Exterior painting and coating is a big topic that gets brought up a lot when my inspectors are out there on home inspections. What it takes to paint or stain an exterior surface is often misunderstood. In this interview, we discuss a wide range of topics including:
- Wood and metal coatings
- The temperature and humidity of your materials.
- The ideal conditions for coating exterior surfaces.
- How every painting product is specifically designed for certain applications.
Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Giangrossi. He is the owner and president of Dynamic Colors Inc, a painting and restoration company based in Evanston. Anthony has been in business for about 19 years. They service the Northshore and the far Northside of the city. They are EPA lead certified, an Angie’s List Super Service Award recipient for eleven Consecutive Years, and have received the best of Houzz customer service. Anthony was an accountant for five years, he didn’t like his career trajectory, and started the company with his friend Tim Sheahan and built it up to what it is today.
They provide a coating for all substrates, interior, and exterior, including hardwood, cedar, brick, concrete, stucco, limestone, metals, looping, vinyl, plaster, drywall, water, and fire damage restoration, interior trim, restoration, and carpentry.
How are you doing today?
I’m doing well, Tim. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Anthony is the owner of Dynamic Colors Incorporated. You guys are based out of Evanston, correct?
Correct. Yes. We have been in Evanston since 2005.
Awesome. You guys do pretty much painting and coating. Today, we are going to focus on the exterior. But maybe do you want to give people a brief background of how you got started and the coatings industry?
Sure. I grew up in the northwest suburbs here and went to the University of Iowa. When I finished school, I was an accountant for five years and did not enjoy life at that time. I had a buddy, Tim Sheehan, who I grew up with. I’ve known since I was six years old who he was kind of painting on the side. People were calling him. He didn’t have an actual business.
I asked Tim, what if I quit my job and we tried starting a painting business? He replied, what do you know about painting? I don’t know anything about painting. He goes, what do I think about staining and restoration? I replied I don’t know a thing, and you are going to teach me, but all I could do is the business side of it. He said okay!
In June of 2001, we hit the ground running for the first four years of the business. I was killing myself, plugging away boots on the ground, making this thing work. We hired our first employee in 2005, and he still works with us to this day. A second employee, that same summer in 2005, and he is still employed to this day. Come full circle 19 years later. You know, we started out the Northwest suburbs, in 2005, I moved the office down the street. I started up here in Evanston and took a couple of years to get going. Now, we’re primarily in the Northside of Chicago and Northshore, pushing 19 years doing this, and it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of ups and downs like everybody in the small business owner, and especially now it’s been interesting, to say the least.
With everything going on and then having to shift your market to do things more virtual, obviously still be able. You can’t paint virtually yet.
No. You can’t do that. You can paint fun for virtually. There are different apps, and while you’re out there through there, it looks like you’re just as entranced with your walls. I’ll bet that would be a shame.
I think all of us will have to pivot our business.
I met you at a networking event, and we had a virtual meeting after that. And we geeked out a little bit and talked about properly sealing your exterior decks, fences, and all that. And there really is a science to it.
People look at painting and think it’s very basic, but especially once you get into the exterior. You also do coating for floor concrete and metal. There’s a science behind it, and there are specific instructions on how you need to stain and coat things.
This is a great topic. I was walking around this weekend and just noticing in my neighborhood how many porches were deteriorating. They just weren’t properly maintained, and they weren’t properly coated. This is a good place to start, in regards to temperature what is the right environment in order to paint and properly coat different surfaces?
The most important part of any exterior project is the temperature and the moisture level of the substrate that you’re going to be coating. Regardless if it’s a deck or a porch or if it’s siding, trim, windows, or door. Ideally, you want the overnight temps to stay above 45°. You would like your daytime temps working temps around 55° to 60°. You don’t want to work in direct sunlight as that will cause dryness. If it doesn’t cure properly, whether or not it’s a deck floor or the signing of your house is that you’ll start to see kind of like an alligator or a spider in effect across it. That happens if it’s 80° outside and it’s sunny, and it’s coated in the direct sun.
You’re not giving that proper coating enough time to dry properly and cure properly. It’s accelerated, which is what you don’t want. Most people don’t think of that. I get a lot of calls from homeowners over the winter months (Dec-Mar) asking me to come outside to take a look at their porches or decks, not realizing that you can’t coat when it’s low, 45°. You can’t coat when it’s raining, snowing or when there is moisture. And some people just don’t know that. They just think you can coat at any time.
