Don’t Paint Outside In The Fall


I feel compelled to warn against painting the exterior of a house or other structure in the fall. You might say “Why not? The weather is great for working outside, not hot and humid. It’s a great time to paint outside.” Although it is comfortable for the painter, it is not comfortable for the paint. A lot of exterior painting is done in the fall, and this is a bad mistake.

In my successful house painting business that I started in June 1970, I would not schedule any outside painting job after October 1. Some of my customers did not like this, and they hired another painter. I took quite a few years, but my customers soon found out that I was prudent in my decision not to paint outside after October 1.




Within a year or two, structures painted in the fall started to show signs of paint failure. There was cracking, peeling and flaking off of paint, and the paint job needed repair or repainting within a year or two. There is a scientific reason for this failure.

The scientific reason is in the drying and bonding of paint. Two things happen during this process. The vehicle (either latex or oil) dries up as the paint dries. The second thing that happens is that there is a chemical reaction within the paint. Both of these processes have to happen in a relatively warm environment. Paint cans will warn you not to apply paint when the temperature is below 50 or 55 degrees. Many fall days, it may be 70 in the daytime, but go down as low as 28 overnight. The fresh paint is still going through the chemical reaction necessary for proper adherence of the paint. This cannot occur in the lower temperatures, thus the paint does not adhere to the surface and peels off within a year or two.

There are some other reasons not to paint outside. Certain types of windows need putty (glazing compound.) Putty takes a very long time to dry, especially because a large amount of putty has to be used, making it thick. Putty also needs warmer temperatures to dry and cure properly, otherwise it will crack and have to be removed and replaced. For a good, tight paint job, you will also need to use a lot of latex caulk. Caulk also needs warmer temperatures to dry and cure. Primers need some warmth to dry.

By the way, fall is a perfect time for inside painting. Look for my upcoming article on this.

It really is simple when you understand the process. DON’T PAINT OUTSIDE IN THE FALL!

Removing Wallpaper

Now I will be adding a series of interior house painting instructions, as well as more information on the hazards of lead paint, wearing the proper respirator during painting projects and other safety precautions. I am beginning this series of articles with a post about removing wallpaper.

For this job you will need sheets of plastic drop cloths, a garden type sprayer, and a wallpaper scraper with a razor blade that can be changed when dull, or a spackle knife. The razor scraper is best used on plaster walls, the spackle knife on drywall (or sheet rock or gypsum board.) You can use the razor edge wallpaper removal tool on drywall, but the wallpaper must be thoroughly saturated with hot water containing vinegar so it can be razored off of the drywall without damaging it. For the plastic sheets, spend a little more money for the thicker kind. Don’t use the super cheap but super thin sheets, which are hard to open from the package and will tear and will not hold the weight of the removed wallpaper lying on them when you pick them up. The sprayer has a pump handle on top. You pump this handle and build up pressure, and do it again when the original pressure has gone down. You may have seen people spraying their garden with this type of sprayer. It is perfect for saturating the wallpaper you want to remove.


Before you do anything, go to the circuit breaker or fuse box to turn off the electricity in the room where you will be removing wallpaper. Move furniture away from the walls. Place the plastic sheeting at the base of the wall, right up against the baseboard. Make sure the carpet, tile or wood floor is completely covered to prevent water damage or glue mess on floor. Make sure also that all furniture that could possibly be hit with your sprayer is covered with plastic drop cloths.

Before you even fill the sprayer, score lines on the surface of wallpaper. Be careful not to go too deep and score the walls making extra repairs necessary. There are also tools available at the hardware or paint store made specifically for breaking the surface of the wallpaper so that the water solution can get under and through the wallpaper. These tools contain small wheels with spikes sticking out.

After all of the plastic is in place and the surface of the wallpaper is scored or “Broken,” the sprayer can be filled. DO NOT buy the expensive chemicals made for wallpaper removal. They are largely ineffective and can irritate skin. If you decide to use these chemicals, make sure you are wearing the right respirator to protect your breathing paths and lungs. I strongly recommend that you do NOT use them. Regular white vinegar works better than these chemicals, and vinegar is cheap. When filling your garden sprayer with vinegar and water, use a 2:1 solution, two parts water and one part vinegar. You should use the hottest water that you can. Don’t buy or rent a wallpaper steamer. They are dangerous and it is easy to get burned. You have to stand and hold them against the wall, only covering a very small area. Wallpaper steamers do not work. Hot water and vinegar is the way to go.

Spray Painting Using Aerosol Cans

As I said in the beginning of this blog, most of the information about interior house painting is just plain wrong. It has been my quest on this site to correct some of the misinformation about interior house painting. doityourself was wise enough to realize that a lot of the articles on the site had bad information, and they were impressed with the accuracy of and solicited me to correct their articles. One thing that keeps coming up is spray painting, both with professional equipment and also with aerosol cans. I have to keep repeating the proper technique in many articles, so I decided just to write an article for this blog with the basic information. Be sure to bookmark this page. Whether using professional equipment such as airless sprayers or compressor driven paint guns or aerosol cans, the basic technique is the same.

