Archive for Do it yourself professional techniques

Modern Masters Metal Effects


How to work with Oxidizing Copper Paint

Turn wood, plastic or metal into what looks like aged patina copper

  • Creating a copper patina finish is pretty easy nowadays
  • First coat the item with Modern Masters Metal Effects Primer. This will protect the item from the acid to be used later and also provides a tinted undercoat.
  • After primer is dry apply a first coat of Modern Masters Metal Effects Oxidizing Copper paint and allow to dry; apply a second coat (brush/roll or spray) and while the paint is still wet, spray the wet copper paint with the Patina Aging Solution of your choice…Modern Masters sells one that will turn the surfaces green and another that turns the surface a reddish patina….use both for a super cool look!
  • When dry (overnight) you are finished or you can put a coat or two of Modern Masters clear UV coating for a super durable finish
  • Some projects we have used this technique on are: mailboxes; light fixtures, doors, shutters, gutters, wrought iron gate hardware….really the possibilities are endlesssssss 🙂
  • Have fun!


Painting Rusty Iron Fences and Gates

How to prepare and paint metal fences and gates

Paint Metal Garage Doors and Iron Fences

As you can see in the picture to the right…this fence has seen better days! The underlying metal is raw steel whose main component is iron. Once the raw metal is exposed, it immediately starts to react and turns to iron oxide rust, which in time will eat through the surface creating pits and holes If you are considering a fence like this , be sure to request a heavy galvanizing treatment before painting….this has to be done in a shop that specializes in galvanizing. Galvanizing is a process of applying zinc to the steel….you will get many more years out of your metal if it is galvanized.

How to treat red rusted iron fences and gates

The key here is to remove all loose/flaky rust by wire brush/wire wheel on a grinder  and/or a abrasive grinding wheel. And do not forget to clean and degloss the remaining sound coating. To get good adhesion of topcoats, the surfaces must be chalk free and deglossed.

If your project is a gate that is removable, the absolute best system is to remove the gate, take to a sandblaster for blast cleaning to bright metal and then have it either powdercoated if you live in a dry area or have a marine primer/finish shop applied.

Prep tools needed:

  • Grinder and abrasive wheel/wire wheel
  • Safety glasses and gloves plus earplugs.
  • Sandpaper, sanding block, 3M abrasive pad.

Paint/primer materials

  • For a bulletproof job the next step is to pre-prime all rust with a very thin penetrating two part epoxy primer that will bind the surfaces at a molecular level; follow this with a mastic (very thick) two part epoxy to create a thick barrier between the metal and the elements; follow this with a two part polyurethane topcoat. This system is the most durable and also the most time consuming.
  • More commonly, folks choose to wire brush/abrade to a tightly adhering rust surfaces; then apply a rust converter primer such as Rust Destroyer…a product that contains Phosphoric acid to transform the rust as well as provide a thick barrier coat. This product will take a few days to dry as it is not catalyzed. Follow with one or two topcoats of a true oil enamel (thinned with paint thinner). Look for a product that says “silicone alkyd”
  • As best you can, keep irrigation water from hitting the fence and keep dirt from burying the base of the fence…these are usually the culprits that cause the most damage to iron fences

Tools for priming and painting?

  • Because there is usually a lot of fence, the best way to apply your primer and paint is by using what we call a 7″ small diameter “weenie” roller and a two gallon bucket with a metal washboard grid.  Your local paint store will know what to give you if you ask for the above. This roller system allows you to get at all the surfaces from one side of the fence and critically the small diameter roller will allow you to load primer and paint on the underside of the fence which usually is hard to reach and has a “U” shaped channel that must be fully coated….as this is where a lot of rust starts

Rusty metal garage door?

How to Install Crown Trim

Be prepared….Installing Crown molding is not easy!

It is on an order of magnitude, more complicated than installing a new baseboard. Try installing baseboard first, it is good for measuring simple angles and perfecting carpentry skills. To install baseboard, you need a simple crown molding ideasmitre saw as you only need to half the angle of the corner and be sure your length is correct to get a good fit; but… my old woodshop teacher Mr. Dickson used to say, “measure it twice….cut it once”.

The reason finely installed crown trim is more difficult is that you are dealing with two angles on the cut. Wall/ceiling and wall/wall junctions are never quite exactly 90 degrees and if cuts are off 1/2 degree on a 6″ molding, you will not believe how big the resulting gaps can get! But properly installed, a crown will add a visual interest and value to your room.

Which Type of Crown Molding to Use:

If you are going to paint your new crown, you have basically two choices, real wood and a composite product with the generic term MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard).

  • MDF is much less expensive and comes pre-primed and is easy to work with BUT….it should NOT be used in wet/high humidity areas as it can swell and warp….so not good for bathrooms (especially for baseboards.
  • Real wood comes in various types. You want to stay away from “finger joined” types where short sections of wood are sectioned together to create a longer piece  up to 16′. The problem with finger joined wood is that over time the different sections expand and contract at different rates causing the joints to open up.
  • Solid one piece wood is the top of the heap….depending on wood type, you have the choice of painting it or, if the grain is particularly beautiful, you can stain and clear finish it.
  • I use pre-primed wood in baths and MDF throughout the rest of the house, unless of course, the molding is to be stained. I did some mahogany crown once that cost $8 a foot!

