We get asked this question often when we’re performing estimates with homeowners. Waiting too long to paint the exterior of your home has consequences: failing caulking, wood rot, etc… Painting when unwarranted is also problematic in that it isn’t providing you with the most value for your dollar, unless you can’t stand the color and want that changed.
There are a few key indicators present when a home is in need of exterior painting and we’ll discuss those individually.
Notice on this home exterior that the paint is still shiny near the soffits and dull lower on the wall. This is the natural wear or fade of the sheen of the paint. Fading inevitably occurs over time and at its simplest is cause by the resins (hardeners) in the paint beginning to break down. UV rays contribute most to fading, but also weather (wind and water). The area near the soffits is less exposed to these elements and thus that area fades slower than the more exposed lower side wall.
Some colors fade quicker than others. A general rule of thumb: the darker the color, the quicker the fading. Dark blue pigments are notoriously susceptible to fading.
Homes we look at that are long over due for an exterior paint even start to show what is known as chalking. Chalking indicates a complete failure of the coating. The resins have degraded to the point where the material will wipe off with your hand.
Cracking Exterior Caulking
A definite sign that it’s time to paint is if caulking is cracking at any butt joints, horizontal seams, or around windows/doors. The home pictured above displayed signs of caulking cracking badly at the butt joints of the panel siding.
Anywhere water penetration might be problematic that isn’t sealed with a quality exterior caulking can result in further issues if not addressed. Places where water accumulates such as horizontal surfaces, weather facing siding walls, or areas that are protected and don’t receive direct sunlight allowing them to dry quickly require special attention.
Homes we look at that are in need of painting display all or a combination of sunken nail heads, cracking caulking at siding seams and butt joints, cracking caulking around window and door trim, and cracking caulking at horizontal trim boards.
If not addressed, water will go where it isn’t intended to and cause wood rot.
In our opinion, the greatest reason to keep up with the maintenance and regular painting of your home’s exterior is to prevent wood rot. Wood rot repair is costly. Depending on the age of your home and the building materials used, wood rot repair also may not be an exact match meaning there is an aesthetic cost as well.
If you notice some trim boards or siding panels beginning to rot on your exterior, consider taking action quickly. Once wood rot begins, it tends to degrade quickly and can spread. The longer it is left unchecked, the more expensive the repair will be.
Most commonly wood rot will happen in areas where moisture is present more frequently. This includes shaded areas or areas where bushes/trees are too close to the home’s siding. Horizontal surfaces where water collects and stands also tend to rot first.
Don’t Wait Too Long
In our experience, pushing home exterior painting off costs money. Waiting too long between painting projects usually requires us to perform more wood rot repair, which if extensive can add thousands of dollars to the total cost of the project. Also, a home that is in relatively good shape when we paint it means our job is easier in preparing the home for the final coating. Homes that are easier to paint are less expensive to paint. Homes that are in rough shape require a great deal of prep which takes longer and costs more. Also, at some point all the prep in the world can’t make what we have to work with look new again. At that point it’s either replace the siding or trim with new, or do the best we can with what exists and live with it.
Painting estimates are free (generally speaking, ours are), so if you notice any of the above issues on your home, at the very least consult a professional painting company or two for estimates and ask their opinion.
Contact Great Plains as we’re always happy to offer our opinion, and though we make our money by being hired to paint houses, we have in the past told folks when we think that they can wait a couple more before they really need to paint. In those cases sometimes the homeowner needed a color change and painted anyway, and sometimes they waited.
Just don’t wait too long and have to spend more money on fixing wood rot. Stay on top of the maintenance and save some money.