Respect Your Paint By Don Strube, Florida Paints
Florida’s unique environment places special demands on exterior paints. Educate yourself on how to best take care of your painted surfaces.
Don Strube is co-founder of Florida Paints with 35 years experience of paint manufacturing in Central Florida.
Let’s talk about the paint on the exterior of your home. It truly is a wonderful thing! Paint adds beauty. Paint provokes emotion. Paint makes a statement about the people living inside. Are the occupants bold, trendy, reserved, or mysterious? Do t hey like to blend in or be noticed? Do they like change or prefer the status quo? Regardless, the colors and combinations of the paint on a home send a message about those who dwell within. Paint is protective. A typical coat of paint is no thicker than a piece of paper yet it is expected to provide protection against wind driven rain, the sun’s ultra-violet rays, blowing dirt and debris, mold and mildew growth, and a myriad of other attacks. Paint is also expected to last for many years, which can be especially difficult in Florida’s harsh environment. Here it rains harder, the sun is brighter, and the mildew grows faster than the rest of the country. Florida is real tough on paint. Unfortunately, paint is typically neglected. People wash their clothes every day, their cars every week, but how often do they wash their paint? Paint longs to be bright, shiny, and squeaky clean. It wants a bath every now and then. Who likes to be covered in dust? The same goes for paint. So much is expected from a simple concoction born in a can that just sits there day in and day out, year after year. Poor, poor paint, it doesn’t get much respect.
Do You Spend Quality Time With Your Paint? Paint has come a long way in the last fifty years. Almost all of today’s exterior architectural paints are water-based and formulated using latex emulsions dispersed with various types of pigments and additives. In Florida, a superior quality exterior 100% acrylic latex paint can provide beauty and protection for decade if properly applied, maintained and cared for. In the old days you were lucky if a paint job looked good for more than five years. The Villages have always prided themselves for selecting the highest quality paint products and systems available for their new homes, carefully testing and evaluating the many formulations and options in the marketplace. They also have stringent paint application guidelines, which is as critical as the quality of the paint itself. Unfortunately for paint, “the worst time is the first time.” When paints and primers are applied to new construction materials they are pushed to the limits. Fresh masonry, wood, vinyl, and metal substrates all need time to “cure” and become accustomed to the environment. Different materials expand and contract at different rates and need to learn how to fit together. In addition, the entire home needs time to “settle in” on Florida’s sandy soil, which can take six to eighteen months depending on the geology underneath. All of these factors put a lot of stress on
the paints and primers that are employed in the new construction process. That’s why it’s important that during the first one or two years of the life of a home that the Homeowner spends quality time with their paints and the substrates to which they are applied. Making time to do regular visual inspections of all exterior surfaces is important. Movement or shifting of substrates will occur and should be expected, and addressing these issues promptly and properly is very important.
Say No To Cracks Masonry cement is awesome! There’s a reason why it’s been around for 9,000 years. It is incredibly strong, durable, and adaptable to various design styles. That’s why the Egyptians used it to build the pyramids, the Romans used it to construct the Colosseum, and almost every home in the modern world utilizes it one way or another. Masonry is one of the greatest inventions of all time. There is, however, a caveat. The ancient Egyptians had a saying, “there are only two types of masonry; the type that has cracked and the type that will crack.” That still holds true today. The majority of homes built in Florida utilize masonry and they all have cracks. So what exactly is a crack? A crack is a long skinny hole. What is a hole? It is an entry point for unwanted moisture. Today’s modern Florida home is required by code to be designed to tolerate some degree of moisture entry through the exterior “skin” of the structure without peril, under normal conditions. But if left unaddressed cracks in the masonry can allow penetrating moisture to swell or warp underlying wood substrates and buckle the wall, and even worse promote the growth of mildew and mold inside the wall cavity. After the Florida hurricanes of 2004 extensive studies were undertaken to learn how minute masonry cracks contribute to moisture intrusion. In one study the small, normally occurring cracks in the stucco of a 2,500 square foot, seven-year-old, unmaintained home were measured in both width and cumulative length. The results determined that the surface area of the void was equal to a the size of a basketball. Imagine how much water might enter that home through the “long skinny holes” during the relentless, sideways rain of a hurricane. The good news for residents of The Villages is that all new homes are painted with a special high-build acrylic coating system which bridges most small masonry cracks while allowing moisture vapor behind the coating to escape. Although much more expensive than a regular paint job this thick-film system has proven itself to be a wise investment in reducing moisture intrusion.