If you touch a surface, it may feel dry on the outside of that surface, but what’s going on inside? It may be dry and the surface part of it, but it is still moist on the inside of that wood. We have moisture readers, the two little prongs, they measure the amount of moisture present in building material. They’re very important to have, especially when you’re coating a surface that you’re going to walk on because if it’s not dry completely and now you coated. It adheres.
You can take your finger and touch the coating. If it’s not cured all the way, you can move your finger and slide it around a bit because underneath, it’s not completely dry. It’s not completely clear. And what can delay that is if the wood that you’re applying it to is still wet or damp, because now moisture is trying to work out through the wood. It’s coming up permeating through the wood. The coating you just put out there can’t cure properly. It’s always going to be loose when people start walking on it. That’s when you see the full price. You will see slide marks on there and just literally pull a coating away from the surface.
If we’re going to coat something depending on the product, you’ve got a wide range from the regular latex-based porch and floor paints, latex-based enamels. I can tell you what the difference is: oil-based porch, floors oil-based enamels, solid color stain and, Semi-transparent colored stains. There are many different types of coatings you can put on there.
When you go the paint route, the key is moisture level. It needs to be as dry as possible or fit within 5%, between 1% to 5%. We need that wood 95% dry. That is why I always recommend to people we do porches and decks beginning in June, mid-June when stuff starts to dry out from the spring or late August and September. The ideal months. Because by then stuff is dried out, especially in late August, September to early October. The temperatures are good, and humidity starts to drop, you don’t have a lot of moisture in the air.
You have to make sure that overnight temperatures stay because if it gets too cold. You have to keep in mind that there’s a lot of moisture in the air. You get up in the morning, and you see dew on the ground. Now, if your product doesn’t get a chance to cure overnight, that moisture gets trapped underneath. The coating is now sitting on the wood between the wood and the coating. And that will cause bubbling. It doesn’t give the surface a chance to properly dry. It really is science. There is a way to do it and knowing what steps to follow is very important because it’s very temperamental.
Is there a difference between painting and staining? Is there a difference between those two surfaces?
When a lot of people think about staining, they think of when they see the interior wood like the inside of the house. The stain where you see the grain of the wood, and it looks nice and finished. Your front doors that are stained, they think of that. They don’t necessarily think of the solid color stain that will completely cover the wood and looks just like paint. It just acts differently.
The difference between paint and stain is paint sits on top of the surface. It’s made to sit on top of the surface, not penetrate the wood to protect the wood stain is made to penetrate the wood stain is self-priming. If you’re going to paint a porch for a deck, if it’s hardwood, let’s say it’s pine, which most decks are made out of. If it’s cedar, I would recommend staining it. If it’s pine, you have to paint it.
If you’re painting, you have to prime it first. You need to put your primary coat down and then two top coats. If you are staining (let’s say it’s cedar) then you just track the surface. You don’t need to prime it. That’s where many contractors make a mistake when they have a cedar decking, and instead of just staining it directly, they put a paint coating over it. Cedar is very porous. Cedar is made to accept coatings. You want to penetrate the wood. That is what cedar is made for. If You want to apply a solid color decking stain or semi-transparent stain. Pine is a hardwood; it’s not made to accept stain. Stain can’t get into Pine to penetrate through the surface, it just sits on top.
When it comes to painting you want to prime in two coats and with staining you can just do two coats. The look between a solid color decking stain and painting and enamel. They look the same because it completely covers the wood. You don’t see the wood itself. It looks like if you painted a wall in your house, you see the paint. That’s it.
Stain penetrates into the surface, it gives out that look, this semi-transparent stain is where you see the grain of the wood and then it gets into different levels of preparation, durability, future upkeep on it. I always tell people who like the look of it, to try to have them do semi-transparent because that penetrates the wood, and over time, that will simply just fade. It’s a power washer re-stain when you paint something, when it fails over time, especially on floors and stairs, because there is no perfect product out there.
You will usually need to recoat every couple of years. When you start to see a chipping flake or peel back, Now there’s a lot more. You have to scrape it. You have to grind it. You have to clean it. You have to prime it. And now you have to paint it. You have all these different steps to get to the point where you can recoat this properly.
