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Exterior Painting

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do.

As a New England resident, you know what a beating your home's exterior can take. Luckily, so do we. We've been painting and staining houses in both the North and South Shore area for years, and we've lived here even longer. We're all too familiar with the weather your home will need to withstand to keep looking good year after year, and that's what we deliver.

From a fresh coat of paint on a Cape home to a historical restoration of a multi-colored and intricately detailed Victorian house, we've seen (and painted!) it all. Refreshing your existing exterior paint job? We'll help you select the right paint for the elements. Ready to try something new? We'll look at your home's construction, your neighbors and the natural environment to build a color palette that will look great for many years.

Presto Painting's Exterior Painting Guarantee

Our promise to you
We guarantee our work from start to finish, no matter what. Whether it is your home or office, we're not finished until you're satisfied. Preparation is key to an exterior paint job that lasts. We never cut corners during this important phase of residential or commercial exterior painting.  All surfaces are prepared and finished in a manner that meets professional standards, every time.

We will:

  • scrape and sand using Orbital sanders.
  • spackle any loose and chipping paint.
  • powerwash all surfaces with bleach to remove mildew and dirt.
  • hand-clean and scrape stubborn areas with brushes.
  • prime all surfaces with oil based or latex primers.
  • re-nail all loose wood, clapboards and shingles. 
  • replace any rotted or defective materials such as siding, fascia boards, etc.
  • apply finish paint or stain by brush; roller or spray may be used at customers request.
  • use only the highest quality paints, such as Benjamin Moore, California or Sherwin Williams.
  • remove exterior attachments such as lights, shutters, canopies etc. prior to work and replace them when painting is complete.
  • cover exterior surfaces and nearby foliage with drop cloths to prevent damage.
  • securely store all paint materials, ladders, drop cloths and equipment at the end of each work day.
  • inspect and sweep clean the work area every day.

Visit our gallery to see before and after photos of exterior paint jobs in the New England area.

Common Exterior Problems

There are common problems you may be experiencing with exterior painting project.
To learn more about these common problems, click any of the links below.



Brownish or tan discoloration on the paint surface due to migration of tannins from the substrate through the paint film. Typically occurs on "staining woods," such as redwood, cedar and mahogany, or over painted knots in certain other wood species. However, tannin staining can occur with any kind of wood.

Possible Causes

  • All woods, but especially red-colored woods, contain a water soluble dye called tannin. Tannin is not soluble in most solvents. Application of latex topcoats directly to these red-colored woods may develop a red-colored stain on the finish coat. If the dry film is intact and discoloration occurs at a later date, then staining is being caused by water moisture within the board wall. This moisture will migrate and eventually carry staining substances from within the wood to the surface of the paint film.
  • Some cedar woods contain colored dyes such as tannin which is water soluble, and other colored extracts which are soluble in mineral spirits. In these instances, a primer that has discolored should be spot tested with a second coat of primer or a latex topcoat to determine which will successfully block future discoloration.


If dry film is intact and discoloration is occurring at a later date, then internal moisture is the culprit. The moisture source must be located and corrected. Remove stains by washing with a solution of equal parts alcohol and water. 
Allow to dry thoroughly.

New red-colored woods must be sealed with an oil primer that will function as a barrier coat, preventing staining of the topcoat.

Note: Even with proper preparation and recommended products, tannin bleed can still occur (especially on new woods) with both latex and oil topcoats.


Cracking Over Caulk


The cracking of the paint film over a caulked area.

Possible Causes

  • When paint is applied over a partially dried bead of caulk, the paint dries first, forming a film. As the caulk continues to dry, it separates from the underside of the paint film. Ultimately, the paint film cracks.
  • Conditions that affect the drying time for caulks are air, surface or caulk temperatures below 40 degrees F. high humidity, and joints in excess of 1/2" in width or depth.


Surfaces to be sealed should be sound, dry, and free of oils, dust, mortar spatter, release agents, old caulk, bitumen, old paint or other contaminants. Remove flaky, loose and powdery material from the joint.

Prime first, then apply caulk only when temperature of surrounding air, surfaces to be caulked and caulk are all about 40 degrees F. Do not apply when rain or freezing temperatures are expected.

Joints more that 1/2" should be filled within 1/2" of the surface with polyurethane rod or closed cell urethane foam. Fill the remaining joint with caulk, and tool within five minutes of application.