Masonry cracks are not the only areas of concern. Where dissimilar substrates meet or where larger voids need to be filled sealants are used to keep moisture at bay. During daily heating and cooling cycles sealants (or caulking) are required to provide not only continuous adhesion to a variety of materials but undergo extreme expansion and contraction. Just as with the tires on your car, repetitive heating, cooling, stretching, and shrinking will at some point take it’s toll on the sealant and it may need to be removed and replaced. Areas where sealants should be regularly inspected are window and door perimeters, trim joints and miters, utility protrusions such as electrical boxes, HVAC and plumbing lines, and anywhere that two different types of construction material meet and moisture need to be rejected. Don’t get too cracked up over cracks. They are a normal way of life for the Florida homeowner. As long as you address them properly and promptly they should not pose a threat to the structural integrity of your home. As an overall rule of thumb... • • •
Cracks one-sixteenth inch or less are considered normal hairline cracks and generally can be covered with normal coating procedures. Cracks or voids one-sixteenth to one-eighth inch may also be considered normal and can be repaired with an elastomeric patching compound or sealant, then repainted. Cracks or voids one-eighth inch can be serious business. You want to look for the cause to determine whether or not they will grow anymore. If further growth is unlikely, then a professional painting contractor should be able to treat them.
How to Make Your Paint Last Here are a few simple guidelines to follow for maximizing the life of your exterior painted surfaces. Keep It Clean: As mentioned in the beginning a regular washing will do wonders for maximizing the performance of your paint. An annual house bath will remove dust, pollen, mildew spores, insect residue and other harmful contaminants that harm the color and integrity of the paint. When washing your home with a pressure washer keep the pressure setting as low as possible as high pressure may do more harm than good. Rust: Once rust gets started it can be difficult to stop. Identify and treat any rusting metal surfaces, components, and fasteners as soon as possible. Sand or wire brush as necessary, treat with a rust neutralizer, prime and paint. Wood Surfaces: Movement of nails or fasteners or separation of joints and miters can allow moisture to penetrate wood surfaces. As with rust, once rot begins it can be difficult to curtail. Remove rotten wood, replace or fill, prime and repaint. Plant Management: Be sure that all trees, shrubs and landscaping do not come in contact with your paint. Abrasion from movement and constant contact with moist organic materials will degrade and soften the paint film. Check to see that irrigation heads do not spray on your paint.
Constant bombardment of moisture will soften and harm the paint film, encourage the growth of mildew and algae, and possibly leave unsightly and damaging iron residue. Shaded and damp areas most prone to damaging mildew and algae growth. To distinguish dirt from mildew, test the surface by putting a few drops of household chlorine bleach on it. Mildew will disappear, dirt will not. To treat, apply a 3 to 1 mixture of water and household bleach to the area using a pole brush or sponge. Be sure to wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Test a small area first to be sure the bleach solution will not affect the paint color. Allow the mixture to remain for 20 minutes, then rinse the area thoroughly with clean water. Be sure to cover your landscape material with visqueen prior to commencement.
Respect Your Paint It’s not hard to do, just keep your eyes open, inspect your paint thoroughly every three or four months, address any issues promptly, and give your paint a bath annually. If you take good care of your paint it will take good care of your home.
For more information on how to best care for your paint, or to purchase Florida Paints or Benjamin Moore paint products please call or visit us.
Buy Your Paint A New Coat At some point in time all exterior latex paints will begin to oxidize or “chalk.” This happens sooner in Florida than other parts of the country, especially on south and west facing walls which are subject to more heat. Simply wipe your hand across the painted surface to determine if your paint is beginning to oxidize. If so, then it’s time to make some decisions. When a paint film begins to oxidize it is beginning to erode. It may experience color loss and uneven appearance, but that does not necessarily mean that it will immediately loose it’s protective properties. Depending on the thickness of the paint film oxidation may occur for five to ten years, or even longer, before the paint completely erodes away. The decision here is when to repaint. Consider that the bulk of the cost of having a home repainted is for the labor involved. The paint material itself is typically no more than twenty percent of the overall cost. Staging, surface preparation, masking, taping, and of course actual primer and paint application are all very labor intensive tasks. This may sound crazy but having your home painted more frequently may actually cost you less money over the long run. By repainting before the paint film begins to oxidize the project may not require a primer or sealer coat, offering a huge labor savings by only having to paint the home once with a finish coat. You may also only need certain walls “touchedup” rather repaint the entire house. Also, every time you add a coat of paint you add a level of protection to the underlying surface. Repainting your home every five to seven years is the best way to protect your investment.
Have a Florida Paints Representative come to your home for a free paint survey, or help you find a qualified professional painting contractor to paint your home.
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