Our Philippine House Project – Paint and Painting

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We built a house on Panay Island in the Philippines. Here’s what we learned about paint and painting.  One observation is that paint and painting were a larger expense than we expected. We used a huge amount of paint, including the dozens of gallons of epoxy primer on our metal roof framing.

These are the steps we followed in painting the walls.

1. The finished concrete walls need to cure from two weeks to a month before painting. The setting of concrete is a much longer chemical process than it seems.

2. The walls are treated with a neutralizer to reduce the alkalinity of the concrete. The quality and durability of the paint job depends on the concrete curing and being neutralized. We used Boysen #44 Masonry Neutralizer. This is diluted 16/1. Be careful with these neutralizers. They seem to be pretty strong acids. We applied the dilute neutralizer with an ordinary paint roller and pan. When the neutralizer is dry the wall can be washed down with water or sanded to remove any efflorescence caused by the reaction between the concrete and the neutralizer.

Applying concrete neutralizer

Applying concrete neutralizer

3. Next we primed the walls. We used Boysen B701 “Permatex” flat latex paint applied with a roller.  It’s a bit counter-intuitive that the primer goes on before the filling of cracks, but that’s what Boysen recommends and my crew concurred.  The Boysen website has detailed instructions on how to use its products

4. At this point, there probably will be lots of hairline cracks in the wall. That’s normal. This next step is to apply a very thin coat of masonry putty to the wall. We used Boysen #7311. It’s applied with a putty knife or a small piece of sheet metal serving the same function. The putty seems to be very similar to the gypsum joint compound used to fill joints in gypsum wall board. This water based material is NOT suitable for use on exterior walls. For exterior walls use the solvent-based Boysen Acrytex putty. We also used Acrytex in the bathrooms.  Acrytex is a solvent based product which is harder and more unpleasant to use than the regular masonry putty.  Your crew (or contractor) may be tempted to use the regular putty on the exterior of the building.  Make them learn to use the Acrytex.

cracks

Normal cracks in concrete finishing

Applying masonry putty

Applying masonry putty

Boysen masonry putty

Boysen masonry putty

5. Once the masonry putty dries, the wall is sanded. We bought a Bosch GSS140A orbital sander at Far Eastern Hardware. I preferred the Porter Cable model I had in the U.S. The paper attachment system on the Bosch is a bit flaky.

Sanding after putty

Sanding after putty

Painting master bedroom ceiling

Painting master bedroom ceiling

6. When the sanding is complete and the dust cleaned up, it’s time for the finish coat. We are using Boysen “Permatex” gloss or semi-gloss latex paint.

Our steel casement windows, which were built on-site as described in another section, were primed with Boysen red two-part epoxy primer and then painted with Boysen Quick Dry enamel.

All structural steelwork (rafters, purlins, angle bar and exposed rebar) were also painted with the epoxy primer.  Epoxy primer sets fairly quickly so it should me mixed in small batches.  It’s important to supervise the crew to make sure they understand the correct proportions of the epoxy paint and hardener.  It’s difficult to clean the epoxy out of brushes so we just bought inexpensive brushes by the dozen.

 

Painting windows - final coat of enamel

 

Many gallons of epoxy primer on all metal work!

This post may sound like an advertisement for Boysen paint.  We have had good luck with Boysen.  We’ve experimented with other brands, especially since some of the others sold at the big hardware stores offer the convenience of pre-mixed colors.  We tried some of the pre-mixed paints from Ace hardware and did not feel that the quality was as good as Boysen.

We’ve been buying our paint from Quezon Paints on Quezon Street in Iloilo City.  Bring them a paint sample and they’ll do a good job of matching it.  We are using a very light gray on the exterior of our house.  The Quezon Paint worker worked so hard to make a perfect match using white gloss paint and black and Sienna pigments.  He was a real paint matching artist!  We bought most of our interior and exterior latex paint in 16 liter buckets.  That way the chance of color consistency was better than trying to have individual gallon cans match each other.  We also acquired the prized heavy-plastic pails the paint came in.  Oil based paint comes in less desirable metal cans.   Oh, yes — always ask for a discount when you buy anything.

