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The frequency of your exterior repainting depends on several factors, including where you live, what your house is made out of, and what it was painted with. In North Texas, we’re protected from the salt sprays our coastal friends down south must consider. Even still, strong sunshine and excessive heat during the summer can take a serious toll on the life of your paint. Dark, oil-based paints may fade especially quickly. The paint may blister, too, or form bubbles on the surface. So there’s no concrete answer for how often to repaint your home — but if you start to see chips, cracks, bleaching, blistering, or any other issue that takes away from the appearance of your home, it’s time to consider repainting.
After a while, painted houses start to reveal wear and tear, so once in a while, doing a refreshing exterior house-painting project can bring back your home’s vibrancy. There is a lot of preparation work required for repainting a house but it's important to not skip this part because it makes the painting work much easier and ensures that the paintwork endures and stays in great condition.
Walls should be wet down before getting scrubbed, then washed with a gallon of water mixed with 1 cup chlorine bleach and 1 cup of either a concentrated, phosphate-free cleaner, such as a trisodium phosphate (TSP) substitute, or Jomax House Cleaner. Working in sections, from the bottom to the top, will avoid streaks. Be sure to rinse walls well before the solution dries. Wood siding and trim should be ready to paint after a day or two of dry weather.
For a more skilled do-it-yourselfer, either flat or satin paint is suitable. If you are hiring a professional painter, choose the paint finish based only on results, not ease of application. Professional painters are proficient at applying all types of paints and paint finishes. If they make an error, they are accountable and can be expected to fix the issue.
When the primer is dry, caulk all small joints (less than ¼-inch-wide) in the siding and trim. Most pros use siliconized acrylics—paint won't stick to straight silicones—but Guertin and O'Neil like the new, more expensive urethane acrylics for their greater flexibility and longevity. O'Neil stresses that it's shortsighted to skimp on caulk. "If the joint fails, you're back to square one." Guertin uses the lifetime rating as his quality guide. "I don't expect 35-year caulk will last 35 years, but it should last longer than a 15-year caulk."
As the dance proceeds, keep an eye on the weather. Rain can wash freshly applied latex right off the wall, and a temperature dip below 50 degrees F two days after application can interfere with adhesion and curing and dull the sheen of glossy paints. (Latexes like Sherwin-Williams's Duration and Benjamin Moore's MoorGard Low Lustre are formulated to tolerate temps as low as 35 and 40 degrees, respectively.)
A thorough scrubbing is a must before painting any exterior surface. It removes the dirt and broken-down paint residues that keep fresh coats from adhering and gets rid of mildew that grows on paint in all but the most arid climates. Most contractors clean with pressure washers, but in the hands of someone unfamiliar with the equipment, these can gouge wood, shatter glass, and drive water behind siding and trim. Using a hose, a pump sprayer, and a scrub brush is slower but safer, and just as effective.