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Homeowner Chips Away At Resolving Peeling Problem

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HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — Paint or stain can really spruce up the exterior of a home. Once the paint is on and it looks great, you are ready to move on.

A Wake County homeowner's problem is not with the work that was done, but how long it lasted.

Eric Steffenhagen said the paint-like stain that was put on his house 15 months ago is chipping, peeling and practically falling off the house.

Steffenhagen paid First Aid Painting of Cary almost $4,600 to do the job. Last spring, it started to peel.

Since First Aid offered a two-year warranty, Steffenhagen called the company.

Owner Brad Halferty sent stain samples to the manufacturer. Tests found "no evidence" that the stain or First Aid were "at fault." The report stated the wood is simply "separating from itself taking the stain with it."

"When you look at the back of the chips, you can see and feel that there's wood fibers on the back of the chips. The lab report also indicates that's what's happening," Halferty said.

The manufacturer still offered free stain to redo the house, but Halferty said since it is not "defective workmanship," the warranty does not apply. He only offered to provide labor at his cost.

Steffenhagen feels the $4,600 he already paid is enough.

"To think of spending more on top of that, to me is absolutely ridiculous," he said.

Halferty calls it a difficult situation.

"If I were in his shoes, I'd feel the same way," he said.

Halferty told Five On Your Side that if Steffenhagen got different test results, he would restain the house for free.

So Steffenhagen hired Dr. Larry Jahn, a wood products expert and former professor at North Carolina State University.

Jahn blames "inadequate surface preparation," saying First Aid should have first sanded the house to remove the old stain then primed it before staining.

"I think it was an opinion," Halferty said.

Since Jahn did not do a lab test, Halferty said he is not budging.

"I simply can't pay for something we're not responsible for," Halferty said.

Steffenhagen said since he hired Halferty as the professional, Halferty should back up his work.

"I just can't believe that in the amount of time that it took to go from beautiful to this, that the applicator will not accept responsibility for his problem," Steffenbhagen said.

Halferty said he has painted about 1,300 homes and this is the first time he has seen stain peel. He also said it is the first time he has disputed a warranty claim. Halferty suggested the best way to resolve this might be going to court.