No, don’t do that, the value of the house will drop by 100%! Or better, by 150%, at least!’
We didn’t see our neighbor that fiercely. Usually, he listens to our renovation plans approvingly. But when he heard that we wanted to paint the house white again, he couldn’t keep his opinion to himself. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘it’s your house, so it is up to you, you don’t need my approval’. But if it was his decision, we left the granite walls of the house unpainted.
We were really convinced that the house was originally whitewashed. You could still see faint contours at some window and door openings. And because we want to restore the house to its former glory, we had whitewashing in our heads.
But whether that was the case, our neighbor doubted.
The day after we talked about our whitewash plans, he got back to it. He had been checking with some, and indeed the house was painted white in the past, by order of the 4th heir to the first owner. A city-boy who had to keep up with the latest fashion.
Triumphantly the neighbor then concluded that the house was originally unpainted. Just plain, bare facades built from granite blocks of stone, the most beautiful there is. (according to him, who once worked as a stonemason)
Painting frames, windows and doors
His argument had convinced us. We leave the facade unpainted. That saves us a lot of painting.
This decision has two more consequences: The re-pointing and repair of the facade must be done very neatly. (But luckily Nuno likes this job very much) And we had a future image in our heads of a white facade with green doors and windows. Was that still possible?
We are not exactly taking decisions lightly on details of this renovation. First we chat about it, then we both think about it again, then one of us sees something that gives us another idea, and then we repeat this a few more times plus a ridiculous amount of research on the internet.
This also applies to the color for the doors and windows. In order not to make the story too long, we stuck to our choice of stain in the color green. But then comes the question: which stain? And where can we buy it?
Now there are really many types of stain to paint exterior doors and windows with.
We wanted solid color stain and we didn’t want a standard green, but a custom mixed green. That already limited the choice to alkyd, acryl, or natural oil-based stains.
Alkyd paint, based on turpentine, is worse for the environment than water or oil-based paint. Over the years I have become used to water-based varnishes, acrylic paints, and have seen that it lasts a long time, even outside. Paint based on linseed oil, for example, is advertised as environmentally friendly and I have good experience with that paint too. Downsides of it are the price, many times higher, and the eco-friendly well-known brands are difficult to obtain in Portugal.
That is why we have even experimented with making linseed oil paint ourselves. But it took, even during high summer, 3 weeks to dry. After that experiment, we didn’t try any other paint recipes.
Later I read a study about the ingredients of self-proclaimed eco paint (there is not always a certificate). Many manufacturers appear to have no information about the exact origin of the oil they use as a base. Now the extraction of linseed oil or other vegetable oils can be very polluting for the environment. So you could pay an eco-price for something that turns out not to be that eco-friendly at all …
The ultimate deciding factor was that the oils in the paint can be a good breeding ground for fungi and algae. Now, Northern Portugal is quite humid, so mold, moss, algae grow everywhere you don’t want it. For example, we used OSMO-paint on our kitchen block and a mold quickly developed on the place where the towel hangs.
That is how we ended up choosing acrylic paint. The local paint shop, which even has a mixing machine, recently turned out to have switched from the CIN brand to a new brand: Neuce.
CIN is the Portuguese paint brand and is very well known and very expensive. That is why our local paint shop switched to a different brand and we followed them. (Very convenient if you can get another jar of paint in the area instead of having to drive for an hour.)
As an experiment, after our debacle with the first round of painting and the bleeding chestnut wood, I painted the front door with alkyd paint of the same brand and color. This way we can compare alkyd and acrylic paints.
As it happens to be acrylic paint has some disadvantages: it is more sensitive to damage from bumps or scratches. And this paint from Neuce has something, which painters call ‘blocking’. If two painted parts touch each other, the paint will soften a little and start to stick together. I read a tip, that you can reduce this by wiping it over with a cloth with vinegar water, directly after painting when the surface is dry. And that indeed seemed to help (slightly).
So soon enough we are going to see which paper truths are correct or not. Is alkyd paint more durable than acrylic paint in Portuguese extreme weather (lots of rain in winter, scorching sun in summer)? Or does the flexibility and vapor permeability of acrylic paint turn out to be better? Time will tell.
In addition to having to choose which type of paint to use, we also had to choose the final color. We had about 4 jars mixed before we agreed. On Facebook I noticed in the DIYers Portugal group, that the color evokes different reactions. The color is difficult to capture in the picture and also changes with weather and time. Perhaps, when a re-paint is needed, we’ll choose a somewhat darker, lighter or more gray variant. We will see when the wall has been neatly pointed, cleaned and the new bright orange roof tiles are above it.
While I was painting the frames, the outside green and the inside white, suddenly something came to my mind. And yes, after I had checked my stream of thoughts, it turned out to be the case: Our chosen color green, differs only a fraction from the green in the Rotterdam flag.
This time, instead of a glossary of Portuguese words, a list of tips and trics:
DIY painting tips of As Rolhas:
After all that painting over the past 2 months (and all the years and houses before that), we would like to share our tips for staining wood:
- Clean used painted wood with St. Marc or sugar soap, then sand.
- After sanding, do not wet it anymore, but brush clean with a brush and/or with the vacuum cleaner with the small brush nozzle. (I got that last tip from my brother)
- Always test paint rollers when starting with new paint, some foam rubber rolls make bubbles. Rubbish things, I prefer to use rollers with cover and for the best effect: just after applying with a roller, strike the surface with a brush. Often you see the print of the roller.
- Painting with alkyd paint, on a turpentine base: do not apply too thickly with a roller and if necessary spread in different directions. Then with the slightly wet brush, make with long strokes in the same direction of the grain of the wood.
- Painting with acrylic paint, water-based: Work quickly and do not go over the same surface too often. Set up quickly with the roller, no worries if it has not covered completely somewhere. Keep the speed up: brush, lightly dipped, right after it to finish in long strokes, the same direction of the grain of the wood. Not satisfied yet? Strike lightly over it again, rather than working too long in a (semi) wet layer.
- Oil-based paint: more time to work calmly. Set up with the roller and you can gently roll in several directions to allow the paint to cover well and to penetrate into the wood. If you keep seeing the print from the roller, smooth it over with a brush.
- Never rinse your paint tray in the sink to clean it. Let it dry and after a while you can pull the dried paint out as 1 layer and throw it away.
- Brushes and rollers with alkyd paint can be wrapped in aluminum foil in between and put in a plastic bag in the freezer. On the next painting day, you take them out, let them thaw in the sun, and you can use them again.
- put brushes with acrylic paint in a jar with water in between. You do have to change that every now and then, because with some pigments it can really stink of rotten eggs. I turn the rollers in a slightly wet cloth (for example an old washcloth) with a plastic bag around it: the next time you can use them again. That’s how I use just one roller during weeks.
- After finishing all the painting, I throw all the rollers away. I let the holders dry and then I scrape off the paint residues with a knife and sandpaper. If necessary, you can spray them a little with WD-40 then the rollers will continue to go smoothly around it.
- When I have finished painting, I clean the brushes with water or turpentine (depending on the type of paint) and then apply a little hair conditioner. That keeps the brushes nice and smooth. (That’s why hair conditioner is the only thing I bring from hotel rooms.)
- I never use tape on windows with many small glasses. After painting I clean them with a ruler, a knife and a glass scraper: Lay the ruler along the muntin, cut the paint layer with a knife and scrape away the unwanted paint with the glass scraper.