Cracking Stained, Rough Sawn


Thin, long relatively straight cracks running in a singular direction on a previously stained, wood surface.

Possible Causes

The most common surface to show this failure is rough sawn plywood, and shingles, that have been stained with a semi-transparent or solid color alkyd stain. The main reason for "Cracking," is moisture content. With stain, the coating usually does not peel or flake. Instead, the wood is open for moisture intrusion from outside weather conditions, leading to delamination and deterioration of the wood.

The wood is highly textured, allowing water to remain on the total surface for extended time periods. These woods are designed for staining and since cracking is inevitable, the life of the coating is shortened. Pigmented stains penetrate the porous wood surface , allowing very little of the stain to remain on the surface. Subsequently, as the wood cracks, the applied stain also cracks.


Using detergent and water, scrub siding to remove old oxidized stain film, dirt and other contaminants. Flush under low pressure with clean water and allow to dry thoroughly. Fill large holes found in plywood grooves with colored caulk to prevent further water intrusion.



Black, gray or brown spots or areas on the surface of paint.

Possible Causes

  • Forms most often on areas that tend to be damp, or receive little or no direct sunlight (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms).
  • Use of an oil-based paint in areas with no ventilation.
  • Failure to prime a bare wood surface before applying the paint.
  • Painting over a substrate or coating on which mildew has not been removed.


Test for mildew by applying a few drops of household bleach to the area; if it is bleached away, the discolor is probably mildew. Remove all mildew from the surface by scrubbing with a diluted household bleach solution (one part bleach, three parts water), while wearing rubber gloves and eye protection. After allowing the mixture to sit on surface for 10 minutes, rinse thoroughly. To protect against mildew, use a top quality latex paint, and clean when necessary. Install an exhaust fan in high moisture areas. Use a product that contains mildewcide.

Mill Glaze


Peeling from Mill-Glazed Western Red Cedar or Redwood Siding

Possible Causes

Mill-glaze occurs on smooth, flat-grained Western Red Cedar and occasionally on redwood. Controversy exists over the exact cause of this condition, but the general belief is that it occurs as a result of planing and/or drying the lumber. During the milling, or planing process, overheating of the flat-grained, smooth siding may bring water soluble resins to the surface creating a hard, varnish-like glaze. Mill-glaze problems occur when siding has been installed smooth side out.


If the surface is unpainted, the best system is one that uses three coats consisting of one coat of primer and two coats of latex finish. The most important feature of this system is the primer; it must be one that seals in tannic acid and prevents extractive bleeding. If after one coat of primer dries, a brownish stain forms on the surface, an additional coat of primer must be applied to seal in the stains in the affected areas. Allow the primer to dry. If no additional stains are present, apply two coats of a high quality latex finish.

For repainting over mill-glaze problem areas, remove the coatings, either by pressure washing or by handscraping. Apply primer as indicated above and finish with two coats of latex finish.

Newly installed siding should be finished as quickly as possible. Ultraviolet rays from the sun tend to degrade the integrity of the wood's surface. A 50 percent loss in adhesion occurs on Western Red Cedar weathered for 16 weeks prior to finishing.

Abrading the mill-glaze surface by sanding, prior to priming, would ease surface tension and provide a better surface for the initial prime coat to adhere.



Lack of adhesion of a topcoat causing peeling down to a hard, slick surface.

Possible Causes

Hard, slick surfaces are prone to peeling because adhesion is difficult to achieve. The surface offers no peaks or valleys forthe coating to "bite" into.


Prior to painting, wash all surfaces using a mild detergent and sponge to remove any grease, oil, wax or other surface contaminants. All glossy surfaces should be dulled by sanding or wiping down with a deglosser. If the old surface is still hard and slick, an appropriate bonding undercoat like PrepRite AnchorBond should be applied to provide a perfect base for the final coat of latex. For heavy duty needs, a quality alkyd enamel is preferable to a latex topcoat. It is still important to allow enough time for curing even with the best preparation and application.

Peeling Due to Moisture


Loss of adhesion of the paint film almost always down to the bare wood or stucco surface resulting in large paint chips/flakes.