"puti" gecko

"puti" gecko

This house gecko fell into the paint pail.  Luckily it was latex paint.  We took him out to the water pump, washed him off and he (or she) scampered away.

Our crew did most of the painting but we hired a professional painter to “paint” our door casings, doors and baseboards.  Painting may not be the right description of what he does. It’s more like finishing furniture.  It’s interesting that the wood is not stained.  The pigment is all in the sealer and/or lacquer.

  • First the wood is sanded.
  • Then it is sprayed with Boysen pigmented sanding sealer and resanded and resealed as needed.
  • Then it is sprayed with multiple coats of pigmented Boysen dead flat lacquer.   This avoids the over glossy look we did not desire.

This finishing gave just the look we wanted — very similar to the furniture we eventually bought from Mandaue Foam.  Based on our first year, it does not appear that this is a suitable finish for the outside of exterior doors.

Sanding the doors

Sanding the doors

These are Orowood brand “15 panel” doors.  They cost P2650 each and are made of mahogany with many finger joints.  We used this particular door everywhere except for the 100cm main entrance door as the 15 panel model was not available in that width. We have had no problems with warping.

doors_sprayingThe door on the right is done.

Kitchen door

Kitchen door

 

Comments (47) Write a comment

  1. Hi! How big is your house (sq. ft.). And if can you tell me how much is the total cost for only the exterior paint job + labor.
    Thanks.

    Reply

    • Sorry, I can’t tell you the cost of painting our house. Our construction crew, who were our employees did all the painting, inside and out. We bought all the paint ourselves so were able to shop for the best prices. I was surprised at how much paint we had to buy. It’s not a minor expense. We used all Boysen products and think they are excellent.

      Reply

  2. Hello! Thanks for your informative post! I’d just like to ask, you mentioned about hiring a professional painter to stain your doors – could you possibly direct me to your painter or maybe give some ideas on where to start looking (like what kind of shop does this kind of work)? Can’t seem to find any, at least in our vicinity. I would really, really appreciate your help on this!

    Reply

    • Sorry, we don’t even know the name of the painters. They were brought in by our foreman.

      Reply

  3. I should add to my previous comment that Acrytex is NOT easy to use. A. Cast is not as easily spread as regular masonry putty. Further, the paint can info AND! the Boysen website do not explain that Acretex Reducer needs to be used with these products for them to be applied smoothly. . And Acrytex Reducer quickly causes pain to bare hands; not pleasant at all to use. Be careful.

    Reply

  4. A very fine overview on painting for anyone building their own house in the Philippines. I’ve been here for 13 years & also have used the same procedures & Boysen paints for the most part. Davis Paint is also of good quality but I found the Boysen website & also its client advisers can be contacted & are very helpful.

    Reply

  5. Great Post (considering i did a lot of painting in college but I was unfamiliar with the concrete painting prep procedures)!
    This post saved me a lot of future headaches.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  6. First of all thank you for sharing this very useful documentation of your project. Many of my questions have been answered by your experience and those that have shared theirs too. I have still to paint the house of my Mother and wanted a bare concrete and wood look. Any idea how to treat this concept? I would like to limit painting to the exterior and only parts of the interior for illumination (whites and light grey). If you have any idea would very much appreciate it Bob! Did the lizard survive his bodypaint? All the best to you and your family!

    Reply

    • Do,

      I have seen many building where concrete was left bare as part of the design, but my design sense is not good enough to even dare make suggestions on this. Usually these are poured concrete buildings and sometimes the ridges left by the forms are left as part of the design. As for the lizard, we washed him off and he ran away. I think he/she was OK. Good luck.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  7. Hi good day is there any paint that can solve roof side leak everytime heavy rain falls? its always a problem. Hope you could advice me waht to do.tnx advance

    Reply

    • Rachelle,

      In my experience, paint or sealants or roofing cements rarely solve roof leaks. They may just stop them for a short time, at best. The basic problem with the roofing needs to be found and fixed. These include corrosion, poor flashing, inadequate overlap and so forth.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  8. is it ok if i don’t put equalizer and just go on with the prime coat then the top coat?

