Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5759 - June 9, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by











Home and Family
Do It Yourself
With Yosef Krinsky

With the spring here, and everything getting so beautiful and cheerful outside, when we look at our drab homes, it may be time to paint. Whether you choose a professional or decide to do it yourself, you should always be involved in choosing the right paints. I've spent hours removing the wrong ones from homes; its a waste of my time and their money. In the long run if you get off to a good start, your home will look perfect, and stay that way for a long time.

Just as a house can't stand on an improper foundation, paint can't either. Choosing the right undercoat is more important than the quality of the paint you use. The right undercoat will make the difference between having a beautiful, long-lasting finish or a temporary paint job that will only last a few months. Undercoats or primers are for stabilizing and sealing, and sometimes treating various imperfect surfaces. A chalky or powdery surface will not hold paint, but if these areas are treated with an undercoat such as Tambour's Super Bonderall, Finnigan's Stabilizing Solution 2000, Ace Primer-Sealer-Stain Killer, or BIN Primer, they can hold paint for a long time. These are generally clear or white pigmented but can be tinted to match whatever top coat of paint you will ultimately use.

The greatest test to know if you really need a primer is to see if the paint is cracking or peeling. Put a six-inch strip of masking tape on the wall and after two or three minutes remove the tape and check if paint particles are on the tape; another test is to rub the wall with a damp rag. If the wall is cracking or peeling, or if you notice particles on the tape or the rag has paint on it, you need to prime the wall. If you are in doubt, it is always best to use a primer.

Newer construction usually needs primer. ACE Primer in the USA and Tamborfill in Israel are designed for new drywall and will properly set the surface. Specialty primers for preparing aluminum, plastic, Formica, steel, and even hides and leathers are also available. (For example, one of my earliest memories was as a child helping my grandfather paint a whale and dinosaur bones in The Museum of Natural History in New York. There were no commercially available paints or primers for this, so he mixed his own, something many other professional painters still do to this day.)

There are primers for areas that had been oil painted previously and now water based paint will be applied. Among the best are the synthetic primer from Tambour, Ace, and Finnigan's, and BullsEye 123. A word of caution: It is very important to follow the instructions and to thin these correctly before use or they will not do their job properly.

If you or your painter is not using the right primers, then the job at best will only be temporary. I've seen homes with the best paints applied, but someone forgot to apply the proper undercoat and entire rooms started flaking and peeling. This later cost the homeowner a fortune to remove all the improperly applied paint, replaster the walls, undercoat, then paint. Just skipping one little step can really ruin all the work. And, unfortunately, this sometimes takes four months to a year to show up, so when speaking to your painter's references, specifically ask them if he even used a primer. Other excellent, specialty undercoats are also available from local companies and imports (which can be found on the Internet). One of my personal favorites is the BullsEye 123 from Zinsser Paints in New Jersey.

The types of paints commonly available are: whitewash, latex (or emulsion), acrylic, polyurethane, lacquer and specialty paints. Whitewash is recommenced for ceilings because it is not washable and will allow moisture to pass through (which is very handy if your upstairs neighbor or the roof has a leak your ceiling will not show much damage).

Latex and acrylic are plastic paints that are usually washable. Latex is primarily used indoors and acrylic is for the exterior, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Some of the best interior paints include the Sherwin William's Interior Paint, Wallmart Interior, and ACE Royal, these names are available in the USA, England and Israel. These are available in acrylic and can be used for the outside as well as inside.

Polyurethane is an oil-based enamel and is primarily used on doors, windows and metal. The lacquer paints can also be used as the polyurethane, but are an older technology and don't last nearly as well. This, unfortunately, includes the Israeli Superlac paints preferred by Israeli painters for enamel and metal surfaces. The preferred choice for painting metal (bars) is Grainville and Hammerite from the U.K., and Rustoleum from the USA. Besides being very rust-resistant, they give the nicest finish available. Recently in Jerusalem, we painted the Ramban Shul. The metal work by the Aron Hakodesh was very dull and dingy. We painted it with Hammerite, and afterwards used a high gloss varnish. Now it sparkles.

With the best undercoats and the best quality paints, you are on the way to a terrific-looking home. One that will last a long time.

In Israel, Mrs. Anonymous asks, My house has an old- fashioned oil heater with a chimney. The old chimney which was made of concrete/asbestos was mostly replaced by an enamel chimney but some pieces of the old asbestos chimney remain. Also, two covered balconies are `roofed' with material which is asbestos or cement/asbestos. These roofs are old and exposed to outdoor elements and are therefore not in such great condition. Could you recommend how to remove such items?

You are right in being concerned that there is asbestos in your home. However, asbestos is dangerous in an uncovered form and possibly cancer-causing in powder form. There are very few if any qualified contractors worldwide who can remove asbestos safely. The best course of action would be to paint these items with a quality undercoat and top coat paint. While doing so, wear a breathing mask / filter for both organic and inorganic compounds (the packaging should list asbestos as items it would filter, never believe the sales clerk for something not written). Also your hands and head should be covered, and afterwards dispose of all your worn clothing. If the area they take up needs to be better insulated, cover these areas with your new roofing material. Under no circumstances should anyone not qualified remove such items do so. Never drill or sand asbestos.

Today's Do It Yourself Hint: If you have any hi-tech equipment such as computer, microwave, CD player, digital telephone, etc., attach them to the electric current via a voltage spike (or surge) suppressor. When the electric company changes from one generator to another, there are sometimes slight surges of power which could damage this equipment. The spike suppressors are relatively inexpensive and available at any electronics or computer retail shop. Yosef Krinsky, a third generation craftsman, is the CEO of Walls R Us House Painting, Inc., Jerusalem Division. He can be reached at (02) 585-9559; common mail POB 27355, Jerusalem, Israel; email at Homeowners (renters too) are invited to email their questions for a somewhat quick reply. He will publish names of individuals who ask for advice unless they explicitly request to remain anonymous. The whale he painted in New York is still there.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.