Exterior House Painting

    So what does it cost to paint the exterior of a house?

    Costs for exterior house painting vary depending on the materials your house is made of, the length of time it’s been since you painted last and the condition of the finish now.  Generally speaking, painting the exterior of a home is much more expensive than painting the interior. Why?

    1.  For one, the exterior of your house is probably a lot more dirty than the inside.  We usually have to wash the surfaces thoroughly first to remove a build-up of dust, pollution, mold and mildew before we can think about applying a new coat of paint.
    2. It’s harder to set ladders to work on the exterior of a house.  The uneven ground outside, gardens, pathways and vegetation make it difficult to set ladders and get close to outside walls.
    3. The unpredictability of the weather can increase costs if we’re delayed by bad weather. One rainy day can delay a project for days until the ground and the building dry out again.
    4. Finally, working at height is difficult, dangerous and time consuming. The higher we go, the more time it takes to move and set equipment and the more people it takes. The more time it takes to paint the exterior of any house or building, the higher the costs.

     Will you be painting the exterior of my house using ladders?

       We still use ladders in many places simply because it’s the only way to reach some areas of your home. Even with care, preparation and proper training, it’s slow and dangerous work. That’s why, all staff working at height are trained and certified to work safely, using lifts and cranes. (You may know them as ‘cherry pickers’.) The cost of renting lift equipment is offset by the savings in labour to move ladders repeatedly.  The result is a crew that is working safely at height for any exterior house painting project and we can assure the same level of quality at the top of your home and at ground level.

    We’ve also initiated fall-arrest training for all staff doing exterior house painting.  This training program ensures that all staff working at height knows how to wear and work with safety harnesses. This equipment is mandatory when working on lift equipment. The added safety training keeps us working with confidence and our clients feeling better about having us painting the exterior of their homes even high off the ground.

    My house has aluminum siding on it. Can you paint that?

    The simple answer is yes, but we’ll probably ask you why.  You see, aluminum siding has been given a baked-on factory finish designed to last for decades.  So we usually discourage home owners from painting a house that has aluminum siding unless either the finish has oxidized and gone dull or if they insist that they want to change the colour. Aluminum that has a chalky surface due to age may require a coat of primer.  If it’s only a colour change, then after it’s thoroughly washed and rinsed, aluminum can be painted using a high quality latex exterior paint.  Modern latex paints are flexible and will expand and contract along with metal siding and trim.

    Can you paint the vinyl siding on the exterior of my house?

       Again, the simple answer is yes.  Vinyl siding, like aluminum is designed to last for decades without upkeep but like all exterior surfaces, it gets dirty and dull over time. We have found that since colour preferences change over time and the shades offered in the 1970’s may not appeal to current owners, we paint exterior aluminum siding that is otherwise in good condition.

    Like aluminum, we always wash vinyl siding thoroughly and rinse well first.  We don’t necessarily recommend power washing because some equipment is very powerful and actually forces too much water between the boards releasing dirt from behind the surface. Once that happens, it makes it difficult to rinse the walls to the point that the surface dries clean and streak-free. After cleaning, a couple of coats of good quality paint can transform the look of a house.

    Why can’t I paint the vinyl siding any colour I want?

    You can paint vinyl siding of your house the same tone or a lighter tone than the original, but not darker. Unlike aluminum, vinyl siding is much more sensitive to changes in temperature. It expands and contracts as the seasons change and the sun moves around your house. So if you paint vinyl a darker tone it will absorb more heat and may actually warp.

     How do you paint exterior brick work?

      Bricks can be painted too and we get asked to do this regularly. Once it’s done though, it’s hard to undo, but the even finish and choice of colours make painting a great option for giving a home an updated and fresh look. We caution customers that painting is not a substitute for repairing damaged bricks though.  If the mortar is failing and the walls are cracked, they still have to be repaired first before we paint.

    Just like aluminum and vinyl siding, exterior brick walls are washed first.  With brickwork the washing also removes loose or crumbling mortar. We also scrub off any places where bricks have turned white.  This discolouration, called efflorescence, is a white powdery coating caused by excessive exposure to moisture. Chemicals inside the brick will leech out to the surface over time if exposed to water and this gets scrubbed off as part of the preparation stage. Depending on the amount of efflorescence, we may recommend that you check for ongoing water problems that cause the bricks to remain in contact with water for extended periods of time.

    In addition, we can fill small cracks in mortar with caulking before painting. The final stage is the painting and that is done with a waterborne latex acrylic exterior paint.  The bricks need to ‘breathe’ so only a water based paint is used.

    I heard that oil based paints are no longer available; is that true?

       Because of environmental concerns, most oil, or alkyd-based products have been phased out by now or will be shortly.  In the past, all exterior painting of homes was done using oil-based paints.  The only exceptions now are primers used to convert surfaces from the old paints to new ones.  Don’t worry though, the new latex acrylic paints are very good and if preparation is good will give almost the same performance as alkyd products for use on the exterior of your house.

    Aren’t oil based (alkyd) products better than latex paints for exteriors?

       Alkyd (oil) paints dry to a smooth very hard finish and that’s what makes them ideal and it’s also their undoing. Because we live in a four-season climate, our homes undergo vast changes in temperature throughout the year. Alkyd paints are hard but they’re not flexible so when your house expands and contracts the paint can crack. This failure of the finish allows moisture to get under the paint causing further cracking and splitting.  The only solution is regular touch-ups which most people don’t do regularly.

    Latex paints are plastic and as such never actually dry.  You can prove it to yourself by peeling latex paint off a surface.  This flexibility is really beneficial for exterior applications. Latex may not give you the extended life of some older alkyd products but the ease of clean-up the ease of application and the benefit to the environment is worth it.

    There are now No-VOC paints for exterior use that are flexible but they are also very soft too.  These products might not be your best choice for exteriors but they’re improving year by year too. The coatings industry is looking for your business and it’s in their interest to ensure that the coatings they sell give you years of service. We’re confident that products will continue to improve.