One of the fun things about writing this column is checking the e-mail each week. Often we receive insight – and sometimes castigation – from the pros, the folks who are out there every day painting, plumbing, wiring and framing for a living.

A recent column brought more response than usual. A reader was puzzling over several bids for painting his condo building near the ocean. He was especially wondering about elastomeric paint, which was specified in a couple of the bids.

It’s been many years since Kevin has made his living by swinging a paintbrush and admittedly, we weren’t familiar with the product.

Well, the verdict’s in. Although there’s some disagreement as to how new elastomeric paint is, the pros pretty much agree that for exterior stuccowork it’s a first-rate product.

Jim Hayes, a San Francisco painting contractor, wrote:

“I especially enjoyed your column. All of your recommendations were right on target.

“Several companies make terpolymer elastomeric paint. It is fairly new, but in certain applications it seems to be a very useful and solid product.

“This product is slightly thicker than an acrylic paint and can fill small gaps on a properly primed surface. It’s not a substitute for caulking, but on a stucco wall with a spider web of hairline cracks, an elastomeric coating can fill those cracks while avoiding any possibility of a ‘road map’ of caulking lines.

“The product is very elastic, and can accommodate the expansion and contraction of the beachfront house in your column. Some of these products can act as a top coat, others need one. I would probably use a top coat because the condo building is near the ocean.”

San Francisco general contractor Scott Barlow chided us for our “don’t know” answer, but then sang the praises of elastomeric paint.

“You should have done some research before dismissing elastomeric paint.

“Elastomeric paint has been used on commercial projects for years. It goes on much thicker than regular latex paints and has excellent adhesion and durability on masonry surfaces and stucco.

“You might get tired of the color and want to repaint before you have to. The elasticity of the paint hides many of the hairline cracks that develop on stucco. It only comes in flat sheen and is not used on wood surfaces.

“I have painted several houses with elastomeric paint and they are holding up beautifully. I will use it on my own house next time I paint.

“You are right that preparation is the key to any paint job, especially in a marine environment. Use an elastomeric or urethane caulk on joints and cover holes in the wood with Bondo. I don’t use oil-base paints anymore, and I recommend a good full gloss acrylic (two coats) on wood with an undercoat for the wood surfaces.”

Another pro, Phil Schinman, writes:

“I am a painting contractor in San Francisco and have just read your article on elastomerics. Elastomeric terpolymer paint products are not new at all. VIP products invented them over 25 years ago.

“Almost every paint manufacturer now produces some version of elastomeric terpolymer coating systems. Elastomeric paint is usually meant for cement or stucco buildings and not for wood buildings.

“Elastomeric terpolymer comes in flat and low-sheen products, textured and nontextured. Some manufacturers provide a siliconized product, while others manufacture solely for subterranean applications.

“The problem with most painters in San Francisco is that they only use generic residential elastomerics rather than looking into more commercial products that could be used on residential houses, too. Elastomeric paints are wonderful, you just have to know how to use them.”

OK, so the painters love the stuff. How about the people who live with it?

Patricia Snow of Daly City, Calif., writes:

“My house was painted a little over 10 years ago and still looks great. I live above Thornton Beach where we get plenty of fog, salt air and wind. Although (elastomeric paint) was a little more costly than a conventional paint job, the painters did a fantastic job on repairs and prep.”


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