Pro Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Exterior Paint Job

If you have a home here in Florida Panhandle, you know how wonderful coastal life can be. Yet the very things that make life here so lovely – sun, salt, and that warm ocean breeze – can wreak havoc on your home. As your home’s first line of defense, exterior paint is particularly vulnerable to the ravages of the coastal climate. When it’s time to repaint your home, it’s worth seeking out a local painting contractor with expert knowledge of the unique challenges and conditions in your area.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Even the best painting contractor can’t work miracles. If you’re lucky enough to live in a coastal area, you probably already know that the exterior of your home will need more frequent maintenance. Planning, preparation, quality materials, and solid workmanship can help, but nothing can permanently delay the effects of sun, salt, moisture, and wind. 

SOLAR EFFECTS

Homeowners in coastal Florida are used to the sun’s strong rays, and most take cover with shade, protective clothing or hats, and sunscreen when they’re outside in the summer. Just like human skin that burns with too much direct exposure, the paint on our homes also suffers from too much direct sunlight. Sun-related issues fall into a few categories: 

Bleaching  – Ultraviolet rays in sunlight break down the chemical compounds in paint, causing fading and paint failure. Dark colors are more likely to fade, but the UV rays can also turn crisp whites yellow. 

Bubbling or Blistering – Like skin that blisters with a bad sunburn, your exterior paint can actually bubble or blister. The paint becomes so hot that it begins to boil. When the bubbles pop, the surface beneath the paint becomes exposed to the elements. When this happens, you should take steps to repair it immediately. South-facing doors in coastal Florida are particularly vulnerable to this problem, and they will often require extra prep work when it’s time to repaint.

Chalking – The dehydrating effect of the sun can cause chemicals to rise to the surface, leaving a powdery white film on top of the paint. Using high quality primer and paint can delay this chalking effect somewhat.

WIND, MOISTURE, SAND, & SALT 

That wonderful breeze blowing in from the ocean brings moisture, sand, and salt to your exterior surfaces. Exterior paint can fade, peel and chip as a result of constant exposure to salt water. #Saltlife may be a popular hashtag for aspiring beach bums all over the country, but your house doesn’t appreciate the barrage of sodium. Salt crystals build up on the surface of the paint, and sand particles carried on the wind can add insult to injury. And it’s not just minerals that attack your home’s exterior surfaces – the humidity that’s pervasive to the Emerald Coast causes its own set of problems. Moisture build-up causes mold and mildew to grow rapidly, and increases the likelihood of rot and decay.  

Homes located right on the ocean should realistically expect annual or biennial maintenance to painted surfaces. The most important thing to do is to make sure that your paint job is done right the first time. Hiring a local contractor – with local experience – is your best first step. Once the job is done, monitor your house vigilantly, and catch any damage early. Careful and frequent inspections of coastal home exteriors can help prevent costly repairs.

Be Prepared – Pro Tips To Prep For a Paint Job

PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE

You’ve probably heard the five P’s from a well-meaning teacher, coach, or boss before. The phrase may be trite, but the message is on point. Preparation is important for almost any endeavor, including painting your home. 

Hiring the best painter in your local area is the first step. Once you’ve checked that off the list, it’s time to think about preparation. Your painter will spend a lot of time prepping the surfaces in your home before they start painting. But the preparation doesn’t start there. A little prep work on your end before the painters arrive will go a long way towards ensuring a successful project. You’ll end up with a gorgeous paint job and a great relationship with your painter.  Win-win.

PLANNING IS KEY

Planning is a key element of preparation when it comes to painting your home. Painting is a big job, and you’ll need to be prepared to stay out of the affected rooms for at least a day, maybe longer.  A little bit of prior planning will make everything go smoother. If you have small children, decide how you will keep them out of the rooms being painted until everything is dry. Sometimes it’s as simple as closing a door, but in an open floorplan, things can get tricky. If you’re painting the kitchen, plan ahead for meals during the paint job, and don’t forget things like packing school lunches if you have children. 

PAINTING + PETS

Painting can be tricky if pets create trouble.
Pets plus paint can be an equation for trouble. Curious cats and meddlesome mutts can derail your paint job if you don’t plan ahead.

Consider pets as well – you will want to make sure you can keep your pets completely away from the affected rooms during the job. An enthusiastic dog can wreak havoc with his tail, and nobody wants pet fur wafting into the fresh paint. 

You should also consider pets when undertaking an exterior paint job. Most painters are perfectly happy to work with pets in the area, as long as you can keep them away from the wet paint. If your pet is likely to be anxious around the painting crew, or create a nuisance with barking or aggressive behavior, you’ll want to make arrangements for them during the paint job. Consider asking a neighbor to take your pet for the day or check out local pet day cares and/or boarding facilities.

