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3:00 AM Wed, Jan. 16th

Ask the Contractor: You’ve got paint questions? We’ve got answers

Cleaning walls, peeling paint, chain-link fence fix and more

Our column last week on paintbrushes drew a “million” questions on other paint topics. Well maybe not quite a million, but would you believe a gazillion or a truckload? OK, a few. Here they are:

This is our first time being a homeowner. How do we keep our freshly-painted walls clean?

— Ed & Susie Prescott Valley

You can’t stop walls from attracting dirt, but you can preserve their newly-painted appearance and extend the life of your paint with a few good cleaning habits. Regular dusting regardless of paint type or sheen is in order. So before you do any washing, run the dust brush attachment of your vacuum over ceilings and walls, and wipe your walls down with a tack cloth or cheesecloth.

For general washing, several of our local painters said to wait at least two weeks after painting before using any water or cleaner on your walls. If you wash the walls, use a soft cloth or sponge with mild, soapy water.

Wipe by applying gentle pressure in a circular motion. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth afterward to remove any leftover cleaner. Too much water can ruin your paint finish, so remember light water — no soaking of the walls. For spot cleaning to remove a scuff mark or stain, try mixing a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub this solution over the problem area and then rinse and dry with a soft cloth. For hard-to-remove stains like grease splatters on kitchen walls, try a grease-cutting dishwashing soap mixed in warm water. It is important to make sure the cleaner won’t harm your paint finish so read the label.

It is always a good idea to test your cleaning solution and technique to make sure it doesn’t damage your paint finish. Pick an inconspicuous spot on your wall to perform your test. If the paint still looks bright and there are no water marks left after drying, you’re good to go. A mild household cleaner grease-cutting dishwashing soap a little baking soda will also do the job.

Our paint is peeling ion the bathroom. What is happening?

— Tom, Chino Valley

Loss of adhesion of the paint film, especially in the bath area, is more than likely caused by high levels of moisture that penetrate the painted surface and eventually push the paint away from the substrate. In most cases proper ventilation can fix most interior moisture problems. If you do not have an exhaust fan installed in the bath area, you should install one. Allowing moisture to escape via open windows is also option.

How can I clean a surface with mildew in preparation for a fresh paint job?

—Everett, Prescott

There are various cleaners on the market that are specifically designed for the removal of mildew. Many of these products work quite well; however, a bleach and water solution will also work. Wash mildewed areas with a solution of one part household bleach and three parts water. This will destroy mildew and bleach stains caused by mildew growth. Apply solution lightly. Heavy mildew may require additional applications, and scrubbing may be required. Wash the affected area with clean water (before the solution dries) to remove bleach solution. Allow the surface to dry thoroughly. It is important to use protective clothing and eyewear to avoid contact with the solution.

Do not mix bleach with other chemicals and these steps address the mildew problem only. Any other contaminants may require cleaning by other means.

I want to paint one wall a different color. Is there a rule of thumb as to which wall should be painted the accent color?

— Shannon, Prescott

This is the accent wall and while this could depend on the overall space, the wall that comes into view opposite the main entrance is in most cases selected as the feature wall and should be the one to receive the special treatment.

We want to paint our chain-link fence. Can this be done?

— Tom and Cindy, Prescott Valley

Paint or repainting a chain-link fence can certainly revitalize the look of your yard and prolong the life of your fence. Most chain-link fences are made of galvanized steel and with wind, rain and extreme temperatures the fence can eventually break down and rust.

Painting a chain-link fence can be a simple process, but it’s important to properly prepare the surface first. Without proper preparation, the new paint may flake and more rust may develop. You should remove as much rust as possible from the fence using a wire brush. If the fence has been previously painted, use a pressure washer to remove any paint chips. Apply a rust-stopping spray/primer to any areas that are very rusted. These paints can be found in our local stores.

A coat of metal primer should be applied if the fence has rust or an old coat of paint on it. If the fence is new or in good condition, a coat of metal primer is not necessary. There are metal paints on the market specifically made for painting metal surfaces, but if you desire a specific color or can’t find metal paint, acrylic paint will work too. It is important to remember that after the installation of a new chain-link fence, wait six months before adding any paint.

If your home was built before 1978 and the chain-link fence was painted when the home was built, it should be properly washed and painted by a professional to avoid possible exposure to lead paint.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” every Saturday or Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM and 95.5 FM or the web Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry; meet your local community partners and so much more. You will be entertained.