With stain, semi-transparent stain, to power wash stain. Done. Very simple. A solid color decking stain will fade over time. It may release in some parts because you have to keep in mind that that product is now in the wood, it’s in the wood itself, and not just sitting on top of it. It’s gripping down underneath it, so you may see it as you may see a few areas that chip and flake off. Then you may have a little bit more prep than that. So, from least prep to most prep is semi-transparent stain, solid color decking stain, and then a solid color paint or porch and floor enamel.
If you have a surface that’s coated, it’s painted, and you want to get it back down to the bare wood and start all over again. We have to grind it all the way down, which we do all the time. And then people say, let’s put some transparent U.V. protected decking stain on there. Maybe a few years from now it starts to fade a little bit. We power wash it. We stain it again. We’re done. It’s very quick compared to having to come back.
Again, this solid decking stain is about mid-tier prep and then your paint or enamel. You have to go full prep of scraping and sanding. To where within a year or two, I’m sure. Anybody who listens to this knows. They looked at just a year ago; I had my stairs painted. I had them stained, and it’s already starting to fail a little bit. It’s just there isn’t a perfect coating out there that’ll protect. Against cold weather, rain, shoveling, people throwing sand or salt down there. All of that, it’s just unfortunately after every couple of years, you have to recoat stairs. I always try to recommend going semi-transparent.
If they still want a solid look. I try to have a go towards the stain, the solid-looking stain because that’ll give you a little bit more durability in the long run, a bit more longevity, and then you can go with the coat. Some people just like paint. If people have to keep in mind when you’re going to paint something on the floor. It has a sheet. It has a gloss to it, it’s very slippery. What we do is we either put sand in the coating, mix it in and apply some so the rough texture adds some traction or Rust-oleum has an anti-slip spray that will spray on there? It just depends on the look the homeowner wants. It’s all it always goes back to how we started. Moisture, Temperatures, Moisture, Temperatures. Those are the most important parts.
Are the temperatures and humidity conditions the same, whether you are painting or staining?
With this semi-transparent paint, you have more flexibility. There are actually products you could stain while the deck is wet. It’s perfectly fine where there is moisture within the deck or within the flooring boards or the stair boards themselves. The Semi-transparent stain has less of the requirements as a solid color decking stain or a paint or an enamel—a little bit more flexibility in there a moisture in temperature during the application process.
How about metal? Temperature conditions are about the same. And what are you looking at with metal and paint in metal and the science behind that?
Temperatures are vitally important, it’s not too cold. or it’s not too hot. Because you’re applying a coating to it. When I speak with homeowners, I try to educate them and I tell them if you have metal, brick, vinyl, cedar hardwood, whatever is on the outside of your home. You can’t take what you painted your hardwood siding and apply that same coating to metal. It’s not manufactured or made for that. There are two different coatings you have to put on them. Sometimes contractors will make that mistake. They will take something that they painted cedar siding or a regular hardboard siding, and they use that just because it’s the same color.
Let’s say the homeowner says, just hypothetically speaking, let’s say the bottom half of the house is metal. Metal or brick either way. And the top half, the bottom foundation area, let’s say the rest of the house is wood. They say I just wanted all one color. Okay, that’s great. On the wood surface, we need to use X on the brick and the metal surface we need to use B. You can’t use the same product on the same surface just because of how it’s manufactured, how it bonds and adheres to the surface. For metal, there is a product called DTM (Direct To Metal), it’s a direct metal product. Benjamin Moore, Rust-oluem, Sherwin Williams all make it. They make all different types of products to go on metal surfaces.
For metal preparation, it’s easy to clean it, sand it to rough it up. You want to rough it up so there is a little bit of texture you can bond to it and then just directly coat it to that surface itself. Go ahead and coat right to it. And then the working temps are typically the same. You want anywhere between that 55° to 75° outside when we work. You don’t want to apply in the sunlight or it will start to bubble. It won’t cure properly. It’s very important that you’re not mixing products on different surfaces. It doesn’t work because some people say: We just had these railings painted last year or two years ago. I respond, can you show me the paint? And they will show me the paint. I will look at it and it was the same stuff that they put on the back wood railings and the back porch. I say well it’s not the right product, it’s just knowing that part of it. And again, it’s a little bit more temperamental with temperature because when metal is cold, it holds it for longer than wood does when it gets hot. It also holds along, then the wood does. Ideally, you coat metal between 55° to 70° (maybe 80°) and not in direct sunlight.
