When Should I Paint My New House?

couple looking at paint color palette

You’ve just bought a new house. Congratulations! You had a lot on your plate. So it’s understandable that you’re looking forward to moving into your new house and turning it into a home for your family. You have a lot to consider. One of the most important decisions is whether to paint your home before you move in or after.

One of the ways a family can turn a new house into a home is by painting its interior to reflect their own styles and tastes. If you have children, you may want to paint their rooms in their favorite colors. Maybe you want to give the kitchen a whole new look or make your living room more comfortable and relaxing with colors that express your personal tastes.

The best idea is to paint your new home before you move in. Contractors prefer to paint when the house is empty — you’ll pay as much as 30% less for the painting, and you’ll be happier as well.

Should I Paint My Walls Before Selling My House?

women choosing the right paint color

No, it’s best not to paint the walls of your former home before you leave.

Some of the reasons for this include:

  • The new family who has just bought your home will want to paint your old home according to their tastes.
  • Since the new family will want to paint the walls of your old home for themselves, doing so is just an added expense.
  • With everything else you need to do to pack up your old home, the last thing you really want to do is worry about having to paint the walls.

Instead, you may want to paint the most worn areas before you put your home on the market, or if the walls are very dirty, scuffed or painted non-neutral colors — that purple room will have to go. The walls in every home will show signs of wear which can be off-putting for potential buyers. Talk to a painting estimator like Klappenberger & Son, professional painters who can advise you on how much you should paint before putting your home on the market.

Professional painters can improve the look of your home by painting the few areas that need help. This will allow you to focus on the other aspects of leaving your old home and moving into your new one.

Should I Paint My New House Before I Move In?

person painting new house before moving in

There are a lot of positives in painting your new house before you move into it, but to a large degree it depends on your family’s personalities and the tastes.

  • If you like to get things done and have everything in order before you make a move, then painting the walls in your new home in advance will be a good choice.
  • This is also true if you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to have one more thing to do after you finally get your family moved in and unpacked.
  • Painting your home before you move in also allows you to choose a paint color or colors that more specifically express your personal tastes and create the kind of atmosphere and moods that you want to have in each room.
  • If you have children, it’s also a great way to help them transition into a new home. Moving is always a little tougher on children than it is on adults. So when you first take them into the room that will be their room in your new house, talk to them the kind of colors they would like to have their walls painted. Choosing a color becomes exciting and allows them to express some of their personal tastes. This will make the new house more inviting and more personal for them because they had a chance to help turn the house into a home.

We will look more at the pros and cons of painting your home before you move in a section below. While the question of whether to paint is a personal one, if you are going to paint, doing so before you move in is probably your best option.

Should I Paint My Home Myself or Hire Professionals?

why you should hire a painting professional to paint home

The question of who should paint your house hinges on a few important factors:

  • Do I have time to paint my new home?
  • Which is more important to me — saving money or making sure the job is done properly?
  • How much can I count on my friends to help me paint?

If you have the time and want to save money, you can do it yourself. Most people don’t look at the quality of the paint job. If you don’t have the time or you want a quality job done right, hire a professional painter like Klappenberger & Son to do the job for you.

You have a million things to do before you move. Do you also have the time it takes to paint your entire house? Probably not. Consider all the work that goes into painting a room.

A 13-by-13-foot room with an 8-foot ceiling has 432 square feet of surface to paint. First thing you need to do is prep work. Any holes in the wall need to be repaired, and larger holes need more work. After you fix any holes, you need to tape the room, making sure you tape trims on windows, doors, baseboards and electrical outlets.

Next, you need to sand the walls so the paint will apply smoothly. Then you need to cut in the ceiling and trim because you want sharp lines in the places where the ceiling meets the wall. Finally, you get to painting the walls — and this normally requires two coats — before the cleanup.

In the end, since not every room is the same size, it can take 5 to 8 hours to paint each room. This also doesn’t account for any breaks you might need to take. Depending on how many rooms you have in your home, you are looking at several days of work. You might need to take time away from your job. If you do need to take time off work, wouldn’t you rather spend it packing and moving?

It’s also important to hire the right company, and not just someone with a truck and a few paintbrushes. You want a company with enough personnel to do the job, and do it on budget and on time, or else it could take weeks for the job to be done.

When you hire an established company like Klappenberger & Son, you save yourself time and headaches, and you know your house will look great when you finally move it.

Do Painters Move Your Furniture?

do painters move furniture

Yes, professional painters can move your furniture. It is, however, more expensive and can be a bit of a headache. The painters will ask you to move the breakables and then use sliders to move large pieces on a carpeted or a hardwood floor. In most cases it takes about 10 minutes to move all the furniture out of the room.

Will I Paint My House After Moving In?

You’ve decided not to paint your home until you move in. Perhaps you want to see if the current paint works with your furniture and decor. Maybe the option of painting your home before you move in slipped your mind in the hustle and bustle of preparing to move into a new house. You might have said to yourself, “Well, if the paint is really ugly, I’ll just repaint it after we move in.”

Painting your home after you move in can be a real headache. It’s also more expensive and the only benefit is that you can choose paint that matches the artwork or the decor.

If the paint is ugly and doesn’t work for you, think about all the things you need to do to paint your home. All of the furniture and belongings you just unpacked that you will now need to move and to cover so that they won’t get soiled with paint.

On the other hand, if the paint isn’t that ugly and you decide to move in and just live with it, the question then becomes does the house really feel like a new home? The reality is that no house feels like a home with somebody else’s “signature” on it. In the end, if you want to make a new house a proper home for you and your family you need to put your signature on it and that means you should get it painted sooner rather than later.

Can You Paint a Newly Built House Right Away?

can you paint a newly built house right away

In almost every new home, the walls will be painted builder’s white. Unless otherwise specified, the people building your new home won’t make any selections about what color your walls should be painted, so they leave them this neutral color. Usually the building contractors will only paint the walls and leave the trim and ceiling alone because they’re already done.

Construction and painting professionals express different opinions on the issue.

Some housing professionals say that it’s better to wait as long as a year before you paint your home’s interior because you want to wait for your house and foundation to settle. All new homes will settle over time, and this may result in very small cracks or nail pops.

Other professionals advise to go ahead and have the house painted before you sign the Certificate of Occupancy and perhaps even before you have your floor sanded in your new home.

When you’re thinking about painting the interior of new construction, you want to work with professionals like Klappenberger & Son.

If you decide to have your home painted before you move in, you can always ask the painters to save and label leftover cans of paint so you can touch up if small cracks or nail pops appear.

Pros and Cons of Painting Before or After You Move In

So now that you have looked at some of the other issues about painting, let’s look at the pros and cons of painting your home before you move in.


There are lots of good reasons to paint before you move in including:

  • Increased productivity of painters
  • No danger of getting paint splatter on important items
  • Easier to cover floors
  • No need to be there while painters are working
  • Painters prefer painting an empty house — it’s done faster, it’s more relaxing and it’s easier to spot imperfections in the walls

There are also other advantages:

1. Not Moving Furniture Three Times

Waiting to paint your home until after you move in means you move all your furniture when you move in, move it again when you paint and then move it a third time when the painting is finished. But if there is no furniture in your home, problem solved. Painting before you move in also enables the painters to do a much better and faster job.

2. Save Money

why hiring a painting professional can save you money

When you get an estimate from a professional painter, the estimate will include the time that it takes to move furniture and protect it properly. Painting before you move in lowers the cost to paint a house because it’s easier for the painters to do their job, and they can do it much more quickly, which will save on labor costs.

3. It’s Easier to Paint Ceilings and Trim

Painting ceilings and trim is always the trickiest part of any paint job, but not having any furniture in the home allows professional painters to paint the ceiling and the trim around windows, baseboards and doors much easier.

4. Not Having to Deal With Paint Fumes

When you paint a room, you know that paint fumes are going to linger in the air for several days. This is because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are an essential part of any paint. The fumes from VOCs in paint, however, can result in dizziness, headaches or even nausea in some cases. Strong fumes are also not good for children or anyone in your family who has asthma.

5. Adding Your Personal Touch

As we noted above, your house doesn’t really become your home until you put your own personal touches on it. Moving into your house knowing the rooms already bear these personal touches helps it to become a home a lot faster.


There are only a few reasons to paint your home after you move in.

1. Questions of Interior Design

interior design questions when painting your new house

If interior design is very important to you, you’ll probably want to wait until all your furniture is into your new house before you decide on what paints will work best with your furniture and decor.

2. Color Palette

If you wait to paint your home until you move in, this may give you a better sense of the color palette that you want to use in each room. Once you see how your new furniture and decor look, how the sunlight affects the room and how the space looks under lighting at night, it may be easier to select colors.

While there are pros and cons when dealing with the question of when to paint your house, overall we would suggest that painting your home before you move in has many more advantages than painting after you move.

