Living in Colorado can be both a blessing and a curse, in other words, there is good news and there is bad news – which would you like to read about first? Coloradoans enjoy some of the most spectacular outdoor scenery in the country and we live nearly a mile higher than our friends and families back east. The sun shines bright nearly 300 days of the year and we have warm summers, mild springs and falls, and snowy winters with great skiing, hiking, camping, and outdoor recreation of all types. What is the bad news? This very same sun – with its intense UV-rays, and the extreme climate variety that affords us so many recreational opportunities – can also be bad for us and they can wreck havoc on our bodies – and our homes.
Sunscreen and sun block can help prevent the damage to our skin from the effects of the sun, but what about the skin on our homes and dwellings? What is the good news and what is the bad news about paint and stain? How long do they protect the exterior surfaces (the skin) of our homes? We’re talking about one of our key investment items here – so which is better for our walls, decks and fences, paint or stain? What about warranties? Are they any good? How long should an exterior paint job last in Colorado? The list of questions can be endless, but there are some answers and some practical expectations for homeowners and those considering the wide range of choices for home protection.
There are several factors that impact how long a paint or stain coating lasts on an exterior surface, be it the walls of a house, a deck, or a fence. Here are some of the major factors to consider:
1 – The quality of the paint, stain, and preparation products. Obviously, the popular saying is true, that “You tend to get what you pay for”. In other words, the higher the quality of the paint or stain, and the better the quality of the caulks and primers used, the longer the treatment will last. There is a limit though, because the sun and weather variation is always going to be very intense and very real.
2 – The application of the right quality primer and caulk is important and will extend the life of the outside coating of paint or stain.
3 – Not diluting the paint, and not using lower quality paint to begin with, will definitely improve the life expectancy of a surface coating.
4 – Applying the wrong type of product on a particular surface is clearly the wrong thing to do and it will impact the quality of appearance and reduce the duration time until it will need to be treated again. For example, in Colorado there are a lot of homes built with cedar siding, and whereas cedar wood is beautiful, paint is not the best product to be used on it. Cedar is very porous and paint is not really a good penetrator of wood. Stain is the best product to use on cedar because of its natural penetrating and sealing properties, but if paint is going to be used, then a good primer is necessary first. This will keep the paint from peeling away from the cedar, and it will ensure a longer life between protection applications.
5 – The altitude of a home and the extreme weather variations, as previously mentioned, are going to be hard on wood surfaces and will require careful attention to the products used and the frequency of re-applications. Southern and western surface exposures will fade and warp faster than other orientations, while northern exposure introduces swelling and moisture accumulation. The accumulation of snow around the lower sections of a house can increase the damage to wood surfaces of siding, decks and fences, and in many cases yearly or bi-yearly maintenance will be required. Horizontal surfaces, like deck tops, are particularly vulnerable to the affects of the sun and moisture from snow or rain.
6 – Temperature variation is a given in Colorado, and the greater the range of variation – based on where a home is located – the more it will impact the lifespan of the caulk, paint and stain used and their ability to protect and last.
7 – The quality of the original application of the paint or stain will impact its durability and effectiveness. Using a reputable painting company is one way the consumer can increase the expectations for durability of the surface protection. Good companies use good people and quality of work should be a discriminating choice.
So – if the good news is that Colorado is a beautiful place to live and the bad news is that the sun and weather can be hard on a house’s exterior, what does a homeowner need to know about paint and stain warranties?
First – the homeowner should know from the beginning that a paint or stain job is not going to last forever, in fact, no matter how good the quality of the product is, and no matter how professional the painting company is that applies the product, the average lifespan of a surface coating in Colorado is around three to four years. The surface coatings of a brand new home will last longer, sometimes up to eight or nine years, because the exterior surfaces will not have experienced the years of expansion and contraction that an older home will have. Pollution, UV-exposure, and climate exposure are also prime factors affecting older homes.
A quality painting company will extend a warranty for their work based on the product used and the condition of the surfaces treated. There are some companies who are in the business for the short-haul and might offer longer warranties, knowing that they aren’t going to be around when the product deteriorates and they won’t have to worry about servicing the warranty. The lesson here is to find out all you can about your painting contractor. How long have they been in business? Do they have references? Have they worked in your neighborhood before and can they show you examples of homes they have painted? Do they use quality products like Sherwin-Williams, Kwal Paint, and Benjamin-Moore?
The idea behind a warranty is to protect your investment and provide the means to ensure the correction of a problem within a reasonable amount of time, considering how long a product or service should last in the environment the home is situated in. Colorado is a beautiful place to live in and enjoy, but the extremes should be considered when making a decision on painting or staining your home. As with most other things in life, “There is good news and there is bad news”.