Most homeowners likely understand the aesthetic importance of keeping up their house’s exterior paint job. But maintaining exterior paint is important for other reasons, and is not a task that should be done only if the paint is obviously cracked or peeling.
It is true the most obvious reason for applying a fresh coat of paint is attractiveness. The value of aesthetics isn’t just to have something pleasant to look at when you’re coming and going. A well-maintained house has more curb appeal and will fetch a higher price when placed on the market. It’s also good for your neighborhood as a whole.
“It improves the value of your home and your neighbors’ homes,” said Brian Ammerman, owner of Five Star Painting.
But maintaining your house’s paint job is also a way to preserve your house and keep it from deteriorating over time. If you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house, it’s worth spending money to keep it in shape.
“A house is a lifetime investment,” said Ray Kannish, owner of Adam Alan Painting.
Why does paint preserve your house? In a city like New Orleans, it’s because so many houses are built with wood.
“Most New Orleans homes were built long before moisture barriers were added to siding,” Ammerman said.
The heat, rain and humidity all conspire to make the paint crack and peel, which exposes the wood to the elements. When that happens, the wood will rot and termites are more likely to attack the frame of the house.
“Think of your paint as a latex glove,” Ammerman said. “When it starts to peel on your house, it’s like an open wound.”
However, homeowners should not wait until peeling and rot are visible before taking action. Ammerman said mold can grow for years before it’s detected and cause health problems and make allergies worse.
Kannish said some types of paint can attract mildew. He said oil-based primers featuring linseed oil can serve as a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes mildew.
Ammerman said it’s also important to ask your painter if they will do your caulking. He said a house’s caulking fails quicker than its paint job. Good caulking keeps the moisture out.
“If a painter doesn’t do any caulking on an exterior painting job, I would fire them,” Ammerman said.
Regular painting touch-ups will cost money short-term, but save you money long-term. Ammerman recommends doing it every 7-10 years. If you wait until the wood is rotting to fix your paint, it will cost you more. He said if painters have to fix rotting wood, it will add 10-20% to your final bill. He added that you should do a walk-around of your house every year to make sure there are no obvious signs of peeling or decay.
Power washing is an important component of any painting job. It removes dirt or any other residues from surfaces. Kannish said all of the cars that drive by your house over the years will leave an oily residue on your home from their exhaust fumes. If you don’t remove these substances beforehand, the paint won’t work as well.
“In order for paint to truly last and attach itself, the surface needs to be dry, dull and clean,” Ammerman said.
Both Kannish and Ammerman agreed that if you are doing the painting yourself, you should always do your research and invest in high-quality paint. Again, it will cost a little more short-term, but save you money and headaches long-term. Ammerman said there is no one-size-fits-all paint because surfaces and homes are different. So if you’re buying paint, you should use Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore because the stores will likely have more knowledgeable employees to make specific recommendations and answer questions. He said it can be much more hit-and-miss with finding help at big box retailers.