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Painting Victorian Houses and Homes

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Victorian House Color Schemes
Choosing Authentic Exterior Paint Colors
By Mary McCarthy

True Victorian paint colors give authenticity to a 19th century home. Here are some tips for choosing authentic exterior paint color schemes for old or new Victorians.

If your house was built between 1850 and 1920, chances are it is one form or another of Victorian architecture. Detailed gingerbread woodwork, bold brackets and enormous shutters beg for a color scheme that will complement their detail. When choosing paint colors, historic homeowners (that’s an old house, not necessarily an old homeowner!) should try to stay true to the historical nature of the home. An Italianate Victorian built in 1855 would have a much different color scheme than a Queen Anne built in 1895.

Luckily for homeowners, Sherwin Williams (type ‘Victorian’ in their search browser) has a great selection of historical paint colors available in easy-to-determine available catalogs.

In Victorian times, natural earth-tone colors were favored, as a result of Victorian homeowners' fascination with nature. White was rarely used- more common were shades of green, brown, red, and mustard. The “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco are often found in more vibrant tones of purple, pink, and mauve, but the true Victorian-era homes were originally painted in much more natural tones.

Some Tips:

Choose Carefully
You are going to be looking at these colors for a long time. Pay attention to colors of surrounding houses, your roof color, etc. Consider all the combinations of colors, dark and light and different shades of the same color- remember that darker paint colors will fade over time in sunlight.

Look Before You Leap
It's a great idea to purchase a sample container of a few colors and paint a few boards on the house so you can determine which earth tones will look best. Tiny paint samples in a brochure are hard to imagine on an entire house and you might find the shades look very different in daylight.

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Things you’ll need for victorian house painting

• Power washer
• Bleach, soap
• Ladders
• Walk boards and planks, ladder jacks
• Scrub brushes and buckets
• Oil Primer
• 100% Acrylic satin latex exterior house paint
• Brushes / roller / or sprayer
• Drop cloths
• Plastic
• Tape
• Paper tape, tape machine
• Caulk, caulk gun
• Wood filler
• Sandpaper

Quick Guide How to Paint an Historic Home

Repair or replace any damaged surfaces,

1. Wash off all surfaces with a professional grade pressure washer and bleah water mixture, this will reduce the overall time of hand scraping, and hand washing. Make sure to allow all surfaces to dry thoroughly.

2. Use sandpaper and a paint scraper to remove all loose, chipping, cracked or blistered paint - down to raw surfaces if necessary. Make sure to use a respirator or mask to protect yourself. Use a small drop cloth as you go to catch loose bits of paint and debris. If you feel the exterior needs to be sandblasted, or chemically stripped hire a professional painting contractor.

3. Patch any nail or screw holes, caulk around windows, doors, overhangs, trim, where siding meets, miters joint, etc. Caulk such places as seams and corners, above door and window trim, and where trim meets the siding

4. Use epoxy wood filler to repair bigger more serious problems in woodwork or siding

5. Sand all rough or glossy surfaces; paint needs a slightly roughened surface to stick to, by sanding glossy surfaces you are providing key so the paint can stick. You can also use paint deglosser on all glossy surfaces.

6. Remove or cover all light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers and house numbers. Roemove or protect all screens.

7. Use drop cloths to cover everything you don't want to paint, such as plants, walkways, cars and your neighbors' property.

8. Apply primer over all raw surfaces. In many situations where the paint on the siding has deteriorated and where mold and mildew is accessible it’s best to prime the entire house. Note that different surfaces - paint, metal, wood, stucco - require different primers.

9. Allow the primer to dry completely, then apply one-two coats of exterior paint. Let each coat dry between applications according to the manufacturer's specifications and instructions.

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