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Investing in an Exterior Paint Job? Invest in the Right Paint Too!

A great exterior paint job is made up of a few great ingredients. A terrific painter (we know a few of those!), meticulous preparation, and high quality paint. The right paint can extend the life of your exterior paint job by years. And when it comes to paint, you get what you pay for. Premium brands and lines of paint really do perform better. 

How long should my paint job last? 

The biggest question most homeowners have is one that isn’t as straightforward as it seems. A quick Google search yields a wide variety of answers. Some experts say 5-7 years, while This Old House says “two coats of top-quality paint over primed wood might last 10 to 15 years.” The reality is that paint life depends on lots of factors, including paint quality, prep work, surface condition, and environment. Here in Florida, you can expect to land closer to the lower end of that range, as all the salt, sand, sun, and moisture take their toll on even the best exterior paint job. Thorough prep work and high quality paint can definitely extend the life, but it’s unlikely to last 15 years. Think 5+ years for siding, and 7+ for stucco surfaces.

Why Does Surface Matter When it Comes to Paint?

Although paint quality and prep work are the biggest drivers for the life of your exterior paint job, the surface being painted also matters. The rough, porous surface of stucco grabs paint and holds on tight, so if your home is made of stucco, you can expect to get a few more years from your paint job. Paint over wood or fiber-cement siding may last 5-7 years here in the Panhandle, while stucco surfaces will hold the paint for 7-10 years. Trim usually fades and peels first–expect to paint the trim every 3-5 years. 

stucco holds paint longer than siding
This beautiful Florida home with a mix of stucco and stone is relatively low-maintenance. The stone will never need painting, and the stucco should hold paint for up to 10 years.

So What Paint is the Best?

We’re Sherwin-Williams fans over here at Check Local Painting, and we love their Emerald Exterior Acrylic for wood and fiber-cement siding and trim. (We recommend bumping the sheen level up a notch for the trimwork to really make it pop.) The Emerald line is also great for brick or stucco, though you’ll want to be sure and specify a flat finish for masonry and stucco. 

Should I Use Masonry Paint or Elastomeric Paint?

You may have heard that some contractors recommend a masonry specific paint or an elastomeric paint for brick and stucco. We think a great flat acrylic paint like Sherwin-Williams Emerald or Duration–Benjamin Moore’s Aura–does the trick and keeps your surface breathing more naturally. But there are some instances where these more specialized paints can be the right choice. 

  • Masonry Paint has additives to make it bond more tightly, so it can extend the life of your paint job. On the flipside, this type of paint can reduce the breathability of your finish, potentially trapping moisture in your brick or stucco. You may also be limited in terms of colors and finishes. 
  • Elastomeric Paint also has additives that make it a thicker, flexible coating. If you’ve got cracks or other faults you want to cover or bridge, this paint may be the right choice for your job. But like masonry paint, elastomeric paint reduces the breathability of the finish. (This effect is more pronounced with elastomeric paint.) And in addition to the more limited options when it comes to color and finish, you are also stuck with elastomeric paint once you start using it. When the time comes to repaint, experts advise that you only cover elastomeric paint with more of the same. Regular acrylic paint will not adhere to the flexible, thick surface of elastomeric paint. 

Exterior Painting is a Huge Job–It’s Worth Doing it Right

An exterior paint job is a huge investment. Even if you’re trying the DIY route, paint and supplies can really add up, and once you factor in the cost of your time and peace of mind, the costs can skyrocket. We always recommend hiring a professional to make sure you get the best finished product. This is your home you’re talking about, after all, and you don’t want your curb appeal marred by an unprofessional job or peeling and faded paint. 

Let Check Local Help

If finding a painter sounds like one more thing on your endless “to-do” list, don’t despair. We’ve already done the work for you, and we’re here to connect you with the best painters in the Panhandle and Emerald Coast communities. We read reviews, check licenses, and interview contractors to make sure we’re matching you up with the best local experts for your job. Remember, before you decide, always Check Local!

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.