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a-dogg 05-17-2013 03:16 PM

How best to paint a derelict, poorly prepped garage?
I've lurked on this forum for the past few years on and off as we tackled various projects in our 1918 fixer, but a critical project I need to knock off quickly got me registered and posting!

I'll post the short version, followed by backstory/details.

The short of it: I have a rotting, derelict 1 car "garage" in my alley that I must scrape loose paint off of and paint by May 24th, or I will start getting fines from the city. It is generally beyond saving as a practical and financial matter, but I have to "kick the can" down the road and satisfy the city sooner than I can afford to demo and replace.

The long version:

We bought this 1918 house in 2005. It needed a lot of work, indeed more than it appeared as the former owners spent most of their energy making things look nice for the sale than fixing things right. The garage may be as old as the house, and was originally 11'x18' or so, likely on dirt or gravel. Since then it has had concrete poured inside it at least twice (and over the sill plate), and a poorly build extension and door was added presumably in the 50's or 60's when cars were very long. That improvement sat on a pad that created the parking pad next to the garage. inches higher than the rest fo the garage.

The siding is peeling, there is some rot at the bottom in spots i'll have to patch up roughly. The garage door on the addition was too wide, and didn't have proper support, so that addition has a lean to it, and the door doesn't go up. The door is in too rough of shape to make the trip even if the rails weren't pinching in on each other. Windows have been busted and boarded. Basically the garage is terrible, and not an uncommon sight in my neighborhood as most people park on the street.

We've done a lot to the house, but this november we unexpectedly had to bring our first child into the world 3.5 months early at 1 lb 1oz! She's finally home and thriving now (over 10lbs!), but she had a 4+ month stint in the NICU, and is home with oxygen now. During that stay we realized dust wouldn't be allowed once she came home for the sake of her preemie lungs, so we bit the bullet and finally redid the only bathroom in our house (a project we'd wanted to do for years, but who wants to live without a bathroom?)

During that project this spring we staged the debris on the parking pad in the alley for a week. A bored neighbor on alley patrol called the city health department, and we were cited to have the debris cleaned up in a week. No big deal as we weren't going to leave it there any longer than that in the first place. However during that visit, the inspector cited our garage for peeling paint and bare wood as well.

So now I need scrape the loose paint off this garage and get some paint on it by May 24th to appease the City. The plan is to demolish the old garage and replace it with one I can put my woodworking tools in (I can't use them in the house anymore either), but after the hospital bills we just can't afford to even tear it down this year.

If there is lead paint I'm not crazy about agressive scraping and sanding to prep, and I also don't want to powerwash a bunch of lead into my yard for the sake of a one year paint job.

So I've scraped as much loose stuff as I could without making dust, which I scraped onto tarps and bagged up. The siding is still dusty and dirty in spots.

So how do I prep well enough for a 1-2 year paintjob with the immediate goals of a) satisfying the city b) not adding more lead to the ground or myself c) not spending a ton of money?

I can rent an airless sprayer for about 70-100 dollars locally, and have been researching peel bond, peel stop, etc as well as using a regular primer like bullseye then a cheap exterior paint. Or I could use emulsabond in some exterior paint.

What prep can I pull off? should i do a gentle pressure wash just to get the dirt off the paint that's there? What paint, primer, or paint additive plus paint should I be looking towards?

Pics in various stages of scraping:

Thanks for your thoughts.

kimberland30 05-17-2013 03:40 PM

The only advice I have is to pressure wash the heck out of it and see what happens. We are in the process of painting the exterior of our home and the prep work has been a *****. Hubs fired up the pressure washer last night and ran the spray over an old door with old paint and I was amazed at how much came off of it. I'll still have to stand it in some areas, but I'm only dealing with a door, not a whole garage. So maybe pressure wash it first and see what that leaves behind. You might be okay to paint after it dries, since you are only doing it for the City and not as a long term solution.

I'm glad to hear your daughter is home and doing well, what a scary thing to have to go through!

joecaption 05-17-2013 09:01 PM

I'm not seeing anything even worth saving, never mind wasting money on paint.
It was built with a poor foundation, the sidings to close to grade, there's rotten wood, a bad roof.