How Often Should I Paint My House?

how often you should paint your house

Now that you have dealt with the issue of whether you should paint your home before or after you move in, your next painting issue revolves around the question of how often should you paint your interior walls.

There are no set guidelines for how often a homeowner should paint their interior walls. Again, it depends on several factors including:

  • How long will I be living in this house? If you have a job that requires you to move frequently, it may never be an issue. If you plan on living in your home for more than 10 years, then you should repaint it every decade.
  • Do I want to spend the money on repainting the interior of my home? Depending on your personal financial situation, you may decide that you can live with the colors that you chose when you first moved in. If your personal financial situation allows you to repaint and you’re planning on living in your home for a lengthy period of time, repainting is a possibility.

While the question of how often you paint your home is a personal one, there are signs that it might be time to repaint your interior walls.

1. You Want a Change

You may get tired of looking at the color of paint on the wall. This could be true of one room or many rooms. A new coat of paint may be just what’s needed to give a room a new, fresh look.

2. Peeling or Flaking Paint

This is a particular issue in rooms with a lot of moisture like the kitchen or the bathroom. You may notice after a few years that the paint is beginning to peel. This occurs because moisture is seeping in the walls due to the many hot showers or meals cooked over the years. You may also notice some flaking in other rooms. Peeling or flaking can create a bigger problem if you don’t deal with it promptly.

3. Mold

This again involves moisture in the walls. The moment you spot mold, mildew or water spots on the exterior surface of the paint, you need to think about repainting right away. This is not just about how it makes the room look but is also a health issue. When you confer with a master painter during your original interior painting, ask them about what kind of paint would be best to use in areas with a lot of moisture like the bathroom, the kitchen or the laundry room.

4. Stains and Scuff Marks

Over the years, the wear and tear in a home will show on the interior walls. Scuff marks can happen when you move the furniture around or bring up some heavy objects from the basement. Children’s toys or school backpacks rubbing against the walls or posters hung up in their rooms leave marks. Liquids or foods accidentally spilled on the walls can also leave stains.

You can clean many of these marks, but eventually, you will need to repaint.

5. Fading

Paint normally doesn’t fade inside the house, but it will on the exterior. Talk to a painting professional about how often you should repaint the exterior of your home to keep it looking fresh and new.

Ready to Paint Your Home? Contact the Master Painters at Klappenberger & Son

contact klappenberger and son

Klappenberger & Son is a local company and operates in Maryland, Virginia and the D.C. area. We believe in quality above everything else. All of our employees are extensively trained and our knowledge of the right products and application make us a great value.

When you work with Klappenberger & Son, you don’t have to worry about quality. Our system and process give us consistent and predictable results that offer the very best in painting services to our clients.

If you live in the Maryland, Virginia or D.C. areas and you would like to talk to us about painting the interior or the exterior of your home, you can call us at 410-647-5700 or toll-free at 888-308-6638. You can also visit our contact us page to leave us your contact details and some information about your painting needs. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Riversdale Historic House Preservation Painting

Riversdale Historic House Preservation Painting

Here at Klappenberger & Son, we enjoy sharing our knowledge and experience on historic preservation projects with you. We paint historical buildings to ensure our history is protected and preserved. This results in beautiful buildings that has a lasting paint job. We work with interior and exterior paint jobs, commercial and private projects from big jobs to small ones. No matter the type of job, our policy is to produce the very best work possible every time, and we love sharing our work with others.

We also have the training and skills necessary to take on more complex tasks in historic building restoration. Like so many places, Maryland, D.C. and the East Coast in General has its fair share of gorgeous historic buildings, all of which deserve to keep standing and sharing their fascinating history with generations to come, but many of which could also use a little help in lasting that long. That’s where we come in. When hired for the job, we visit national historic landmarks and work to restore the paint, windows and finish.

Recently, we were proud to use our skills to preserve and restore Riversdale House Museum — a national historic landmark and genuine piece of Maryland history. Today, we want to share a little bit about what a job like that looks like, as well as the importance of preserving historic buildings and why we’re passionate about it.

Riversdale House Museum

Riversdale House Museum is a Federal-style mansion built between the years 1801 and 1807. Today, it exists as a way for visitors to experience a slice of time and history preserved within the walls and grounds of this elegant estate.

The home was originally built for Flemish aristocrat Henri Stier but was eventually completed by his daughter and her husband, Rosalie and George Calvert. This couple had deep ties to the prominent families in Maryland of the day, and George was even the grandson of the fifth Lord Baltimore. Through information revealed in the architectural bones of the house, archival records and the surviving diary of Rosalie Calvert, historians can reconstruct much of what life in this house during this period. Today, they’re using these records and this house to share this story with visitors from every corner of the world.

Riversdale House Museum is a rich source of information and learning for those wishing to learn about federal history, Maryland history, women’s experiences in the early 19th century and the lives of African Americans during this time. From taking guided tours to browsing the exhibits and artifacts, there’s plenty for everyone to learn at Riversdale.

Why the Restoration?

historical sites suffering from passage

Given enough time, wooden structures break down. Buildings crumble, metals rust and wood decays. Our country has many gorgeous historical sites that all have valuable lessons to teach us about the past, but many of these sites have suffered from the passage of time. Left to their own devices, not many of them would last. Nature would take its course and these historical sites would vanish altogether.

That’s where teams of people including historians, preservation experts and painting professionals like our team here at Klappenberger & Son come in. Together, we work to perform historic building restoration, returning sites like Riversdale House and others to their former selves and preventing them from deteriorating. This way, the history they represent will continue to be available for future generations.

At Klappenberger & Son, our areas of expertise when it comes to landmark buildings are historical building painting and historic window restoration. In these two areas, we work carefully and diligently to preserve the building’s history and support the longevity of the wood.

Let’s explore what this restoration process looks like a little more closely.

Painting Process for Historic Buildings

The question of how to preserve old buildings is a complicated one, and there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all answer that we can apply universally. Every structure is unique, since they have different materials in varying states of decay and have been exposed to unique natural conditions that have affected the materials differently.

Many factors will influence the exact strategy we’ll use as we approach a project. Just a few of the questions we ask to help determine which approach we settle on include:

  • What materials are we painting?
  • What is the physical state of those materials?
  • How much has sun exposure damaged the surface?
  • How much moisture content is there in the walls?
  • How rough or smooth is the wood?
  • What paints and primers have other workers used on these surfaces in the past?

Once we have the answers to questions like these, we’ll be much better equipped to determine the best approach for preserving and restoring these historic spaces.

The Preservation Process for Riversdale House Museum

The process we use for every project will vary depending on the precise needs of the project in question. This means that if you’re looking for a universal method for historic preservation, then this won’t be it. Nevertheless, this is the method we used for our restoration work at Riversdale House Museum.

1. Preparing the Wood

advice before a historical paint job

Before any painting, priming, glazing or anything else can take place, it’s necessary to prepare the surface. Among other things, this means delicately cleaning off any debris, dirt or flaking paint. Few things can undermine a fresh coat of paint as efficiently as a dirty surface, as all these small particles of debris make it difficult for the paint to adhere to the surface.

Furthermore, it’s essential to smooth the surface gently by sanding it. A smooth surface accepts paint better than a rough one, meaning that this sanding is an integral part of prepping any surface for a historical preservation job.

We started by very gently removing all the loose glaze that was still clinging to the surface. It’s critical to perform this job carefully, so as not to scrape away too much of the original surface. At the same time, we also need to make sure we remove any loose particles, so they wouldn’t be in the way of the fresh coating. For this task, we used D/2, a cleaning product developed to clean historical surfaces without leaving any harmful residues that might eat away at the surface or damage the wood.

Additionally, we lightly sanded the wood and paint. This was to smooth the surface and clear away any loose chips that would interfere with the painting process. Again, we took great care to sand gently so as not to damage the surface itself. The goal here is only to smooth away loose pieces or bumps.

2. Priming the Wood

In many ways, historic preservation painting is very different from any other type of painting. Yet in other ways, they are much more similar than you might expect. Like any other variety of painting, historical jobs need to begin with a fresh coat of primer. This gives the paint a uniform base to adhere to, ensuring a smooth and even finish across the entire surface.

Whether you’re completing an ordinary paint job or a historical preservation job, failure to begin by applying this primer could result in many setbacks. The paint might not adhere at all, or it might look blotchy and uneven. Alternatively, the paint might go on wonderfully, only to begin chipping and flaking far sooner than it ordinarily would.

For our purposes with this project, we used an oil-based primer. By covering the surface in this primer, we do our best to make sure the later coats will go on with as few hiccups as possible. Once the primer is applied, it’s essential to wait for it to dry fully before moving on to the next step. Starting the next step too soon could make applying primer pointless.

