While you won’t find any classical stone structures in Calgary, there are plenty of older homes throughout the city that are full of history and character. From Rideau and Mission near the city centre, to the original houses that still stand in Inglewood, some of these homes are a testament to the spirit of the people who settled here near the turn of the century.
Building standards have come a long way since then, though, and if you want to learn how to paint older homes in Calgary, you may encounter some unique issues that require special attention. Here we’ll go over some tips for making a historic building last for another hundred years.
Planning And Preparation
Since construction laws were not nearly as restrictive when Calgary was in its early stages, there are definitely some differences in workmanship on older houses. You’ll likely run into problems like wide gaps around trim, rotting wood, broken plaster, or improper drainage – all of which should be addressed before you actually paint.
Fill any small gaps with caulking, and if the space is particularly wide, use a foam backing rod (sold at any paint or hardware store) to support the strip of caulking. If you find any rotting wood on trim, railings, stairs, or other areas, we recommend replacing the boards with new ones to prevent a complete structural failure – especially on load-bearing areas like pillars or staircases. Replacing the board before it breaks is much cheaper than waiting until an accident happens!
Plaster was a much more common building material back in the day, and many old houses still have plaster layers on walls and ceilings. However, due to its nature, plaster can crack and eventually break, leaving holes behind that pose major problems for an unlucky homeowner. For small cracks in the surface, you can fill them with putty and sand them smooth once it’s dry. However, for large holes in both plaster and drywall – those up to a few inches in width – you should pick up a mesh grid kit from your neighborhood hardware or paint store, cover the hole with it, and use that as a foundation for the patch. Fan out the edges far beyond where the hole ends, and use at least three coats of putty to ensure a solid base. When it’s dry, gently sand the entire area, using your fingertips to feel for smoothness – if done correctly, you shouldn’t be able to feel a thing!
If you’re working on an old house with moisture leakage, take the proper precautions against factors like mold or structural damage (which may involve some professional opinions). Always be careful and cautious, keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, and fix any underlying issues with slopes, pipes, or flooding before you put the new paint on. Your property value will thank you!
Using the Right Equipment
The architecture of older houses varies wildly, and there could be all sorts of dangerous sections around the building itself. From slippery grass slopes, to weak or rotting trusses, to steep roofs or exposed wiring – be careful, and use the correct equipment!
You may need some new ladders, or a long pole to reach upper sections of the siding. This can be especially tricky when you need to get right up close to prep the surface properly. When learning how to paint older homes, remember not to work alone when you’re on a ladder, and to keep three-point contact (two feet, one hand) on the rungs. If you encounter a problem that you don’t have the equipment to deal with, don’t try to be MacGuyver – no paint job is worth an injury, or worse.
If you’re spraying, take the time to mask off the windows, doors, fixtures, floors, and other unpainted areas. (Spraying is a big timesaver – but only if you prep properly!) If you’re brushing and rolling, plan out your sections beforehand so you don’t have to stop in the middle of a wall and risk an unsightly line of overlapping coats (flashing). Every good painter knows that being prepared is half the battle.
When finished, store any extra paint in its can in a cool, dark place – labelled with the date, area it was used, and address. Be on the lookout for drips, chips, and errant tools when you do your final clean-up. The use of drop sheets and plastic will greatly reduce clean-up time, and it’s a very good habit to have early on!
Highlighting Your Older Home’s Character
Your house is different from every other one around it – why not show off that fact a bit? Use complementary, bright, or trendy colours in tandem to highlight the unique features of your older home. Railings, handrails, stairsets, trim, fence posts, and buttresses are some of the many architectural pieces that really pop when offset from the main colour. Let your home’s personality fly free!
Painting your home can be a great DIY project, but even Michelangelo had helpers! If you have just read our whole “How To Paint Older Homes” blog carefully and you feel like the job is beyond your ability, let us know and we’d be happy to put our highly trained crews to work, getting your historic Calgary house upgraded to a fresh new look. And with our free estimates and paint colour consultations, you can make sure it’s ready for the styles of 2017 and beyond. Call us at 403-774-1424 or email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more today!