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Exterior Painting Calgary: Renfrew Job

How To Paint An Old Calgary Stucco House Exterior and Deck?

  Questions I’ll Try to Answer In This Article:

  1. Where do you start?
  2. What are the challenges?
  3. What is the Best way to Prep the house?
  4. What kind of primer is needed?
  5. How were the cracks in the stucco fixed?
  6. What is the best protective paint for the Stucco?
  7. Do you spray, roll or brush the paint on?
  8. How were the holes in the foundation parging repaired?
  9. What paint brand was used for the Fascia, Soffit, Windows and back Door?
  10. How was the deck sanded and prepared for stain?
  11. What is the best deck stain to use in Calgary?

Exterior Painting Project - Calgary Renfrew

The homeowner of a one-story house, in the community of Renfrew, Calgary, Alberta, contracted  Eco Star Painting to repair and paint the exterior of his 80-year-old house.

It’s early May in the city known as Cow-Town, and the weather can be very unpredictable. It is not uncommon for snow to fall in the month of May in this sprawling city of a million people. Calgary is located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. The weather started out very promising and rose to 27’C (81F). The next day we were wearing sweaters as the temperature fell to an uncomfortable 5C (41F). Such is Life in the great white North. Rain, snow, cold & hot-----we get it all in the month of May.

Where Do We Start This Job?

When you take on a job like this the first thing I do is assess the damage to the Stucco and wood trim.  What products and tools are needed to fill in the cracks on the stucco? The foundation cement parging had a number of holes in it and required immediate attention.

The wood substrates such as the Deck, Windows, Fascia, Soffit and Door Frames were all peeling and cracking. As experienced Calgary residential painters, we took all of this into account.

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Mega Landscaping and Tree Pruning

Before we could do anything we first had to do some major tree pruning and landscaping. Two trees growing on each side of the house needed to have several large branches trimmed. We used a handy-dandy Milwaukee Cordless Sawzall (with a pruning blade) to handle the cutting.

Several bushes needed to be trimmed away from the deck and house too. The grass needed to be trimmed along the perimeter of the house and deck. The homeowner was in San Franciso at the time so it was up to us to do the job. Five large trash bags later and we were free to start the pressure washing of the house.

Milwaukee cordless Sawzall picture

Milwaukee cordless Sawzall

 Start The Job By Pressure Washing Everything

Having a commercial quality Pressure washer is a nice piece of equipment to have available for a painting business. Eco Star Painting uses a heavy duty Rig manufactured by Storm that pumps out more than 3200 PSI of pressure. It has a reliable Honda Engine and has served us well for many years.  I’ve had custom made wands built for us up to 16’ long for the high areas. The chimney on this house was about 22’ and was easy to reach with this piece of equipment.

When using a pressure washer the goal is to give the entire house a good rinse and to not damage the stucco by getting too close with the pressurized stream of water. The owner of the house just had some new stucco applied to the back of the house and it was raw and unprimed. We had to be extra careful not do damage it with the pressure washer. The trick is to just take a couple more steps back than is normally required.

Stucco can get very dirty over the years because of the very nature of it surface. We like to rinse it starting from bottom to the top. The reasoning being the dirty water can run down a clean surface better than over a dirty one. The final rinse is done from top to bottom.

Pressure Washing The Deck

The front deck was peeling, cracking and in very poor condition. It’s natural to want to use the pressure washer to strip it completely but you have to be extremely careful not to create more damage by gouging the wood with the pressure washer. Older cracked wood tends to be a bit softer than new wood because the repeated freezing/thawing of ice creates cracks and thus exposing it further to the harsh elements.

The aim of using a pressure washer on a deck is to get the majority of the loose material off, and coming back in a few days after it has dried to start the scraping/sanding process.

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Picture of distressed, weather beaten deck stairs before the paint job.

Before Pressure Washing

Let  Dry For a Few Days Then Start the Sanding

We started with the deck because that required the greatest effort. This was a smaller front deck so I didn’t rent a floor sander. The cost of the rental and the time needed to pick it up and return it didn’t justify the added expense. If it was a larger deck, yes, a floor sander is a necessity. Scraping and sanding a deck is labor intensive so you want to weigh the pros and cons for each job. Eco Star Painting prefers to use Eco-Friendly Paints and chemicals so using a harsh deck stripper was not an option for us. We try to stay away from things that can harm the environment and also put our painters in harm’s way. We do use Eco-friendly strippers when warranted.

How To Sand A Deck And get it Ready For Staining?

We have several sanders to choose when doing Calgary painting prep, ranging from belt sanders to 9” walls sanders, to fine finishing sanders, to detail sanders with a delta head, and the list goes on. For this job,  I decided that a Porter Cable ¼ sheet Palm Sander was a good choice for the task at hand. The sandpaper required was Garnet 50 Grit, 80 Grit and 120 Grit. They are purchased in  9x11” sheets and cut into 4 pieces.

First, we used the 50 grit sandpaper for easier removal of paint. In combination with an electric sander, various scrapers are used to help with the process. After most of the paint is stripped we then use an 80 grit and finally a 120 grit to smooth out the surface. We want the deck finish to be smooth enough to be able to walk on it with your bare feet.

Flood Stain Picture of two gallons

After The Sanding

Picture showing the brilliant white deck after applying Flood stain

Cracks In The Stucco Needed To Be Filled

This Old House had a common Stucco finish that was very popular close to 80  years ago.  Fine cracks and gaps occur as the house ages. To repair this damage we use Dap ‘Alex Plus’ Caulking. This paintable caulking also has silicone in it for increased durability and adhesion. It provides a waterproof seal, is highly flexible, and is mold and mildew resistant. It can be used for Interior & Exterior surfaces.

