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Fix-It Chick: Paint a wooden porch railing

June 25, 2014

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Repainting a wooden porch’s railings and ceiling is a great way to increase curb appeal and create a welcoming entry to any home.

Step 1: As with any paint project, preparation is 90 percent of the job. Without a clean, solid base to adhere to, even the best-quality paint will chip and peel away in the most unappealing fashion. For homes built before 1978, paint should be tested for lead before proceeding. Purchase a lead testing kit and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test the underlying paint for lead.

Step 2: If lead paint is not present, use a wire brush or sharp-edged paint scraper to remove any loose paint. Sand surfaces until they’re smooth, starting with coarse-grit sand paper and following with finer grit paper. Never scrape or sand any surface where lead paint is present.

Step 3: Use a sponge and scrub brush to wash the entire surface to be painted, using phosphate-free trisodium phosphate. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely.

Step 4: Prime all unpainted surfaces using a good-quality exterior primer. If lead paint is present or if sanding and scraping was not desirable, prime the entire area with a paint-bonding sealer such as Zinsser Peel Stop. These clear bonding primers are specifically designed to encapsulate and seal peeling paint, leaving a stabilized surface for paint to adhere to.

Step 5: When it comes to paint itself, bargain-priced paint is not a bargain at all. These thinned-down paints lack the necessary ingredients to effectively cover and adhere to most surfaces. Given the amount of effort that goes into painting, purchasing a higher-quality product to start with is the right choice. Good paint will cover better and last longer than its cheaper competitors, saving you time, energy and future expense.

Step 6: Once the primer has dried, start by painting the ceiling of the porch. Use drop clothes and plastic sheeting to protect the floor and railing. Use a thick-bristled brush to apply paint to the edges and grooves of the ceiling. Use a roller to paint larger surface areas.

Step 7: Continue the project using a brush and small roller to paint the railings of the porch. For hard-to-reach areas, consider using a paint mitt worn over a rubber glove. Paint mitts are a bit messy and awkward, but are often indispensable for applying paint between tightly spaced balusters.

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