If you plan on doing any exterior painting project yourself, read the labels. And if you are not sure, ask the person at the hardware store that you are getting it for that specific application. I see a lot of chipping paint, a lot of, rusting and failing metal railings during inspections. One of the main culprits is that people aren’t just reading the labels, and they are applying the wrong type of paint to these surfaces. It’s important because every paint coating or stain, anything they’re applying has a specific purpose and a specific application for it.
It’s really a four-layer process to coat stuff correctly on the outside. No matter what, the surfaces wood, brick, concrete, metal. It doesn’t matter. Preparation is the absolute key, your outside surfaces have to be as clean as possible.
There are different levels of preparation. It’s preparation; it’s moisture, it’s temperature, and the correct product. You have to combine all those four things together in order to make sure that we’re painting the outside of a house. I don’t want to have to revisit a house in a couple of years or under five years because we didn’t do it properly the first time. And that sometimes will happen. It’s just again. Correct preparation. Correct temperatures. Correct. Moisture level product on the correct surface. And that’s the formula to follow.
If homeowners are going to try doing it themselves. Please ask somebody at your local paint store. If you’re not sure, turn that gallon around and read the back of a can. Even on the back of the paint can, it will give you instructions. It will give you the preparation process and will provide you a coating process. If you are not sure there is even usually a phone number on the back, you can call the manufacturer and ask them.
If I’m working with a product and I’m not 100% sure, I will call the manufacturer and ask them. Maybe the ideal for product A isn’t the same as product B. It’s close, but I just want to make sure to be safe. Be sure to read the back of the can before starting a project!
I think in general reading the manufacturer’s instructions is important, but I feel like a lot of people fail to do that. Going in with preparation, especially with pretty heavy rust on metal. How are you supposed to remove it? Because I see a lot of places, they paint over metal railings. I don’t know if it’s just the raw paint application, or they just decide to paint over all the rusted areas.
When I meet with homeowners, if they have metal staircases, this is more common with Apartment Complexes and Condo Buildings where they have the metal staircases. I meet with the homeowner or a board member or somebody from the management team. I’ll look at the metal, and I can tell by touching it and moving the metal around whether or not it’s rusted through to the point where it’s rusting from the inside out. You can only grind out some of it. If that metal is just not on the surface, but we can grind that out, clean it, and coat it; That coating is to try to lock down that rust from coming through again.
It doesn’t matter what coat you put on there, if that coating again, it’s most likely the wood. The wood is wet from the inside out and it can rot. That’s where the wood is. When wood rot starts from the inside of the wood and works its way out. That’s when you start digging. You find a hole on your railing on your porch and start digging. You can put a hole all the way through because it’s all rotten on the inside.
Metal will do the same thing, it will start to deteriorate and rust from the inside out. And sometimes, when you start just taking your scraper, your fingers start moving away and start scraping, and you’ll see that you can just continually remove the rust. It’s not stopping at that point. Now, it’s probably too far gone. And no matter what coating you put on there, that rust is going to come back through again. That specific area needs to be replaced. It may look good for a couple of months. But give it six months and certainly less than a year and you’re going to see that rust coming back in those same areas.
It could be a couple of things: a wrong product application, applying it to an area that’s too far gone. It’s already rusted through, not applying a rust converter on top of it to help lock in that rust, which is what we do. There’s a product called Gempler’s Rust Converter. And if I deem an area that’s okay, we can salvage this. We can scrape this down first. You clean it, and we get out of power grinders, metal power grinders with the diamond kits on, and start grinding away, and we’ll grind away as much as possible. The surface now is going to usually it’s black. Now it’s all red because now we grind it down to the rust and try to draw that out. We clean it again, and we put this product in there called Rust Converters. What that does is that will draw out any remaining rust and then lock it out. It’s like glue over the top of it. It’s a bonding agent. The purpose of that is supposed to prevent any additional rust from penetrating through your coat.
