Byline: Barbara De Witt Staff Writer
Spring means fresh looks, and that includes for your home.
House painting has become a spring best exterior paint ritual, often started when the tax returns start arriving, but the bottom line for loading your brushes with paint is pride of ownership.
``It's true, a fresh coat of paint can add thousands of dollars to your home's value,''' says Mike Flevotomos, a real-estate agent for Coldwell Banker in Northridge.
Although spring is a popular time to sell a house, there's another reason it's the primary paint season in Southern California.
``When the weather is cool but not rainy, paint dries slower and adheres better. If you wait until July, the paint dries too fast and insects become a problem, getting stuck in the paint,'' explains Chatsworth-based house painter David Finner.
A home's exterior should be painted approximately every five years (sun- exposed woodwork more frequently), and it typically will cost about $3,000 for a single story, 1,200-square-foot tract home that's in fair to good condition.
The price, says Finner, is based on the condition of the walls and woodwork and how much preparation work and time will be needed - and also the paint, which can run as much as $25 a gallon.
Whether you decide to paint your house on your own or hire a professional, do a little homework so you'll understand the importance of paint type, preparation and how the right color can enhance your home's curb appeal.
Prepping the house
``Preparation is a big job that can account for at least one-third of the job,'' says Finner, ``so you don't want your house to get too neglected.'' He's talking about using a power spray to knock off dirt, loose stucco and old paint to get the home ready for the real scrubbing, which is usually done with a wire brush. Then there's repair work, recaulking around door trim and window sills, new putty for the windows and primer paint for any new wood trims.
Sometimes, says Glendale paint contractor Bob Pelletier, an older home may need to be completely restuccoed. Although texture coats are being talked up, Pelletier says in his experience they don't last as long as traditional stucco followed by paint. And be aware that texture coats and that new precolored acrylic siding do fade in the sun.
Picking the paint
When choosing paint, avoid the bargain bin and invest in the brand and quality you or your painter can afford.
``Water-based paints have changed a lot, and the newest and best have pigments, binders, additives and liquids that have a smooth application, better adherence to surface, mold retardants and a longer life than those older and/or cheaper paints,'' says Shaeikh Sarfraz, an exterior paint salesman at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in West Hills.
Sarfraz says good paint will cost about $18 for a gallon can of flat finish (for walls) and up to $25 for a gallon of water-based high-gloss enamel (for wood trim). To estimate how much paint you'll need, tell the salesman the size of your home and show a sample of the current color to determine how many coats you'll need to apply.
``It's not as bad as the fashion industry, but color choices do go in and out of favor,'' observes Finner, who's been giving new looks to old homes in the San Fernando Valley since 1959.
``Back in the '40s, pink houses were in ... by the '70s, it was dark gold ... then in the '80s, everybody wanted a Cape Cod blue house with white trim, but it's becoming passe. Now people are asking for a fresh look, such as peach or pale yellow with white trim or white with a dark garden-green trim on the woodwork. They look waste management services best on the older ranch-style tract homes in the Valley, but if it's a Spanish or Mediterranean style, they usually want earth tones,'' says Finner.
Pelletier also has noticed a nostalgic interest in returning older Valley homes to their original color. If the owner can find a tiny chip of the original paint, he says it can be easily re-created with the new computerized paint mixers.
Feng shui is another trend that has affected the paint industry. Both Finner and Pelletier have had a growing number of requests for red doors, which symbolize good luck and financial abundance.
Want a tiny cottage to appear bigger? Lighter colors will make a house larger as well as taller, while darker colors can make the home look smaller, unless it's a really big home on a large lot. (Dark colors will also hold heat and make the interior hotter during summer months.)
And before you even think about brushing on a bright color, check to make sure there are no regulation paint colors in your neighborhood. Particularly in planned communities such as Thousand Oaks, basic beige is the rule, not the exception, say these painters.