3. Glazing the Wood

Once we’ve painted on the first coat of primer, but before we layer on any paint, it’s time to add the glaze. In this case, we added the glaze, then left the project alone for seven days before we moved onto the next step. This seven-day waiting period is crucial because it ensures that the moisture content of the wood is low enough for the paint to last as long as possible.

This accommodation for the moisture content of the wood is vital as this will have a significant effect on the final result of the paint. If the moisture content of the wood is too high, the paint won’t stick very well and won’t last long. Therefore, this seven-day waiting period is crucial for the overall success of the project.

4. Priming the Wood: Round Two

Once the glaze has set, the moisture content has been attended to and the seven-day waiting period has passed, it’s time to move onto the next step — the second coat of primer. While we used an oil-based primer for the first coat, the second coat is different. In this case, we used a latex-based primer called Mad Dog.

Mad Dog is a primer explicitly intended for use with historic preservation projects. Excellent for projects that deal with peeling and well-weathered surfaces, Mad Dog primer helps lay down a solid base that creates the perfect surface for the paint to lie down on. Primer like this has been known to keep the top coat of paint holding steady and looking great for at least 20 years. For reasons like these, we include it in our own historical preservation projects.

Once we apply the primer, the next step is simply to wait for it to dry. This isn’t quite as long a waiting period as is necessary for the glaze, but it’s still important to wait long enough to ensure the primer dries properly.

5. Painting the Wood

historic preservation painting advice

With historic preservation, we often refer to the whole project as “painting.” Yet painting is only one small part of a much longer series of steps. Before we can even begin painting, it’s necessary first to complete the due diligence of properly preparing, priming and glazing the wood.

Once we’ve completed all this prep work, however, it’s time to move onto the final phase — painting. For this phase, we used a latex-based paint that meshed well with the latex-based primer we used just underneath the paint. We chose a paint from Fine Paints of Europe.

We applied two coats of this paint to ensure maximum coverage, as well as to guarantee the paint’s longevity. Once this paint dried and we inspected everything to make sure it was up to standard, the historic house preservation painting was complete.

Historic Window Painting

In addition to our work painting the exterior of Riversdale House, we also performed extensive work in wood window restoration. Much like any other type of historic preservation painting, this is exact and careful work that requires precisely the right tools used in precisely the right way.

As we mentioned earlier, moisture content is an enormous factor when painting historic wood. The higher the moisture content, the greater the likelihood that the paint will not stick, leading to coats of paint that flake and peel off not long after they’ve been applied.

While moisture content is a concern in any historical preservation work, it’s especially concerning when it comes to restoring old windows. This is because windows are a major source of moisture, as they’re in constant contact with the air outside and are exposed to rain, snow and all manner of inclement weather. If any part of the house is going to suffer from excessive moisture, it is by far the most likely that it will be the windows.

In all our historic preservation work, from this project to all the other sites we’ve worked on, we always strive to ensure we’re preserving the original structure while preparing it to last for many more years. This means watching the moisture content in the wood of the walls as well as the windows and treating them with the utmost care in the process.

Government Buildings

Our expertise in restoring old buildings isn’t just limited to the private and public sphere. We also work with government sites and have completed projects at such nationally recognizable sites as the White House and the Pentagon. No matter what type of site you’re looking to have restored, and no matter what schedule you need us to accommodate, we’re ready to work with you.

Contact Klappenberger & Son for Your Historical Restoration Project Today

contact for historical painting job

Is there a historical site that you’re looking to have restored and preserved? Here at Klappenberger & Son, we have the tools, expertise and experience to get the job done right. We pride ourselves on attending to all the details and know that the best jobs are the ones where time and care has been taken to make sure every little thing comes out right.

Are you ready to move forward with your project? Contact us today to schedule your free onsite estimate.

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Types of Paint Sheen

handyman applying paint sheen in interior of home

Whether you are painting your home in Baltimore, Ellicott City or Rockville MD, or anywhere up and down the Chesapeake Bay, the sheen of the paint can be just as important as the color.  The sheen will determine the washability and can help create subtle and even dramatic differences.  There are certain rules of thumbs about paint sheen that can help guide you to improving the look and longevity of the paint. The information I have provided is largely based on experience and knowledge. I have been painting homes for almost 30 years. And like the Farmers commercial “I know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two”  applies to the over 30,000 homes I’ve painted and the knowledge and experience I’ have gotten along the way.  I’ve also included some short examples of when I picked the wrong sheen to help you avoid those pitfalls as well.

Sheen Durability

Here are the sheens and durability from least to most:

  1. Flat – least washable
  2. Matte
  3. Eggshell (also called Low luster)
  4. Satin
  5. Semi-gloss
  6. Gloss (or High Gloss) – most washable

Do all sheens clean basically the same?  Back in the day the answer was always no.  But today with new technology flat and matte finishes have come along way and a small select few very high end paints have excellent durability and clean-up, but for the most part as you increase the sheen to a higher more reflective level the durability increases as well. The more reflective or smoother the surface the less dirt can fit in the grooves of the paint.  This is how interior painting and paint sheen was explained to me almost 30 years ago.

If you looked at flat paint under a microscope, it would look similar to a plate of cooked spaghetti noodles without the sauce.  There would be plenty of nooks and crannies for dirt fill in and hard to get it out.  Wiping flat paint off would just of smear the dirt around.

On the other hand, if we looked at a high gloss paint under a microscope it would look like a piece of glass.  And we all know that if you spill something on glass it just wipes right off.  That is the same for gloss paint as well.  They are cleanable.

green paint sheen next to front doorknob

Flat paint

Flat paint has the dullest sheen of all paints and,  comes in many different grades.  From maintenance paint that would be used in apartments to premium grade flats that would be used at the White House.  Most major paint manufacturers have at least 4 or more lines that fall between the two.    I hate speaking in absolutes but most low-end paints will have poor results in washability and scrubbablity.  Some poor paints do actually cover just fine and touch-up easily.  For the purpose of this article,  I will be referring to mid- grade to premium grades.

Advantages of flat paint

  • Least expensive
  • Covers the best
  • Self-priming
  • Touches up perfectly (no need to paint the entire wall)
  • Hides imperfections
  • Best choice if you have removed wallpaper and are repainting.
  • Best choice for ceilings


Why choose a flat paint for the ceiling – most interior house painters will shutter at the thought of painting anything other than flat on the ceilings.  Why?  Because flat paints non-reflective properties it hides subtle imperfections of roller marks and unevenness of surfaces.  We recently painted a home in Parkville MD with flat paint on the walls and ceiling because the house was built in the 1920’s and had lots of imperfections in the plaster.  The customer did not have any children or dogs and wanted a clean finish that could be touched up when needed as opposed to cleaning.  Also, flat paint hid so many of subtle defects of the plaster.

A second advantage to interior flat paint is it touches up well.  Some customers would prefer to break out a roller and touch up areas as opposed to cleaning the walls.  If so, flat paint is the way to go.  As you will see shortly, one of the disadvantages of using paint with a sheen is it does not touch-up very well.  Flat paint does.  So, if drywall refinish service needs to be done, flat paint can be done in just the repaired areas and the flat paint will blend right in without repainting the entire wall.

I highly recommend using flat paint if you are removing wallpaper.  Wallpaper removal is a service we provide as well.  The reason why you want to use interior flat paint after wallpaper removal has taken place is that of the rough conditions of the walls.  Flat paint will help hide the drywall imperfections better than all other sheens.

interior of home with flat paint walls

Flat Paint Disadvantages

  • Does not have the washability or scrubbability compared to the other sheens.

Recently a customer who we painted for in Columbia MD wanted a highly washable flat paint.  Yes, all paint manufacturers have washable flat paint, but in truth, most are not true flat.  They need the slightest sheen to some wash-ability.   These premium grade flats paints are definitely more washable than a good grade flat, but they do not have the washability that an eggshell / low sheen paint can handle.  There is a compromise, if you want to wash the walls but desire a minimal sheen than a Matte finish is the best choice.

Is there a difference between scrubbable and washable paint?

Washable refers to the stains ability NOT to adhere to the paint.  Stain can easily be washed off with a sponge and mild detergent.

Scrubbable has to do not with a paints ability to be cleaned.  In order for a paint to be labeled scrubbable, it needs to be able to scrub with a stiff bristle brush repeatedly and resist erosion.   The stain can still exist, and the paint can be reduced in sheen as well.  But the paint did not come off.

The goal of good quality paint is to handle light-duty cleaning to remove dirt and stains (washability) and not wash the paint off the wall (scrubbability)

Matte Finish

If hiding imperfections on the walls are important but the customer would like some washability as well than a matte finish is a perfect choice.  It is very hard to tell the difference between a flat and matte finish unless you are looking at the wall from an angle.  Matte finish have an ever so slight sheen that they can easily be confused for a flat finish.  But it’s that very slight sheen that its ability to be washed and scrubbed.