    Reply

    • We would not risk it. We assume that concrete is alkaline and that that alkalinity could case the paint film to fail. That’s the purpose of the neutralizer. Neutralizer is inexpensive but a failed paint job could be a disaster. Why risk it?

      Reply

  9. hi sir, my painter advise to use welcoat instead boysen… which is good and proven to you? my little house is 79 sq, mtr… they are cost is 140k php… including roof painting… pls. help/.

    Reply

    • Mari,

      We really can’t comment on Welcoat as we have never used it. We can only say that we are very satisfied with the performance of our Boysen paints. Congratulations on building a 79SM house for P149,000. That’s less than P2,000 per square meter. How did you do it?

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  10. Hey Bob,

    Very nice job there man. You are very kind to go to the trouble of sharing your experiences and your blog has been very helpful to me as my house construction was only supervised by a foreman. May I ask what you used as plastering to your ceilings? The plaster they used on our ceiling failed and the plywood joints showed up as tiny cracks after only a month. I also noticed this in other houses so I’m guessing what my painter did was only common practice in this country. I hope yours turned out much better.

    Reply

    • Glenn,

      Did you see the section on our ceilings http://myphilippinelife.com/our-philippine-house-project-ceiling-support-system/ ? Our ceilings were not plastered. We used Hardiflex cement board. The joints were filled with polyester filler, similar to auto body filler. The filler in the joints was sanded. Also, we broke up the 4X8 sheets of Hardiflex into 2X4′ panels with a bevel on the exposed edges. This tends to hide any imperfections better than unbroken expanses of ceiling. If you look closely you can see some imperfections in the finishing but overall we are pleased. We originally planned to use plywood ceilings, but we were advised by our readers to use Hardiflex. We are so happy we followed that advice. The quality of much of the plywood is very poor.

      Bob

      Reply

  11. Hi Bob

    Great Blog. Congratulations on battling through the issues and building a wonderful house. Your trials and tribulations are so familiar 🙂

    Am wondering how you achieved the beautiful dark wood colour for the doors. It is exactly what I want. Do you know if the pigment used was Boysen “Lamp Black” applied in the ratio 1:16 (tint:laquer) as described on the Boysen website? http://www.boysen.com.ph/products.do?item_id=1067

    Thanks and regards

    Richard

    Reply

    • Thanks for your kind words. Painters are secretive, but they asked us to buy the pigments. They used Boysen lamp black, burnt umber and chrome yellow. I don’t know the proportion, but very little of the chrome yellow was used.

      Bob

      Reply

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  13. Gud day,after applying the concrete neutralizer,how many day should the primer be applied? Thank you very much & hope to hear from you.

    Reply

    • Here is what Boysen says:

      MIXING RATIO: 1 part Boysen® Masonry Neutralizer #44 to 16 parts clean water

      PAINTING SCHEDULE:

      1st step: Remove oil and grease by detergent cleaning.
      2nd step: Apply diluted Boysen® Masonry Neutralizer and let stand overnight
      3rd step: Rough sand surface to remove efflorescence salts

      See http://www.boysen.com.ph/products.do?item_id=958

      Reply

  14. Hi Bob,

    We’re renovating our kitchen and need some advice on kitchen cabinetry.Since it will be a full functioning kitchen( of course my household help mainly, will be taking full advantage of it) , we were advised to use marine plywood.Since it has no exciting wood grain, we’ve decided to apply a Duccos finish.

    Any thoughts ?

    Thanks!

    Reply

  15. Bob,

    It’s been a couple of weeks since my front fence has been plastered and I’m now noticing a lot of hairline cracks in the finish which was fine screened sand and cement. My masons insist that I have to re-plaster with pure cement, but this seems to be prohibitively expensive both in materials and labor. Did you use Boysen Acrytex putty on your fence walls or did you just overlook the cracks?

    Theodore

    Reply

    • Ted,

      We finished the front of our wall with one layer of sand and cement finishing and then final finishing with pure cement — just like the interior walls of the house. You are right that such fine finishing is expensive. At first we left the remainder of our walls unfinished. The,when we built the house, we used the crew to do rough sand/cement finishing of the raw hollow block walls. This was to protect the hollow block from weathering. We were not looking for anything fancy. Some has sprawled off. The finishing sticks to the hollow block pretty well but does not adhere to the smooth surface of the concrete posts and tie beams quite so well. That does not matter as those surfaces really don’t need protection.

