House Painting Tips on Cape Cod


House PainterPaul Dunn, our Painting Division Manager, sits down to offer some expert advice on house painting here on beautiful Cape Cod. Paul has been a paint contractor since 2001 and prior to that was a professional photographer—so trust us, he has an eye! He is able to not only ensure that your paint job is done with uncompromising technique and care, but can also offer expert advice on color and style. He’s an expert in color matching, historical paint considerations and soft and power washing best practices.

House painting on Cape CodFrom the desk of Paul Dunn…

I have found that there are a few common issues that come up again and again on Cape Cod. The sources of typical painting problems are: water, ultraviolet radiation from the sun (UV), humidity, mold and incompatible paint materials.

Water – Wooden trim, shingles and clapboards located on the exterior of homes may absorb a lot of moisture. If not maintained properly, the paint or stain will not adhere to the wood and will start to bubble or peel off. The solution to this problem is power sanding to remove all of the paint or stain in affected areas followed by an oil primer and two coats of a high-quality paint or stain. To avoid this issue as a whole, use a moisture meter before painting to check that the moisture content is within standards.

If moisture is found in an interior of a home, it usually means that there is a leak, often a result from faulty flashing or caulking. It can show up as a tan or brown stain on a ceiling, or with a more extensive problem, the plaster can fall off in pieces. A harder problem to remedy is efflorescence coming through the ceiling or wall. Efflorescence is a whitish, powdery, crystalline growth that bubbles off paint and crumbles very easily to the touch. As water comes through sheetrock, it dissolves the gypsum salts within it and deposits them under the paint film. This causes the paint to bulge outwards, then fall off. Besides fixing the water leak, letting the sheetrock dry out after using a cleaner like vinegar or adding an emulsifying bonding agent to the paint.

Kitchen PaintUV – Ultraviolet light will degrade any paint finish over time, period. With older oil painted trim or siding, UV rays will accelerate the chalking that happens with oil finishes. With latex paints the UV will cause the color to fade and if a very dark color is used, the heat from the sun can cause the paint to lose its adherence and peel or form bubbles. Modern latex paints cannot be put directly over oil coatings because they will not adhere.  Therefore, the surface must be primed first then painted with 100% Acrylic Latex.

Humidity – Humidity goes hand in hand with mold growth. Excess humidity in bathrooms may spur mold growth. In bathrooms with cheaper vinyl paints, the moisture can penetrate the paint film and cause it to lift off from the substrate or even cause the edges to curl. With a darker color wall paint if there are streaks visible due to condensation running down the walls, it means a new bath exhaust fan vented to the outside should be installed and a specialty bath paint may be used to help keep this from happening. The thickness of the wall paint coating has an impact on lessening the streaking as well. The top of many shower enclosures are not caulked where they meet the wall moisture may get inside the sheetrock through the gap and causes it to swell and eventually crumble. To avoid this from happening in the first place or to repair it after it has happened, cover the gap with a bead of elastomeric caulk, which stretches considerably and doesn’t dry out.

Mold and Mildew – Mold and mold spores are everywhere on Cape Cod. There are many types of mold; some can be hazardous to breathe in, so it is recommended to consult with a mold specialist if you find any growing in your home.

Mold needs two things to grow: water and a food source. This is why we see mold in high humidity areas such as bathrooms, basements and closed-up closets. The food source can be airborne plant spores, organic matter or the actual sheetrock itself. Mold may appear as small brown/gray or black dots then progress to larger circles as these colonies grow. A brand new breakthrough product, a mold killing primer, has been introduced and it works very well by brushing or rolling it right over the mold. In many instances especially in interiors, there is no need to try and remove the mold with bleach or mildewcide. On exterior trim where a low-quality paint was used, the mold can almost completely cover the trim in wide blotches. A number of low-quality paints use cellulose, or plant fiber, as a filler which is the ultimate food source for mold.

To keep mold at bay on the exterior of homes, power washing or using mildewcide in larger areas is most effective. For smaller areas, mold killing primer followed by two coats of 100% Acrylic Latex paint will give a very long-lasting finish.

Incompatible Paint Materials – We see this most when homeowners or inexperienced painters try to paint over old exterior oil painted trim, or more often old interior oil-painted trim, directly with latex paint. Remember, oil and water don’t mix! The low adhesion of latex to the oil paint, will cause the latex to chip or peel off. The latex paint needs to be completely sanded off, an oil-based primer applied (made to be top-coated with latex paint), followed by two coats of high-quality 100% Acrylic Latex paint.

If any of these problems are present in your home, a straightforward solution is available. The key is getting a knowledgeable evaluation of the problem and a detailed plan to remedy it. A top-quality paint job should last you ten years!  Learn more about the Cape Associates Painting Division here.

About Paul Dunn:
In the world of house painting, you can’t find a more qualified expert than Paul Dunn. He is known as the Paint Whisperer and is the Painting Division Manager in the Cape Associates, Inc. Yarmouthport office. He has been in the painting industry as a painting contractor since 2001 and has extensive knowledge about painting products and procedures. Prior to working in paint, Paul was a professional photographer for many years. He lives in Centerville and is an avid bike rider and striped bass fisherman. Have a paint related question for Paul?  Reach him at

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