We all know the outside of the house takes a real beating. Rain, sun,
heat, and cold can all take their toll- especially on wood surfaces
where the individual fibers of the wood can become separated and break down if not properly protected. In most cases, exterior painting is your first line of defense against the elements. We will discuss here some of the things to look for that will let you know it’s time to renew your paint job. Also a few pointers on how to get the most life out of your paint and how to know whether your painting contractor is doing the job right.
First, a few simple things you can do to maintain your exterior paint and make sure you get the most out of it. Here are the things we find most often that accelerate paint breakdown:
- Sprinklers– Poorly aimed sprinklers are probably the single most
common avoidable cause of paint failure that we see. Turn on your sprinklers and make sure that they don’t soak the house anywhere, especially painted wood windows. Too much water can destroy wood, stucco, and paint in a matter of months. Adjust or replace any sprinkler heads that hit the house.
- Plants Too Close– Again, plants can trap moisture, dirt, and other
contaminants that can accelerate the aging process of an exterior
paint job. Trees planted too close can also force their roots under the slab and cause problems there as well.
- Clean Your House– Yes, an occasional rinse with a hose will not
only keep your house looking fresh, but wash contaminants off that can attack and break down the paint film.
- Shade Your House– After water, sun is the single worst enemy of
your exterior paint. If you have a strong exposure to the sun, consider putting up awnings or planting shade trees. Not
only will they protect your paint, but they’ll help cut down on your air conditioning bill as well.
Next, the signs to look for that indicate it may be time to paint:
- Cracking– Watch for tiny cracks in the paint. These will usually
show first on wood surfaces on the sunny side of the house. These are usually created by the paint and the substrate expanding and contracting at different rates. Modern paints are extremely flexible, but over time will become stressed and brittle and start to crack. Once these cracks form they allow moisture to seep through which then goes to work below the surface. Cracks indicate it’s definitely time to schedule an appointment for a painting estimate.
- Blistering– Quite often the paint will start to work loose from
the substrate before it actually cracks. This can be due to the
failure of an underlying coat of paint, improper preparation of the
surface before the last paint job, or an internal moisture source-
perhaps a roof or plumbing leak.
- Peeling– If paint is coming off in large areas, take care of the
problem immediately. Exposed wood can begin to break down very quickly and become an attractive entry point for termites and other pests.
- Peeling Stucco– Color coat peeling off the stem wall (the portion
of the wall just above ground level) is common, but may indicate
over watering next to the house. Moisture is drawn up through the concrete and then looks for a way out, forcing the stucco to
separate from the concrete. If stucco is peeling anywhere above the screed mold (the lower lip of the main stucco), or if rust is
present, it usually indicates moisture is coming from somewhere inside the wall, or the wall is being hit by sprinklers. Check sprinklers first. If they are not hitting the house have an expert
come out to check for the source as this could create an environment for mold to grow unseen inside the walls.
- Tired of the Color– Yes, it’s OK to paint the exterior of your home just because you don’t like the color!
Finally, things to look for in a good paint job:
- Pressure Wash– It’s a good idea to give the entire building a good
cleaning to remove dirt, mildew, and other contaminants. It can also help accelerate removal of old paint, but this must be done
cautiously so as not to damage underlying surfaces and must be
followed up with a mechanical scraping.
- Remove ALL loose and peeling paint. Any loose paint that’s
left behind will eventually fail and take the top coat with it.
Heavy edges should be sanded smooth.
- Prime bare wood or metal with appropriate primer. This isn’t
necessary for stucco or most masonry once it has cured, and there are some paints that are self priming. Most enameled surfaces (doors, some trim) will require priming and/or a thorough sanding.
- Fill voids with appropriate caulk or patching compound. Cracks and voids can leave an entry point for moisture or pests that then get under the paint and can destroy from the inside out.
- Quality paint– Labor is the major component of the cost of any
exterior paint job. There’s no good reason to skimp on the paint, it will at most affect the price by 4-5%.
Of course, we will be happy to provide you with a quality paint job,
and are always available for free estimates. Contact us by e-mail or call 760-433-4800 or 619-823-4438 to set up an appointment.