I have yet to see mid-grade matte paint but I am sure some manufacturer is working on it.  Maryland Paint in Annapolis has a multitude of premium grade matte paints and I highly recommend you check them out if you are a do-it-yourselfer.  Maryland Paint & Decorating is a full-service independent paint dealer in Annapolis that carries at least 4 different manufacturers of Matte finish paint that all of exceptional quality.

Matt Paint disadvantages

  • The major disadvantage of a matte finish is it is expensive.
  • Matte paint does not work well on ceilings

Don’t make this mistake

Matte paints are very close to a flat finish but please never confuse the two and apply a Matte finish on a ceiling.  Many years ago, I wanted to apply the best Matte finish paint on the market to make please a painting customer in Bethesda MD.  I painted the ceiling 3 times before I throw-in the towel.  Matte paints are impossible to get looking good on a ceiling with lots of light.  I ended up getting a flat ceiling paint that did the trick.   The customer in Bethesda was happy with our painting service and has recommended us to many other neighbors and friends.  Thanks!!

Matte paint advantages

  • It hides imperfections on walls about as good as flat paint. It is an excellent choice for plaster walls.
  • It can be touched up and will blend right into surrounding areas.
  • It is self-priming
  • It has a very good washability and scrubbability.

Eggshell Sheen

Eggshell Advantages

  • Eggshell paint has several advantages and is now about as frequently used on walls as flat paint. The advantages are it has subtlety, sophistication and an elegant sheen.  Eggshell finishes are durable and washable.  Minor scuffs can be easily cleaned with a mild detergent and sponge.  It’s soft creamy look gives it a contrast between flat and satin finish.
  • As a rule of thumb, a good grade eggshell will have better washability than a premium matte finish.
  • It is easy to apply

Many homes including this interior painting job in Towson MD used eggshell paint on all the walls.  The eggshell sheen was a great choice and Towson shined just a little brighter.

Long or tall walls with open space will show drywall imperfections. Short walls or walls with a lot of pictures, or windows will help hide the minor imperfections.  Eggshell is the highest finish that slight imperfections will not be that noticeable unless walls are long and open or tall like a 2-story foyer.  Kitchens and bathrooms used to be painted with a semi-gloss sheen.  Most customers have switched to an eggshell finish because it still has the durability without the sheen of s semi-gloss.

Eggshell Disadvantages

Eggshell Interior paint does not touch up well.  Every time an additional coat of paint is applied the product gets a hair shinier.  The results are noticeable, and any professional painting contractor should know that the wall will have to be painted in its entirety.  At Klappenberger & Son our professional painters are trained to do the following procedure when repairing wall damage to a wall with a sheen other than flat of matte finishes.

  1. Spackle and sand to a smooth finish
  2. Prime spackled area
  3. Paint repaired area only with eggshell finish
  4. Paint entire wall

Therefore, some professional painting companies in the Maryland areas and elsewhere that charge more for painting with eggshell sheen or other higher sheens.  Recently, in we painted a tall foyer in Clarksville MD and the 20’ high walls were flat paint.  The customer wanted an eggshell paint applied to the walls because of its washability (they have 4 children and 2 large dogs).  But it was also important to the Clarksville family to have the walls look excellent as they liked to entertain.  So, they wanted a professional paint job using durable paint but were also concerned about not showing the imperfections.  Even though the walls looked good with flat paint, new areas of concern will now appear because of the reflection of light bouncing off the walls is more reflective.  The solution is to bring in halogen lights and shine them on the flat walls which will highlight the imperfections prior to applying the eggshell paint.  Klappenberger & Son is a professional painting company in Maryland that follows those best practices.  In other words, if you are switching from flat to eggshell, be prepared to see flaws in the walls that were not noticeable before.

Typical places to use Eggshell Interior Paint

painter applying eggshell finish to walls at the smithsonian

Government painting jobs such as this one at the Smithsonian.  Selvin is applying  Ben Moore Eggshell finish to walls.

  1. Commercial painting business in Maryland: Office buildings are routinely painted Eggshell to handle the daily scuffs.  Some of the Maryland commercial painting services that we have painted using eggshell paint on the walls include:  Interior painting of schools, churches, Medstar, and assisted living.  Klappenberger & Son in licensed and insured commercial painting contractor in Maryland that is also an expert on Eggshell finish epoxy paint which what we have been using in a High School in Baltimore City.  This epoxy eggshell paint is a remarkable product with amazing durability and washability.  We painted the interior of Coppin State High School Academy in Baltimore several years ago and I had the privilege of returning a year later and cleaning the walls we painted.  The result was amazing! Strong scuff marks wiped off so easily and left no evidence on the walls after the cleaning dried.
  1. Residential places where eggshell is commonly used.

Some of the most common areas where rooms that would benefit by having eggshell paint would be bathrooms, kitchens, and high traffic areas, such as hallways, and laundry rooms.  Also, if you are not concerned about having your walls look perfect and free of small blemishes eggshell is a good choice for any wall.  It has a similar sheen to a stick of butter but with no calories.  Remember, a mid-grade eggshell paint which cost about $25.000 will have better wash ability than a premium grade flat that would cost a range from 45.00 – 65.00 dollars.   So if you are likely to clean your walls instead of touch -up, eggshell paint is your best bet.

eggshell finish in white hallway with stairs inside home

This Gaithersburg painting home had several small children that will require a highly washable low sheen finish.  The product used was Sherwin Williams Cashmere Low Luster which is the same sheen as eggshell.

Do you ever wash or clean your walls?

If you don’t wash your walls, why bother getting a washable paint?  You are paying for something you won’t benefit from.  It reminds me of when I saw a button in a rental car for seat warmers in Hawaii.  Nice feature but can’t imagine when they will ever be used.

What about rental properties?  I recommend painting a rental property with mid-grade flat paint because it touches up so well.  Just get an extra five-gallon bucket and leave a roller in it.  When tenants leave you may be able to get away with just rolling the areas that need it.  You certainly should not have to edge where the walls and ceiling meet.  If you touch up with an eggshell the areas that were re-coated will look shinier than the areas that were not re-coated causing a patchy look.

Satin finish

Satin finish is certainly the least common sheen used.  Why?  No real reason but it is already visible in your home.  Your kitchen cabinets sheen is a satin finish.  Recently we got a referral from a previous customer who was asked if she knew any house painters in Baltimore who painted kitchen cabinets.  When I meet the customer in Towson I showed them samples of cabinet grade satin finish paint and explained our best practices.  Satin has great durability and washability with a slightly less sheen than semi-gloss.  It is often used in historic restoration work both on the interior and exterior of homes.  The reason is woodwork is often in rough shape on historical homes and the slightly duller finish from a semi-gloss has noticeable differences in hiding dings and dents.  Also, if the walls are flat and the trim is satin finish there is still significant contrast.  Most historical properties have beautiful trim and it does not need a semi-gloss finish to be noticed.

Disadvantages of a satin finish

If you have modest trim and you switch from a semi-gloss finish to a satin finish the paint looks slightly duller as if the painter did not apply enough paint.

If you paint walls a satin finish and the walls are bowed or wavy the work will look horrible.  It may take hours for a professional painter or drywall finisher to make the walls look acceptable.  In some cases, it might not even be possible.  When we were repainting this historical project in Baltimore City the customer viewed the flaws in the plaster as adding character.  These walls didn’t need to talk to show all their character.

bright green satin paint sheen finish inside home

The walls are a satin finish glow in the dark green with jet black semi-gloss and high gloss white trim.  This interior painting job is from a historic property in Baltimore City.

Advantages of a Satin finish:

Satin finishes can be used on walls, ceiling and trim but come with the same warnings as eggshell sheen does.  Namely, it will accentuate imperfections if the previous coat was a lesser sheen.

It is great in bathrooms for moisture.  In fact, most bathroom paints have a satin sheen.

Other great places to use a satin finish are painting furniture, kitchen cabinets, and closets.  Yes, closets get all scuffed up and a satin finish is like making it bulletproof.  If you have paintable shelves you can just paint everything in the closet the same color (white is best).   Life is complicated enough, painting your closets white satin from top to bottom just made life a little easier.

What does a satin finish look like?   Furniture and kitchen cabinets are usually satin finishes.

