Q&A / 

Urethane House Paint

DEAR TIM: The exterior of my home needs to be painted this year. I would really like to buy a fantastic paint that will last a long time. In your opinion, what is the best exterior water based paint? What are ideal painting conditions? Bradley G., Worthington, OH

DEAR BRADLEY: It sounds like you and I are in the same boat. I am painting my own home this summer. Fortunately for me, the preliminary work required to prepare my house for paint is minimal. My existing wood siding is in great shape and the previous coating is not peeling. Prep work is actually the most important part of any paint job. Whatever you do, do not take shortcuts as you prepare the surfaces for paint. Extra minutes spent in prep work can add years to the life span of a paint job. Always follow the instructions listed on paint can labels.

Paints are simply glues that contain color. Poor quality paints contain low quality ingredients. These inexpensive paints are the ones that typically fail first. Until recently there were just two groups of exterior water based paint. One type contains vinyl acetate as the glue or resin in the paint. The other group consists of those paints that contain 100 percent acrylic resin. Guess what? There is a new kid on the block. It is an exterior paint that contains both acrylic and water based polyurethane resins.

The polyurethane resin or glue in this new exterior paint tenaciously holds onto whatever it contacts. I recently started to paint my own home with this new paint. As usually happens, I tend to get paint splatters on my hands, arms and legs. In the old days, I could clean off these splatters quite easily at the end of the day with regular soap and water. The first day I used the polyurethane paint, I could not get the paint off my hands! I was in a state of shock, not at the appearance of my hands, but at how incredibly sticky the paint was!


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The makers of this new paint actually developed it to save homeowners money. The instructions on the label of this new paint clearly state that you do not need to wash down dirty, glossy, or chalky surfaces before you paint. Evidently the polyurethane resin drives through the dirt and chalk and grabs hold of the previously painted surface. The manufacturers feel so strongly about this claim that they supply a lifetime warranty with the paint.

It goes against everything I have been taught and experienced to NOT clean a surface prior to painting. I feel it is always a great idea to do this extra step. If you wash the outside of your home with oxygen bleach and soap and water before you use the polyurethane paint, I can assure you that it will stick like you can't believe. I am washing my house by hand to get the best results. I avoid pressure washing because the process can damage the wood and drive water deep into cracks, holes, and the wood itself.

I prefer to mix up the powdered oxygen bleach with hot water, stir till dissolved and then put it in a hand-pump sprayer. I then squirt the solution on the dirty surfaces so they are very wet. Keep the surfaces wet with the solution for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then apply the soapy water solution with a softer brush commonly used to clean RVs or the sides of large trucks. This brush is made to clean flat surfaces. Immediately rinse the surfaces with clean water after scrubbing.

I prefer to clean only 100 square feet of area if working alone. If I have a helper, that person squirts on the oxygen bleach solution and is the rinse person. This allows the scrubber to work constantly making great progress.

If at all possible try to paint when the air temperature is between 50 and 85 F. You can actually exceed these limits in some instances and not void the warranty on most paints. Never paint in direct sunlight. Always paint surfaces after the sun has hit them. If you paint a surface and then the sun hits it, the paint can actually develop blisters in a matter of minutes!

Avoid painting when there is a threat of storms. A driving rain can quickly wash off a water based paint from a surface causing all sorts of damage to roof areas, driveways and sidewalks. Overcast days with relative humidity in the 50 percent range are ideal painting days. These weather conditions allow the paint to dry somewhat slowly. The slower dry time gives the paint adequate time to develop a strong chemical and mechanical bond to the surface being painted.

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11 Responses to Urethane House Paint

  1. Will this paint work to paint ceramic tile backsplash. If so, what is the name of this house paint & do you know where I can purchase it.

  2. Tim:

    I clicked through to this article to find out WHICH PAINT this was yet you did not tell us in the article. Who makes this outstanding paint??

  3. Tim,

    I can't avoid any article on painting aluminum.
    Found this vary informative.

    My real interest is in finishing my aluminum boat restoration project.
    Need the real low down on prep. and finish. (paint provider).

    Hope to prime areas as I finish them, with my HVLP unit.
    Then sand primer if really necsisary prior to finish coat.
    and paint myself if my confidense is up, (I've painted a few cars succesfuly) or hire the finish coat proffesional.

    Have looked at "system three marine water based" products extensively.
    Found enough pros and cons to get confused.

    Looking for a recommendation.
    Who to trust for advice on how to procede with home grown
    Aluminum boat restoration.

    Tom Sargant

  4. Weird I get this article and we have a two story farm house with aluminum sideing. Thanks for the aeticle

  5. In 1999, I followed your cleaning methods and priming with oil primer, and painted the first floor front aluminum siding on my 1979 house which had faded. I used the best Sears Weatherbeater paint. In 2013, 13 years later, the Weatherbeater paint still looks great - not much fading, no blisters, no mildew or dirt.

    Using the same cleaning methods, in 1980 I painted aluminum siding on the upper front, and the upper and lower levels of the south and west sides of my house with a new best Sears paint I think was called Ultra. It looked like new for several years, but later began developing a darkness that looked like dirt - no other problems. By 2011, the dirt looked awful, and my son and I scrubbed all paint surfaces with soap and water and also a solution of 1/3 household bleach and 2/3 water. The paint looked new again.

    However, within one year most of the dirty look has returned; except when the sun shines on it, you cannot see it from the street.

    Consumer Reports now indicates the Sears Ultra does not resist mildew. I am kicking myself for not using the Weatherbeater I used in 1999 on the lower front of the house.

    The north side of the house did not need painting until now.

    In that I will be 78 years old 9/2013, I will not be doing any more cleaning and/or painting of the siding.

    I have decided to have new vinyl siding installed, but cannot find a local siding contractor that installs Consumer Reports best recommended siding. All of the Cincinnati contractors want to install siding that Consumer Reports indicates is inferior to the best siding (way down on the list that starts with the best on top). The contractors give me the "song and dance" that their brand has changed since Consumer Reports did its tests of the siding. Consumer Reports states that contractors will try pull this on the customer. I am going to do nothing until the magazine tests siding again.

  6. I wish to amend my response to Urethane House Paint.

    In 1999, I did not use primer or bleach on the aluminum of the first floor front of my house which I painted using the best Weatherbeater latex paint (not Ultra which may not have been available at that time) which still looks very good. I cleaned with Spic and Span and maybe with TSP. I applied the paint with a small paint roller and used a paint brush to paint the underside of each aluminum panel. This method applied just the right amount of paint and it looked good with no brush marks.

    In 1980, I used Spic and Span and TSP to clean the other sides of my house that I painted with Sears Ultra that several years later began to show mildew which got really bad looking. I do not recall using bleach in 1980, and do not recall mildew being on the aluminum then.

    I painted the aluminum siding in 1979 and 1980, because it looked faded and the color was gone from some areas. It had been "egged" several times (not since I painted - the suspects may have moved away - if you live there long enough the troublemakers may leave), my cleaning or the eggs may have caused some color to disappear.

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