Home Preservation

Exterior Painting
Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

Not just a visual enhancement, paint provides a protective coating against moisture, sun, and dirt. Check seasonally for areas of deterioration, including cracking, chipping, and water infiltration. It is relatively easy to touch-up paint or stain between larger paint jobs.

The selection of high quality primers, paints, and stains, as well as thorough preparation and proper application, are essential to getting the maximum life out of coatings. Follow these guidelines when maintaining and applying exterior paints and stains:

Prep, prep, prep.
The key to extending the life of any coating is thorough, proper preparation. Correctly preparing and cleaning surfaces prior to paint or stain application will visually enhance the finished job, and will save money by requiring less frequent applications.

X Thick won’t stick.
Preparation includes removing excess layers of paint. If paint build-up is too thick, the addition of several new layers of paint may cause the bottom layer to fail and peel. This can also happen when latex paint is applied over multiple layers of oil-based paint. Latex paint expands and contracts at a different rate than oil-based paint, which can cause the bottom layer to give way. Excess paint should be removed by scraping, chemical strippers, or removal with a heat gun (on the lowest setting). Under no circumstances should an open flame be used to remove paint.

X Clean and dry.
All surfaces should be clean and dry before any application of primer, paint or stain. Be sure to sand new wood siding to remove the mill glaze. Old surfaces should be hand-scrubbed using a mild detergent and rinsed thoroughly. Allow several days of dry weather for the moisture to evaporate before continuing the preparation. Damaged paint should be removed by scraping, chemical strippers, or removal with a heat gun (on the lowest setting).

X Prime time.
Primer should be applied over a clean, sound, dry surface. Bare wood and new wood should always be primed. The primer coat will enhance flaws (holes, cracks, rough spots) that can be caulked, filled, or sanded prior to painting. Consult a local paint store for recommendations on the use and application of oil-based versus latex primers.

X Bridging the gaps.
Caulk and fill all cracks and holes after priming and before painting. Don’t overlook areas where moisture can easily penetrate: around doors and windows, where architectural details meet the siding, and where porches are joined to the house.

X Leave all stones unpainted.
Stone and brick should not be painted. Paint traps moisture in stone and brick, causing deterioration and peeling paint.

X Let it breathe.
The best paint job can quickly peel off a wall by too much moisture moving through the walls from inside to outdoors. Major sources of indoor moisture include bathing, cooking, and laundry. Be sure that kitchen and bathroom moisture is vented directly outside year-round with exhaust fans and that the dryer vent is properly installed.

Color Schemes and Placement

When choosing a color scheme and placement of colors, make sure that the selections enhance the home and complement the other houses on the street. Consider the existing colors of the roof and foundation, as well as the different building materials incorporated into the design and style of the house. If the roof is slate and the foundation is sandstone or brick, select colors that complement and enrich those natural materials. If part of the house is covered in wood shingles, consider painting the shingles a different color than the other wood siding and trim on the house.

Three paint colors— for body, trim, and window sash— are often enough to bring out the architectural character of a house. A fourth color can also be selected as a secondary trim color. Try to avoid the look of a “painted lady” where every piece of ornamentation is highlighted in a different color. The result is too busy, and often inappropriate for Lakewood homes.

Several paint manufacturers offer color charts that reflect a “preservation palette,” and incorporate colors that are historically correct for late 19th and early 20th century Lakewood houses. There are also a number of books that show placement of colors for houses built in different time periods.


Lead Paint

Lead is a health hazard. Paint manufactured before 1978 contains lead. When maintaining the paint, monitor areas of peeling paint and common friction points (windows and doors) for chipping. Prepare and repaint these areas as needed. Use drop cloths to protect the ground and collect paint chips. Be sure to limit the creation of paint dust and properly dispose of paint chips and dust.

For assistance in determining proper disposal techniques, contact the Lakewood Division of Health in the Department of Human Services at 529-7690.


The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board was established to serve in an advisory capacity for the purpose of educating, informing and making recommendations to City officials, departments, boards and commissions, and the community on matters relating to historic preservation

The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board may be contacted through the City of Lakewood Department of Planning and Development (216/529-6630). Information in this publication may be reprinted. Please credit the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board, Lakewood, Ohio.

© 2005 Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

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