Cutting the Corners of the Molding:

  • The most difficult part of installing crown molding is cutting the corners to fit properly.
  • If you have a very long wall you have to join two long runs together in a sharp angled cut called a scarf joint to help minimize the topography of the joint when finished.
  • Corners must be cut with a compound miter saw. Compound because it is adjustable on two axis’/ angles (wall/ceiling and wall/wall). The key is to get proper measurements of the actual angles….you will often find that the angle is between 89-91 degrees. It does not seem like much but with a 6″ molding…a gap of up to 1/2 inch can result from improper measurement and adjustment of saw for cutting.
  • At your local wood working shop like Rockeler, they will provide you with a book and protractors that will explain the required measures and geometry.

Go for Local Woodworking Store:

When it comes to install crown molding, it is really important to fit the proportions of your room and existing trim that will remain. Local suppliers that specialize in architectural millwork can provide you with various samples from which you can choose. In some cases, the local suppliers are more like to suggest moldings that are authentic to your home’s period and regional style. Important to get a good length to see how it looks in proportion to room size and ceiling height before buying all your materials. Proportion is everything!

Installation Strategies:

To insure a good solid installation, I do not trust that all my fasteners will hit wood framing  and so I install a 1×3 pine strip around the perimeter of the room a few inches below the ceiling attached to the wall and fastened into the underlying studs….with this in place I can attach the crown without having to carefully measure to insure I am hitting a stud every time with the nail. An air compressor and finish nail gun will greatly speed up installation. You can rent these at the local home store. Have small, flat blade pry bars or stiff putty knives to adjust the trim as you fasten to shift the molding around imperfect “wavy” walls and ceilings. When caulking the inevitable gaps and seams, use a top line elastomeric caulk and have a bucket of water and a wet rag to keep you finger clean and wet as you smooth the caulk. To fill the nail holes, I recommend 3M Patch and Prime as it does not shrink; but do not forget to sand smooth before finishing. Another trick is to pre paint the molding before installing. Let me know if you have any questions…I would be happy to help you.

More on painting your trim

More on Crown       Getting a crisp paint line

How to Paint Rusty Metal Garage Doors

Painting Metal Garage Doors:

I get this question every week…”Can I paint my metal garage door?” The answer is yes….but!

    • Most metal garage doors come with a very hard Kynar finish over steel that has been treated with zinc galvanizing.
    • If the door shows no sign of oxides then all it takes is a cleaning followed by a bonding primer like XIM UMA  and then a finish coat of top quality acrylic house paint (I prefer a semi-gloss for clean-ability).
Zinc Oxide

Zinc Oxide

  • If the door has oxides then , we need to add some steps.
  • Because the door has been treated with zinc, the first oxides to show are a dull gray zinc oxide….if this is allowed to continue, the zinc will be depleted and you will get down to the underlying steel and you will see the more problematic red oxide.
  • They key is the lightly sand to remove excessive oxides and prime areas where the zinc oxides showed themselves with a cold galvanize zinc primer to replenish the protection of the galvanized surface.
  • Where red rust has appeared, I recommend a phosphoric acid treatment primer that will convert the red rust to a less reactive compound.

    Red Rust/Iron Oxide

    Red Rust/Iron Oxide

  • Now the whole door can be primed with the bonding primer and finished with acrylic house paint…properly maintained, a metal door can last a very long time.

 Rusty fence or gate? more

How to Refinish Your Deck and Teak Wood Furniture?

A beautifully refinished wood deck not only improves the look of your deck but it also protects and extends the life of the wood. Furthermore, refinishing your deck may also improve the resale value of your home and allow it to sell quicker. Similarly, you can improve the longevity of your teak wood furniture by refinishing it at times. The following instructions can be used for refinishing your wood deck and teak furniture. One thing to remember, you should work

refinishing decks and teak furniture

refinishing decks and teak furniture

in a well-ventilated area since many toxic materials are involved in the refinishing process.

Cleaning the Surface:

Like many other refinishing project, the success of refinishing your deck and teak furniture depends on good preparation. You need to thoroughly clean and strip the wood beforehand. In order to clean teakwood furniture, you may use a teakwood cleaner with a brush and sprayer directly on the surface. This will help you to scrub away all stains, dirt, and grease with a stiff nylon brush.

There are many ways to clean your wooden deck – for example: scrubbing, stripping, and pressure washing. You can scrub the deck surface by hand with a good quality broom. Scrubbing can be more adequate if you use a TSP or any of the popular commercial cleaners available in the market.

