For New Jersey painting contractor George Mihalis, a project with multiple colors is music to his ears. “It’s like a composer working with the seven musical notes,” he says. “My job is to put the palette together in a symphony of color.”
A good example is the recent repaint and restoration work his company, Gikas Painting, did at the Everitt House bed and breakfast in historic Hackettstown, N.J.
Founded in 1853, Hackettstown is nestled in a valley along the banks of the Musconetcong River, in the heart of the scenic Skylands region of Northwest New Jersey. The Everitt House, built in 1875 by former mayor William Moore Everitt, is a 14-room home featuring beautifully appointed guest rooms with period antiques. According to local sources, the exterior of the home had not been painted in its entirety for more than 30 years. The town had grown used to its dignified, yet faded dark green exterior, says the current owner and innkeeper, Beverly Hutzel.
She was fascinated by its French Revival architecture – the mansard roofs, the elaborately carved corbels and the ornate molding. A member of the local historic society recommended Gikas Painting, a Montclair, N.J.-based firm that specializes in the painting and restoration of Victorian homes.
After reviewing the condition of the exterior, Gikas noted areas to be repaired or restored, and then the color selection began. Hutzel, who has a background in drafting and design, realized that the house needed a theme or concept to create a focus for the color palette. She chose a “sea glass” theme of blues and greens, with burgundy accents, found in the colors of small stained glass squares decorating the large glass-enclosed side porch. She located other items, such as a favorite sea glass bracelet, and an old blue ceramic jar, to help her understand how the colors would work together.
After she described her vision to Mihalis, he recommended hues from the Sherwin-Williams palette to create the 10 colors in the final palette. “He took a good idea, and made it even better,” Hutzel says. “The house has retained its refined, classic character, but has shed its former somber tones for a more relaxed, joyous presence.”
Mihalis helped to verify the colors selected by painting swatches of the main house colors on parts of the exterior. He and Hutzel reviewed the colors at various times of day, and then selected the main house color, a custom color blue matched at the Sherwin-Williams store.
Revel Blue (SW 6530) was chosen for the horizontal trim work, with Celestial (SW 6808) to accent the three-window bay effect of the side architecture. The secondary colors, a pastel green (Supreme Green, SW 6442) and a more olive hue (Rural Green, SW 6418), were then chosen. Rural Green was also used on the slate roof. Alabaster (SW 7008) was used in all areas where Hutzel desired a creamy white color was desired, including window frames, railing spindles and a side porch. She notes that the repetition of a color, such as a blue or green in various shades, adds a feeling of depth to the architecture.
“This painting and restoration project is our contribution to the ongoing history of this magnificent home,” Hutzel says. “We are thrilled with the results, and are very grateful for the skill, professionalism, and craftsmanship of the Gikas team.”
Paint products & perfecting the process
Repainting older houses requires special attention to products and surface prep, says Mihalis, whose company Gikas Painting has perfected its process painting more than 500 such homes in the last 10 years.
His crews start with paint shavers to strip off old layers of paint. “You can destroy siding with these machines, so you have to know what you’re doing, and be really careful.” Then they sand down to the bare wood, using increasingly fine screens.
Next, carpenters are brought in to fix any damaged or missing wood. As a full-service company, Gikas Painting has specialists in carpentry, roofing, gutters and insulation on staff. That was important to the success of the Everitt House restoration as several architectural details and a back porch had to be rebuilt.
Once all the old paint is removed, they caulk all openings with Sherwin-Williams 950A Siliconized Acrylic Latex Caulk, a top-of-the-line product that provides an excellent water and weather-resistant seal. Next, they prime the surface with A-100® Oil Primer.
“It’s a heavy duty, deep penetrating primer,” Mihalis says. “To me, it's the best primer on the market. I’ve used it for many years, and it’s never failed me.”
Once the primer is dry (give it at least 24 hours, he advises), it’s time for the topcoat. Resilience™ Exterior Latex was used at the Everitt House. When the first coat was dry, more sanding was done to eliminate any imperfections, especially in the architectural details. A second coat of Resilience finished the job.
“We like the satin sheen for siding,” Mihalis says. “It’s easy to work with, spreads really nice. But moisture protection is the No. 1 reason we like it – that’s the best feature I can sell to my customers.” With the combination of Resilience and A-100 Primer, he says, he feels comfortable offering a 10-year warranty.
New EPA RRP regulations enacted in 2010 mean contractors have to take extra steps to prevent the potential of exposure to lead dust while repainting older homes. At the Everitt House, for example, Gikas Painting worked on one side of the house at a time, taking care to encapsulate the work area and secure the site with special caution tape. Debris and dust was collected by HEPA vacuums and properly disposed in special sealed 6-mil bags. More information on safe lead practices can be found at epa.gov/lead.