Possible Causes

Peeling results when the wet substrate swells under paint, causing the paint film to loosen, crack and fall off. Among the variety of ways for water to reach painted wood are:

  • Uncaulked joints allowing moisture to seep into adjoining surfaces.
  • Worn-out caulking.
  • Ice-filled or trash-choked gutters, causing moisture buildup under the shingles.
  • Moisture-laden air trapped inside buildings which rises to the surface of exterior walls when heated (especially near bathrooms and kitchens).
  • Damp basements.
  • Painting surfaces which are too close to bare ground.
  • Vegetation giving off moisture too close to the wood.
  • Leaking roofs.
  • Painting over a surface damp with rain or dew.
  • Power washing is basically injecting water into the surface. It is particularly harsh on bare wood. One of the most common reasons for moisture in wood after power washing is allowing insufficient drying time. Let wood dry for 3-5 days.

Two common places where moisture enters into a house are through the foundation and through leaks in the roof. Sources of moisture may also be inside the home. As new homes are built more tightly, the higher inside humidity concentrates in areas where it can still escape outside. Check for proper sealing and caulking of woodwork on the inside of the house.


The first step is to eliminate the source of moisture. Carefully inspect the outside of the building, paying special attention to window and trim areas and other joints. Remove loose or cracked caulking and repair with a quality product. You may need to install vents to relieve moisture, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry area. Attic louvers, exhaust fans and dehumidifiers are also helpful and should be used regularly year-round. A good rule is to provide one square inch of attic louver per each square foot of attic floor in your house.

If moisture is rising from the ground through the masonry, you should waterproof the foundation with a specially designed coating. If wood is touching the ground, remove that portion of the wood. Siding should come down no further than 6 inches above the ground.

Check the roof for signs of leakage and clean out gutters and downspouts. If you suspect vegetation is a cause of peeling, cut it away from the wood.

Remove all loose paint with a scraper or wire brush, down to the bare substrate if necessary. Sand rough surfaces. Seal all bare surfaces with primer and allow it to dry one or two days before applying the topcoat.

Peeling from moisture on wood siding can be minimized by inserting small plastic or aluminum wedges or shims for ventilation under each board where it is nailed. Insert between the nail heads.

Prime any areas that have been peeled to the bare surface.

Use two coats of latex topcoats.



Failure of the paint to resist absorption of dirt and stains.

Possible Causes

Use of a lower sheen (such as flat) where a higher sheen would be more appropriate.

Use of a paint that is porous in nature.

Application of paint to unprimed substrate.


Use a paint designed to offer a high stain resistance/washability. Also, higher sheens tend to resist stains better than lower, more flat sheens. Priming new surfaces provides better durability and film build of a premium topcoat, providing very good stain removal.



Concentration of water-soluble paint ingredients called "surfactants" on the surface of a latex paint, typically on a ceiling surface in rooms that have high humidity (e.g., shower, bathroom, kitchen). May be evident as tan or brown spots or areas, and can sometimes be glossy, soapy 
or sticky.

Possible Causes

Latex paints contain "surfactants" designed to make applying them possible. All latex paint formulas will exhibit this tendency to some extent if applied in areas that become humid (bathrooms, for example), especially in ceiling areas without good ventilation.


Wash the affected area with soap and water, and rinse. The discoloration may occur once or twice again before the surfactant is completely removed. When paint is applied in a bathroom, it should dry thoroughly before using the shower. Remove all staining before repainting.



A rough, crinkled paint surface, which occurs when uncured paint forms a "skin".

Possible Causes

  • Paint applied too thickly (more likely when using oil-based paints).
  • Painting under extremely hot conditions or cool damp conditions, which causes the paint film to dry faster on top than on the bottom.
  • Exposing uncured paint to high humidity levels.
  • Applying topcoat of paint to insufficiently cured primer.
  • Painting over contaminated surface (e.g., dirt or wax).


Scrape or sand to remove the wrinkled coating and make sure the surface is clean. Prime bare areas with the appropriate PrepRite primer. If using a primer, allow it to dry completely before applying topcoat. Repaint (avoiding temperature/humidity extremes), applying an even coat of top quality Sherwin-Williams interior paint.



Development of a yellow cast in aging paint; most noticeable in the dried films of white paints or clear varnishes.

Possible Causes

  • Oxidation of oil-based paint or varnish.
  • Heat from stoves, radiators and heating ducts.
  • Lack of light (e.g., behind pictures or appliances, inside closets, etc.).
  • Tobacco staining.


Sherwin-Williams quality latex paints do not tend to yellow, nor does waterborne varnish. Oil paints, because of their curing mechanism, do tend to yellow particularly in areas that are not exposed to sunlight.

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