Monday, April 30, 2012

4 Simple Tips for Perfect Paint Storage

The search for the perfect method to properly store paint is one of those Holy Grail-type quests in the painting world.  Everybody everywhere has an idea (or two) as to the best ways to ensure that your paint doesn't dry out in the can as it sits on your shelf.

Some people argue that the ideal thing to do is to store your can upside down--because it will prevent air from seeping in.  Others claim that the best thing to do is to lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the opening before pounding the lid on:  this will provide an extra seal, again preventing air from seeping in. Some folks pour water into their paint before they store it, others coat the rim with vasoline, others vacuum seal the can little plastic bags.

The ideas are endless, but really, most of them either don't work or simply aren't necessary.  (We'll deal with some of these methods and discuss why they don't work and should be avoided in a later blog entry).

For now, instead of focusing on all the novelty ideas out there, here are 4 tips--solid, reality-based tips--that will help you make sure that the paint you store today will still be ready to use in a few years.  

Transfer your paint to a smaller container you can fill to the top.  If your paint gallon or quart is half full or less, don’t just pop the lid on and store it that way--it will dry out quickly.  Instead, move it to a smaller, sealable container that you can fill to the top. This will keep it in liquid form much, much longer.  A variety of different containers will work in these situations--the key is that you're able to fill the container AND that it will seal well.

Keep the rim of your container clean and free from built up paint.  Many people use the rim of their can as a "wipe off" point for their brush.  As a result, paint accumulates in the rim and can often be dried and hardened by the time you're ready to put the lid back on.  

Avoid this by using a pour spout (available for less than $1 at any RepcoLite store) and working out of a secondary container (this is important for other reasons as well--see here).  This way you can keep the rim of your paint can clean and free of paint.  

When you’re finished painting, take a couple extra minutes, before storing your paint on your shelf, to wash and clean out the rim so that your lid can achieve a good, tight seal.  If there's paint in the rim you can't clean out because it has hardened, use a rag and some hot water.

Along these same lines, when putting the lid on your container, use restraint!  You may have the power, the rage, the enthusiasm of Thor (see inset), but please, don't use those superpowers when pounding on the lid.  It will only result in sorrow, misery and a bad seal that will cause your paint to dry out prematurely.  

See, pounding the lid on with extreme force (some might say 'brutality') never works.  We've all done this.  We've all thought "if I just hit it hard enough, it will go on."  Well, it doesn't.  It just bends the can, warps the lid and prevents the can from ever sealing well again.  

So use restraint.  If you follow Step 2 and keep the rim clean and free from paint, you should be able to tap the lid gently on with a small rubber mallet. 

Finally:  store your paint in an area that will not freeze and which is not subjected to extreme temperature changes.  This rules out most of our Michigan garages.  Once latex paint freezes and thaws, it’s usually unusable--so find a good storage place in an area with controlled temperatures.  (Think basement or lower level storage area!)

Do these things, take these precautions and you’ll find that 5 years from now, when you need to do a couple touch-ups, your paint is still usable and in perfect shape.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Choose re-coat recycled paint...

Here's a new commercial highlighting re-coat recycled paint. If you're looking for professionally coordinated color schemes, easy decorating, high quality, economical and environmentally responsible paint then you need to look into re-coat. Stop out at any RepcoLite, Port City Paints or Snyder Paints location for more info. Or, just go to

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cleaning Your Siding After a Fire

It's Spring.  And with weather like we've been having, many of us are feeling the itch to turn our attention to the exteriors of our homes.  We'd like to clean them up, spruce them up, get them looking good again after winter.

In fact, a customer of ours just posted a comment on our facebook page (which you should check out here and become a fan!) requesting that we talk about how to clean the siding of our homes.

Turns out he had a fire recently and a lot of the siding is now smoke-stained.  Now, with the nice weather (and with Tulip Time approaching), he's feeling the push to get that siding cleaned up and looking good again.  

So to hopefully help him out (as well as others of you with the same issues), here's the scoop when it comes to cleaning smoke damage from your vinyl or aluminum siding.  (And by the way, if your siding is simply dirty, you can skip straight to step 4!)

  •  Soot Sponge 
  •  Broom/Tire Brush
  •  Shop Vac
  •  Jomax House Cleaner (available at RepcoLite and Port City Paints)
  •  Hose or Power Washer
  •  Garden Pump-Up Sprayer 


Step 1:  Dry Brush
The first thing to do when you've got smoke damage is to resist the urge to rinse it all down with water and various cleaners.  This often can make the mess worse and harder to clean up.  Instead, start with a broom or a tire brush and go over your siding, lightly brushing away as much of the loose debris and dry soot particles as possible.

Step 2:  Vacuum
Once you've done this, it's time to break out your shop-vac (with a brush attachment if you've got one).  Go over the siding again, removing as much of the soot and debris as possible.

Step 3:  Break Out the Soot Sponge
After you've done this, it's time for the Soot Sponge.  And, because this is likely a tool many of you aren't familiar with (I know I wasn't) let me explain it briefly.

Soot Sponges are also referred to as Chemical Dry Cleaning Sponges.  They're thick, porous and made of rubber.  Basically, they look and feel somewhat similar to a big eraser.

Soot Sponges are used dry.  This is important:  using water or detergents--at least in this initial cleaning stage--often results in smearing the stain around.  So use the sponge dry, lightly sweeping it over the stains in even motions and in only one direction, working from top to bottom.  When you do this, the sponge will function like an eraser and will remove dust and soot from your siding.

Once the surface of your sponge has filled up, you've got a couple options.  The best option is to cut away the dirty layer with a utility life, exposing a new clean layer underneath (be careful--I speak from experience). If you prefer not to cut away the old layers, you can wash the sponge out, but you must let it dry thoroughly before using it again.

Usually, you'll be able to clean about a 12' x 20' area with one 6" sponge. 

Step 4:  Clean and Rinse
After using the Soot Sponge to remove the bulk of the smoke stain from your siding, it's finally time to hit it with Jomax House Cleaner. 

Now, Jomax is a cleaner manufactured by Zinsser and it's a great product for safely cleaning your siding and removing everything from soot residue to mold and mildew.  Using Jomax to kill mildew is more effective than just using bleach and water.  It's also safer.  While bleach is added to Jomax, the bleach activator in Jomax increases the cleaning power of the bleach while at the same time bringing down its alkalinity to levels that are safe for surrounding plants or grass. 

With that said (and because I don't want angry phone calls/e-mails), I'd still suggest spraying nearby plants and grass down with water before you apply Jomax and immediately after you've rinsed it off your house.  You know--just to be safe.
OK, so pick up a quart of Jomax concentrate from RepcoLite, Port City Paints or Snyder Paints and mix it according to label directions.  
Using a hose or a power washer, wet a section of your siding (as well as your surrounding grass and plants) and then, using a standard garden pump-up sprayer, spray the Jomax mixture onto that section of your siding and scrub it lightly with a good scrub brush.  Work from top to bottom and when you've scrubbed a section clean, go ahead and rinse it before it has a chance to dry out and leave new streaky stains.
Work your way around the home in this way and before long, you should have things looking good again!