Sanding down a house when painting archived

Curious to hear about others' experiences. We're having our house painted, and have been told by a few people who've done estimates that the new part of our house (which is maybe 20 years old) only needs LIGHT sanding, not down to bare wood. Indeed, the wood looks to be in good shape, the paint there is very smooth. The older part of the house will be sanded 95% to the bare wood. I had thought, in general, paint jobs last longer if everything is sanded down to bare wood, but perhaps this isn't true?

I'd disagree that the percentage sanded goes to the lifespan of the paint job. And the less you can get away with sanding, the longer your exterior wood will survive. There's nothing that bugs me more than to see a pristine paint job with visible sander circles on the shingles (except maybe bad vinyl replacement windows - but that's another debate entirely :bigsmileoh oh

In a perfect world, you'd patch paint every year or so as needed (scrape / sand anything that's failing, primer and paint that spot only). There will always be sides / exposures that wear differently than others. So. if your paint is intact on one side of the house, why would you sand that to bare wood? Of course, any number of painters will push you to do just that because it's a whole lot easier for them.

The only reason to sand is if the paint has failed. This is, literally, something that should only be done every 75 to 100 years. If you sanded every time you painted, you would have to reside the house every thirty years or so.

That's interesting because it seems like every time I see a house being painted around here the painters sand it down to bare wood first, which I haven't seen in other parts of the country it just a Jersey phenomenon?

It is a Jersey won't see it in New England...

Our painters told us that the paint job would last much longer if they sanded to the wood. This is not true? Great.

we've looked into this fairly thoroughly and came to the conclusion that the paint job will last longer, without needing "touching-up", when fully-sanded as opposed to going over the existing paint we had. In the end, we preferred to get a full sand and not worry about it for 4/5 years, rather than have spot-sanding done and have to have it touched up every year.

This practice wasn't that common in the area until Maplewood passed an ordinance relating to lead paint and making sure that dust from any sanding prior to painting be captured if it contained lead paint. After that, it seemed that all of the painters begain to sand down to bare wood. If all of the lead paint has already been sanded away by this practice and you got a good paint job, I don't see the need to sand down to bare wood each time you paint.

I'm not sure about Cedar siding but on oak flooring you can only sand the floor a couple of times before it can't be sanded again. Does that hold true for exterior siding as well?

Dano, yes. Siding is much thinner than oak flooring and a much softer wood. Oak flooring is usually 3/4 inch thick and can be sanded numerous times. Siding is wedge shaped and the thin part of wedge is rarely more than 1/4 inch when new. Most houses in SOM are now pushing 80 to 100 years old. Most have been painted at least 15 or 20 times and it makes sense to sand these houses. However, this should be a once a century thing, not something done with every paint job.

Thanks bobK,
That's what I thought. You often hear about painters who insist this be done! I can certainly understand if you have major issues with alligatoring and such but if you've had your house sanded and painted within the last 5 years, I don't think the need is there to sand back to bare wood again. It also would seem a lot more expensive with all that labor involved.


To sand, or not to sand, That is the question.

I had my house painted this Spring. Less than ten percent of the main surface was suffering from pealing and allegator texture. The trim wasn't in as good shape, although curiously, the worst of the trim was on the northerly exposure.

We had both of the areas' most popular painting contractors give us estimates, and neither pushed for sanding.

Take a good look at your own house (use binoculars)and decide whether you think taking it down to the wood is worth the extra dollars. Paying for the sanding won't save you much money in the long run if the crew doesn't do a good job painting afterward.

Painting over a poor finish is a waste of dollars. A poor paint job over a good surface isn't much better.

My house had last been painted at least thirteen years ago, and the prior owner told me it hadn't been sanded then either

When its done right, it lasts.

If you're leaning toward having it sanded, get some five to seven year old references, and check them out.

Good luck, and let us know what happens.


Our painters offered a three-year guarantee on the job if they sanded and no guarantee if they didn't, so that did a lot to drive the decision.

Was their a substantial difference in cost/estimate ?

Yes, scraping instead of sanding, with no guarantee, cost I think about $1500 less.

Thanks for the responses, everyone. The part of the house that most definitely needs to be sanded down, the original part of our 1910 house, is the part that all the painters agree need to be basically sanded down to bare wood. So, there is consensus on that. The rest of the house is maybe 20 years old, I think it's been painted at least twice, maybe 3 times. It looks to be in pretty great condition, and this is the part most painters are telling me can be hand-sanded. And I will still get a three year guarantee. I am probably going with George Mera, who seems like a good guy, did a wonderful job on a friend's house and his pricing is fair. Rutgers price was very close, too, but I'd somehow rather give the business to George.

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