This section is from the book "Your Home And Its Decoration", by The Sherwin-Williams Company. See also: Nell Hill's Feather Your Nest: It's All in the Details.
NO matter whether the home is situated in some closely congested section of a large city or on some lonely spot in the country or on the sea shore, great care should be exercised in selecting the painting materials to be used in beautifying and protecting it. The exterior of a home is conspicuous at all times to strangers and passers-by, and for this reason as well as many others it should be painted with a view toward color harmony, good taste, and protection. The latter, although often apparently lost sight of, is really the most important of all, for the reason that wooden surfaces require protection from the rain, wind, and rough weather. Paint has excellent protective qualities, provided that it is properly mixed and contains none but the very best paint materials. For the benefit of those who are interested in learning to discriminate between good paint and bad paint, good surfaces for painting, and bad surfaces for painting, we give here some information which has been acquired only after many years of actual contact with painting problems and conditions.
Much has been said and written of late with regard to the conditions under which paints do or do not produce satisfactory results. But, notwithstanding this, there still seems to be manifest a great deal of disregard for every rule which should govern the application of paint to any surface. It is for this reason, and for the purpose of throwing a little light on this subject, that we call attention here to a few fundamental principles and to a few specific directions for the treatment of some particular character of surfaces. If satisfactory results are to be obtained from outside painting, no matter what the material used, these principles should be considered in the application.
It is a well-known fact that conditions surrounding painting are yearly becoming more difficult to meet, for several reasons. First, the character of lumber now being used for many so-called first-class structures is in reality the forest culls left standing on the stump or unmilled when the prime timber was taken off only a few years ago. A great deal of such timber is sappy, full of wind shakes, knots, and is frequently soft and "punky" through long waterlogging or partial decay. Again, on account of the scarcity and high price of good lumber suitable for proper painting, many varieties of woods are being used for exterior siding which only a few years ago were regarded as wholly unfit for such use. Among these varieties we might name the yellow and other hard pines, spruce, cypress, cedar, basswood (linn), gum, redwood, and other similar woods, which are either full of rosin and pitch, or are very soft and spongy by nature. In addition to the above reasons, we might also mention the prevailing scarcity of properly seasoned lumber.
Much of the lumber that is employed is either so full of sap or moisture that it is bound to make any paint peel as soon as the moisture is acted on by the sun. Again, other lumber has been so excessively kiln-dried that it is as absorbent as a sponge, and unless paint applied to it has been well thinned with pure linseed oil, with the addition in some cases of pure spirits turpentine to assist in penetration, and thoroughly brushed out, in thin even coats (not flowed on with a wide brush in thick heavy coats, as it is so frequently done), the soft, extra-dry surface soon soaks up the liquids entirely and leaves the film of the pigment with an insufficient amount of oil to enable it to bind to the surface, and here, again, peeling is very likely to ensue.
Very frequently no thought is given the proper thinning of paint to be used on yellow pine or similar woods "fat" with rosin, and paints are "regularly" applied to such surfaces with the result that the action of the sun on the outside of the paint film soon draws the pitch out of the lumber, and the full oil coat of paint, lacking penetration, can do nothing else but lose its adhesiveness and peel off - a result which might have been avoided by the intelligent use of pure spirits of turpentine in connection with pure raw linseed oil for thinning the first and second coats.
Another serious menace to good results in painting comes from the unintelligent application of any paint, whereby, on old work, one coat is required to do the work that should properly be done by two, or, in the case of new work, two coats are made to do the work of three. To accomplish this, the paint is flowed on with a wide wall brush in heavy coats instead of being properly thinned and then well brushed out in thin even coats with a smaller oval brush, thus allowing the paint to not only fill the absorbent surface but also to retain a sufficient amount of oil in the pigment film to bind thoroughly and withstand the destructive action of the elements. We desire, therefore, to emphasize what is a well-accepted truth, viz: The paint should be thinned properly and then brushed out thoroughly. Better, by far, to have paint thinned with pure linseed oil and spirits turpentine and brushed out too thin to cover well than to flow on thick coats of heavy paint, which temporarily look better, but very soon are likely to induce cracking, peeling, etc., and forever after prevent the surface from being properly repainted unless all of the heavy undercoating is burned off or otherwise removed.
Let it be remembered, then -
First, That to insure good results on new or very old, spongy surfaces, there must be sufficient pure raw linseed oil used in the first and second coats of any paint to properly fill the wood and arrest the absorption of the oil and binder from the paint film, and still leave enough oil to bind the pigment thoroughly, and that where any new surfaces are hard and resinous, a liberal percentage of pure spirits turpentine must be added in first and second coats to insure adequate penetration and assist the drying to a proper "face" or surface for recoating.