How Long Should An Exterior Paint Job Last?

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Repainting the exterior of your house is a large project to undertake. None of us want to be putting in all that time and elbow grease more often than we need to. It’s important to know how often your house really needs repainting. Once it’s been repainted, it’s helpful to know how to help keep it looking nice the longest. We’ve gathered up all the best resources here to answer all of these questions! 

The exterior paint on your house will last between 5 to 20 years depending on the base material of the wall: 

  • Stucco – 5 to 6 years
  • Steel or Aluminum Siding – every 5 years
  • Wood – 5 to 7 years
  • Cement Fiberboard Siding – 10 to 15 years
  • Painted Brick – 5 to 20 years
  • Vinyl – 15 to 20 years

While the base material does have a lot to do with how long you can expect your exterior paint to last, it is not the only factor that really impacts its life expectancy. Other factors, like the positioning of the house, selected color, and proper maintenance, are ways you can prolong your exterior paint life. Keep in mind that exterior paint is a bit different from interior paint. Be sure to check out our article explaining the difference between the two.

A painted using a roller to paint the exterior wall with white stucco paint, How Long Should Exterior Paint Job Last

Exterior Paint by Material

Stucco

Although stucco is not a proper siding, it is an incredibly popular exterior finish throughout the country. It is a low maintenance finish and has a very nice useable lifespan. Stucco can be painted to suit your specific needs. 

You can help prolong the paint on your stucco exterior by using lighter colors in sunnier areas, using a high gloss finish to help reflect the sun away from the paint, and regularly clean and maintain the exterior of your home. Making minor repairs to cracks or blemishes through the years will also help you get the longest life out of your paint. 

Steel or Aluminum Siding

Aluminum and steel sidings are a few examples of some popular materials that are used as exterior siding. They can be painted like any other siding by using spray paint or brush strokes. 

Using two coats of paint should cover the siding, provided that the colors are not drastically different in the shade. If there is bright sunshine on the wall most of the day, you’ll want to select a lighter color paint, a glossier finish, and be sure to spend some time cleaning and maintaining the exterior of the house.

Wood Siding

Wood is a common material to be used for siding. Poplar woods used are redwood, fir, pine, and cedar. Some older homes may also have hardwood as a siding, but this becomes rarer as time goes on. Wood can be painted or stained. To get the best result, one of the most important factors when beginning to paint wood is making sure that the starting surface is clean. 

Similar tips apply to wooden material for siding as others; using the lighter colors where the sun shines more frequently, choosing a high gloss finish, and making sure the exterior is properly maintained will all have a lasting impression on how long the paint lasts. 

Cement fiberboard siding

Cement fiberboard siding is a newer type of siding material. This material is durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance. It’s also very easy to paint, allowing brush, roller, and spray style paint options. 

It will be important to make sure that the surface is clean and that you properly prep the area before the painting begins. This kind of material will require two coats of paint to get complete coverage, but the good news is that it will last anywhere between 10 and 15 years once painted. 

Painted brick 

If you have a traditional style brick house and want to freshen up the exterior, consider giving it a nice fresh coat of paint. Painted brick is extremely low maintenance, and it will be sure to last a long time. 

The same rules apply here for exterior paint maintenance, be sure to use lighter colors on the walls that face the sun, opt for a high gloss finish, properly maintain the exterior and keep it clean. These things will help get the longest life out of your painted brick, which could be upwards of 20 years. 

Vinyl

Vinyl siding is one of the most popular materials for siding. However, painting vinyl can be a little bit tricky. Despite the additional steps needed, it can be painted as a very nice alternative to re-siding your home. When done properly and well maintained, vinyl siding can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years. Paint put on vinyl exteriors can last up to 20 years depending on your house’s position relative to the sun and the climate in your area.

It is important to pick the correct paint. You may remember from years ago that vinyl siding couldn’t be painted because the paint simply wouldn’t stay put? This isn’t the case anymore. You’ll find a popular option at the store today is acrylic latex paint, which is a safe paint option for vinyl. 

It should not be necessary to prime before painting. The exception to this is if the panels have become porous due to improper care or excessive fading of the paint’s original coat. As opposed to the other siding types, vinyl paint works best with satin finishes instead of high gloss finishes. Glossier finishes tend to slide and not stick.

Select a paint color that is similar to the original vinyl. This will yield the best final result. Trying to paint a darker color onto lighter siding can cause the vinyl to absorb too much heat, resulting in warping. 

Be sure that the vinyl is dry before you begin painting. This is a crucial step to the paint’s longevity because a wet surface will not allow the paint to adhere properly to the vinyl. Equally as important, you also want to make sure the surface is clean. You can use a power washer to get it clean. Be sure that the siding has adequate time to dry before beginning to paint. 

What Color Exterior Paint Lasts Longest?  

Surprisingly, the color that you choose will have a very drastic impact on how long the paint color will last. Darker colors tend to fade quicker than lighter colors. This is because darker colors absorb more sunlight. Depending on how sunny the sides of your home are, you will have to repaint every three to five years if using dark paint, but only once every seven to ten years for lighter paints. 

How Do You Keep Exterior Paint From Fading?

Exterior paint is subjected to harsh elements. As a result, exterior paint does have a shelf life and thus will fade over time. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate this process. 

Consider the location of the building. Since you can’t change the positioning, the best bet would be to adapt the painting colors and techniques to ensure that the paint will last. You can also opt to use a higher gloss finish on the paint, reflecting sunlight away from the paint, extending its lifespan. 

Choose quality, fade-resistant paint. It may seem simple, but you can never underestimate the power that quality has in a situation like this. The quality of the product you start with will have a profound impact on the finished product. 

Exterior paint is also widely available with a fade-resistant feature. With this feature, the high-quality pigments in this paint are combined with the right amount of binder. This special mixture makes sure all of the pigment binds well to the wall. Opting for good quality, fade-resistant paint will give you the best foundation to keep your paint from fading. 

Is It Better To Spray Or Brush Exterior Paint?

Spray paint works very well for painting exterior walls. The spray method allows more surface area to be painted, making the painting process faster. This method of paint will supply a very thin layer of paint to the surface. Consider that three coats of spray paint would be equal to one coat of brush painting.

Brush painting requires that each surface being painted is hand-painted, one section at a time. It takes longer to complete an exterior paint job with this method, but you will get the most coverage for the time spent. Although depending on the brush strokes technique, you may have to go back over a second coat to cover up the marks left behind. 

How Many Coats Of Paint Does The Exterior Of A House Need?

The number of coats you need will depend on a few factors: the quality of the paint you are using, whether or not you are changing colors, and what kind of paint you are using.

If you go from a lighter color to a darker color, you may need a primer layer before two layers of brush paint (or six layers of spray paint). If the colors are similar, you should be able to get adequate coverage with two layers of brush paint or six layers of spray paint. 

In Closing

Picking the proper quality and kind of paint, considering the position of your home to the sun, and opting for a few extra coats of paint can really help extend the life of not only the time between paint jobs but also aid the lifespan and the quality of the siding itself. Some outdoor surfaces will work best if they are stained instead of painted. To complete the stunning look for your home after the exterior paint is done, check out our article “Staining Vs. Painting for Outdoor Wooden Surfaces.

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