If you're sick of those sections of your house where the paint is peeling, or if you just can't stand the color anymore, now's the time to paint.
Professional painters and paint retailers agree that the best time to paint your home is in the early fall or spring because of the longer daylight hours and the moderate temperatures.
"The spring and early fall are when sales go through the roof," said Mike Bailey, general manager of Courtland Hardware, Inc. in Bel Air.
Karen Milio, president of L&M Painting in Abingdon, agreed, but noted that Harford County residents should not start painting theirhomes when the temperature gets below 50 degrees.
"After Novemberit gets too cold," she said.
When the temperature gets too cold or too hot and humid, it is difficult to stay outside for long periodsof time, Milio said.
Debbie Heil, technical services representative for Courtland Hardware, said residents should paint when the humidity is low, otherwise the paint will not dry quickly enough.
"The higher the humidity," she said, "the slower the evaporation of the moisture from the paint."
Heil cautioned, however, that many inexperienced people who attempt to paint their own homes are dissatisfied with the finished job.
"The biggest problem we have is that they didn't prepare before they put on a coat of paint," Heil said.
If the house has been painted before, but the paint is chipping or peeling, the owner needs first to remove the old paint before applying new paint, Heil said.
Unfortunately, Heil said, "most people are not going to scrape it (the old paint) off. They will just start painting on top of the old chipping and peeling paint, and the new paint will just peel off with the old stuff because it cannot penetrate down to the wood. Scraping off old paint is very laborious and time consuming.It's strictly elbow grease."
And even if the existing paint on the house is in good condition, painters still need to wash the surfacethoroughly and remove the mildew before applying new paint, Heil said.
Mildew, she said, can be removed with bleach and water.
Also, Heil said painters need to determine what kind of paint is already on the house so that they can match it with the same kind of paint and get better results.
There are oil-based paints, latex and acrylic paints, stains, and solvent and water paints.
Several years ago,most homes were made of stucco, wood or cement -- surfaces that can be painted easily, Heil said.
Then along came aluminum siding and vinyl siding -- substances, Heil said, that are not designed to be painted.
However, she said many homeowners with aluminum siding or vinyl siding want to paint their homes.
"You can paint them, and sometimes you're successful at it, and sometimes you're not," said Heil. "The biggest thing we want people to know is that they are not designed to be painted."
She said vinyl siding can be painted with acrylic paint, provided the homeowner first washes the house with warm water and soap and then rinses it thoroughly.
Heil cautioned that the owner must never paint the house with a color darker than the vinyl because the darker color will retain more heat and make the siding buckle.
"The paint job doesn't last as long because it's not a substrate that is meant to be painted," Heil said.
Aluminum siding isa little bit harder to paint, Heil said, because it's a baked-on enamel.
"It will chalk," she said. "It's very hard to get paint to stick to that. It's like painting on dirt."
When painting on aluminum, the paint will dry more quickly, but it is also more sensitive to moisture and will "blister," Heil said.
Bailey said paint cans canbe purchased for $8 to $16 a gallon. A gallon usually paints 400 square feet.
He said most people are buying latex paint with an enamel finish, as opposed to an oil-based paint, because it is easier to clean up.