Ever driven down a street and suddenly been stopped by the beauty of a home? You've experienced the power of curb appeal, which Flevotomos, the real-estate agent, says accounts for as much as 80 percent of the sale of a house.
``If they like the front of the house and the yard, they'll overlook the inside,'' he explains.
This year the heart-stoppers, he says, are Mediterranean-style homes in beige or white stucco with a red tile roof and ranch styles painted in a peaches-and-cream combination or a light gray-blue.
``Even a solid white sells well because it appears fresh and clean ... but people won't even get out of the car if I pull up in front of a green house ... you know, that puke-green shade,'' says Flevotomos with a chuckle.
The color has faded, the paint on the door is peeling, and it's obvious your house needs fresh paint. But who are you going to call?
A family house-painting party is fine for a mere touch-up, but when it's been years - and years - since your stucco saw fresh paint, you might need a pro.
Never hired one? These 10 questions should help you get the best painter - and the best paint - with a minimum of stress.
1. Are you licensed and bonded as a professional painter? (Ask to see the license - make sure it is issued in that person's name.)
2. Do you have worker's compensation insurance in case of an accident while you're painting my house?
3. Do you have liability insurance so I (the homeowner) won't get sued if someone has an accident because of ladders, paint tarps and other obstacles on the property?
4. Can I have a list of references of recent jobs? (You'll want to see their houses and ask if they were happy with the job.)
5. Do you give free estimates? (They should.)
6. What type of paint do you use? Is it water-based, oil-based, texture coating?
7. What brand of paint do you use? (Here's where quality counts.)
8. Does the estimate include preparation of walls and wood trim, protection of nearby plants and cleanup?
9. How many coats of paint will my house local appliance repair need? (Light colors over dark will take more paint and more money.)
10. How long will the job take? (You want a beginning and completion date in writing.)
Colors with curb appeal
Color does affect us. And the neighbors.
To avoid costly mistakes, take a gander at these tips from Vicki Ingham's new book ``Better Homes and Gardens Color Solutions'' (Meredith; $29.95) and Jayme Barrett's ``Feng Shui Your Life'' (Sterling; $24.95).
WHITE: Always looks fresh and clean and goes with almost any house style.
RED: The choice of many feng shui fans, red is supposed to bring luck when painted on a door, but bright red also raises blood pressure and stimulates the appetite. Burgundy is calmer, while crimson can make some people feel irritable, and pink is passe.
GREEN: It symbolizes money, health and nature; can be calming but is often associated with military and hospital uniforms, which is a downer. Sage green has been popular with ranch styles but is falling out of favor, while dark green trim on a white house is still popular.
PURPLE: This regal color is supposed to call in spiritual energies and is considered an upscale color in small doses, but most real estate salespeople say it's low on the curb-appeal scale.
BLUE: Light shades are calming, relaxing and universally appealing.
YELLOW: Pastel shades trimmed with white have a happy, sunny appeal.
ORANGE: It's hot in the clothing industry but has no curb appeal.
PEACH: The freshest choice among homeowners this year, it and similar shades such as terra-cotta, salmon, coral and shrimp are considered nurturing and restful, especially when trimmed with white.
BROWN: A popular earth tone in the '70s, it's cooled off, unless it's the trim on a beige or tan Spanish style home.
GRAY: In the '80s it was everywhere, but it's looking dated. A gray-blue, such as Cape Cod blue, has great curb appeal, as does a beige-gray such as taupe with white trim.
6 photos, 2 boxes
(1 -- cover -- color) a painted house
Pick the right color and crew to brush up your property
(2 -- 3 -- color) House painter David Finner, above says it's better to do the job in cool weather, when the paint dries slower and adheres better. The Chatsworth home on the cover provides an example of Finner's work. Glendale paint contractor Bob Pelletier, who painted the house shown at right, says older homes may need to be completely restuccoed before painting.
(4 -- 6) no caption (painting tools)
David Sprague/Staff Photographer
Box: (1) Painting primer (see text)
(2) Colors with curb appeal (see text)