How often should I paint the exterior of my house?

Your home’s exterior should be painted every 5 to 10 years, depending on how well the previous paint job was done, the paint’s quality, your local weather conditions, and the material you’re painting on. At Woodiwiss Painting we expect our paint jobs should last 15 to 20 years because of the detailed process that we follow.  Wood decks and fences, for instance, will need to be repainted every three to four years.  Decks may need to be re-stained every 2-5 years depending on the surface, conditions, and material used.

Below are some rough guidelines for identifying degrading paint jobs depending on your home’s material and environment so you can know how often to paint.

  • Wood surfaces, that receive heavy abuse, extreme weather, or are exposed to water, will, on average, need to be repainted every 3-4 years or stained every 4. We see a lot of dog owners who need to repaint or re-stain the floor of their decks every 2 years. All those happy paws chip and scratch the finish coat protecting the wood.
  • A good paint job on cement or cement fiberboard siding can last 10-15 years.
  • Aluminum siding needs to be repainted every 5 years.
  • Painted brick can last as long as 20 years. This is why the previous owner’s decision to paint over that beautiful natural brick is hanging around so long.

Inspect your exterior paint for signs of wear

Uneven sun damage and paint bubbling

Lucky for those of us around Alamo and Walnut Creek, we benefit from gorgeous weather more often than not. But while we avoid a lot of the hail, harsh winters, and hurricanes that hammer other homes in the country, all our direct sunlight and UV rays are intense, and it’s constantly rotating around your house. Houses around here are like potatoes rotating and baking inside a microwave.

Check each direction of your house. The north side may be wearing down from mildew growth, while the south may be the most faded. An excellent way to check is taking a photo around noon or 1pm when the sun is highest in the sky or on a cloudy day. Compare the two photos quickly side by side on your phone and see if you can tell the difference in the paint color.

Your exterior paint or stain on fences needs to be checked on both sides, too. Just because your side looks nice doesn’t mean the neighbor’s side does. They may face more sun, and bubbling or hairline cracks in the exterior surface could be visible.

Keep in mind an HOA may have a different standard for wear than you do, too.

Cracks, peeling paint, and chalky appearance

The most obvious sign of wear and tear is visible cracks, chips, and flaky paint. Repainting over this might work in a spot or two, but you should expect those problems to reappear within a year or less.

Trees, mold, and utility boxes can cause damage

Look closely near tree branches and exterior junctions like utility boxes. Those areas are most likely to be physically scraped or dinged, which can cause paint to wear faster. Trimming trees back can help extend the longevity of your exterior paint job, too.

Ask how the previous paint job went when buying a house

Painting the interior of your new house is high up most people’s to-do list. But the exterior gets neglected because it seems less visible. Ironically, the person looking at your home exterior the least is you.

When you buy a new house, look beyond the current curb appeal and ask how long ago the house’s exterior was painted. Since exterior paint jobs vary wildly, ask the sellers if they know who did the paint job. Then you can follow up with that contractor and inquire about the kind of paint they typically choose. If it’s a cheap one, you’ll know it’s time to paint your house sooner than later.

What to expect from a new exterior paint job

Getting rid of the old paint

We encounter flaking paint and notice two to three coats applied on top over the years. Like a roof or floor, you can get away with this for a while, but if pressure washing causes most of the paint to chip off, we’re going to scrape it down to a smooth surface. That way a fresh coat applies evenly and the new paint lasts the longest possible time.

Choosing a new paint color for your home exterior

Your curb appeal matters, but so does your energy bill. Painting your home lighter shades will help reflect a lot of the Bay Area sun. HOAs and local regulations in your area may impact your paint choices, as most shy away from darker colors.

Ask for premium, high-quality paint and primer

Painting your home’s exterior can be expensive, and you can save yourself money in the long run with premium paints. We’ve written before about the differences between cheap and premium paints. The same goes doubly so for exterior paints. You need high-quality paints and primer to withstand a power washer, high humidity, intense storms, heat, and salty air from the Pacific for the homes in Bay Area, California.

Get a double coat

Right after “How often should I paint?” everyone asks, “How many coats?”. We always do at least two coats. Even if we painted the exterior of your home the same color it already is, we’re still going to paint it twice.

The reason is it’s the right thing to do and anything less would be unprofessional. That’s not a money grab, either. We just want it to last. Otherwise, you’re going to be calling someone or repainting again in half the time.

Get started with exterior painting from Woodiwiss Painting

When you contact Woodiwiss Painting, we’ll start by offering you a free estimate. No risk, no pressure.

When you hire us, we’ll work with you on choosing the right paint colors to enhance your home’s curb appeal. Then we’ll clean the exterior surfaces, whether it’s a fence, patio, deck, or siding. Next we’ll apply a primer where needed, caulking to fill in gaps, and two coats of paint, and clean everything up.

You might not even have to move your car. Most small jobs (partial painting of a home) are completed in a day or two, and we’ll cover everything from the treehouse to the shrubs to the driveway (including the kids’ bikes!) with a tarp. That way the new paint goes on the house and not your windshield. Or handlebars.

We didn’t forget the trim

Your trim might be a different material from the rest of your house. A typical scenario is vinyl or aluminum siding and wood trim under the roof near the gutters. Because paint deteriorates faster on wood—including wood siding—you might need to repaint it on a different schedule from the rest of your home’s exterior. 

The good news is trim painting is usually quick and easy. And regular maintenance of the trim or any wood finishes by keeping them clean and inspecting them for chipped paint will ensure the underlying wood surface stays in good shape. Wood can be a durable material if taken care of.