Alex Plus Caulking picture of two

Alex Plus Caulking

Applying the caulking requires some expertise because you want the filled cracks to blend in with the rest of the stucco texture. We do this by first filling the crack and then smoothing it out with a wet rag or sponge, careful not to remove too much of the material. Often times the deeper cracks require two coats.

Foundation Repairs To The Basement Parging

There were several large holes and cracks in the cement foundation. They were not structural cracks that might lead to water leaking into the basement, but rather of the surface type variety. The Homeowner didn’t ask us to repair that damage but we thought the house would look much better if it was attended to. The product was a  cement based patch kit that was purchased at Home Depot. You just add a little water and mix. The process is similar to patching drywall damage but the cement based filler is a lot more gritty. Only one coat was required.

Preparing the Exterior Wood Trim For Painting

The Fascia, Soffit, Door Frames, Basement Windows and Wood Awning required some serious prep work. The paint was flaking off and there were several large cracks that required filing.

Sandpaper 9" X 11" sheets of various grits

Sandpaper 9" X 11" sheets

The pressure washing which took place a few days earlier removed a lot of the material but it still needed to be scraped and sanded. It’s basically the same process we did on the deck, which was elbow grease and an electric palm sander armed with 50 grit,80 grit, and 120 grit sandpaper. The Fascia required the use of an 11’, 20’ and 28’ extension ladders.

Porter Cable 1/4 sheet palm sande

Porter Cable 1/4 sheet palm sander

Priming The Wood With Dulux Gripper Bonding Primer

The trim on this house required a primer that could seal tannin bleed from the exposed wood surface. It is an excellent Interior/Exterior Primer with high bonding capabilities Gripper is designed to block most stains - water, smoke, ink, markers, and tannin. Dulux Gripper also has outstanding adhesion to glossy surfaces. It is also fast drying as you are able to top-coat in as little as one hour.

All the wood surfaces were treated with Gripper. The Windows and Fascia were in very rough shape and required two (2) coats to stop the tannin bleed. Water-based stain sealers quite often need a second coat to stop the tannin bleed. Alkyd primers seal tannin bleed better but we prefer the Eco-Friendly, low VOC, water-based alternatives.

Basement Windows Needed To Be Re-Glazed

The old style windows from the 1940’s had glazing putty that required re-glazing every 20 years or so. The oil in putty dries out and eventually cracks and/or falls out. All of the basement windows on this house had to be re-glazed. The upper windows were all new with a maintenance free metal cladding. We obviously didn’t have to paint them.

Prior to applying the glazing putty, we primed the windows with Dulux Gripper primer. The glazing putty needed a solid surface to bond to.

The Back Steel Door Needed Priming

The only door that required painting was a steel door in the back of the house. The front door was brand new and recently painted. The back door had never been painted before and the only coating was the factory primer. There were scratches on the surface and the old primer was weathered so we applied the Dulux Gripper Primer to the metal door with an airless paint sprayer. We used a Graco 412 Rac X Spray Tip @1900 PSI.

Renfrew House back Door Area Picture
Back Door and Wooden Awning

 Trim Painted With Dulux Diamond Flat Exterior Paint

The homeowner decided to go with a pure white color for the trim. One of our favorite exterior paints is called Dulux Diamond. Dulux is a large paint company in Canada which is owned by the US giant, PPG Industries. We used a flat sheen on the trim and a satin on the back door.

The wood trim on the house consisted of the fascia, soffit, door frames, and the basement windows. An old wood awning covering the back door was also coated with the Diamond Paint.

The Fascia was all hand brushed using a 2 ½” angled paint brush. Our favorite brush is the ‘Cortez’ model by Corona. It’s quite frankly a fantastic paint brush!

All the Soffits were sprayed and back-rolled using a 15mm, (½” nap),  9” Wooster Pro Dooz lint free roller sleeves. A Wooster 3” roller was also needed for some areas near the gutters.


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Windows And Doors are Masked Off With Plastic Film

I did a video on my YouTube channel called ‘TheCalgaryPainter” on how to mask off a window with plastic film prior to the spraying of the stucco. Feel free to check it out if I don’t include it in the blog post.

Fascia, Soffit, Gutters, & Deck Masked Off With Paper

The trim was pure white and the stucco was going to be painted a dark green color. Our only logical choice was to tape off the soffit, fascia, gutter, and deck. Often times you can use a spray shield but the decision I made was to tape everything off because of potential overspray issues.

Spray Stucco with Dulux Diamond Flat Paint

The  Calgary Renfrew homeowner chose a color called Dulux “Olde Hunter” which is a dark green.

We used a Graco 495 Ultra airless sprayer to paint the stucco. The tip used was a Graco Rac X 517 (10” fan) @ 2,400 PSI

When spraying stucco, we always back-roll after the paint has been applied. The back-rolling pushes the paint from the surface into the pores of the stucco.

The spraying technique is to shoot the gun in all directions so everything is filled in evenly. This requires a lot of paint to be used in the process. With stucco if you don’t spray in all directions you will see bits & pieces that haven’t been covered. This is especially true when going from a light gray to a dark green color.

About 4 hours later a 2nd (lighter) coat of paint was applied.

The plastic was removed from the windows & doors almost immediately so that the masking tape wouldn’t leave any glue residue behind. We had to wait until the next day to remove the masking paper from the Fascia and Soffit. This requires a dry surface in order to lean a ladder against the freshly painted stucco. We wrap the ladder wheels with clean rags so they don’t leave any marks or scratches on the stucco.

Back of House before paint


After back of House was painted


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