How often should I paint the outside of my home?

Submitted by Scott on Sun, 2010-01-17 22:40

How often you should paint is an interesting question.  Colour trends aside it really becomes an issue of protecting your home from water damage.  When water seeps into wood and then freezes it expands and rips the wood apart from the inside.  On bare metal it causes rust.  In exterior painting an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.  We'll take a look at each surface and what you should be doing to take care of the outside of your home.

Lets start with windows.  Done properly wood windows should be done every five years.  If cost is a factor and you're not changing the colour you can often just do the sills.  Generally speaking if bare wood is showing or the paint is cracking it should be re-caulked and re-coated.  I typically recommend using an oil primer or a product like Flood Solid Stain to make sure the wood is sealed.  Once that's done a good Low-lustre or semi-gloss latex paint is your best bet.  Recently Benjamin Moore introduced their Aura line of paint in an exterior version.  At this point it's the only water-bourne paint that I trust sticking to bare wood.  The adhesion this product has is unbelievable and the colour retention is outstanding.  It's not cheap but it's the only product other than Flood that I trust as both the base and finish coat.

Siding typically will last 8-10 years, often more before it shows wear.  Some products claim to last longer but usually don't look very good by the time their guarantte is up.  Siding tends to show fading and look bad far before it becomes a maintenance issue.  For really dry or problem siding (rough cedar usually) I'd recommend using an alkyd stain to seal the wood.  A high quality acrylic top coat will hold colour better than an alkyd as it has better UV resistance.  If your siding is in good shape to begin with and reasonably well sealed 2 coats of an Acrylic paint or stain is more than sufficient.

Decks done in a solid colour should last 5 years.  Please, please, please don't use a latex stain over bare wood.  You'll be re-doing it every year or two (at best) if you do.  Use an oil-based stain or an emulsion such as Flood so it doesn't peel up and is easy to re-coat when the time comes.  Transparent or semi-transparent stains typically last 1 - 3 years.  I've recently become a fan of Sansin procucts for their durability and eco-friendliness.  Sikkens still sets the bar for quality but make sure you have a mask and gloves if your using it; there are some nasty chemicals in there.  The more sun the deck gets the faster it wears typically.  Again, bare wood is bad.  Get it re-coated before a real problem arrives.

Factory coated metal and stucco never need to be painted for purely practical reasons but we do a lot of both regardless.  For metal make sure its well cleaned and a high quality metal primer is used first (We often use Bullseye 123.  Kilz, ICI, General Paint, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and many others also make high-quality metal primers).  Once primed any acrylic paint can be used as a top coat. 

For stucco I recommend using a semi-elastomeric paint.  It's not crucial but we've found it to be more durable over the long run.  For houses using a full-elastomeric is often serious overkill.  A regular acrylic is enough but typically won't be as durable.  Once painted both metal and stucco should last as long if not longer than their wood counterparts.

Those are the basics.  Hope it helps!

Scott Appleby has been a professional painter since 2002 and currently operates a franchise of Appleby Painting Ltd. in Calgary, AB. A self-professed 'paint geek' he has trained over 20 people how to paint.
He can be contacted at 403-607-2225 or infoatapplebypainting [dot] ca

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