Now we’re going to coat over the top of it, the coating also has a rust preventative application or measures within that product itself, too. There are different products out there. You can go direct the metal, and you can go directly over to rust. I tried it all typically, again, if it rusted a little bit. There are different products. You can just go right over the top of it, and it’s not going to rust again, but it has to be very minimal. Most of the time, when we get a phone call, it’s beyond that. That’s why people see it. They are going to get on top of it before we have an issue everywhere else. The key with it is that the rust converter is really cool if you see it, draw it out. It turns everything black. The dress comes out now, it’s sealed, and we touch it. It’s kind of sticky. That’s the bonding agent. That rust converter is now ready to accept that coating, that top coat. If somebody does a project and they have a coat a year or two years ago and they see rust again. (1) was a bad product used? Was it a direct metal paint or a metal product coating? Or (2) was it already just rusted it too far to the point where no matter what coating you put it on, was going to fix it. That is going to determine if I’m going to remove this metal replaced or recoat every couple of years and just stop the rust or help prevent the rust?
You can do that. You can stay on top of it. But it’s going to continue if it started on the inside of the metal. Eventually, you are going to start to see holes in the metal. It’s just going to continue to rust the metal. No matter what coating you put on there.
Once things start rusting on the and then inside. And this is also true with plumbing pipes, it’s hard to stop it, because it’s just got to continue and you can say, extracted without replacing.
You see this a lot. If you’re getting where the fence or the post is actually connecting to the ground or the staircase, you could replace that portion. But if it’s all over, then you’re replacing a metal fence, or you’re replacing all-metal rails, which is more expensive than just maintaining it over time.
Getting to that point, you get to it because people know that things are starting to loosen up. I see that a lot. I saw it a lot walking through my neighborhood because a lot of people have these black metal fences. You see them rotting at the posts because normally that is where a lot of water is collected.
I would always say that runoff is part of it. Where is it sitting? Sometimes I’ll see it riding down the side of the staircase, in back of the Condo building or a metal front porch that has metal railings and the water runoff from the eve or the soffit that is there this just every time it rains, it’s just running directly onto that surface below. It’s just hitting that metal. They don’t have a downspout and the flashing isn’t far enough out or whatever the case is. That just causes that area to rust significantly more than anything else because it just every time it rains, that specific area is just getting more water. It’s just a constant runoff. So those are some areas, too. And I look, and some owners say it’s like, why doesn’t this look bad over here? This looks okay, but over here, it’s really bad. I usually always look up. I try to look up and see what’s above it, is something running off the edge there. Typically, that’s what it is. Because every time that area is just getting pelted with water, every single time it rains.
I look for the exact same thing during inspections. When you see an area that’s especially rusted. Okay, where is that water coming from? Especially if it’s raining, you have to do a little detective work. I know it’s important to follow. Wood, Metal, and most other elements are meant to deteriorate over time. We’re taking elements from nature, in trees, moss, and whatnot. That is what the natural state of these elements are. A lot of these products that you are applying, scientifically are just delaying these wood boards or the metal fences from going back to that natural state.
That’s why it’s important. You do everything in your power to properly coat them because you’re going to be able to delay that process and not have to replace your deck boards or your metal fences as often as you will if you’re not taking care of them. Going back to staining, when you apply, whether it’s the more transparent coat and then there’s kind of semi-transparent and there is the full coat that looks more like paint.
Semi-solid to semi-solid is between solid and semi-transparent, has a little bit more pigment in there. That’s another one too, where you still see the wood, but not as much as semi-transparent. It doesn’t completely cover the grain of the wood and it’s still not solid. So that one falls right in the middle of there. It’s solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent, like a natural coating, like just a regular clear coat.
So, you just pretty much see the wood. It just might have a little sheen to it based on your coating, when I do inspections, sometimes I will see that faded coating. It looks like they probably should have recoated this 3 to 5 years ago—the case where it’s clearly rotting.
Then you start getting these crevices. You talked about the alligatoring of the actual wood. It was splitting of the wood. I’ve been told different vendors that that’s almost too far. If you were to reapply stain, that wouldn’t stand properly. Is that true? When the wood starts splitting a little bit. When do you have to start considering actually replacing the wood?
The semi-transparent stain will get down there and protect the wood. But when you get to the point where you see flooring boards and you see stair treads that are just completely split, instead of just having small little cracks going down there. You’ve got maybe, an eighth of an inch wide. They start to spread like that, and if you put paint over the top of that. You are at the point where the wood is just basically shot. You aren’t going to get that much longevity out of it with a semi-transparent stain or a semi-solid stain.
Stain penetrates into the wood, goes down inside the wood there into those cracks, and actually preserves the wood longer than painted wood because it’s using the U.V. protectants that are in the wood to protect it. You can get away with those when you start going to solid-color decking stains, enamels, and porch & floor paints.
