Paint can be an inexpensive solution


September 19, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie and Randy Johnson

The votes are in: The No. 1 problem for homeowners is paint.

This is not a surprise, really. Among the items homeowners deal with directly and often, paint is about the most complicated, and it may have the most potential for problems down the line.

But paint can also solve problems, and often it's the least expensive solution.

A reader in White Marsh hopes paint can help her banish the last green appliances from her kitchen. "We moved into an older house some years ago and all the appliances were green," she writes. "Through the years we have replaced them all except the wall ovens. . . . Is there any paint I can use to paint them a gloss white to match?"

The answer is yes, epoxy appliance paint will cover the green. It's not a perfect solution, however; the surface will never be as durable as the original factory finish.

We understand the desire to cover up the green. We have some first-hand experience in this. In Karol's current house, the stove, range hood and dishwasher were an ugly avocado green.

The paint comes in two forms: a spray can, which is easy to use, if hard on the environment. (Check the label to see if it contains fluorocarbons.) We used this on the dishwasher and range hood, because the hood was easily taken down and the front panels of the dishwasher were easily removed. We took the pieces outside to work on them.

The stove, however, wasn't going anywhere, so Karol painted it with a brush, using a two-part epoxy paint.

The results have been mixed. The dishwasher and range hood still look great after two years, but the paint on the stove has turned brown around the burners, and has a couple of scrapes -- from pans and utensils -- that show the green. It's still better than having a green stove, however.

As with all painting projects, careful preparation is the key to a good result. The appliances should be cleaned, sanded lightly (rust spots removed) and any bare spots covered with primer. The spray paint should be applied lightly and recoated according to directions on the can. The paint in the can, once mixed, has tobe used or thrown out. It's not easy to apply, having a consistency somewhat like glue. But it may work just fine -- until you can afford to replace the wall ovens.

This letter illustrates perfectly the problem of buying appliances or fixtures in "trendy" colors such as pink, avocado, almond, brown, turquoise or rose: They will always date the room.

The only color that will outlive trend after trend is white. Some appliances come with interchangeable front panels (dishwashers that flip from white to black, for instance) that will give you and future owners of the house a choice. If you're redoing a kitchen and buying new appliances, try to stay off the trendy bandwagon. It will save headaches later.

The same reader had another question about a recurrent problem of mold around a recessed front door that has an awning and never gets sun. She's tried bleach, but the mold returns.

There are chemicals that might be more effective in removing mold, but they're not anything for a homeowner to fool around with. A professional brick-cleaning service could clean the area around the door and repoint the brick.

But the only sure way to keep the mold from coming back is to figure out why the bricks are getting damp and not drying out. Air should be encouraged to circulate around the door. That may mean trimming bushes that encroach on the doorway, trimming trees if they overhang the area -- or removing the awning.

Next: Answers to questions about decks and skylights.

Mr. Johnson is construction manager for Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore. Ms. Menzie is a home writer for The Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, write to us c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

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