As the sun comes out, the snow subsides and spring begins, we start looking toward exterior work. One question I get the absolute most is "How do I know if it's ready for paint?"
This question is perplexing for homeowners, so often we don't walk around our house because of time, and also the fear of what we may find like dry rot. I encourage you to do this early and relatively often, about once a quarter. Let's talk about the signs of needing paint, and trouble areas to watch for too. I think this scale can help you understand the timetable as a homeowner, and be helpful to budget a project in the coming years.
1. Spray water on it - when you spray water on a house with fresh paint and good amount of sheen that water should bead like water off a ducks back. If you are seeing a water soaking into the paint and likely darkening it. This is the first sign you are within 1-3 years of NEEDING paint. Think of paint as its components, resin, colorant, additives and sheen. Without the first layer of protection (sheen) you will begin to see sun fade happen faster.
2. Noticeable color change/fading - primary colors are the first to go. Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. I believe most quality paint jobs should last near 15-20 years depending on exposure. If you are seeing color fade, it means that the sheen has already left and the sun is now oxidizing the colorant in the paint. The paint is still holding onto the home, but the colorant is ultimately getting sun bleached. You are now in a space where paint is need in that same year and likely not more than 2 years from that point.
3. Chipping/Flaking - once the paint is leaving the wall and you are left with a raw substrate underneath. You have now reached a point where it is a must paint this year or the next. With nothing protecting the siding or trim from the elements, moisture is now sitting in contact with raw materials, mold and dry rot begin to set in. Remember, water isn't smart, it travels in a path of least resistance and it has no problem sitting in silence while you live in your home.
4. Fungus - Unfortunately many builders use lower grade materials or materials that shouldn't exist on an exterior. If you see mushrooms or any fungus growing from your siding....immediately remedy this. Call a contractor, shoot me a DM. This isn't good.
5. Dryrot - Rot is crunchy when it's dry, and arguably easier to find when it is dry because of the crunch. Walk around your home with a metal falanage or screwdrive. Don't stab the siding or trim, but poke it. If it gives, test more. Dry rot can live under the paint, often we see the paint act as shell hiding dry rot from view. Be diligent, check horizontal spaces, spaces where you have a lot of moisture, whether it's sprinklers or rain water from a leaky downspout.
A 30 minute walk around your home quarterly, can save you thousands down the road. Between 1-5 years with these issues, you can expect to see about 10-25% increase in labor and material costs, as that 1-5 years pass the problems will only get worse. Paint is a preventative maintenance measure, it was never designed to help in the emergencies. It's job is to protect, once you start seeing the signs it's not protecting something, you are racing the clock, so don't wait.
Happy hunting out there! Love you all.