The deck's peeling, the porch is mildewed and that hunter-green color scheme hasn't been in style since the Reagan administration. These are just a few indications that it's time to paint the house. Whether homeowners take the DIY approach or call in the pros, there are a few things they should know to get optimum results.
How often should you paint?
When paint starts peeling or "chalking" ("You wipe your hand across it and get a film of chalk," says Will Watts, owner of NOLA Paint & Supplies), it's time to repaint. A good paint job can last seven to 10 years before showing signs of wear. Regular maintenance extends its life. "Wash it once or twice a year," Watts says. "That gets rid of the dirt that sticks to [paint] and creates a place for mildew to grow. Once you have mildew, it's hard to get rid of it."
Cheaper brands of paint peel and chalk sooner, too. "Down here, a lot of people repaint every three years, because they can't afford the cost of the [more expensive] paint," Watts says.
It costs $8,000 to $12,000 to have a house professionally painted, Watts adds, so it makes sense to invest in a good product.
What type of paint do exterior walls require?
A 100 percent acrylic latex paint is the best choice, says Joe Helm, general manager of Helm Paint & Decorating. Make sure to choose a paint that's designated "exterior," because it's specially designed to stand up to the elements.
"Properties are built into these products like UV resistance, dirt pickup resistance, flexibility and water resistance that may not be needed [for an] interior," says Rick Watson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams.
Can you use the same paint on porches and decks?
No. Different parts of the house have different needs. "You need a porch and deck paint — polyurethane is mixed into it so it can handle more wear," Watts says. Sherwin-Williams' SuperDeck line consists of paints and stains specifically designed for decks. Helm suggests oil-based or waterborn alkyd (paints with water-borne oils) paints for porches. "We use oil-based paints on porches or areas that will take a lot of traffic, but it's a shorter life [than acrylic]," Helm says.
What about metal railings and gutters?
For decorative wrought iron or hand rails, use an oil-based paint. "You would want to use oil in some capacity, because it holds up better to corrosion," Helm says. "You don't get oxidation and it doesn't allow moisture to attack."
However, aluminum or galvanized metal require acrylic paint. "When people paint their gutters or lightweight aluminum, use acrylic systems, which bond to it," Helm says.
Are primers necessary?
Not always. If you're painting over old paint using a similar color, primer isn't required, Helm says. However, if you're painting over new wood or material that has never been primed, a coat of primer will bond to the materials' surface and help the topcoat cover it. That can result in using less topcoat to get the desired color, which can mean saving money, Helm says. Also prime the surface if you're using a product that specifically calls for the use of primer, Watson says.
How do you prepare the surface for painting?
"The key to a good paint job is prep work," Watts says. Remove peeling paint. Clean the surface, then sand. "If you sand first, all you're doing is grinding dirt and grime into the existing finish," Watson says. Let the surface dry completely. "If the surface has holes or peeling paint and you paint over that, your finish will only be as good as what it rests on," Watt says.
How can I come up with a creative color combination and get a dramatic look?
High-gloss oil paints in vibrant hues are a trend for front doors and shutters. "It's become something fashionable to set the house off," Helm says.
When it comes to creative color combinations, a color wheel can be a homeowners' best friend. Some are monochromatic, consisting of various hues in the same family from darker to lighter, while others feature triadic color harmonies. "There's a triangle in the wheel that picks three colors that go with each other," Watts says.
Customers who want the traditional New Orleans porch with blue ceilings should make sure the hue they choose complements the rest of the house's colors. "A lot of people put blue on the porch and realize it doesn't match," Watts says. "Make sure you have that flow with the blue you use."
Your brain on color
That neon green bathroom looks nice on Pinterest, but will it end up stressing you out? Read on for what different colors represent psychologically.
A stimulating color, red symbolizes anger and passion and raises people's blood pressure and respiration rates.
Orange combines yellow's mood-lifting qualities and red's sensuality.
This cheery, warming hue symbolizes optimism, though studies show babies cry more in yellow rooms.
The color of nature, green is restful and soothing.
A cool, calming hue, blue feels serene, but may make food appear unappetizing.
Regal purple gives rooms an opulent and mysterious note.
Black visually constricts a space and has powerful associations with death, magic and authority.
WHITEvWhite feels clean, expansive and innocent.