      Bob

      Reply

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  17. I avoid having to neutralize new concrete walls by using Boysen Acrytex Primer. It is a superior primer and provides waterproofing. You can top it of with Latex, enamel, Acrytex top coat etc. putty as usual.

    Reply

  18. I would have recommended you use Boysen Xyladecor for your wood staining. It is a fantastic 4 in one product that has been around for such a long time, I have been using it for 20 years, but it is not very well known. 1. It stains a nice finish without the high gloss of varnish etc, 2. it waterproofs the wood and is recommended for exterior and interior applications, 3. it preserves wood, 4. it prevents termites and borers. It works better and last longer than solignum, this I have proven. I use it on jambs, doors, windows and all exposed woods. Perfect for bathroom woodtrim. Its a German product designed for the tropics. You have a good range of shades, I prefer mahogany, teak and clear.

    Reply

    • Ricky, thanks for the suggestion about Boysen Xyladecor. Sounds good. I’ll get a can and give it a try. Bob

      Reply

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  21. Nice! I wish I could find good skilled workers like you have when it is time for me to build my dream home. I like what you have done with doors and the effect of the colored glass above it.

    Reply

  22. This will probably seem like a peculiar question, but it is the result of your high-resolution photos and my attention to detail. What is the circular opening seen in “painting master bedroom ceiling” and “almost done” near the ceiling above the worker wearing a green shirt? I noticed a similar opening in the kitchen above the window opposite the well. Your description of finishing the doors is very similar to finishing fine furniture – except that a tack cloth would have been used after each sanding wet/dry paper and water. Your professional has done a nice job on the doors.

    Reply

    • Theodore,

      The holes are for “pin lights” – recessed ceiling light fixtures.

      Bob
      http://

      Reply

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  24. Hi Bob,
    When you next need some light gray, Davies do a “Sun and Rain” masonry paint colour “tinge of Gray” its water soluble and about 450 a gallon.
    Yes the paint mixers do a great job of doing your personal colour, we had a deep cherry red done for our main doors and after a few touch ups from the old tin will need to pay them another visit.
    Would love to know how the professionals obtain the orange peel effect must be with a spray gun? They have done a great job inside and outside of our house with what seems like a washable vinyl finish on the inside. They have also done the peel effect on a white semi gloss wooden shelf unit, its really great and covers any little imperfections. The outside spotty effect was done with one of those metal contraptions that makes a noise like a football rattle, it flicks a watery cement mix at the walls and this also covers the joins of the hardiflex panels.
    Would not want to use ace hardware mixes for a large area, we asked for a liter of an “apple white” emulsion and the price was not far off the gallon of “off the shelf” !
    Peter

    Reply

  25. The house is looking great. I bet your happy to start seeing some color on the walls and not looking at the concret gray any more. One thing that I have been told about when paint is going on the walls the home owners thing that they will be able to move in within two weeks. But the real time line is still four to six weeks away. The reason that is, as you most likely know, that there is still a lot of little things that need to be done.

    Anyway, looking great and the time that you have left is a short one compaired to the time that has gone by already.

    Bill

    Reply

  26. Bob looking at the picture of them painting your master bedroom shows the extra large windows you have talked about. Very nice work.

    Reply

    • Hi Ron,

      Yes, we’re very happy with the windows. The place is light and pretty cool without aircon.

      Bob

      Reply

    • Dan, I’m really not sure. We just followed the Boysen instructions. See http://www.boysen.com.ph/choosepaint.do?item_id=629
      We’ve been painting the outside using the Boysen Acrytex Cast putty and gloss Permacoat. The results are really excellent. The Acrytex is a little hard to work with but the result is hard, smooth finish. Then we prime again and put on the finish coat.

      Bob

      http://

      Reply

  27. Bob, having a lot of hard surface made of concrete, makes sound and noise travel faster and not very good to ones ear. Have you consider any sound dampening or acoustic material. Perhaps the paint can do the job if you apply enough coats.

    Reply

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