Jmayspaint 05-17-2013 09:16 PM

Caulk. Smear caulk all over it.

You could use a 3" or so putty knife, put the caulk on the wall in big strips, smear it out. If some peeling chips get mixed in.. So what? It will help stabilize the lead and help with future peeling.
You could use some paint at the same time, just kinda mix it on the surface.
It makes an impromptu elastomeric coat that will hold together to an extent even if its not bonded everywhere.

Home owners don't have to worry as much legally about lead. But the chips are little position piles. Very bad. Don't pressure wash.

Nailbags 05-17-2013 09:41 PM

Call the local fire dept. let them burn it to the ground for you. That thing is not even worth a match.

ddawg16 05-17-2013 09:49 PM

If money is an issue.....pressure wash....shoot some primer on some cheap paint, shoot that on and call it done.

Then....when you have the a real garage....that one is just not worth saving. Listen to the guys above.......

BTW....congrats on your daughter....glad she is home and doing well.....I can relate....somewhat...not as rough as your situation....enjoy the baby...

a-dogg 05-17-2013 09:49 PM

Oh I 100% agree that it should be torn down just to be clear, but it's not feasible in the timeframe, and for whatever reason painting it is the only option the city gave. As such this is really just about how to prep and paint and with what.

Caulk as a top coat seems super expensive coverage wise. It would take 3 or more gallons of paint to cover it, and there is no way you could spread as thin as you could flow paint.

Brushjockey 05-17-2013 10:11 PM

There are actual products made for that ( after you either /and scrape and PW)
One penetrates- Peel Stop
the other is more like a flex prime coat- sort of like brushable caulk-
Peel Bond.
Google both to learn more.

user1007 05-17-2013 11:10 PM

An acrylic solid stain can be used over raw or painted wood. It would save you a primer coat. The brand I know best is Sherwin Williams Woodscapes but it is a high end product. I do not know of a cheaper brand. MAB used to have a solid stain product that was superior to what Woodscapes was at the time. SW bought MAB and I suspect the formula is now hybridized into Woodscapes. You might get lucky and find enough for your project if MAB stores are still around. Last I looked it was no longer available at what MAB stores were left beyond what they had in inventory. I honestly do not know if there are any MAB stores left anymore.

A decent primer and a contractor grade of paint store paint would be another option but involves spraying it twice. I don't know if primer and paint would be cheaper or not.

Restored a little railway worker home in a neighborhood like yours where people with nothing to do but work on their own places they neglected instead patroled the hood. They had been irked ever since the city made them get the ripped up sofa, b&w console tv with tubes, and doorless fridge off the porch and the 72 cracked Chevvy engine block out of the front lawn!

Do you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or similar place near you? I volunteered to sort out the donated paint section for one and ran across some decent primer and paint amidst mostly crap (I guess people thought it was alright to use the place as their toxic waste dump!?) or too small quantites for large projects. The store was in an area with a lot of industrial painting work so their tended to be fresh, unopened 5-ers over ordered for jobs donated on a regular basis. Both primer and white or off whites mostly. The store asked next to nothing for them---$20 or something as I remember but do not hold be to that amount. They were a small fraction of retail though. In most cases they were more than decent product. I separated them off from the partial cans of stuff.

Glad your little one is doing well. She must be a fighter to come through such challenges so early on.

a-dogg 05-18-2013 06:56 AM

We do have a restore! I hadn't considered that. I also hadn't considered the the idea that the acrylic stain would penetrate and stick well?

For this type of application on poorly prepped and rough siding, what types of primer would be best, should I end up needing to go that route?


Gymschu 05-18-2013 07:04 AM

You can actually bring this garage back to life.........well, since that's your only option right now. Actually, what I would do would be to buy a quality carbide scraper........get as much loose paint off as careful not to do any more damage to the siding. After that, use an orbital sander with 40 or 60 grit. It will aggressively get off any remaining loose paint and feather the edges. NOW, a very gentle pressure wash to remove the dust you created and any dirt or mildew. Allow to dry thoroughly. Prime with a slow drying oil based primer. This will soak into the bare wood and block any stains that could leach into the topcoats. Allow to dry. Then apply 2 topcoats of your favorite paint. I've done this process on houses that looked worse than your garage and brought them back to's worth a shot.

a-dogg 05-18-2013 11:07 AM

Yeah I wouldn't say I can bring it back to life, but I can dress the corpse up a bit :-)

The fact is some of the studs are rotting, much of the siding touching the ground (since concrete was poured above the bottom courses) is rotting or gone, the frame is askew, and while it could be straightened and reinforced I'd likely put a ton of time effort and a few thousand dollars into a garage that would still be of poor quality and not more usable than it now (which is basically a semi dry place to put my ladder and lawn mower, etc).