First of all, let me caution you on a health matter. When spray painting, the proper paint respirator is a must. They are not cheap, but if you want to fully protect your lungs and nervous system and yourself, you should wear a respirator. The fumes from spray paint can make you dizzy and sick, and even pass out. Also make sure that you do this spraying with adequate ventilation. If you have a metal cabinet or a piece of furniture or anything that you can move, the ideal solution is to wait for a warm, calm day and carry the piece outside. If this is not possible, make sure there is a LOT of ventilation. Protect your health.

The next caution when spray painting is to make sure that you cover anything that you do not want to get any paint on with drop cloths, either plastic or canvas, or newspaper. When spraying, there is a lot of overspray. It can travel very far and really make a mess of things. So, cover it up!



Now for the technique to spray paint. Let us say that you are painting a small metal cabinet or some outdoor furniture. You need to remember that the proper way to spray involves an on/off on/off motion. Lets say we are doing the cabinet. Hold the spray can to the left of the cabinet with your finger on the button and start to spray BEFORE you reach the cabinet. Hold the can about ten inches away from the surface to be painted. Then continue spraying beyond the right edge of the cabinet, then let off the button completely and repeat the process from right to left, and each time you pass beyond the cabinet let your finger off the button for a second and then start spraying again. And do not try to paint the piece all in one heavy coat. You should use several light coats, otherwise you will have sags, drips and runs. The first coat should be a very light coat. Painters call this a “tack” coat. Don’t worry about covering the piece with the first coat, think of it as just something for the following coats to stick to. You will usually need about three light coats.

When using aerosol cans, they first need to be shaken very hard for very long. There is a marble inside of the can, and after you have been shaking for a while, it will “break loose” and you will hear it rattling around inside of the can. Continue to shake for a very long time. You can do no harm by shaking too much. Also, make sure you read all of the instructions and cautions printed on the can.

Prepare Room, Move Furniture

Most of the information I have seen about painting around furniture while working on your interior house painting project tells you to move all of the furniture to the center of the room. This really is not very helpful. Think about a bedroom or living room. If you move all of the furniture to the middle of the room, you have created a huge obstacle to paint around. Even with the proper extension pole for your paint roller, such an obstacle in the center of the room is hard to work around. it is hard to reach over this obstacle to paint the ceiling.

What Interior House Painting Blog recommends is that you move the furniture away from the walls and arrange it with a few pieces in different areas of the room. This makes it easier to work around. Think of a chain of islands spread around the room rather than a huge continent in the center. Just make sure that you leave enough room between islands and walls to place a ladder next to them.


When moving furniture, take care not to damage it. Smaller light weight pieces of furniture can be picked up and moved. You may have to slide heavier pieces across the floor. Another thing to be very concerned about is the floor. Be careful not to scratch or cut any wooden or tile floors. Also, something that you may not think of is damage to carpet. Pushing or sliding heavy pieces of furniture across carpets can buckle the carpet, creating “hills and valleys” or lumps in carpet. What you need to do to avoid damage to any type of floor is to put large pieces of cardboard under the furniture and slide the furniture across the cardboard, thus protecting the floor. Visit a retail store to ask for some large, empty cardboard boxes and collapse the boxes to have a nice sheet of cardboard to slide the furniture over. Make sure the cardboard is thick enough, and be sure to remove any staples in the cardboard. Doing this at the beginning of your interior house painting project will avoid any damage to your floors.

You must also be very careful with any electrical outlets or switches in the room. You need to turn off the circuit breakers for the outlets in the room you are working on to avoid shock. Latex paint contains a lot of water, and everyone knows that water conducts electricity. Sometimes you may need to turn off more than one breaker for one room. A foolproof way to see if an outlet is off is to use a circuit tester. Inexpensive circuit testers may be purchased at any hardware store. Circuit testers consist of two wires or bars connected to a sealled light. If you plug the circuit tester into any outlet and it lights up, you will know you were not successful in turning off all electricity to the room you want to paint and you will have to to turn off the right breaker, perhaps several. After all of the electricity in the room is off, it is safe to remover the switch plates and outlet covers so as not to get any paint on them. Place all of the screws in a glass and be sure to place it somewhere that it will not be forgotten or knocked over.

Lead Paint Warning

Lead was added to paint until 1978. So if you are painting a house constructed before1979, lead paint was almost certainly used to paint it. If you are old enogh, you must remember that lead was also added to gasoline until it was made illegal to do so.

I realize that Internet etiquette dictates not to use capital letters and that it is considered shouting, but I wanted to keep this serious warning intact. I copied this warning right off of the lid of a paint can. I want to make this common knowledge. I know that people rarely read the warnings on labels of any kind, so I am putting this lead paint warning here so that it will be read and taken to heart.

WARNING! If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by calling the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to .




Don’t panic, lead paint poses no danger if it is intact and undisturbed. Flaking or peeling paint does pose a danger to children if they chew on paint chips. Paint chips have a sweet taste, so be careful, and remove all peeling or flaking paint. Where lead paint poses a hazard is when painting or renovations are done. That is when sanding and scraping can put lead dust in the air and have it settle on surfaces.

Starting in April 2010, federal law will require that anyone performing renovations, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Until that time, the EPA recommends that anyone performing these repairs, renovations or painting in pre-1978 structures follow these three simple rulea:

-CONTAIN the work area


-CLEAN up thoroughly

If you have a contractor paint your home, make sure they follow these work practices.