Pets And Paint fumes

Pets And Paint fumes

Pets and paint fumes don’t mix. Just like you, pets are sensitive to the strong fumes paint can produce and remember some pets, like dogs, have a much more acute sense of smell and may be even more sensitive then we realize. Cats, dogs, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards… all can be bothered by paint fumes.

One group of pets that are often overlooked are fish. Some people assume they are safe in their tank but the opposite is actually the case. Fish tanks have aerators which actually take the air in a room, and the fumes, and run it through the tank. Fish are often more susceptible then any other pet.

Breathing the fumes from solvent based paint, stain, etc. can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea in both you and your pets.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your pets out of the area where painting or staining is taking place. Take them to a relatives or friends house for a couple days. Almost all paint and solvent fumes will dissipate in a couple days with adequate ventilation.

Pets and paint don’t mix. Most pets are curious and may walk right into a work area, paint supplies or right into paint.

Another cause of concern besides fumes is ingestion. Even low VOC (Volatile organic compounds)  paints have compounds that can be deadly when ingested. Many latex paints contain glycols, including ethylene glycol (antifreeze) which will cause kidney damage and failure when ingested. If you believe your pet has ingested a paint or solvent, take them to the Veterinarian right away. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, difficulty walking or standing or difficulty breathing, take the pet to the Vet.

Pets become valuable parts of a family and are entitled to love and protection.

Caulk VS Caulk

Caulk VS Caulk

Caulk is an important part of both an interior and an exterior paint job. There are many types and brands of caulk but the two I like the most are the Top Gun brand manufactured by Pittsburg Paint and Sonneborn NP1 manufactured by BASF.

These are two completely different products with different applications. We use the Top Gun products on interior work and prefer the Sonneborn on exterior work.

On the interior applications we usually go with the Top Gun 250 which is a fast dry caulk which will allow us to move much faster on a painting project. This same product can be used on exterior applications but we tend to encourage customers to consider the NP1 which is a Urethane product. It is also much more expensive and difficult to work with but it performs extremely well.

top gun caulk









It is not common to see Paint Contractors using the NP1 because it requires a 7 to 10 day cure time before it can be painted. That causes a significant delay in the project and can make scheduling projects more challenging. It also requires a solvent for cleanup and can be a pain to work with.

Budgets are always a  factor on any home improvement project. We believe in using the best materials possible and like to give options to the customer that make economic sense whether you are selling your home or plan to keep it as your residence. In most cases, using the best materials is the best choice.

Staining Log Homes

Staining log homes takes a lot of work! The key to a successful job is how well you clean it first. Quite often when we are asked to stain a log home it is well overdue and in dire need of attention. Power washing and getting it ready to go takes a lot of effort.

It is important to use chemicals in combination with the power washing. One of the best cleaners for this process is DeckBriteWe normally use 2 to 3  of the large 3lbs containers on a log home. Technically that’s 22 gallons of cleaning solution, but we actually double up on the mixing ratio a bit so it makes less then that. When using DeckBrite the best way to mix it is in a five gallon bucket and when ready transfer it to a Hudson sprayer. Don’t mix it in the Hudson sprayer. The sprayers almost always get clogged if you do that. When the granules are mixed with water, the water turns blue. When the water looses the blue appearance you are ready to use it.


staining a log home








We like to mist the cabin logs with water and then hit it with the DeckBrite. Working in sections starting at the bottom works best. The cleaner should remain wet and given time to work, then hit it with direct spray at a relatively close angle to the logs. You will see the color and dirt being stripped  away with the force of the water. You need to be fairly close to the logs with the spray pattern for it to work. This means ladders and power washing which is not the best combination for safety sake. This is a job perhaps best left for the professional paint contractor and it is a process that takes time.

Adequate dry time is important. When it is good and dry after power washing, it’s time to stain. When staining a log home I like to use Sikkens stain. It is expensive but you will get many years out of this product. Using an airless sprayer and low pressure works well. Back brushing and working the stain into the logs is a must!


Painting Steel Siding

Painting steel siding is something we do every year. Many people are not sure if it is something that can be done but it can be under the right circumstances. We normally do a simple test to determine if it is wise to do. It’s easy to do. Take a rag and wet it with MEK. Wipe the surface of the siding. Rub just a little bit. If the color on the siding comes off onto the rag, you have a good candidate for painting.