If the wood is split to a certain point, we can coat it, but you will maybe get a season out of it because this wood just needs to be replaced. You can just tell by how far gone it is.
It’s Usually the stairs going up and then the walkway from the top of the stairs to the door. It is the highest traffic area that shows it the most. That is why I always try to educate the homeowner. I will tell them “sure, you can coat this, maybe we’ll get a year out of it. If you replace the wood and put it in enamel on there, you can extend it another year, possibly two, maybe three years out of it”. There is no perfect coating for that, even if it’s new wood. I don’t ever like to raise the expectations of a client and tell them “sure, go ahead and coat this, even though the wood is split and starting to deteriorate in areas and they expect to get two, three, four years out of it”. It just doesn’t happen.
This is what I look for when I’m looking at the wood:
- How many splits are in the wood?
- How wide are the openings in the wood?
- Is it gone to where the wood is just taking too much moisture?
- is the wood starting to warp?
You have a 2×6, 2×8 or 2×10, whatever the size your stairs are. When it starts to flip up at the ends of the wood, let’s say the left to the right end there. That means now that wood is it’s gone. Now that moisture is reaching inside the wood, and it’s rotting from the inside out and then the boards start to warp.
Also, just visually looking at it. How grey is it? How dark is it? When the wood starts to weather and deteriorate over time, it turns grey; it turns dark because it hasn’t been coated in X amount of years. Another way you can look at it is are my boards flat splitting, warped, and losing the color? How weathered or grey? Does it look? Sometimes when it gets really bad, it almost turns black. It hasn’t been touched. That’s when someone puts new flooring boards on and doesn’t do anything for five or six years. They just let it go natural. Now you are to the point where you can coat it, but it’s not going to hold. You have to replace the wood.
I’ve been at some new construction jobs where they haven’t coated it at all. And, the deck still looks great at that point. But give it five years, and you’re going to get a lot of that wood is just going to be completely gone. So, it needs to be sealed.
In another very important part of that is you have to let the wood acclimate to where you live. Just because you get wood from a lumber store, a big box store doesn’t mean that what has been sitting there for a year or six months acclimating. It could have come from Florida or Vermont or California, wherever it comes from, it needs to come to our region. Our area needs to acclimate a little bit.
Typically, with cedar, you want 3 to 6 months. Pine, you want to give them a few months before you start coating it. Because again there’s going to be moisture that comes out of that wood, it’s got to get acclimated to the, to the environment that we’re in here. It may look dry and feel dry, but there is definitely moisture in the wood.
As someone is going to put new flooring boards, let us say somebody does a new fence in the springtime, a good time to coat it. If you want to stain it or paint it, it would be in the fall. Because people always ask. I just had this installed two weeks ago. Do I need to paint it right away? No. Or do I need to coat right away? I say no, you actually want to wait a bit. And I ask. How long did the wood sit and get acclimated to our environment here? Most people don’t know that. That goes back to the shipment that came into the lumber store. I know this all sounds well crazy. Just to paint the deck and coat the deck. But you have to think when people put new hardwood floors in their house. They have it delivered, and it sits in the house for X amount of days, how many weeks to get acclimated to the temperature in the house, and the environment in the house. When they install it, it doesn’t expand or contrasts and causes warping or buckling within the floors. It’s the same thing on the outside. You have to let the wood sit for a while.
My recommendation is always if you found it at a lumber store, that wood has been sitting outside and acclimated for the last year. You are good. Install, paint, do whatever you want right away. But if they received the shipment last week. Well now with wait three or four months before you put a coating on that, it’s not going to hurt the wood, it is not going to deteriorate the wood. It’s going to be fine. And then you’re good to go. Even generally, when people do the work in the fall, you can wait for the winter months and coat it in the springtime. It’s fine; the wood is going to be perfectly okay. Yeah, you are going to see some discoloration or some stuff on there, but it cleans off easily. You just needed to be careful, because again, the wood is not acclimated. It’s still too moist. That’s when you have these issues.
That’s a great point. A lot of times with new construction, the contractor hasn’t coated it yet. I don’t know if the contractor is going to come back and coat the deck for them. I always put it in my report because the homeowner needs to know if they need to stain their deck. You need to find out whether the contractor will come back to stain or you need to do it yourself. Otherwise, in five years, a brand new deck is not going to be a brand new deck anymore. You’re going to need to replace it as it weathers.
