House Painting Update + What Is Artillery Fungus?!

It feels like we’ve been talking about painting our house since the day we got the keys almost two years ago, so we are thrilled to say that it’s finally happening! It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though, because renovation projects never are, right?

Let’s start at the beginning. Here’s our house before anything was painted…

Beige and green and blah. Not our style. So after a lot of testing, we chose a bright, fresh color palette of light grey for the siding and crisp white for the trim and brick:

Painting this house with vinyl siding is a MUCH different process than when we had our old, wood-siding house painted. That house took eight weeks to paint because it had to be hand-scraped/sanded and then hand-painted with a brush. This house should only take about 10 days!

To start the process, the guys power washed the whole house, first spraying it with a light chemical cleaner to remove dirt. After a few days to let the house dry, they painted the first coat of white on the brick and garage door. We immediately loved it!

Then our happiness was interrupted when our painters noticed that little green spots were showing up on the garage door, and when they tested the grey paint on the vinyl siding, the same thing happened. Then they noticed that the unpainted vinyl was covered with the tiniest black spots, the size of a pin dot. You had to be standing right up against the siding to see them, but when they were painted, they went from black to bright green and were more noticeable (but still only the size of the tip of a pen.) The spots were not appearing on the brick at all, probably because it’s so porous.

Here you can see how the dots were showing up on the vinyl siding once it was painted with a coat of the light grey we’d chosen:

They’re tiny, for sure, but it was clear that there was something wrong with our siding… but what is it?

Artillery fungus:
After lots of internet research, Andy and I learned that the issue is called “artillery fungus,” which is caused by a fungus that lives in some mulch and “shoots” onto siding, like a shotgun, hence “artillery.” It’s actually quite common in this area and throughout the Northeast U.S. in areas that get a lot of rain, and it shows up most on light-colored houses. Apparently it often has a tar-like feel when you touch it and can be scraped off, but I’m assuming ours was old because it wasn’t sticky and you couldn’t scrape it off. Artillery fungus is not dangerous to people or pets and it doesn’t do any permanent damage to your home. It’s just unsightly, if you even know it’s there. Once we started looking, we noticed that both of our neighbors’ houses had the same thing. (Here’s an article about artillery fungus if you want to read more.)

Leaving it as is certainly crossed our mind, especially since the spots were so small, but ultimately that just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. The biggest concern was that we could run into a situation where there was a huge patch of fungus that was much more visible than the small area we sampled.

So what do you do? Our painter started out looking into three main options:

1. find a primer that might cover it: normally vinyl siding does not need to be primed if you’re using the correct formula paint, and the Sherwin-Williams experts that our painter spoke with said they actually do not offer a primer that would fix the problem on the siding. However, they did recommend a spray-on primer that worked great for the garage.

2. find a chemical that might clean it: our painter tested out what he called a “badass” chemical that ended up working. They sprayed it on the house (while I stayed safely indoors!), and power washed it off. Luckily it did a great job.

3. choose a different paint that might cover it: when he tested a darker color paint on the vinyl, the spots didn’t come through. We weren’t in love with the idea of having to change colors when it had already taken us so long to make a decision, but we were willing to try anything.

We sampled two darker shades of grey that were on the same strip as Misty, the color we’d originally chosen — SW Uncertain Gray and SW Foggy Day — and we actually really liked Uncertain Gray, which is two shades darker than Misty. Our painter had already bought all our Misty paint, but since the new color was a darker shade on the same strip, he could get it re-tinted for no charge. I didn’t know that was possible, so it’s so good to know!

Ultimately we decided to both wash the house again with a stronger chemical cleaner and switch to a darker paint. Our painter recommended re-power washing the house with the stronger chemical to make sure everything was done right, and we also decided to go with the darker color that hides the spots, just to be safe.

Here’s the back of the house now with a coat of Uncertain Gray…

We love it!

(Please ignore our completely embarrassing landscaping or lack thereof! That’ll be next summer’s project!

We actually like this new Uncertain Gray color even better than the original Misty color we had chosen! We were worried this darker shade would feel too dark or heavy, but it’s much lighter than we expected and looks really good with the brick and trim in Extra White. I think the original color Misty would have ended up being too light and would have read white from the street… so yay for fungus making us change our plans?!

The painters should actually finish the whole job today, so stay tuned for the final finished photos sooooon!

For the new few weeks posts are going to be sporadic, so be sure to sign up for our email list to make sure you don’t miss anything! 

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