Priming is necessary. We use a bonding primer. XIM 400 is a great choice. You can also go with an epoxy primer but I like the XIM. After the standard prep, like power washing. A light sprayed coat of primer is sufficient.


painting steel siding before








A quality latex top coat is the next step.

painting steel siding after








The coatings on steel siding tend to chalk over time. When you are doing your initial inspection, look for signs of chalking. Run your hand over the siding. If your hand is dusty/chalky. Then you will want to be sure to incorporate a good cleaner with the power wash. I like Simple GreenIt works well. Be sure to rinse a couple times.

Moisture Vapor Tests

Moisture vapor tests are a critical component of any floor coating project but they are often not performed by many paint contractors or contractors that specialize in only doing floor coatings. This is a curious thing to me because the tests themselves are not expensive although the process can be time consuming and kind of a hassle so maybe that is why the test often gets blown off.

A moisture vapor test is where the amount of water vapor passing through a concrete floor is measured. If there is too much moisture passing through the floor the coating will fail. If the floor already has a coating on it and it is failing, it may be because of excessive moisture vapor.


moisture vapor tests. area is ground and test placed.








Moisture vapor tests are not difficult to do. They can be obtained at several different outlets like AmazonMoisture vapor tests are all comprised of the same things. A calcium chloride “puck”, a ph test kit and a clear shield to place over and seal the test as it is being conducted. You will also need a gram scale.

Once you have the test or tests the first step is to grind an area on the floor to be tested. You will want to grind away all existing coatings and get to the concrete. If there are no coatings, grind an area to insure a clean test. I normally grind an area the same size as the clear shield. For best results wait 24 hours after grinding before placing the test.

Next step is to weigh the calcium chloride puck. Weigh it with the lid attached. You may notice the puck has the weight already written on it. Measure it just to be sure and record the result.

Next step is to place the puck on the test area (without the lid on). Be careful to not spill any of the calcium chloride. Pull the tape backing off the shield and cover the test puck. Press down around the perimeter of the shield to make sure it is stuck well.

moisture vapor tests. weighing the calcium








When I do moisture vapor tests, I wait 60 hours before reweighing the puck. The difference in weight is what you will use to determine the vapor pressure. The kits all have the formula you will use or there are many websites that you can plug the numbers into to get the results.  The reason for running the test for a longer period of time, like 60 hours, is to get a good sampling of the moisture emission. All floor coatings have different limits for maximum vapor pressure and there are special primers that can be used when there are higher then anticipated numbers. If the number you get is below 4, you are good to go.

Knowing what the moisture vapor pressure is will insure a successful floor coating.

The formula, in case you need it, is:


Difference in weight X 2.057 24 1000 = A

Number of hours test is run 454 = B

A /B = lbs of vapor pressure for 1000 sqft.


1.3 (difference in weight)  X 2.057 X 24 X 1000 = 64178.4

60 hrs X 454 = 27240

64178.4 / 27240  = 2.35lbs


When To Hire A Professional Painter

Professional painters play a critical role in maintaining and updating your home. As a home owner you know all the responsibilities you have. Yard work, home maintenance, etc. It never seems to end. There is always something that needs attention. It makes sense that your not going to call a professional every time something needs to be done. Leaky faucets, installing a new light fixture, etc.

When should you call in a professional painter? I get asked that question often. I tell people to look at the scope of the project to decide. There are 4 times when you might want to consider hiring a professional painter.

professional painter






1. Time

If time is a factor hire a pro. Do you have a house party scheduled and need the living room painted prior to that? Are you having a 4th of July event and need the house painted? Often if your planning an event, the last thing you need to be concerned with is the hassle of painting. A painting contractor will have all the equipment and experience to get in and done quickly.

2. Quality

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! We have all heard that but sometimes there are areas like a guest bathroom or a room in the basement you may want to experiment with and that’s ok. If quality and skill are important then hire a pro! Are you painting your entryway or having all your woodwork refinished? Those are not good DIY projects.

3. Equipment

It is amazing how much equipment paint contractors accumulate. Almost all of it is necessary and serves a purpose. None of it is cheap. It can be very frustrating to try and do a professional job with poor quality equipment. I always suggest buying high quality materials and equipment but that may not be practical when you need to buy ladders or scaffolding. If the job requires professional equipment hire a pro!

4. Risk

If the job to be done involves risk hire a pro! If you are not accustomed to working on long ladders, scaffolding, over stairs or in tall entry ways, now is probably not the time to learn. Workers compensation insurance for painters is among the highest in the trades. Only 1 trade has higher premiums then painters. The reason the premiums are so high is because of risk. Be safe. Hire a professional painter!