Semi-Gloss Paint

Semi-gloss is most commonly used on woodwork like windows, doors, baseboard etc.  It’s durability and contrast to eggshell and flat paint make it a nice partnership with walls and trim.  At one time it was very common to paint kitchen and bathroom walls semi-gloss, but it’s urethane look can leave a cold impression.   Today customers are more likely to just use an eggshell sheen because it has more subtleness to it and does not highlight the imperfections.  Plus if your walls are eggshell and the trim is semi-gloss there is still a contrast.  In my opinion semi-gloss on walls has an institutional look to it.  It is something that I would recommend in a daycare facility or a gym.  But on trim, it is still king at and is the most common choice by far.

painter painting a pool bathroom with blue paint

Right: Dave Perella is painting a pool bathroom in Gaithersburg MD

Semi-gloss the disadvantages

Semi-gloss does not look good on walls unless walls are in great shape.  This may require extensive drywall spackling services.  Drywall services such as skimming walls can double the time and cost of the paint job.  Touching up trim is no problem but touching up walls will often look patchy.  Meaning every additional coat get a little shinier and will be necessary to repaint the entire wall.  The process is the same as it would be for all the other sheens besides flat and matte finish.  First, prime then paint the primed area, the paint the entire wall.  This is a best practice that all professional painting services in Maryland should follow and is certainly incorporated by Klappenberger & Son.

Semi-gloss the advantages

The advantages of painting the interior of homes in Maryland with a semi-gloss is its durability and also it’s coverage.  This is the highest sheen you can apply that will typically cover in two coats.  Whenever you change colors or sheens it best to figure on 2 coats of paint.  In 95% of the time semi-gloss will not let you down.

The semi-gloss finish has more washability and scrubbablity than any other sheen except gloss.  Because of those features, it is the best product to apply to doors and door trim.  It is also the most economical product to apply for durability because of its superior coverage to gloss paint.

FYI – Please stay away from any white paint that reads “brilliant white.”  This paint is so white that it does not have enough pigment to cover.  Some customers who want interior painting service in Maryland want their ceilings or trim to be “brilliant white”.  This is a poor choice.  I try to educate the customer and let them know that it will always take multiple coats and lead to additional costs with no real visual difference.  Paint colors like “Extra white, Super white, and just White” will cover and work just fine.  If you buy paint and it says Brilliant White I hope you enjoy painting –a lot!

High Gloss Sheen

Gloss paint looks like glass and just sits on top of the surface.  It can have a very dramatic and powerful feel.  In this historical restoration project in Baltimore City, the owner understood the effect of gloss paint and wanted to maximize its effect.  Gloss paint is difficult to work with and is more susceptible to drips and runs than other sheens.   Once we used gloss paint on walls.  We had to spackle walls all the walls from top to bottom (called a skin coat).  The walls then needed to be sanded and primed and rechecked for further imperfections.  It’s also difficult to apply the paint but that is for another article.  The bottom line is a gloss on walls has a dramatic effect and can look amazing but it very labor intensive.

clean white toilet surrounded by red glossy walls

This historical restaurant in Baltimore City (The Elephant).  We painted the walls Fire Engine Red and in high gloss.  Talk about dramatic!

High Gloss the Disadvantages

The disadvantages of gloss paint will become apparent very quickly.

  1. They show every flaw as if it was under a microscope. If glossy paint is applied with a roller it should be backed brushed to knock down the nap of the roller.
  2. The paint runs and drips 10 minutes after you think you are finished.
  3. It typically requires additional coats for coverage. Fine Paints of Europe does make high-quality gloss paints that have exceptional coverage.  SW Emerald does not cover well and is difficult to work with.
  4. It dries more slowly than all other sheens.
  5. It fades quicker when on exterior surfaces.

High Gloss The advantages

You are king of the sheen!

High Gloss has an amazing effect.  It is very noticeable.

Very durable and has great washability

Best places to use Gloss paint

  1. Mantles
  2. Window sills
  3. Front door interior and exterior
  4. Newel post
  5. Bookcases
  6. Wood shutters on historic homes look great if you don’t mind seeing the imperfections.
  7. Anything you want to show off.

Exterior Sheens

Picking the right sheens on exterior surfaces has few more standard rules of thumb.

It is a safe bet that if you are painting your siding, it will be either flat or Eggshell finish.

Satin and semi-gloss sheens have too much of a sheen and are better served to be used on trim, shutters, and doors.

When Maryland customers are in need of a professional painting company they often call Klappenberger & Son Painting for guidance on the pro’s and cons on choosing the right sheen.  On aluminum and vinyl siding the proper sheen to use is Eggshell.  Why?  When the siding was originally installed it had and an eggshell finish.  As time wears on, the color has faded and the sheen has become dull.  If a flat finish is applied, it will hold pollen and dust that can turn into mildew faster.  Also, as rain splatters mud or dirt on the siding, eggshell would be less likely to stick.  Because eggshell finish has a smoother finish it will clean easier when power washed.  If you skipped eggshell sheen and went straight to a satin finish it will look to shiny.    Once I used an exterior satin finish paint on aluminum siding home and I thought it looked horrible.  It needed to be repainted.  The difference between satin and eggshell sheen is significant when you are seeing the tall gable side of a two-story home.

If you are fortunate enough to own a beautiful historic home such as this one in Annapolis MD.  You will find the rules for exterior paint sheen have some additional options.  When we meet with the customer, we suggested a satin finish on all siding and trim.

This would allow better washability than a flat or eggshell and would let all the character of the siding and trim shine.

Historical homes can be painted just about any sheen including High Gloss. This storefront in historic Annapolis has oil gloss paint applied to its trim and Low sheen paint on the bricks.

exterior sheen paint job on historical building

This Historic storefront in Annapolis has high gloss trim and low sheen on the bricks.

Exterior Sheens Fade But How Fast

The Maryland summers are long and hot and the UV will definitely effect color retention as well as the sheen.  Color retention will fade depending on the color.  Reds and yellows will fade the quickest while taupes and tans will hold there color the longest.  As far as sheen are concerned a quality paint will hold it sheen longer than a lesser grade.  Typically, most sheens will start to show a slight decrease in sheen in 4-6 years.  Hi-gloss paints in full exposure may loose then sheens a bit faster … 3-5 years.  Flats will have hardly changed for about 10 years.

Picking the right sheen takes careful thought and understanding of the pros and cons of each level.  Klappenberger & Son painting consultant’s will be glad to give you a free consolation on all aspects of interior and exterior painting and handyman work.

How to retard the loss of Sheen

Maryland has strong seasonal changes and the hot strong summers are one thing but the dark winters play their own havoc on exterior painting surfaces especially in high wooded areas like this exterior painting job in Columbia Maryland.  The winters are a great time for mildew to spread which means it may need a spring power washing with bleach.  Bleach will reduce sheen.  Chloride is a stripper.  It is an acid and will therefor know the sheen down a notch.  It’s best to use about 10-15% bleach in combination with other milder cleaners to clean homes with as opposed to higher levels of bleach when power washing.

handyman power washing side vinyl of house exterior

Power washing vinyl siding in Towson MD

I’ve included a few other exterior painting projects in Towson, Severna Park and Potomac MD

Some of the other exterior painting and handyman services that Klappenberger & Son provide include:

  • Power washing
  • Replacing rotten siding and trim
  • Replacing of screen
  • Replacing front doors
  • Replacing Handrails and deck boards

Klappenberger & Son is a residential and commercial painting contractor serving most of Maryland.  Geographical locations that our professional painters’ service would include Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, and Queen Ann’s County.

If you are in need of professional painting services in Maryland but outside of the areas listed above please call us and we may be able to recommend another professional painting company if we are not able to service the area ourselves. Contact us for a free quote!

Moisture Content and Painting

moisture content and painting

When you want to have your home or business repainted, you want a paint job that will last for years to come. The last thing you need is chipped paint that peels off your walls just months after it was applied. But you might not know that there’s a simple step you can take to prevent peeling paint.

You can ensure that your paint will adhere to its surface by checking your walls for their moisture content before the paint is applied.

Many people take this for granted. After all, most online painting tips fail to mention that you should check the surfaces moisture levels before applying a stain or a coat of paint. You also won’t even typically notice high moisture content without using a professional reader. But moisture levels above 15% for primers, paints and most stains will result in paint peeling.

Couple painting walls in home

At Klappenberger & Son, we know just how important it is to test the moisture content prior to applying any paint. It doesn’t matter how much prep work and sanding do. It doesn’t matter if you use the best primers, and premium grade paint money can buy. If the moisture content is above 16% the paint will peel. The higher it is the faster it will peel. We believe in focusing on quality from the beginning to the end of any paint job, so we consider the moisture content of any Maryland home or business before we begin painting. Read on to learn more about paint failure, the importance of moisture content management and the process we use to balance your walls’ moisture levels.

Why Does Paint Peel?

Paint will allow a certain amount of moisture to pass through without peeling. But when the sun wants to bring its strong powerful rays down on that siding or trim after time the paint will fail and crack. It loses it flexibility, like dry skin it cracks. In the early stages of getting painted the paint has amazing flexibility. I painted a pergola before and it rained the next 4 days. Fortunately, most of the pergola was fine but there were a few bubbles. She described the as big pockets of water! I asked her to pop the bubbles and I would come back in a few days to repaint it. When I did we could hardly find the bubbles. The paint had reattached to the pergola. Amazing! We sanded them off and repainted. If the paint job was older the paint wouldn’t have been so flexible and it would crack and peel.