GET SOME ZZZs

Plan ahead for sleeping arrangements. If you opt to use a low- or no-VOC paint, you may be able to sleep in freshly painted rooms that night. But if your project needs require an oil-based paint, or you are extra sensitive to odors, you’ll want to make alternate sleeping arrangements for at least a night. 

MOVE AND PROTECT BEFORE YOU PAINT

Move the furniture to the middle of the room, ensuring that painters have good access to all the wall and trim surfaces. If ceilings will be painted, it’s best to move the furniture completely out of the room if possible. Any furniture left in the room should be covered with old sheets or drop-cloths; many painters will cover the furniture for you, but be sure to discuss that up front with your contractor before the job starts. 

Don’t forget to move and/or protect electronics as well. In most cases, wall-mounted televisions and speakers will need to be removed from their brackets. Find a safe place to store them until the job is complete. Again, discuss these issues up front with your painter before they begin to make sure the job goes smoothly. 

Remove everything hanging on the walls, and if you’re having closets painted, remove everything from inside. 

EXTERIOR PAINTING PREP IS IMPORTANT

If you’re painting the exterior of your home, most painters will ask that you trim any bushes or trees that are close to your home. Make sure the painters are able to freely access all areas of the exterior. If you have small and/or extremely delicate plants near the foundation of your home, consider relocating them temporarily. A short stay in a pot that is located away from the foundation will help your tender plants survive and thrive. Ladders, scaffolding, and heavy work boots can crush fragile specimen plants; although a good painter will take reasonable precautions to protect your landscaping, smaller plants are harder to avoid. On the flip side, if you have large heavily overgrown shrubs that encroach on the house, consider calling a local landscaping contractor before you schedule your paint job to get things trim and tidy.

MAKE A CLEAN START

A great paint job will give your home new life. Start fresh by cleaning surfaces before the painters arrive. Vacuum the floors and wipe down trim boards with a damp cloth to remove dust, pet hair, and grime. Even if you’re only painting the wall surfaces, cleaning the trim is a good idea. Having a pristine surface where the wall meets the trim will enable your painter to get a nice clean line. Areas that typically hide behind furniture may need a little more elbow grease, but avoid using cleaning products if possible. Any residue that remains on the surface will affect paint adhesion. In most cases, a damp microfiber cloth should do the trick.

GET THE GUNK OFF

On the outside, you’ll also want to make sure all the exterior surfaces are clean and smooth. In coastal areas, salt and mildew buildup can wreak havoc with a paint job. Here in Florida, it’s especially important to strip away any residue before applying paint. Talk with your contractor – many painters will include this preparation work in their bid, but you’ll want to get specifics when you get the estimate. For more information about exterior painting here on the Emerald Coast of Florida, check out our pro tips on exterior painting on the coast.

With a little preparation and planning, you and your home will be ready when the painters arrive. Communication is key – talk with your painting contractor before they arrive to set expectations and avoid unpleasant surprises. For more pro tips on getting the best paint job in the Emerald Coast, visit our knowledge center. Ready to find the best local painter? Click here!

Check Out Our Pro Tips For Finding a Painter Who Delivers

Whether you’re updating a few rooms inside your home or refreshing the entire exterior, painting is a great way to update your home and add instant value. It may seem simple, but a good paint job requires patient preparation, quality materials and tools, and meticulous attention to detail. Made the smart choice to hire a professional but aren’t quite sure how to pick the best one? Read on for our expert tips.

GET AN ESTIMATE

Seek recommendations from friends and neighbors, or consult a trustworthy local guide like Check Local for contractor references. The estimate process will be your chance to gather lots of important information. Although you may be focused on the dollars and cents, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to learn more about the painting contractor’s process and their professionalism. 

Plan to be home when the painter comes to do the estimate. In person, you can communicate your expectations and note how much time the contractor spends assessing your home. The more time spent, the more accurate your estimate will be. Thoroughness and attention to detail are important at all steps of the house painting process!

INVEST IN THE ESTIMATE PROCESS

Pay attention throughout the estimate process – is the contractor prompt, polite, and respectful of your property when they arrive for the estimate? If they show up late, track mud through your home, and ignore questions when they are trying to win the job, it’s unlikely that they will be more professional once they’ve secured the business. 

Take the time to ask about the painting contractor’s team. If it’s a large paint job, these people will be working in your home for days or even weeks. How large is the crew? How much experience do the crew members have? Have they worked for this contractor for a long time? If the crew is primarily made up of non-English speakers, will there be someone onsite throughout the job with whom you can clearly communicate?