Tinted Primer Magic

We have already covered the function and importance of primer but what we have not emphasized is tinting that primer. There are several reasons for tinted primer but first and foremost is depth of color and hide. Tinting your primer doesn’t mean you can skip a coat of finish. That would defeat the purpose. What it does mean is you will have a finished product with color uniformity and depth.


tinted primer on wall








Primer promotes adhesion and provides uniform porosity of the surface to be painted. We believe primers are absolutely necessary and not something to be skipped. You can definitely tell the difference between a primed and a non primed wall.

When having a primer tinted you want to be sure it is a tintable product. Most can be but check. Many stores push the idea of having your primer tinted a percentage of the finish color. The reasoning for this are it helps you see where you are when applying a finish coat. We don’t have that problem and I find most people can tell the difference between a wet section and dry section of wall regardless of color. We have our primers tinted 100% when possible. You never want to over tint a product. Primer or top coat. Normally 4 to 5 oz of tint is going to do the trick and that is an acceptable amount.

Using Magnetic Primer

Magnetic primer comes in many different brands and types however it is not magnetic. It is actually a mixture containing iron suspended in a resin. The first varieties available were all Aklyd or oil base because iron rusts in the presence of water. The Latex or water base varieties available now have encapsulated the iron particles so there is a barrier between the iron and water.


magnetic primer key ingredient iron oxide
experimental iron particles








We experimented prior to any “magnetic” primer hitting the market and managed to make something that would work. We located and bought fine iron particles and then mixed them in an alkyd primer. The trick for us was to apply several coats. The more coats the more iron that is suspended on the wall and the stronger the hold of the magnet!

This same idea works with the various “magnetic” paints on the market today. More coats = stronger hold.

magnetic primer









The trick to using these products is twofold. First make sure you keep the product stirred to keep the iron particles in suspension and as already mentioned, you want to do several coats. The product that we experimented with years ago actually works better then any magnetic primer available today. I think that is because we added lots of iron. Iron isn’t cheap in this form so what we made was not cost effective but it sure worked!




Painting Shutters

Shutters are commonly found on homes today. If you are lucky enough to have the classic wood variety, you will want to take care of them. The vinyl/plastic variety are perhaps more popular but lack the detail and style the wood variety offer. If you are really really lucky you will have the functional shutter that can actually close and protect the window. These are increasingly rare.

Over time the wood shutter will wear and be in need of repainting. It is worth the investment to do so and it is not really all that hard to do. The first thing you will need to do is remove the shutters from your home. They will be either nailed or screwed to the face of your home. You will want to be careful because sometimes the shutters will need some repair work in addition to repainting.


painting shutters. black shutters







After the shutters are removed they will need to be cleaned. You can power wash them or use a hose and scrub brush. Be sure to use a good cleaner like Simple GreenAfter the shutters have dried it’s time to scrape and sand them. It is always a good idea to test for lead base paint before sanding or scraping. A carbide scrapper will work best. Having a dust brush on hand also helps the process.

It will take time to scrape them because of the detailed nature of the wood shutter. Same for the sanding. If the shutters need repair or reinforcement, now is the time to do so. Do they need to be glued or re-nailed?

Priming is the next step. I like to use Peel Stop on shutters. I usually do a couple coats.

Painting shutters is much easier to do with a sprayer but you can do it by brush. If brushing stick to light coats and watch for drips and runs.  It is time consuming using a brush but you can pay attention to the detail and work the paint into all the seams and difficult to reach areas. Be sure to paint all sides! Shutters look nice with a satin or semi gloss finish on them.

Interesting Paint Products IV

Round four of the interesting and different for your next painting project.


Glass Mask

There are several different companies that make liquid masking material. Most of them work well. The biggest drawback is often the cost. If you will be painting a lot of divided pane windows or doors, it can be worth the cost. In my experience, I would not buy in to the priming claims (on bare wood) some of the products make.


liquid mask










Lead Check

A must have for your painting tool kit. Easy to use and very accurate. Simply crush the glass ampule and shake. Then rub the moistened tip on the surfaces to be tested. Red indicates lead! This is also something nice to have around to spot check your children’s toys. Remember the batch of lead painted toys from China a few years ago?


painting project must have. lead check










Gorilla Hooks

These go by many different names but they all appear to be basically the same thing. They work great! We spend lots of time removing nails, etc. from walls and these are easy to install and remove, They are very strong and simple in design. Worth a look for your next painting project.