chip size — outside, and view them at different times of the day.

•What kind of paint?

Alkyd paints, made from natural oils such as soya and linseed, are the traditional coatings for exterior use. They offer great water resistance and have the durability required for those high-abuse areas such as benches, railings and patios. Because they are oil-based, you’ll need mineral spirits for clean-up. Also, lighter colours may yellow with time.

Latex coatings dry faster than alkyds, and being water-based, can be cleaned up with soap and water. They do not become brittle with age as alkyds can, and if applied properly, will perform better through seasonal temperature and humidity changes.

If the house is already painted with an alkyd product, you may continue using alkyd. You can paint over the alkyd surface with latex, but careful surface preparation and a special primer are necessary in order to realize the full benefits of latex durability.

•Identifying existing paint

Select a section of sound paint and rub it with medium-grit sandpaper. If the result is powder, you’re looking at alkyd paint. If the paint turns rubbery and gums up the sandpaper, it’s latex. Another test uses nail polish remover. Dab some on a rag and wipe it across the painted surface. Latex paint will rub off, while alkyd will not.

•Watch the weather

The ideal day for painting is sunny, around 21C, with moderate humidity. You can paint on hotter days, but anticipate the movement of the sun and work only on the shaded side of the house. A dark surface in direct sun can easily reach more than 50C and will make application of paint extremely difficult, perhaps impossible.

Don’t attempt to paint at temperatures lower than 10 C. Latex won’t cure at such low temperatures. If you feel rain coming, pack up in plenty of time to let your work dry. Until the paint has cured to a hard surface, water will degrade it, especially latex.

•Preparing to paint

Meticulous preparation is the key to a long-lasting paint job. Take time to prepare the surface to be painted and to fix any problems that might prevent the new paint from adhering.

Be sure to:

  1. Scrape off peeling paint and sand the area lightly. On an older home, you may find yourself having to remove a number of layers of old paint that may be cracked or blistered. Remove rust from metal surfaces with a wire brush.

  2. Fill cracks or holes in wood with exterior grade spackle or paintable caulking; caulk all open joints. Remove loose putty from around windows and replace with new. Re-attach loose siding and reset protruding nail heads. Seal knots in new wood with shellac or other sealer, lightly sand glossy paint to improve adhesion.

  3. If there is mildew on the wall, remove it by wiping and scrubbing with a mixture of one-part bleach to three parts water.

•Priming and painting

New and bare wood should be primed with the appropriate type of primer. Bare brick, stucco and concrete should be thoroughly washed, then primed with latex. Galvanized metal should be washed with mineral spirits, then primed with latex. Other metal should be primed with an oil-based rust-inhibiting primer.

Follow these directions, and your house will look great for years to come.

readying for remodelling

But is remodelling still a good investment?

You bet, as good as ever. However, you may want to think out exactly what you want to spend on your remodel before making the final decision.

Currently, more modest investments in finish items are getting the best return.


  • Before tackling any major remodelling project, first invest in safety upgrades.

  • Make sure that your electrical and gas systems are in premium condition and that they comply with the most current electrical and plumbing codes. Ask your local building department to inspect your home and advise you on what repairs will make your home safest for you and your family. You may have to pay a small fee, but nothing like the cost of losing your home to a fire or an explosion.

  • Don’t forget smoke alarms and CO2 detectors. If you don’t have them, add them. If you do have them, bring them up to date — smoke detectors stop detecting after 10 years.

  • Next, comes energy efficiency: Invest in compact fluorescent light bulbs, furnace cleaning and maintenance, and appliance replacement — new ones are a great deal less expensive to operate.

  • Finally, don’t forget general home maintenance. A roof leak may cost $450 dollars to have repaired, but if left unchecked it could end up doing thousands of dollars in damage.

  • Safety, energy and maintenance repairs are not considered remodels. A remodel is not tax deductible against a home’s capital gain.

  • A repair is deductible. That’s because a remodel is considered (by the government) as an improvement to conditions where a repair, even if it is an upgrade, brings the home back to its normal condition.

  • Once your home is safe, energy-efficient and properly maintained, remodel the master bath and kitchen. Of all possible remodels, they have always been top of the list. You’ll never want to leave once those two areas of your home are up to snuff.