I'll probably avoid hitting it with my ROS, even though feathering the edges of the paint would be ideal, as I don't want to kick up a bunch of what might be lead. I'd deal with better prep if I knew the paint had to last more than a year or two. So I should go Oil based primer? what's the dry time on that? I ask because it looks like I'm rained out this weekend for painting, and my deadline is friday. Hopefully I can get a reprieve as long as she see's progress, but we'll see.

Gymschu 05-18-2013 11:17 AM

Some of the long dry oils dry in half a day. I usually wait 24 hours before painting. If you buy a linseed oil based primer, those can take a couple days to dry.

........and, as Sdsester states below, you could get away with a water-based primer like 1-2-3........but with weathered southern yellow pine like that on your garage, you will have some bleed through into your topcoats.

user1007 05-18-2013 12:35 PM

Benjamin Fresh Start Alkyd Primer is a fave of mine for exteriors, but I honestly did not do a lot of exterior work and price of materials was not the major issue when I did. I usually applied it with a roller and chased it with a brush to get up under siding, etc.

It seems like overkill if you just need this fixed cosmetically and are sure you just need a few years out of it.

Personally, I would use waterbased Zinsser 123 or Zinsser 123 Plus (stain blocker added), not worry about the weather since it will dry quickly and "geterdone". Hopefully you will luck out and find enough finish at the Restore. If not, put two coats of a contractor grade paint equivalent to what was Ben Moore Super Spec (think it is Ultra Spec for exterior products now too) and let the inspector pin a blue ribbon on the thing.

Other option remains, if cheaper, to use a solid stain in white. It will save you from priming but I don't know of inexpensive alternatives to nice products like SW Acrylic Woodscapes Solid Stain. If it is cheaper to prime and paint, do that. You will probably still need two coats of the stain though. It will go over new or painted siding.

Ordinarily I hate compromises but you are up against the wall here and forced to do something that makes no sense long term anyhow. I will say that projections of only needing something to last a couple years often get stretched out longer so do the prep and not a total hack job on this garage. And pray the weight of the second coat of paint or stain does not collapse it!:laughing:

If you were vindicitvely creative, you could paint it some hideous color. There was this home in the neighborhood I mentioned where I restored the railway worker home. Every few years it got a technically perfect exterior paint job using more shades of bright green than all of Ireland has. I nicknamed it the Leprechaun [other word for brothel] which stuck. Neighbors despised it but they are the ones that forced the City to play its hand and make them paint it. I suspect when they finish the renovations they are chipping away at inside ever so slowly they will paint it some realistic color scheme.

a-dogg 05-18-2013 09:15 PM

Haha! Yeah it has crossed my mind to paint it bright orange or something, but my neighbors would have to deal with it, and I know it was no one on my street that called it in. Actually I'm almost positove it was a well meaning and very nosey/bored older woman that lives a street over. She is quick to call zoning or whoever else will listen if she suspects someone is running their business out of their garage, etc.

So I am going to look at a tradeworks 170 ( the graco x7 which SW sells) used for 180 tomorrow. I need to paint the eaves and get some parts of my house done in the next year so it made sense. Renting a sprayer is looking like 140 for a day after damage insurance and fees. Also ive always wanted to learn how to shoot with an airless, and a throwaway garage seems like great practice! So the plan will be to hit it with some bullseye 123 (I have a gallon and a half on hand already). Then hit the restore for some exterior paint, failing that I'll go for the contractor cheaper stuff at SW.

Anyone have advise on how to evaluate the used sprayer before buying it short of running it and spraying? He claims to have only run a few gallons through last year when he bought it. I asked if it had been properly cleaned, maintained, and stored to which he said yes.

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