Finally, ask for a written estimate. The estimate should include:

  • Breakdown of labor and material costs
  • Number of coats (primer and paint)
  • Type of paint that will be used
  • Description of the surface preparation that will be done

SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND COMMUNICATE THEM CLEARLY

Start with the basics, but don’t forget about the details and fine print. Clearly define the area(s) to be painted, and specify whether trim and ceilings will be painted. Ask how many coats of paint the contractor plans to apply, and what paint they prefer to use.

THINK ABOUT PAINT CHOICES

Not all paint is created equal, and the options are nearly endless. Many people prefer water-based paint, but you may have a special situation that requires an oil-based formula. Low VOC paint is popular, and new formulations can include things like germicides, acoustic properties, and more. It’s worth doing some research on your end before you start your project. Any good painter should be willing to use your preferred paint, though you’ll need to negotiate that upfront. 

In addition to the type and brand of paint you want to use, it’s best if you have an idea of your color choices before you get the estimate. Going darker is usually fairly straightforward. If you’re covering dark paint with a lighter color, it may require more prep work, more coats of paint, or a specific primer. Painting wood trim, paneling, or doors that have previously been stained can present unique challenges. Ask the painting contractor about the intensive prep work, special primers, and extra coats of paint that may be required.

Painting stained wood trim white is labor intensive work.
Painting stained wood trim can require extra prep work and more coats.

PLAN FOR SURFACE PREP

Ask about the surface preparation the contractor plans to do, and assess the condition of your siding, walls, ceilings, and/or trim. If your walls have uneven spots, large cracks, or other significant issues you want addressed, communication is key. Starting with a mess and hoping for a masterpiece? You’ll need to be very specific about your expectations, and be prepared to pay more for extra prep work. Was your home was built before 1978? Your painter may need to be prepared to safely deal with lead-based paint. Be sure to ask your painter about your their qualifications and experience with lead-based paint if that is an issue for you.

BE PREPARED FOR A LITTLE HOMEWORK

You should also talk to your contractor about the type of prep work you’ll need to do before they arrive. Will furniture need to be moved, hedges trimmed, or siding cleaned? Clarifying all of that during the estimate process will avoid unpleasant surprises and delays when the painters show up. For more information on prepping for a great paint job, click here. 

DON’T FORGET THE CLEANUP

It’s also important to consider cleanup logistics in advance as well. Do you have an outdoor hose in an area where the painters can safely clean their equipment? If you’ve got a newly resurfaced driveway or a vegetable garden that won’t appreciate a dose of pigment and chemicals, be sure to point that out to the contractor ahead of time.  

CHECK REFERENCES AND CREDENTIALS

Get a list of references from the contractor and follow up. Ask past clients about their experiences, and try to contact people that have recently worked with the painter as well as those whose job was completed some time ago. This is the best way to find out if the painter’s work holds up well. Does the painting contractor stand behind their work when issues arise? A little research will help you feel empowered and informed.  

In addition to references, you can verify licenses with your state or local licensing board and check for a history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau. 

GET A CONTRACT AND A GUARANTEE

The contract should include all the contractor’s important information: name, address, phone numbers, and license number. The details from the estimate should appear on the contract, including a clear statement of what specific work will be covered in the job. You should also ask for a copy of the painter’s liability and workers’ compensation insurance certificates. Without that coverage, you could be on the hook for accidents or damage that happen while the painters are at your home.

A good painting contractor will also include a guarantee that covers adhesion issues (chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking) and/or color changes (fading or chalking) – typically for a two year period. 

YOU’RE READY TO HIRE – NOW WHAT?

Following these simple steps will help ensure that you hire a painter with the skills, experience, and professionalism to deliver a successful end result. But once you hire a painter, don’t assume your job is done. Whether it’s an interior or exterior paint job, you’ll have some prep work to do before the painters show up, and you’ll want to stay involved once the job starts. Hopefully your advance work will pay off, and the job will go smoothly, but if you do notice issues, speak up early and nip them in the bud before they create a larger problem. When it comes to payment, consider withholding the final payment (usually 10-15 percent) until the job is 100% completed to your satisfaction. It’s always easier to get a painter to come back and rectify mistakes or finish the cleanup if their final payday depends on it.

Brighten up, lighten up, go dark and bold, or just refresh the existing colors. Investing time and resources in a great paint job can completely rejuvenate your home. Ready to find the best painter for your job in the Panhandle of Florida? Click here to get started with great local referrals!