Painting Exteriors and Equipment
Sure, a little paint can make a fence, outbuilding, or tractor look shiny and new, but more importantly, it can protect your property and equipment, saving you money, time, and aggravation over the years.
A layer of paint is what protects your buildings from the summer sun's hot rays, from winter's cold and ice, and from water that can cause mildew and moisture, so it shouldn't be taken lightly. It's important to use the right combination of prep, primers, and paints to achieve the best protection for your home, barn, and sheds.
Farm equipment is a huge investment, so it's crucial to keep rust from eating through it. Rust forms when metal mixes with water and oxygen, deteriorating the metal. But you can prevent rust by regularly painting your equipment and tools to keep the metal from being exposed. By investing in a little paint, you'll keep your equipment and tools in good repair for very little cost.
Use this guide to help you choose the right paint and preparation.
Defining your Painting Project
The first step in painting is to define the nature and scope of your project.
- What are you painting? A barn? A fence? A tractor? The answer determines the kind of paint, how much, and the best way to apply it.
- What surfaces are you painting? Be specific, so you don't overlook other items you will need. A wooden barn, for example, may also have a concrete block foundation, or a metal roof or hinges.
- How do you want to paint? Is your priority a long-lasting paint job? Or do you want to get the job done as quickly as possible? What gloss or finish do you want? How much time do you want to invest?
- How are you going to clean up? Cleaning up spatters and spills and maintaining your equipment is an important part of your project.
Choosing the Right Paint
Paint is a mixture of dry coloring matter - called pigment - and a solvent, which usually is either oil or water.
- Oil paints are only one kind of oil-based paint. They create a tough skin bonded to the applied surface.
- Enamel paint, which is oil-based, produces a hard, glossy, moisture-proof finish. Enamel hardener can be added to enamel paint to further increase hardness, gloss, and durability, and reduce drying time by 45 percent.
- Aluminum paint, which is oil-based, creates a reflective, weather-resistant coating using aluminum flakes.
- Latex paints, which are water-based, dry quickly and can be applied directly to previously painted surfaces. Other surfaces, such as new wood, require primer.
Choosing a Primer
Primers are used to provide an even finish.
They also prevent stains or rust by sealing porous surface materials and improving the coating adhesion of paint to most surfaces.
Using a primer also allows you to easily apply lighter-colored paint to a dark room because it masks the dark surface.
The primer you need depends on the paint you'll be using. The paint you select will usually recommend a type of primer on the label.
Preparing the Surface
To get the best results from your paint job, the surface must be as clean and smooth as possible:
- Remove any rust or loose paint from metal surfaces by scraping or sanding. You may need to use an abrasive blaster if the surface is in very poor condition.
- Remove loose paint and dirt from wood surfaces by scraping, brushing, or sanding.
- Remove oil and grease with rags soaked in paint thinner for metal or with a detergent solution for wood. Allow the surface to dry thoroughly before applying primer or paint.
- To prevent moisture, caulk and seal wooden holes and joints.
- For barns, remove residues by power washing or by using a stiff brush with a mild detergent and water solution.
- Sand glossy or protected areas - such as under eaves - to assure proper adhesion.
- Remove mildew with a bleach solution.
Prepare the Paint
Check that the paint is well mixed. If the paint is too thick, you may need to consult the paint label for thinning instructions.
If there are flakes, lumps, or other impurities in the paint, use an extra bucket and strainer bags to strain the paint.
If you have plenty of leftover paint to use for other projects, make sure you store it in a way that will preserve it.
- Store paint in a dry location away from heat or open flame.
- Do not allow paint to freeze.
- To avoid rust, do not store paint cans on cement floors.
- Replace the lid firmly.
Oil-based paint and solvents - including mineral spirits - are considered hazardous waste. Check your local regulations to find out how to properly dispose of them. DO NOT throw liquid paint in the trash, take it to a landfill, pour it down a sink, or pour it on the ground. Doing so allows the hazardous chemicals to get into groundwater.
Water-based paints are considered hazardous in only a handful of states. If your state considers it hazardous, then dispose of it as you would oil-based paint. Otherwise, allow it to dry completely in a well-ventilated area away from pets and children. Adding cat litter to it will speed the drying process. You can then throw the solid paint in the trash.