Exterior paint is susceptible to harsh elements, peeling with both excessive heat or rain and snow. But if your paint wears away in multiple places at once or without any apparent cause, you face a more serious underlying problem.

Interior paint is also exposed to high moisture levels from showers, cooking and daily wear and tear that can occur especially if you have children.

Several factors can contribute to the continuous peeling of paint, including:

  • Inadequate surface preparation or failure to prime surfaces
  • Wrong Primer
  • Wallpaper glue was not removed sufficiently
  • Dirty surfaces
  • High moisture levels

While you should consider each of these problems in determining the reason behind your paint failure, harmful moisture levels are one of the most common reasons for peeling paint, and they’re the number one cause of premature paint failure on wood surfaces. If you’re not sure why your paint is peeling, checking the moisture levels is one of the first steps you should take. Even if surfaces feel dry to the touch, they could still harbor excessive dampness that eats away at paint and damages the overall structure. The human hand is not able to detect moisture anywhere near the 15% threshold.

person with paint roller painting interior walls red

Exterior walls are regularly exposed to moisture. And while these walls are built to be water-repellant, excessive water exposure over time can lead to moisture retention. Some of the factors leading to high exterior moisture levels include clogged gutters, worn-out caulking, heavy rain or snow, migration of high moisture from an interior wall, leaking roofs and paint that was applied to previously damp surfaces. The most common reason for paint peeling though is when trim is not installed properly. Butt joints in wood should be primed. Water loves to find a butt joint and wick into it just like a candle. Butt joints at bases of doors, but joints in trim absorb water. The solution is always to prevent water from entering but the common most painters do is caulk it and paint it. You can caulk it but don’t paint it until the moisture content drops below 16%. If the wood is rotten but dry, and you apply an epoxy or wood filler, unless all the softwood is removed, it will still peel.

Family painting walls of home

Once moisture is trapped in a surface, paint loses its adhesion and swells and peels around the moist area. Peeling often begins along the edges of a board or drywall and spreads along the rest of the surface over time. You might notice a brownish water stain before the paint starts to chip shortly after.

And not only does moisture retention itself peel paint, but dampness might also result in surface rot to wood siding, boards or frames.

Unaddressed water retention can attract wood-decaying fungi, which creates rot. This rot eats away at and softens the wood. It can also attract mold, insects and other pests that further break the wood apart. Window frames and doorways are some of the most common problem spots for surface rot, but the fungi can easily spread to non-wood surfaces.

Pull out quote about surface rot

When surface rot breaks wood apart and attracts wood-eating insects, the paint no longer has a smooth surface to stick onto and quickly begins to peel. You might first notice a white or grey growth on the wood, which quickly gives way to blistering, peeling or cracked paint. If wood surfaces feel soft or spongy, the paint is likely peeling due to surface rot.

How to Manage Moisture Content

Controlling both interior and exterior surfaces’ moisture content is vital in ensuring that paint sticks to your walls and surfaces for years. After all, you don’t want to waste your money on a paint job that is bound to fail from the beginning.

If you don’t currently suspect high moisture content but want to protect your walls from potential problems both before and after a paint job, you can choose to manage moisture content on your own. But if your paint is currently peeling and you suspect high moisture levels, hiring a professional to take a reading and quickly address any pressing issues with the walls and paint is your best choice in ensuring your paint’s longevity and your building’s health.

1. Managing Moisture Levels Personally

You can take several steps towards managing moisture content on your own, especially if you don’t currently have a problem with peeling paint.

Taking preventive measures is helpful if you’re getting your walls painted soon or recently had your walls painted and want to make sure the new paint stays in good condition for as long as possible. You can also manage moisture content when building a new home or business to prevent any damage after construction is complete.

The Environmental Protection Agency created an extensive guide to controlling moisture content during the construction of new buildings. But these points can also be applied to current residential and commercial properties.

man painting concrete wall outside

According to the guide, here are some steps you can take towards lowering your walls’ moisture levels:

  • Drain any rain or snow away from the building. Weather conditions can harm exterior walls over time and make them more prone to damage and rot. Divert any water away from walls or other susceptible surfaces.
  • Provide a clear path for water to exit. Roofs need to slope to prevent water from collecting, and roof drains should stay clear at all times to channel rainwater away from the building. Clean leaves and debris from the drains regularly.
  • Prevent plumbing leaks. If toilets, showers or sinks continuously leak water towards your walls, the walls and floor will take significant damage over time. Monitor your plumbing lines and make sure they’re unlikely to freeze or to come into contact with porous insulation.
  • Use ventilation systems to keep interior walls dry. Exhaust fans remove water vapor from showers, cooking areas, locker rooms or indoor recreational areas such as indoor pools. Make sure that the fans in your building work properly, and consider installing air conditioners with dehumidifiers set to activate at a certain dew point.
  • Inspect walls, roofs, ceilings, plumbing systems and thermostats periodically. Inspecting the most common problem areas for moisture levels keeps you well-informed on the status of your home or business. You’ll also be more likely to notice if something is out of the ordinary and can more quickly take preventive measures if you routinely check the area.

pull out quote with roller painting wall

You can also manage your moisture content by monitoring your high-humidity activities such as showering or cooking. If possible, open a nearby window to allow the moisture to escape without draining into the walls. Remembering to turn on bathroom or kitchen fans as needed also helps increase air flow. These simple, everyday preventive tasks can save you hundreds on repairs.

But if you find that your walls’ moisture is dangerously high or if your paint’s already peeling, repainting over the spot or trying to fix the problem yourself won’t solve the underlying issue. It’s often best to contact a professional to get an accurate moisture reading.

2. Professional Moisture Content Management

Hiring a professional to check and manage moisture in your walls is always a good idea, but it’s especially important if you’re interested in getting your home repainted soon or if you suspect that water damage is already destroying your walls and peeling your paint. And if your building was recently flooded, it’s best to contact a professional even if you don’t immediately see any signs of damage. A professional painter will take the steps necessary to lower moisture content before repainting the affected walls.

Pull out quote about Pin Type Meters measure wall's moisture content

An experienced painter can assess high moisture levels using moisture meters or other testing methods. In fact, it’s imperative for any painter to diagnose and repair water damage immediately so that new paint isn’t compromised. These professional moisture meters and tests accurately measure water damage so that necessary action can be taken:

  • Pin-type meter: Also known as a destructive or invasive moisture meter, a pin-type meter uses two contact pins that penetrate the desired surface at a set depth. The meter measures the electrical resistance between them to determine the percentage of moisture content. Pin-type readers are most often used to measure wood, but they can also be used on drywall, ceilings and other flat, painted surfaces. These meters are best when looking to identify precisely where a water buildup occurred.
  • Pinless meter: A pinless moisture meter — also called non-destructive or non-invasive — reads water content levels at a wall’s surface without penetration by using electrical impedance. Pinless meters are especially useful for assessing water buildup behind showers, bathroom tiles and other finished surfaces. Painting a bathroom or painting a kitchen requires extra attention to detail because of the amount of moisture content the walls are likely to have.
  • All-in-one meter: Perhaps the most useful type of moisture meters, an all-in-one meter uses both pin and pinless technology to measure moisture levels. This versatile option can be used to read nearly any kind of material.

Professional readings can determine where the problem lies and how severe the damage is. If you’ve recently had a flood or other serious water damage, moisture levels will most likely be too high to repaint the area safely. Completely replacing a flooded surface is more cost effective than just painting over it. Further, repainting without taking care of underlying damage will multiply the problem and create more severe future issues.

But if your wall or surface is healthy enough to be fixed without complete replacement, it will still need to be sanded and repainted to protect the surrounding area and prevent further damage. Carpentry skills are a necessity when repairing and repainting damaged surfaces. Contact a painter with complementary carpenter skills — such as Klappenberger & Son if you are in the Maryland area — to guarantee that you’re getting the best service and a paint job that won’t chip due to untended damage.

What Happens If You Don’t Check Your Moisture Content

If you don’t check walls’ and surfaces’ moisture levels, you run the risk of repainting the surface in months not years. Remember, not amount of prep work, primers or premium grade paints will save you from painting damp surfaces. Painting contractors blame the paint, but most of the times its damp wood. A moisture meter can be purchased at some paint stores but a surprisingly small inventory is kept so call or just go online and order one.

Woman painting her interior wall in home

1. Rot and Deterioration

Trapped moisture will result in surface rot and deterioration on both interior and exterior surfaces. Fungi and insects eat away at wood and other materials, which causes irreversible damage if not treated quickly.

