Q: I have a house with a lot of knotty pine paneling and cabinets that I’d like to update. What are the steps I need to take to paint them? — Jean K.

A: To get the knotty pine ready for painting will require a couple of steps. First, to remove surface grease and dirt wash the paneling with a solution of warm water and TSP (available at any home center or paint store – follow the mixing directions on the package). If the paneling has a glossy finish on it, it should next be lightly sanded to rough up the surface so that the paint will stick.

The knots are the next issue to deal with, and what you do depends on the type of look you’re going for. Untreated, the knots will bleed through a layer of paint, which may or may not be okay. If you want to do a whitewash effect, with the knots showing through somewhat, then a single layer of a wash paint or a thinned down latex is all you need to do. You might want to experiment on a scrap board or in a closet to see what the final look will be.

Many of the larger knots in knotty pine paneling have tiny cracks in them, so if you want the knots completely hidden, you will have to use a wood filler prior to painting. Apply the filler with a putty knife, let dry, then sand smooth. Next, apply a coat of good-quality, stain-blocking primer – make sure it’s a stain-blocking primer that works on knots. Let the primer dry, then apply a coat of satin or semi-gloss paint for best adhesion and washability. 

Any good paint store can fix you up with all the materials you need, including a primer that’s compatible with the finish paint. If your top coat will be a darker color, I would suggest having the paint store tint the primer for you to a color that’s close to the finish color, which will make the primer easier to cover.

Q: I’m looking for a durable paint for my concrete porch. What type -water-based vs. oil-base vs. epoxy – do you recommend? — Ravid R.

A: All three of the paints you mention will work for a concrete porch. The trade-off is going to be ease of application versus durability.

Latex (water-base) paint is the least expensive and easiest of the three to apply, but is also somewhat less durable. Because it breathes – allows moisture to pass through it – it’s a better choice for new concrete. Select a latex that is specifically formulated for concrete floor use for best results, and plan on applying two coats. 

Oil-based paints create a finish that is harder than latex, and as a result is more durable. Cost is about comparable to latex, but cleanup requires mineral spirits. Begin by applying an oil-base sealer/primer that is formulated for concrete, which will bond with the concrete, fill some of the tiny pores, and create a good base for the application of the final coat. Again, select a paint that is designed for concrete porch and floor use.

From a hardness and durability standpoint, the epoxy paint is the best choice. Epoxy paints come in two cans of different formulations that have to be blended together prior to use, and they bond extremely well to the surface being painted. They are, however, typically at least twice the cost of oil-base paint, require good ventilation, and are considerably more difficult to apply and clean up; in fact, you might consider using a throw-away brush and roller cover rather than bother with cleanup. Because epoxy is hard and shiny, it can also be slippery, so talk with your paint dealer about non-skid additives if the porch will be exposed to a lot of water.

Whichever product you select, remember that the key to a successful paint job is thorough preparation. This includes concrete that is dry, clean, and free of any loose or peeling paint. If the concrete has been sealed in the past, there may be some additional preparation steps to take as well.

All of the products you need are available at any good paint store (I would avoid the home centers for a project like this). Once you select the product, they can assist you with the proper cleaners, primers, and finish paint.

Q: We have 18-year-old laminate counters in our kitchen. They have a couple of burn marks, and we’d like to resurface them. I understand this is possible, but whom do I get to take on this type of project? — Charles T.

A: To resurface a laminate counter, the old laminate has to be cleaned and sanded to create a dirt- and grease-free surface that is slightly rough. New laminate is then glued over the old with contact cement, and then a new front edge and backsplash are installed.

Any shop that fabricates laminate countertops can typically also do resurfacing. Remember, however, that whether you are replacing your tops or resurfacing them, the sink, cooktop, range, backsplash, and other items still need to be removed first, so you might find that’s just as practical and cost-effective to purchase complete new tops. Whatever shop you contact should be able to give you an estimate on both options.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paul2887@direcway.com.


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