If you're like most folks, your home is the single biggest investment you will make in a lifetime. Therefore, it makes good sense to do everything you can to take good care of it.
People who get the best return on their investment -- when it comes time to sell -- don't wait for the roof to leak or paint to peel. They perform regular home-maintenance tasks that preserve the structural integrity of their home. Regular maintenance also keeps a home looking spiffy, which also has a lot to do with value.
Painting is a maintenance task that offers one of the best returns for the dollar -- inside or out. Also, a fresh coat of paint can transform a "plain Jane" home into an eye-catcher. This can be particularly true of a stucco home since stucco has special problems, such as cracking, fading and efflorescence.
Besides enhancing appearance, a fresh coat of paint can help protect the home from the elements (sun, rain and snow) and the inevitable deterioration that occurs from prolonged exposure to them.
How often should you paint the exterior of your home? The answer depends on several factors: exterior siding material, climate, sun exposure and the quality and type of paint used. With proper preparation and top-quality paint, a home typically will require painting every five to seven years. Darker shades -- as with trim colors -- might need repainting every couple of years to retain their original brilliance.
Choose paint quality and color carefully. Use colors that will enhance the architectural appearance of your home. The one- or two-color schemes used in the past are just that -- a thing of the past. A well-thought-out color pallet -- using several colors or shades -- can be visually pleasing by accentuating various architectural elements. For example, the barge, fascia and general trim can be painted one color, the overhang or soffit another, the body another and shutters, if they exist, yet another. And you can set it all off by using a punch color for the entry door. A reputable paint dealer and-or a professional color consultant can be of help when choosing colors.
Think of paint as an investment and not a cost. If you enjoy painting and want to paint your home often, buy inexpensive generic brands. We guarantee that you'll be busy painting every year of so. If, on the other hand, you like to paint, but would rather not enjoy the experience more often than every five to seven years, we suggest that you buy the best paint available.
Good paint isn't inexpensive, but when you consider lasting quality and the protection that it offers your home, it's a bargain. Shop for a major name brand and plan to spend about $25 a gallon for a high-quality 100-percent acrylic latex exterior house paint.
Preparation and paint application technique are no less important than the quality of the paint. This is especially true with stucco because of the concerns mentioned earlier.
It doesn't make any difference how good the paint is; it simply won't stick unless the surface is clean. With stucco, we suggest a thorough power washing to clean the surface and remove chipped and peeling paint. Dirty areas such as the lowest section close to the ground should be scrubbed with a coarse nylon brush and powder laundry detergent. Use 1/3 cup to 1 gallon of hot water. Add 1 quart of bleach to this concoction if mildew is present.
Efflorescence -- a white powdery substance that is common with stucco and masonry finishes -- should be removed using a wire brush.
The most challenging aspect of prepping a stucco house for painting is crack repair. You can turn your home into an interstate road map of obvious crack repair, if you aren't cautious. When it comes to stucco crack repair, less is more. Don't attempt to patch every crack. Hairline cracks and those that you can't get your fingernail into should not be patched. High-quality paint should be used to fill those cracks.
Wider cracks should be filled with a high-quality exterior grade acrylic latex caulk. Have a damp sponge handy to wipe away excess caulking. There are two trade secrets for caulking stucco. First, when using a damp sponge to wipe off excess caulking, wipe in all directions to remove caulking that might be lodged in a textured finish. Second, while the caulking is still wet, place fine texturing sand into the palm of your hand and, holding your hand in front of the caulking, blow across the sand to scatter it onto the surface of the damp caulk. This will help make the patch less obvious and prevent the "road-map" effect by helping the caulk blend into the surrounding finish.
Stucco can be painted using a roller or with an airless sprayer. A brush is not recommended. A roller works well for small jobs, but can be overwhelming on larger projects. For big jobs, consider using an airless sprayer. Don't put your roller away when using a paint sprayer. Spraying will get the paint onto the surface. Use a deep-nap roller (3/4 inch to 1 inch) to work the paint into the surface and to achieve a uniform finish.
Although one coat might do the trick, stucco usually will require two, due to its high level of absorption and to conceal cracks and other repairs.
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