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beyond maintenance/painting: repair and replacement
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Identification of Exterior Paint Surface Conditions / Recommended Treatments

It is assumed that a preliminary check will already have been made to determine, first, that the painted exterior surfaces are indeed wood — and not stucco, metal, or other wood substitutes — and second, that the wood has not decayed so that repainting would be superfluous. For example, if any area of bare wood such as window sills has been exposed for a long period of time to standing water, wood rot is a strong possibility. Repair or replacement of deteriorated wood should take place before repainting. After these two basic issues have been resolved, the surface condition identification process may commence.

The historic building will undoubtedly exhibit a variety of exterior paint surface conditions. For example, paint on the wooden siding and doors may be adhering firmly; paint on the eaves peeling; and paint on the porch balusters and window sills cracking and alligatoring. The accurate identification of each paint problem is therefore the first step in planning an appropriate overall solution.

Paint surface conditions can be grouped according to their relative severity:

  1. Class I conditions include minor blemishes or dirt collection and generally require no paint removal;
  2. Class II conditions include failure of the top layer or layers of paint and generally require limited paint removal; and
  3. Class III conditions include substantial or multiple-layer failure and generally require total paint removal.

It is precisely because conditions will vary at different points on the building that a careful inspection is critical. Each item of painted exterior woodwork (i.e., siding, doors, windows, eaves, shutters, and decorative elements) should be examined early in the planning phase and surface conditions noted.