Mold, which grows in any damp environment, takes hold of the area nearly as soon as dampness appears. A mold colony can form on a wet surface within 24 to 48 hours if preventive measures aren’t taken. From the original surface, mold continues to spread throughout the entire surface onto touching surfaces until it’s eliminated.

You might first start to notice mold through wall and ceiling discoloration or its musty smell. If it’s seen quickly, you can sometimes disinfect the area and prevent the mold from spreading. But if mold has damaged over 25 square feet of a surface, you’ll need to hire a professional to have it removed. Most often, the entire wall will need to be replaced and completely renovated. Renovation could cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000, a needless expense if preventive steps had been taken.

2. Degeneration of Old and Historic Buildings

Surface rot prevention particularly plays a critical role in the preservation of historic buildings. Rot eats away at the fragile building itself and prevents paint from sticking to the walls, which can completely deteriorate an old home.

The longevity of many historic buildings can be traced to their paint. Paint is one of the most important materials that preserve historic buildings, as it protects the wood siding from deterioration. Paint shelters a wall similar to the way sunscreen protects your body from the sun or the way insulated coats keep you from the cold winter elements. As you age, it becomes more critical to shield your body from harsh weather. Likewise, it becomes more crucial to protect a building’s paint as it ages.

You wouldn’t put on soaking wet clothes underneath a warm snowsuit before going out in freezing temperatures, right? You dress yourself to ensure your longevity and survival. Your building is no different. Historic buildings are especially prone to damage, and “dressing” a building properly with paint protects it from harmful elements.

When the paint wears away due to water damage, rot and mold quickly take its place. Failing to treat this high moisture and paint failure could compromise historical structures and even wholly decompose them.

3. Health Problems

The World Health Organization warns that dampness in walls and other indoor surfaces can fill your home with dust mites, fungi, bacteria, allergens and viruses that thrive in moist environments. Pollutants can have a lasting impact on you and everyone else in a building.

Man painting wall of his home

You might never have considered the lasting effects that mold and other fungi and bacteria have on your health. But health concerns due to mildew and rot have been linked to allergy problems and severe lifelong issues. These include:

  • Respiratory problems such as wheezing and asthma
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eye irritation such as burning, itching and watering
  • Skin irritation such as rashes, hives, eczema, dermatitis and acne
  • Problems with the nervous system such as headaches, memory loss and mood swings
  • Aches and pains

People with immune system complications and chronic lung conditions can be severely impacted by mold introduced into the home when high moisture isn’t treated. Because high moisture levels affect both your building’s health and the lives of those living in it, testing your walls for dampness is essential before having them painted or finished.

Our Process

At Klappenberger & Son, we do what any good painter should — test all areas for water damage before applying paint.

We understand that you want your paint to last a long time, and so do we. We never paint over damage because you deserve the highest quality job possible for your home or business. Our process involves fully testing an area before applying paint to ensure that the paint lasts for years to come.

Before beginning the painting process, we use professional moisture meters to find any potential problem spots with both interior and exterior surfaces. We mark off any troublesome with blue tape and will bring these areas to your attention prior to doing and correction.

We also replace rotten renewable composite material that does not absorb water. This takes all the guesswork out of wondering if the surface is damp. It’s not. And when a premium paint is applied you can expect the paint job to last of ten years. If you are going to replace the wood you might as well replace it with these products like Borel or Azek. These type of product will never rot and the fact that the paint job will last twice as long as wood makes the extra cost a moot point.

The trained professionals at Klappenberger & Son focus on integrity and attention to detail from start to finish with every job we do. Rather than just doing a shoddy job quickly, we give our customers consistent and predictable results. And with over 400 positive reviews, our record speaks for itself.

We’ve been a leader in interior and exterior painting for residential, commercial and government properties since 1989, and we continue to paint some of the finest homes in the Annapolis, Baltimore and Montgomery County regions. Contact us today to see what we can do for you in managing the moisture content and repainting of your walls, and trust us to provide the high-quality work you and your building deserve.

Knowing What Paint Stain is Right for Your Fence or Deck

Fence & Deck Staining

Since 1989 I have been power washing and sealing decks for hundreds of customers throughout Maryland and I have learned from my mistakes and others mistakes. There are a lot of misconceptions, and mistakes people have made on treating their deck and fence. Deck and Fence staining are extremely similar in basic practice, but they vary in how they respond to the elements simply because water can sit on a deck while it runs off of a fence. Knowing how to manage and treat your deck and knowing how to best treat and service your fence is important for any homeowner.

I thought it would be helpful if I shared my experiences and guidance in our property management services. For many of us, the deck is a place to retreat from life for a little bit and have dinner, relax and enjoy the changing seasons. So it’s important to have the deck being in proper condition and not a distracting honeydew project. Decks are also one of the most frequently improperly maintained areas I run across. Wrong stains, poorly applied, with bad results again turns your oasis into a mess. And to be fair, if your deck is a mess, and you did it, you might be able to shed some of the blame. Decks are not simple. There is room for error and this article can hopefully navigate you through the process of picking the right stain or paint to best suit you and your deck.

side of a burnt orange colored wooden fence

Want to leave it to the professionals? Contact us for a free quote!

Differentiating between different deck & fence stains & paints

different deck & fence stains & paints

Before we get started let’s define a few terms:

Damp – means a moisture content above 16%. New Pressure treated wood is considered damp and can take a full season to dry out. If the rained last night, the wood is damp. Some toners/wood preservatives and semi-transparent stains can be applied the same day a fence or deck was power washed providing there are no puddles.
One coat products – One coat products seal themselves up when they dry. If the deck boards are sealed, and you apply a second coat and can dry to a glossy finish, and or also stay tacky for weeks!
Yes, I learned this lesson the hard way. Years ago a customer insisted we apply a second coat on her deck and the deck boards didn’t dry for about 2 weeks. Unfortunately, her party was one week out!

When to apply a second coat:

  • Prior to the first coat drying
  • If the wood is old and porous
  • If the surface is scuffed up with sandpaper or scrubbed with TSP. These two methods will break the sealant which would be blocking the second coat from absorbing.

Water test – drop a couple drops of water on areas that you desire to apply a second coat. If the deck wood absorbs in 10 seconds, it is safe to assume that your wood will accept a second coat of the one coat product. But I still would try a couple sample areas as well.

olympic wood preservative cedar tone on pressure treated wood

Wood Preservative or Toners

When you see the words “Wood preservative” or “Toner” they mean the same thing. Think of a toner as a clear solution with a “tone” of cedar or redwood pigment added to it to give the wood some added color and protection. Wood preservatives will show the more of the natural look of the wood than the other stains and paints. They come in several different tones as well as a clear. Stay away from the clear unless you don’t mind redoing your deck next year, and they after that too. The pigment or lack thereof is what protects the deck. With clear wood preservatives, there is no pigment and very little UV protection. The darker the toner the better the production and the longer it will last and protect your wood. Wood toners and wood preservatives for the purpose of this article will mean the same thing.

Advantages of a wood preservatives/toners

  • Wood preservatives and toner do not peel, they simply fade over time.
  • Many wood preservatives are one coat products as well.
  • They are very easy to apply. Meaning wet drips and runs can be easily wiped off and blended in.
  • Can be applied over brand new pressure treated wood.
  • Future maintenance is easy. Just clean and reapply.
  • As the deck ages over the years, more opaque stains can be applied over wood preservatives.

Deck railing.

Negatives of wood preservatives/toners

  • Deck and Fence wood preservatives and toners cannot be applied over anything darker or opaquer than what is currently present.
  • Decks over 15 years old that have cracking and obvious age only look marginally better.
  • If not applied properly, it will certainly leave lap marks. Boards need to be done from one end to the other.
  • Clear toners with little or no pigment need to be treated more often than semi-transparent and semi-solid stains. Most toners last 2 ½ years on decks and 4 years on fences. Areas with significant shade can last at least a year longer. The reason decks last a shorter amount of time is because of the constant wear.

Semi-transparent Stains

Semi-transparent deck and fence stains come in a larger sample of colors than wood preservatives/ toners. Semi-transparent stains will allow you to see plenty of the wood grain on your deck or fence, but typically less than a wood preservative. Like toners, they also don’t peel, and some of them can be applied on damp surfaces. This will allow you to power wash and seal on the same day! Many semi-transparent deck stains are one coat products as well. If so, do not put a second coat on unless you try the water test.