For a lot of people, they just like the natural look of wood. ‘I just like the way it looks natural’ or “I like the natural look”. I don’t want to stain it. I want the weather a little bit over time. Okay. You could do that. You could let it sit for a year-ish, maybe a year and a half or so. And then at that point, if you want to just put a clear seal over the top of it that sits on top of penetrates into the wood, so you don’t have this filmy residue all over the top of it. Now, at least, you’re protecting the wood, right? Some people do like the grade weather look. You can let it gray to a point where you feel comfortable. I like the way that looks. Now it’s just protective.
Let’s keep it in that state and protect it every few years. Just put the clear natural look over it. We can’t tell which is clear. But again, anything that has stain wise, the more pigment it has, the more protection it’s going to provide to your surface. With semi-transparent, you’ve got a clear coating. You’ve got semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. Right. So, it’s a little bit semi-transparent. Semi-solid is going to offer you a little bit more durability than just a natural coating. Some people just like the natural look. Do you want to leave it that way? My recommendation is once you get it to the point where it’s weathered and the way you like it, and it’s great in these areas, maybe stay natural in some other areas, so forth. Now it’s just a clear U.V. protected sealant over the top of it. Again, that penetrates into the wood because some people might be thinking we’ve done that before. We put this clear coating over the top of it, and now that clear coating is peeling and failing. It’s not what I’m saying; it’s a different product that actually penetrates into the wood. You don’t even know it’s there except for when it rains, and it beats up a little bit. Protecting the wood is what it’s doing.
Great advice. You don’t have to protect the surface right away, but it’s expensive to have it replaced. It’s a lot cheaper to maintain them over the lifespan than to replace them every five years. In 5 to 7 years, you make sure you’re monitoring that. If you’re not quite sure about something, call a contractor, like Dynamic Colors, Inc., or a Home Inspection Geeks to come out and look at these things. They will be able to tell you ‘Okay, you might need to coat or recoat’ or ‘you might need to start replacing the deck boards as well’.
If somebody is thinking, you know what? Two years ago, I installed the brand-new cedar fence. An all-new cedar deck fence, it looks great. The spindles, for the most part on my deck, look great. But the stairs in floors they weathered so much more. I mean, that’s just simple. What sits on the floor? Sleet, rain, snow. It’s constantly getting exposed to more weather than any vertical surface. Look at the top of the railings or posts. In the bottom of the railings with the spindles attached to that stuff deteriorate faster because again, rain and snow sit on top of these vertical spindles and vertical decking or the vertical fence boards. Water just runs right down it. It’s not just sitting on top of it. That’s why I don’t understand why this looks good. Someone says I had a cedar fence installed five years ago, and it still looks great. And I had my porch two years ago, and all the floors and stairs are weathered and look grey. What is the deal here? It’s just because it’s just taking more of the brunt of the elements than the vertical surfaces. Playing that game, it’s knowing what needs to be coated when it needs to be.
Also, foot traffic, there’s got to be a lot more people walking through it. So, we are getting towards the end of our time here. But I did want to talk about concrete and brick coatings briefly and why people should consider that, concrete and brick are porous materials that I don’t think a lot of people think about, and some are more porous than others. Give your take on, when you want concrete or brick surface to be coated. And what is the appropriate way to do that?
If it’s never coated and it’s just a natural brick. It depends on what the homeowner wants. Just leave it as is. I spoke with a homeowner last week, she wanted to paint the brick in her house. She doesn’t like the color of it and there are different products out there that you can use. The most important part when you coat a brick or concrete surface is to make sure that the product has some sort of elasticity to it, as it can move and shift. Think about the mortar and the brick, the brick moves over time, and that border fails. That is why people have to have their brick tuckpoint. If you put a coat, you don’t know, like a solid coating, the same thing you put on wood that doesn’t have as much elasticity as a brick coating does, and it won’t move as much. If the brick does move and shift over time or there are moisture elements, it’s just going to pop right off there. There are different products used for different surfaces—another great thing, especially for concrete, sometimes we will do the entire foundation around the house (which is concrete). You can simply coat that in just a clear coating if you want, just to protect it. It has a moisture barrier protector in it. A coating that has 15 PSI. There is a product called Drylock. You can get in clear or white, that you can coat just to protect and add an extra layer of protection. The water doesn’t penetrate through your brick or into your concrete and gets into your foundation or your basement or wherever it may be in your house. You can actually do that from the inside or the outside of your house and depending on what you want to do. We do it down in the staircases, downstairs, into the entryway, into a basement area. You’ve got the walls that are brick or concrete. You can coat in that product. The key with it is to make sure that your product is elastic, and it has some elasticity and breathability because, again, brick and concrete is very porous. Like you said, same with limestone. It needs to breathe. If you are trapping that if you are coating that it doesn’t have the opportunity to breathe at all; And this coating on there is just going to fail and just going to pop right off.
