Everyone wants their home to be the envy of the street. Popular DIY shows spend countless hours and dollars working the landscaping and really trying to bring curb appeal to the property, but often the home itself is overlooked. Painting the home is an integral part of having that “pop” that sets your home apart. Not only is it important for aesthetics, but paint serves as a barrier between the elements and your investment. That’s why painting deserves star treatment!
Exterior painting allows you improve the appearance of your home and extend the life of its surfaces by many years. Only one coat of paint is usually needed on your home if it is not peeling or chalking, the substrate is in good condition and a change of color is not desired. Even the slightest color change will require two coats for optimal coverage. Two coats of paint are always preferred and often necessary. Several premium paints require two coats for their warranty to be effective. Different sheen’s and colors can also play a pivotal role in how long the life cycle of the painting job is going to last. Typically, paints with a flatter sheen are more porous and will fade quicker, while higher gloss paints tend to last longer. Darker colors also tend to fade sooner.
With a trained eye, you will be able to spot when your home needs a new paint job. If the paint is starting to get “chalky” (rubbing your hand on the surface leaves a chalky residue on your hand) it is time to paint! Putting this off now may mean more money later! When paint chalks, it is breaking down and no longer protecting your home the way it should. Peeling paint equals moisture problems. When paint peels, it allows moisture to come in contact with the substrate. It can also lead to additional damage to the remaining paint.
A good paint job will last anywhere from five to ten years. This depends on several factors: quality of the coating being applied, mil thickness of the paint, the substrate, but most importantly – THE PREPARATION! Proper preparation is the single most important part of any painting project. Any professional painter should be able to explain exactly what is going to take place during this process. I assure you preparation is 50% labor and 110% important to the outcome of the job. Below is a basic example of the minimum prep that should be completed before any paint bucket gets cracked open.
- – Pressure wash all surfaces using some type of detergent mixed with bleach.
- – Make sure all mildew, dirt, chalk, and contaminates have been cleaned off.
- – Scrape all peeling or rough areas, then sand to a tightly adherent feathered edge.
- – Caulk all cracks, gaps, transitions with an elastomeric or acrylic exterior grade caulk.
- – Prime any bare areas or newly installed wood.
- – Something that we HIGHLY recommend is the use of a bonding product such as Peel Bond on any properly prepared peeling area. This product will help to glue down the edges of the paint and help to alleviate any additional peeling. That being said, if your paint is peeling now there is a good chance it will have future problems. To prevent this, fully strip the surface or properly encapsulate peeling paint.
- – Allow ample time for the substrate to dry thoroughly before applying anything! Any amount of moisture will ruin your paint job.
Once the house is fully washed, scraped, sanded, caulked, primed and dry it is ready to receive paint. An important issue to keep in mind is the quality of the paint. Premium coating materials can leave you with a sense of “sticker shock” when comparing price per gallon. If you compare this price to the amount of labor involved to apply any coating, the pro’s outweigh the con’s. Let’s put it in dollar figures to help illustrate this point.
- – House A = All the aforementioned prep has been completed and the painters are going to apply two coats of a substandard quality paint. The home is going to take 20 gallons of paint at $15.00 a gallon. So if the total painting project (including labor) is costing the homeowner $5,000 , the paint is a very small portion of the total cost. Keep in mind this paint is only going to perform roughly four years (at best) before it needs to be re-coated.
- – House B = All the aforementioned prep has been completed and the painters are going to apply two coats of a premium quality paint. The home is going to take 20 gallons of paint at $25.00 a gallon. So if the total painting project (including labor) is costing the homeowners $5,200, the paint is still a very small portion of the total cost. This quality of paint should perform for six to seven years.
- – House C = All the before aforementioned prep has been completed and the painters are going to apply two coats of an ultra-premium quality paint. The home is going to take 25 gallons of paint at $40.00 a gallon. So if the total painting project (including labor) is costing the homeowners $5,700, the paint continues to remain a small portion of the total cost. This quality paint should easily perform for seven to ten plus years!
Here’s another way to think about it. The owners of House C are going to spend $5,700 dollars for a ten year paint job. The owners of House A are going to spend $10,000 dollars for a potential ten year paint job, because they will have to paint their home twice over those ten years to obtain the same results as House C. Plus, if the owners of House A neglect to paint when the poor quality paint starts to fail, they will also have substrate damage that will add to the cost. Proper preparation will start the process of a lasting paint job, but using quality products is the key to ensuring one!
The reality of all this is the homeowner needs to be informed, do their research and check to make sure they are getting what they pay for. The saying could not be more true, “You get what you pay for!” If you get three painting bids and the bottom line is drastically lower on one, throw it out! Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Just because the least expensive painter assures he will do all the prep, doesn’t mean he will. A cheaper painter has to do the same amount of work a more expensive painter has to do so how come they are so cheap? It is because they are NOT going to do things the proper way. They will cut corners and finish quickly so they can make a profit. Most homeowners assume when they hire a professional, they will not have to be double checking, making sure they are getting what they are paying for.
It is important to feel comfortable with the company you hired and rest assure you’re being treated professionally. A professional painter will take the time to educate the client and fully address all questions and concerns. They should not make you feel intimidated or embarrassed to answer even the simplest of questions. The unfortunate fact is “cheap” painters usually do “cheap” work and skip on the quality materials. A professional who takes satisfaction in their work will show up early, dress the part and work with pride. Keep all these factors in mind when choosing who you hire and you will get the results you want and paid for!