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hf12358 09-04-2009 09:07 AM

Is stripping/sanding to bare wood necessary?
Hi all,

First post here from a two-left-hands-all-thumbs guy. We've hired people to paint our 1600sqf wood-sided house. The house is 25yrs old and we bought it 3yrs ago. Here's the situation:

There's high probability that the original wood siding was not primed before being painted. Because of this, we decided to sand/scrape all old paint down to bare wood, and do it properly this time. There are sections/pieces of the siding that are soft which we plan to replace before painting.

Q1: Could the fact that the siding has not been primed cause the wood to soften/rot?

Q2: After scraping/sanding half of one side of the house to bare wood, the guys seem to have decided that it would just take too long to do this for the whole house, so the rest of it is scraped/sanded in a manner that leaves about a 50-50% patchwork of paint-wood. They say it's going to take a very longtime to go to bare wood everywhere (because the old paint has apparently bonded into the wood, which is "sort of" soft(!)) and that it's not really necessary anyway. Does this make sense? When is going to bare wood necessary? Is the difficulty in going to bare wood a measure of "softness" (or age) of the siding? Is this related to Q1 and to the fact that siding was not primed before being painted? How do we decide that we perhaps need to change the whole siding itself because of this?

Going bonkers here, as I feel as if I'm being "painted over".

Thanks much in advance for any advice!

Leah Frances 09-04-2009 09:25 AM

Sounds like bidder's remorse. They bid out the job and are now distressed at how long it's going to take...

Bottom line, it's going to look crappy once it's painted if you do half of it stripped and half not. Since you've started, it's all got to come off. Also, you're screwed if you really do have an underlying problem, because if any remaining 'old' paint does continue to fail, it's going to take the new paint with it...


I've been doing the same thing with my front and side porch. Took it down to bare wood, because the paint was alligatored and failing in places. Lots of work? yes. Worth it in the long run? yes. Question talker today? Yes, indeed.

hf12358 09-04-2009 09:42 AM

Leah, thanks for the quick advice.

In terms of motivation, I'll come out and admit that we're paying these guys by the hour (no fixed cost contract) so I don't see why they wouldn't take all the hours they need to go to bare wood. Possible explanation is laziness, incompetence, or they really know what they're talking about and are trying to save me some money by not doing unnecessary work.

Only less than 1/2 of the smallest side of the house (not half of the whole house, as you may have understood) is down to bare wood right now, so it wouldn't be an issue if not going to bare wood is ultimately decided. Just so I can judge their competence, about how many man-hours/sqf of siding should it take to go to bare wood vs. just standard prep (sanding)?

Thanks much,

4ThGeneration 09-04-2009 03:41 PM

just curious, but what are you being billed per man hour?

chrisn 09-04-2009 05:45 PM

Just so I can judge their competence, about how many man-hours/sqf of siding should it take to go to bare wood vs. just standard prep (sanding)?

Depends a whole lot on how they are stripping it

hf12358 09-04-2009 09:46 PM


Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 323772)
Depends a whole lot on how they are stripping it

From what I can see they're using a sander most of the time.

Matthewt1970 09-04-2009 10:41 PM

Paint bonded to the wood is exactly what you want. That is protecting the wood. Just have them scrape anything loose and feather in where they scrape with a sander to make it look nice. Prime and bare wood with oil and paint away.

chrisn 09-05-2009 04:32 AM

I would do as matthew says using a SLOW drying oil( over night) not the quick dry that most are now a day, also prime the whole house not just the bare wood.

hf12358 09-05-2009 06:56 AM

Chris, matthew --

I'm glad a consensus has emerged! After inspecting the prep work closer yesterday, I also got the feeling that it was very well done and going to bare wood would have been an overkill. This also got confirmed by a couple of friends here who know much more about this than me.

My ignorance also made me overly concerned about the softness of the wood ("I can push my fingernails into it!!!"). Well, apparently, cedar is soft and one SHOULD be able to leave a fingernail imprint in it. (Unless we're all wrong and I can go back to being concerned again. :) )

So priming has begun. They seem to be taking their time as one section was primed couple of days ago and has yet to be painted. This is sort of a side job for these guys -- filling out time holes they have working for a good friend who takes care of MUCH more expensive properties. I don't know if it's a quick or slow drying primer but I personally bought the most expensive Sherman Williams primer (oil) and paint in the store so I'd guess quality shouldn't be a problem.

Thank you very, very much for everyone's advice! I love this forum. Hopefully I can some day start offering advice myself as my handiness improves!


chrisn 09-05-2009 05:15 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Was the primer this? If so you did well.

hf12358 09-05-2009 06:10 PM


Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 324156)
Was the primer this? If so you did well.

Yes, that's exactly the primer. Actually, for the record, my wife did all the research on the primer and paint so she deserves all the credit for the selection. :)


chrisn 09-06-2009 03:23 AM

Tell her, job well done!:thumbup: If she is anything like mine, the most expensive is usually what is needed for most anything. I had to put my foot down when it came to her vehicle though:laughing:

Matthewt1970 09-06-2009 08:08 AM

Good job. I have used a lot of that primer and it is good stuff.

hf12358 09-06-2009 09:14 AM

As we all eventually learn, often the expensive things end up costing us less on the long run, unless the price premium is all coming from fluff and marketing.

And yes, we're priming over both bare wood and old paint.


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