Problem with paint staying on old heart cypress
Post new topic   Reply to topic
Historic HomeWorks Forum Forum Index -> Paints & Finishes  
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 22 Mar 2014
Posts: 1
Location: Mississippi

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:21 pm    Post subject: Problem with paint staying on old heart cypress Reply with quote

Dear HomeWorks Forum:

I need help with paint on our National Register 1842 Greek Revival home. The restoration was featured on HGTV's Bob Vila's Restore America: ).

The house was painted in 1937 and there was no paint left on the body of the house by the time we restored it in 1994. The house is built completely out of heart cypress (except for the oak sills). We insulated the house and installed a vapor barrier. It was painted using an oil based primer.

The paint lasted about 8 years then started peeling off. The house was then professionally prepped and reprimed using what Consumer Reports said was the best: Gripper latex primer and Glidden's best latex paint. It lasted 6 years before it peeled off the wood. Again we had it professionally prepped and primed with XIT UMA latex bonder/primer followed by the best ICI/Glidden latex paint. Five years later we are back to square one: the paint is peeling off the bare wood. The paint on the new cypress siding on the house addition is doing fine. My daughter is getting married in May in the front yard of Sedgewood, so we are gearing up to paint again.

I have done an internet search on the subject of priming old cypress and saw where some recommended prepping the house with a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine before priming with oil based primer. Others recommended adding a pint of Penetrol to each gallon of oil primer. Another option was a pre-prime treatment with a mix of 1 part turpentine and 3 parts Penetrol.

Could you advise me on the repaint??

(1) What preconditioner should I use? I am leaning towards using the 1:3 Turp-Penetrol conditioner followed by Sherwin Williams oil primer and SW Duration latex paint.

(2) The painter will prep the house, remove all the old paint that is not firmly attached and sand the edges of the good paint. Can we put the conditioner & oil primer over the latex primer & paint that are still adhered to the wood?

(3) Mildew is endemic here. Would the Penetrol help with that? If not, what is the best mildewcide to add? Should it be added to the conditioner, the paint, primer, or to all three?

Thanks in advance,

 Filesize:  785.79 KB
 Viewed:  456 Time(s)


PEEL2 R.jpg
 Filesize:  450.74 KB
 Viewed:  435 Time(s)

PEEL2 R.jpg

 Filesize:  801.43 KB
 Viewed:  425 Time(s)


Millie and Belle on Sedgewood's front porch from Nell Dickerson's coffee table photo book "Porch Dogs"
 Filesize:  639.11 KB
 Viewed:  446 Time(s)


family219 (589kb).jpg
Sedgewood before the paint started peeling...............
 Filesize:  589.24 KB
 Viewed:  434 Time(s)

family219  (589kb).jpg

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Site Admin

Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 3000
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before we think about what to do, let's figure out what is going on and why. First I would want to know why the paint is peeling. There is probably more than one cause. Here is how I would conduct an investigation, beginning with a series of questions:

What are the patterns of peeling paint across the walls? (one pattern is peeling on old wood in the old structure, no peeling on new wood in the new structure. Another is peeling in the middle of the clapboards. Other possibilities: more near the bottom of the wall, more near the top, under the shutters, outside the bathroom, laundry, kitchen, under or over the windows, etc.)

Since the paint is peeling down to bare wood there is probably moisture buildup in the wood.

How much moisture is there? (The best way to get at this is to measure the moisture with a moisture meter.)

Where is the moisture? (possibilities: more near the exterior surface of the clapboards, more near the interior surface of the clapboards, in the space between the clapboards and the sheathing boards (are there sheathing boards?), in the sheathing, etc.)

What are the sources of the moisture? (possibilities: interior living space water vapor, exterior rain & humidity, leaking pipes in the walls, etc.)

What is the path of moisture movement into, within, and out of the wall?

What is the construction of the walls? (size, spacing and location of every material from the interior finish surface to the exterior finish surface)

Are the old clapboards all vertical grain, a mix of vertical and flat grain, or all flat grain? In the two closeup it looks like the wood showing is vertical grain.

Also, the closeups show horizontal cracks in the paint film. Are these the first signs of failure, that eventually open up into larger areas of peeling? What is happening with the wood directly beneath these paint cracks. Peel one open and look at the wood with a magnifying glass or pocket microscope. What do you see? (possibilities: a horizontal crack in the wood, a wood repair that was part of the professional prep, a knot, a pitch pocket, a particularly wide growth of dense late wood, etc.)

What are the details of the "professional preparation" of the weathered wood and new wood surfaces? (possibilities: photos or records of the work, recollections, etc.)

How is the building heated and air conditioned?

OK, you can see how this is going and can probably think of three more questions to ask, and answer.


by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Posts: 660
Location: Little Rock, AR

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bit late, but...

Bill, it sounds like you have searched and read the other threads on here regarding priming and painting cypress.

While your due diligence is commendable, those situations do not really apply to your situation. In our previous discussions we had newly built wooden window sashes, made from cypress, in which the very first coat of primer would not dry in the shop.

The solution to that was to use an oil sealer to give the first coat of oil primer something to 'bite' to, but that doesn't really equate to your problem of premature failure after several years.

I agree with John we need more info and need to find the source of the moisture.

If I had to guess, I would guess that your "moisture barrier" is causing more problems than it's solving and is the culprit.

If you see the email and respond back we might be able to help figure it out, I know it's been a few months.

I've been building windows from cypress for years and have not had the paint failures that you have. The glaring difference in my windows and your siding is? My windows have unfinished edges, they can breathe.

Let us know if you ever figured it out, or need more help.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Historic HomeWorks Forum Forum Index -> Paints & Finishes  
Post new topic   Reply to topic All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum