Most paint problems are caused by moisture. Excessive moisture can lead to paint discoloration problems, fungal growth and adhesion failures such as blistering or peeling. Control of moisture therefore is important to good paint performance.

Moisture from inside the home can collect and condense in the wall cavities if not properly controlled. When a house is closed up, as in the winter to retain heat, excessive amounts of moisture can accumulate from sources such as showers, cooking, dryers not vented outside the house and even respiration. The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. This moisture will migrate to an area of lower vapor pressure such as a cold wall cavity, not properly protected by a vapor barrier.

The moisture condenses in the cold wall cavity until warming temperatures in the spring and summer cause the condensed moisture to again vaporize and migrate through the siding toward the dry outside air.

Moisture can also enter the wall cavity from outside due to faulty caulking around doors and windows, leaking roofs or gutters and loose flashing. Warming of the air in the wall cavity creates the same conditions described above. As moisture forces its way through the siding to the dryer outside air, it can cause blistering or peeling of the finish and paint discoloration problems. To avoid or correct such problems, it is essential that moisture inside the house be properly controlled with vapor barriers and ventilation.

The maximum moisture content for any surface that is to be painted is 12-14%. Painting a surface that contains a higher level of moisture can lead to peeling problems. The only accurate way of determining moisture content is with an electronic moisture meter.

There is a limit of the number of coats of paint that a surface an support. As the paint thickness builds up over time and the coatings get older, they lose their flexibility. As the substrate (surface) expands and contracts because of temperature fluctuations or moisture, the paint film is no longer flexible enough to move with the surface, cracking or flaking of the coating usually results. It is not uncommon to put a coat of paint on a surface that appears sound only to have many layers of paint peel away. At this point the surface must be stripped.

100% silicone caulking is not compatible with paint. Painting over silicone caulking will cause the paint to separate or crack, leaving the film full of craters. Once a painted surface has been contaminated with silicone, it is very difficult to get the surface clean enough to re-coat in the future. Use only latex caulking if the caulking is going to be painted over.

Wood decks are commonly painted or stained after they have been constructed. After construction, the sides and bottom of the wood cannot be coated properly. Many failures on decks are caused by moisture entering the wood through the sides and bottom. Moisture seldom leaves these surfaces the way it entered. The sun shines on the coated surface and the moisture tries to come out through the paint or stain which causes peeling. To improve the resistance to moisture, the coating should be applied to all surfaces prior to construction.

Adhesion of most paints to varnish is poor. Although deglossing by sanding with #120 grit sandpaper can help adhesion, paints applied over varnish usually chip easily. For best results, strip off the varnish with paint remover and then prime with an alkyd primer before top coating with alkyd or latex.

Because water doesn’t freeze until the temperature drops to 32F (0C), some painters feel that latex paints can be applied down to that temperature. This is not true, because the minimum temperature required for latex paint to dry properly is 50F (10C). Latex paints applied to surfaces below 50F will form films that are weak and will result in early failure of exterior products and poor washability of interior products.

Chalking is part of the aging process of paint. The binder (resin) breaks down with exposure to the sun, leaving unbound pigment (chalk) on the surface. Repainting should be done before the chalking becomes excessive. In the early stages of surface chalking (in most cases five years exposure), the film integrity is still good and all that is usually necessary before repainting , is to wash off the surface dirt and chalk.

Dark colours can cause wood surfaces to become very hot. In the extreme, blacks and dark browns can cause cracking and/or cupping of wood in indirect exposure to summer sun. Dark colours can also cause natural resin o sapin wood to migrate or be drawn out, which can in turn cause paint to peel.

In older buildings where the insulation is poor, shadows appear at stud locations on the inside of exterior walls. The difference in temperatures causes dirt to collect at these areas. This is not related to the type of paint used and must be rectified by repainting. these shadows will not bleed through the next coat of paint, but will likely reappear if the lack of insulating is not rectified.

To establish if paint on a surface is an alkyd or latex, rub the surface with a cloth wet with xylon (or nail polish remover). Latex paint has very poor solvent resistance and will come off on a cloth. Alkyd paint will not be disturbed by either solvent.

Most paint manufactures produce their colour chips in a low sheen and often the architect or owner is surprised when they see the colour in an eggshell or semi-gloss finish because it looks different. To see what a  colour will look like in an eggshell or semi-gloss, wet the colour chip with water.

The light reflectance value of a colour is an function of colour only. the gloss or sheen of a product does not influence the light reflectance.

According to Feng Shui, colours are a great source of help in improving one’s own life as they are forms of energy whose vibrations can substantially modify one’s perception of space. Thus, painting a room in blue will make it appear colder, while painting the same room in yellow will create an illusion of warmth.

Colours are also used to increase whatever effect one looks for in a room. Hence, in choosing colours, one must consider the room’s use, its furnishings and its size. Depending on the room’s ultimate use, one may choose dominant colours and complement them with others.

1. Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau? Don’t hesitate to phone and check to see if they are up to date and in good standing.

2. Are they insured for liability to your property? At least one million dollars.

3. Does Workers Compensation Board cover their employees? If they are the person doing the work, are they covered by W.C.B.? The law states it’s not mandatory for sole proprietors to be covered.

4. Are they well known and established? How many years have they been in business and do they provide references? Are they able to supply all materials?

5. Do they provide a guarantee of their work? Exterior = 2-3 years; Interior = 3-5 years.

6. Do they require a deposit prior to work being done? If they are an established company, they should not require any down payment for materials or labour, as they should have a cash float and be able to charge for their materials.

7. Do they recommend washing all the exterior surfaces prior to painting and if so, how soon after do they start painting? 95% of all exterior surfaces should be washed; if not visibly dirty they can be chalky, due to surface oxidation. Also, the wood should have a moisture content of not more than 15% – approximately 1-3 weeks dry time.

8. What type of paint do they use? Each major paint supplier carries approximately 2-3 lines of quality paint. Which line do they use?

9. Do they hire professionals? You should expect full time professional painters and not part time painter/handyman.

10. Do they provide you with a fully detailed written estimate? Never agree to an oral or vaguely written estimate.

A list of colours and of their characteristics will help us in orienting choices aimed at achieving chromatic effects.

White: The Chinese consider it the colour of mourning. Thus, it is not widely used. Westerners, on the other hand, see it as the colour of purity, innocence, candor and openness. Using too much white in ones home could indicate a lack of clarity in one’s opinions and indicate excessive openness to different possibilities.
Blue: It represents spirituality, the ability to look within oneself, consideration and care; it is associated with consistency and loyalty. In business, it stands for reliability and consistency. Blue is related to water.

Gray: Gray days complicate life. Gray is associated with fear and depression. Also related to water, it can be used with moderation around the main door.

Black: A powerful colour, black represents money and confers power. But it must be used in moderation. Because it absorbs a lot of light, it is used to balance brighter colours rather than on its own.

Green: It is used as equilibrium; it represents balance and peace. It is the colour of growth, one that promotes healing and tranquility. Used in excess, it can inhibit productivity. Because of the extreme relaxation green creates it may not be conducive to the resolution of problems. Green is related to wood.

Yellow: It is related to Earth and is a colour of blending with ch stimulates mental energy and represents wisdom. In China, it once was the colour reserved for the Emperor and his descendants because it was seen as a colour symbolizing control. Among other things, yellow is associated with patience and tolerance.

Orange: A creative colour, it stand for joy, solidarity, mental and physical energy. Depending on tones, it is related to Fire or Earth.

Chestnut: It is derived from Earth and represents predictability, stability, practicality and roots.

Purple: The Chinese consider purple even more favourable than red. it is the colour of philosophers, dreamers, writers and visionaries, and is associated with high ideals, honesty, truth and love.

Pink: It stands for love and feelings and is credited with therapeutic powers against rage. it is said to quickly calm the anger of those who visualize it. it is a salutary colour that reminds us of joy, happiness and romantic love. it is related to Fire or Earth, depending on its intensity.

Red: It is the colour of life, growth, happiness, joy, passion and virtue. It radiates energy on a wide range and stands for passionate love. Chinese wives dress in red because red brings them happiness and love. Red is related to Fire.

In Feng Shui, the colour black is related to water: water represents everything that has a fluid or liquid form; it also symbolizes night and winter.

A powerful colour, black represents money and enhances strength and authority; it is associated with the career aspect of our lives.

As you may know, at the root of Feng Shui are two opposing yet complementary forces, one positive and one negative. It is these opposing forces (sometimes referred to as Yin and Yang) that create energy. Similarly, there are positive and negative aspects of every colour.

Yin is black. The words “night, winter, cold, and moon” are all related to Yin and easily associated with the colour black. Black absorbs the most light of all colours and can be used to balance the extreme effect of vivid colours. If you are drawn to black, and to create more positive energy, it is better to use black in combination with other colours.

The negative aspects of black include common cultural associations with death or darkness; however, the dramatic effect we would pursue for design purposes should emphasize the positive side of black, and more specifically, its charm, intrigue and strength.

While perceptions of colour are somewhat subjective, there are some colour effects that have universal meaning. Colours in the red area of the colour spectrum are known as warm colours and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colours evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.

Colours on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colours and include blue, purple, and green. These colours are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Colour Psychology as Therapy

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or using colours to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

In this treatment:

· Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.

· Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.

· Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.

· Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.

· Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.

Most psychologists view colour therapy with skepticism and point out that the supposed effects of colour have been exaggerated. Colours also have different meanings in different cultures. Research has demonstrated in many cases that the mood-altering effects of colour may only be temporary. A blue room may initially cause feelings of calm, but the effect dissipates after a short period of time.

A colour resulting from a mix of two other colours is known as a metamer. Some colours, such as yellow and purple, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light. These competing colours are known as complements.

Blue is the overwhelming “favorite colour.” Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed. The colour of sky and the ocean, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives.

As the collective colour of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming; however not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic, an engaging colour that expresses exhilaration.

Some shades or the overuse of blue may come across as cold or uncaring. Blue is the least “gender specific” colour, having equal appeal to both men and women.

How the colour blue affects us physically and mentally:

* Calming and sedate
* Cooling
* Aids intuition

Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye and is second only to blue as a favorite colour. Green is the pervasive colour in the natural world that is an ideal backdrop in interior design because we are so used to seeing it everywhere.

The natural greens, from forest to lime, are seen as tranquil and refreshing, with a natural balance of cool and warm (blue and yellow) undertones. Green is considered the colour of peace and ecology. However, there is an “institutional” side to green, associated with illness or Government-issued that conjure up negative emotions as do the “slimy” or bilious greens.

How the colour green affects us physically and mentally:

* Soothing
* Relaxing mentally as well as physically
* Helps alleviate depression, nervousness and anxiety
* Offers a sense of renewal, self-control and harmony

Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colours and instill optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts.

How the colour yellow affects us mentally and physically:

* Mentally stimulating
* Stimulates the nervous system
* Activates memory
* Encourages communication

Orange, a close relative of red, sparks more controversy than any other hue. There is usually strong positive or negative association to orange and true orange generally elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colours. Fun and flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy. Interestingly, some of the tones of orange such as terra cotta, peach or rust have very broad appeal.

How the colour orange affects us mentally and physically:

* Stimulates activity
* Stimulates appetite
* Encourages socializing

Red has more personal associations than any other colour. Recognized as a stimulant red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.

How the colour red affects us mentally and physically:

* Increases enthusiasm
* Stimulates energy
* Encourages action and confidence
* A sense of protection from fears and anxiety

Purple embodies the balance of red simulation and blue calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone. A sense of mystic and royal qualities, purple is a colour often well liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favorite colour of adolescent girls.

How the colour purple affects us mentally and physically:

* Uplifting
* Calming to mind and nerves
* Offers a sense of spirituality
* Encourages creativity

Brown says stability, reliability, and approachability. It is the colour of our earth and is associated with all things natural or organic.

How the colour brown affects us physically and mentally:

* Feeling of wholesomeness
* Stability
* Connection with the earth
* Offers a sense orderliness

White projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Doctors don white coats, brides traditionally were white gowns and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.

How the colour white affects us mentally and physically:
* aids mental clarity
* encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles
* evokes purification of thoughts or actions
* enables fresh beginnings

Gray is timeless, practical, and solid. A longstanding favorite suit colour, gray can mix well with any color. Although well like and often worn, people rarely name gray as a favorite colour possibly because Gray also is associated with loss or depression.

How the colour gray affects us physically and mentally:
* unsettling
* expectant

Black is authoritative and powerful; because black can evoke strong emotions too much can be overwhelming. A classic colour for clothing possibly because it makes the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.

How the colour black affects us physically and mentally:
* feeling inconspicuous
* a restful emptiness
* mysterious evoking a sense of potential and possibility.


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