Sand and Protect the Wood:

It is also important to sand the teakwood to remove the gray-colored surface grain. The best way is to use a coarse sand paper as well as a foam sanding. For large areas, you need to use a handheld sander in order to lower down the labor required to remove the faded wood.
In order to reduce chemical damage, you need to wet all nearby foliage just before using deck cleaner or strippers. When you are done with cleaning the deck, you can spray the plants again to wash off any chemical residue.

Applying the Finish on Deck and Teakwood:

Before you apply the finish on your deck or teakwood, you need to allow enough time for the surface to dry. For guidance, you can go through the product label and instructions. It is also important to reset popped nail-heads and replace all warped as well as split-boards. You should also apply teak oil or teak sealer to the dry and clean teakwood furniture.

Both these products penetrate the wooden surface and will provide the furniture with added protection. There are many different finishes available in the market including clear, tinted, semi-transparent, and solid colors. You need to choose the right finish according to your personal preference.

Getting your old paint clean!

Super quick tip on getting and keeping your old paint clean

Crusty old paint can but pretty good paint inside…how can you get it out and back in without contaminating the paint?

You will need

  • A paint can opener
  • A ladies panty hose or a paint strainer bag from the home center or paint store
  • A clean bucket


  • Wipe off the top of the paint can and blow away all loose debris
  • Install the hose or strainer bag over your clean bucket
  • Pour your paint through the strainer then pull out strainer and throw out or rinse out.
  • When finished, pour unused paint back into paint can and put on lid
  • Cover the lid with a rag or paper towel before hammering in place to prevent splattering.

 More tips and tricksTip: using dirty bucket with clean paint

Spackles, Bondo and Marine Filler

Be careful, some common fillers will fail! So what is the difference?

Here are some of my favorite fillers, an one to watch out for…it will fail if used outside.

  • MH or Synko Spackle: this is a very easy to use exterior spackle…it is a bit hard to sand but it really adheres and fills all those uneven surfaces on fascias, siding and exterior trim with ease. It holds up well for years. Be sure to prime raw wood before applying spackle and then prime the spackle when dry for the most durable patches.
  • Bondo is a catalyzed polyester filler (costs about $40/gallon)  that can be mixed to dry in minutes to really move a job along. This filler is often mistakenly used on exterior wood….a big mistake as Bondo in hydrophilic…it will absorb water and expand causing the patch to delaminate and pop off your paint. It can be used on interior wood repairs but never outside.
  • 3M Marine filler is also a catalyzed filler (costs about $190/gallon) that can also be mixed to dry quickly. This product is formulated for marine environments and so is unaffected by water. I have patches that last for years with this product….every wonder why one painter bids more to do a project….this is one reason to hire the more expensive guy as he is using materials almost 5 times more expensive and understands why it is worth it.
  • Most painters buy whatever is available at the paint store; a craftsman can go cross discipline and find products that will give a better more durable result (like sourcing patch materials at a marine store!)

More on cheap materials

How to Patch Exterior Stucco?

Stucco is a creative design element for the exterior of many homes in Southern California. Stucco is a long lasting siding material, and it offers protection and durability. Stucco is similar to cement and it is made of sandaggregate, a a cement binding agent, and water. Stucco is applied in a wet condition, and it Patch Exterior Stuccobecomes very hard as it dries by the process of hydration. If installed properly and allowed to hydrate properly (not allowed to dry too quickly)  stucco can look great on your home.

Due to water infiltration, foundation settlement, wood framing shrinkage, earthquake or improper curing, stucco can crack and spall thus losing some of its aesthetic appeal and protection of the underlying building wrap.  It is possible to fix the aesthetic problem with proper patching. Following is a brief instruction how to patch your exterior stucco.

Take a Look of the Crack:

If the crack is just a hairline (see caulking below). If it is larger then: using a strong putty knife; open the crack into a V shape. This gets rid of any loose material on the edges and provides a “key'” for the patch material to bond.

Patch the Small Cracks First:

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Painting Techniques…Dirty Bucket

Your only paint bucket is dirty….what to do!

Here are some tips and tricks to get the job done and paint back in the can when done

Tools and supplies you will need:
• A dirty bucket….or a clean one will do!
• A common plastic grocery bag
• A Throw away latex medical glove (always great to have around for messy projects)Color TrasistionsCrisp paint lines
More DIY

Fixing holes in walls

Some holes are just too big to fill with spackle…here’s how to do it

Fixing holes in your wall requires a few specialized tools

Tools and supplies you will need:
• A drywall “mud-pan”
• A 4″ and 6-12″ drywall “knives”…these are the wide metal tools with a handle for spreading the “mud”.
• A household sponge
• A squirt bottle
• Patching compound mud: this can be bought dry in a bag with several different types available that dry quickly. They are sold as 5 minute dry time on up to 45 minute dry time. If you have no time constraints then you can purchase a bucket of premixed “All Purpose” mud…just keep it covered!
• Clean your mud pan after each use or mud will dry in your pan and be very difficult to remove. Also do not put remainder fast dry mud (mixed from a bag) into the sink or toilet….it even dries under water and will clog your drains!
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