How long will it last? Not as long as the can says. It depends the short answer is 3-5 years. For fences, railings and vertical surfaces expect 4 to 5 years. For horizontal surfaces 3 years max. This means if you are sealing your deck and handrail in 2018, in 2021 you will only need to seal the deck! Besides the very top of the handrail which can easily be re-stained all the spindles can skip a re-coat.

semi transparent deck toner on gray deck

Advantages of semi-transparent stains

  • The darker semi-solids will give slightly more protection and longevity than a toner.
  • It never chips or peels.
  • Some products such as Olympic and Woodscapes can be applied on damp surfaces.
  • Recommended for decks less than 10 years old.
  • Can be applied with brush roller or sprayer

Disadvantages of semi-transparent stain

  • The pigment in semi-transparent settles quickly making it difficult to apply evenly and get even coverage. To avoid the settling of pigment it is necessary to stir every ten minutes or so. Many semi-solids are one coat products. If a second coat is needed, it should be applied before the first coat dries (about 15 minutes). This is a common problem.
  • Apply a second coat before the second coat seals. Within 15 minutes or so.
  • Should not go over decks that have had semi-solid stains or opaque stains or paints.
  • Should not go on decks with uneven areas where the deck is 15 years old or older. It will still likely look blotchy, less blotchy but not still blotchy.

Semi-Solid Stain

The stain shows a little of the grain and gives you the best possible protection that will not peel. It will chip over time but very little. Some grain of the wood will still be visible but not much. If you apply 2 or 3 coats of semi-solids over the years it will look like a solid, but it won’t peel. If you want to see some hint of the natural grain of the wood, a semi-solid is the most pigment you can have prior to having a totally opaque finish like a solid stain or paint.

wooden deck and stairs painted with semi solid deck stain

Advantages of a semi-solid stain

  • It won’t peel but it will chip.
  • It has the best UV protection from any product that won’t peel.
  • Can be brushed rolled or sprayed.
  • Semi-solid deck stain comes in many colors.

Disadvantages of a semi-solid

  • After 2 or 3 applications of a semi-solid, it looks like a solid stain application.
  • Because it seals so well after several applications vertical surfaces can get stay glossy. If you don’t mind this look than it’s no problem. What the product is basically saying is “This surface was sealed, and the last application was unable to penetrate.” It’s like a sponge that can’t absorb any more water.
  • It will not fill in cracks in wood as decks start to age at the end of its lifespan.
  • The pigment also settles quickly and must be stirred frequently, or it can have an uneven finish.
  • Most be applied on the wood below 16% moisture content. Cannot clean and seal on the same day. Also, it cannot be applied to new pressure treated wood for 90 days.

Solid Deck Stains

Solid Stains – Experts say that solid stains provide maximum protection but I disagree. It peels too easily, and water gets trapped underneath the solid stain which provides more opportunity for peeling. Solid stains do not penetrate, so the heaviest traffic areas where you want the most protection are the first to go. Plus, they peel, which adds to the future prep work down the road.

wooden deck painted with solid stain paint

When to use a solid deck or fence stain

I start recommending solid stains when the deck is around 15 or 18 years old. By this time the wood has typically had areas that look okay and areas where the wood is getting near the end and apply something other than a solid probably won’t hide the discrepancies and variations in the deck floor. Solid stains will solve this problem.
Solid stains will fill in minor cracks and can get multiple applications. In fact, most recommend two coats which I 100% agree with. I would strongly recommend always applying two coats on all surfaces because it greatly increases the longevity. You might not be able to see the difference right away, but you will down the road. Solid stains are also good choices to use if the deck is uneven with past wood preservatives.

The only practical solution to this deck is to replace it or apply a solid stain.

Advantages of a solid stain

  • Hides unevenness in deck wood.
  • Solid deck stains will fill in minor cracks.
  • You can make older decks look reasonable better.
  • You can pick any deck color you like.
  • Your deck wood can be brushed rolled or sprayed.
  • Your deck or fence can be touched up without flashing or getting glossy.
  • If you deck stain is maintained every 2-3 years, it will give maximum protection to the wood.

Disadvantages of a solid stain

  • Deck stain chips and peels over time.
  • Displays dirt and mildew faster than toners, semi-transparent and semi-solid stains.
  • Requires more prep work to apply future recoats if it is peeling.
  • Flat surfaces that are exposed to the elements rarely last more than 3-4 years.
  • The deck must be below 16%.
  • Applying two coats of solid deck stain results in more labor and materials.

Deck & Fence Age & Condition

Knowing what product to put on a deck or fence is no easy task. You will need to consider the age and condition of the wood. The age of a deck or fence can be divided up into 3 stages

Stage 1: Deck/fence is 1-6 years old (young)
Stage 2: Deck/fence is 7-15 years old, (middle aged)
Stage 3: Deck/fence 15 old? (seasoned)

What was the last product applied? Wood preservative, semi-transparent, semi-solid, solid stain, or paint
As we go through each product you will notice as the wood ages and becomes uneven appearance the options become more limited. It is safe to say though that unless you strip or sand a surface back down to bare wood you cannot switch to a less opaque look.

Pressure treated, PT, wood that is between 1-7 years old has the most options:
If the deck wood is untreated you can apply any of the four options:

  • Wood preservative
  • Semi-transparent
  • Semi-solid
  • Solid stain, or paint

Here is my recommendation for new or untreated decks under 15 years old: Use anything except a solid stain and paint on the deck because the deck stain or paint will start to peel. The other products fade over time. In my 30-year experience, I found when properly applied all products look great for the first year and good for the second year but start to fade and disappear in the third year. If you choose a solid deck stain and it just starts to peel, the others fade away leaving you with far less prep work. In fact, the only prep work is to clean the surface again with bleach and possible wood brightener and apply the product again. Some wood preservatives like Olympic and Deck Scapes can be applied on a damp surface. This means your deck can be cleaned and sealed in the same day saving money and time.

Solid Deck Stain vs. Paint

Semi-solids, solid stains and paint do not have that flexibility. Their moisture content needs to be 16% or less.
If your deck already has a semi-solid or solid stain or paint you will have to continue with that type of product or go all o
Paint vs Solid Stain. People often ask me what’s the difference between a solid stain or paint. There are several.

stripped paint on wooden deck

Solid Deck Stain & Paint

  • Paints have a harder finish and on flat surfaces will lead to quicker peeling.
  • Paints come in different sheens, from flat to glossy. Stains are mostly flat, and some stains have a low luster finish.
  • Paints can look fantastic, but I do not recommend using them on flat surfaces. Fences and handrails are a different story. Because they are vertical they don’t get the rain, snow, sun, and foot traffic that horizontal services do.
  • Solid deck stains are self-priming. Most paints that even claim to be self-priming would be better served to have a true primer applied first.

Advantages of Paint

  • Paint provides a classic look on fences, especially on historic homes.
  • Comes in thousands of colors and several sheens.
  • Paints with a sheen wash much better than flat solid stains and paints. Making periodic cleanings worth the effort.

Disadvantages of paint

  • It is the highest maintenance of all products. Especially on flat surfaces.
  • Paint on flat surfaces does not hold up well to the harsh elements and will generally peel in a year or so.
  • The fence wood needs to have a moisture content below 16 percent.
  • The fence wood should also be primed.
Solid Stain on Deck and Handrail

Solid Stain on Deck and Handrail

Thick Deck Paint

This is one last product that I have not mentioned yet but certainly needs to be discussed. Those super thick paints like that are supposed to fill in cracks on old decks. The paint state that they are 10 x thicker than normal paint. Unfortunately, I have used this product twice and both times it failed. I don’t think that they expand and contrast with the wood and they seem to come off in sheets. There are thousands of bad reviews and some lawsuits have caused me to come to one conclusion. These products have no advantages and should not be applied under any circumstances.

Advantages of thick deck paint

  • None – not even joking

Disadvantages of thick deck paint

  • Thick paint peels quickly.
  • Thick paint looks ugly.
  • Thick paint takes two coats.
  • Thick paint is expensive.
  • Thick paint is hard to apply (you could have 18 holes of golf played golf!).
  • Thick paint has horrible square ft coverage so you’ll purchase a lot of it.
  • Thick paint is uncomfortable to walk on.
  • If your deck is screwed on, good luck finding the screws after you apply this stuff. Repairs will become a nuisance that leaves the deck looking worse off afterwards.
  • Your oasis will be a bad memory.

Choosing the Right Product For You Deck or Fence

When considering the best product ask yourself a few questions. What is the purpose of maintaining your deck?

Are you:

  • Selling
  • Buying
  • Renting
  • Maintaining

Other circumstances that will dictate the proper wood material will be the use of the deck. If you have a lot of children and the deck is older a solid stain will help reduce the chance of splinters. If you have an active dog that will scratch the decking than something other than a solid stain or paint would be best.

Let Klappenberger & Sons take a look at your deck or fence situation. Our professional handymen and painters will help to make your home’s paints and stains look beautiful and last longer. Contact us at 410-647-5700. We perform deck and fence staining for commercial buildings, local homes, and government buildings. We also perform historical restoration projects. Contact for all of your interior or exterior painting needs.get a free quote button