There are different levels, just like preparation for the porch floors, decking. There are all these different levels of preparation for concrete and brick and make sure you are coating it with the correct products. Again, not the same thing which you put out of the porch for is at the same thing you put on brick or concrete. Same thing with metal. Whatever the case may be, it’s different. Different products for those surfaces. And that’s what’s vitally important. It’s the same thing I said before. The bottom of the house, it’s got a foundation that’s brick or concrete. The upper half of the house’s wood. Okay, don’t take that same product you put on the wood and put it on the brick. It won’t hold. And vice versa. Even though it’s the same color, you’ve got to do something different. You’ve got to have different products.
Every material has different characteristics and you want to make sure whatever your plan is, that’s for that purpose. You might want to paint your brick because you don’t like the look of it. You have the application, but then there is also paving brickwork and other masonry to seal and seal from the elements because they do have that porosity. And if you go in the city, as home inspectors, we are always big on drainage. Where things are going, sometimes it’s really hard in the city with it, with the tight gangways and other things that are preventing everyone from being so close together. You see a lot of people, sealing bricks doing things like that to prevent the elements. That is why I would always suggest when it comes to things like sealing and bricks, hire professionals to do that because you really don’t mess that up.
Especially if it is previously painted brick and its failed preparation? You need to get into to make sure that you’re removing that coating properly to a certain extent and then putting the base coat down first your binding agent, then your top coat. That’s vitally important. It takes more knowledge than just DIY work yourself. You really have to know what coating to put on the brick itself.
There is a good chance you will be contacting a professional within a year when things go bad. It just pays to have it done right the first time. So, yeah. Awesome. Well, we’re out of time for today. But before we go, do you want to give people the best way to reach you and your company if they’re interested in your services? Yeah, our website, Dynamiccolorsinc.com, we’re across all of the social media platforms from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. You can find us on Angie’s List, Nextdoor, better business bureau to really Google Business. There really isn’t a platform you can’t find us on. You type in Dynamic Colors on the internet, and we are going to pop up somewhere.
Awesome for booking. Is a phone call the easiest way or to check out your website?
Either way, I get a lot of messages through the website. I get a lot of text messages from people that find information. I get phone calls; I get emails—all different ways. I mean, if someone wants to speak to me directly, they can just call me directly or my I’m (847) 721-8834. Even if they are thinking about a project, they have a question about a project that may be in process.
I always try to help and educate people even when I don’t work with people on projects; they may have a contractor at their house. Are they doing it the right? We still give each other a call. There have been times when I tried to work with people, and we couldn’t agree on a price. And I said if you have a contractor, and you aren’t sure if they’re doing the right thing. Give me a call, and they call me, or they send me a text message. Here is a picture of this. They ask if it’s being done, right? It only takes me just a minute or two to have a conversation or response. It’s not a problem at all.
I’m always trying to educate the homeowner. Especially about the exterior of your house, because when you’re painting the entire exterior of your house, that can be a significant investment, and it can be expensive, and you don’t want to have to do it again within a few years. I try to tell every homeowner, at a minimum, you want 8 – 10 years out of your painting project on the exterior of your house at a minimum. Not 4 to 5 years. The most I’m going to say you are going to have to recoat within the 12 to the 15-year range just depending on the surfaces and what kind of product we will put out there. Only from wood to brick to metal to concrete, it’s all different as to how long it’s going to weather and how it’s going to age over time. Just go to our website, email, messaging, or text message. The door is open across the board for people to get a hold of me.
Awesome. I’ll include the main points in the show notes people are interested in. Thank you, Anthony. This is a great conversation. Make sure you’re taking care of your exterior fences, porches, whatever. Because, if you don’t. It will eventually become a hefty investment for you. And we don’t want to see that. Anthony doesn’t want to see that. So please take care of your exteriors.