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There are too many specific reasons for paint failure to go into them here. Ask for my “Visual Paint Inspection Guide” for that. There you will find 22 causes for exterior and interior paint imperfections and failures. Today’s discussion is to give you some general guides for paint longevity.

Consider each of these on a sliding scale of 1 to 5. 1 for low quality and 5 for high. When you are ready to repaint, pull this out and talk over your goals and budget with your painter and see how much value he can give you for your budget. Middle of the road is 18. Highest score is 30.

Prep Work before painting

The next coat of paint is only as good as the previous coat. Removing any compromised existing paint is important. Pressure washers do this to a large degree. Hand scraping what’s left is a good idea. They also get off years of embedded dirt that impedes the best adhesion. Also important is wood or substrate condition. The closer to a bright like new condition the better. The old gray wood is less stable as seen by being able to rub it off in places. Ideally the exposed wood or exposed substrate would all be sanded. A good primer is important. It should be matched to the substrate, conditions and desired results.

Paint Application

Spraying paint is the most common form of application. It works well enough in most situations. Applying pressure to the paint with a brush or roller pushes it into all the small cracks and crevices. This forms a more continuous film that prevents rain and moisture from getting behind the paint, causing more rapid breakdown. This effects how well the paint works, not how long it will last.

 Paint Quality

The quality of the paint makes a big difference. Differences in quality are determined by the quality of the ingredients. Think in terms of food. Fast food or gourmet? This is normally reflected in the price and warranty. Todays paint is found in variations of acrylic latex. You may not want to fork out the dough for a premium product, but it will give you a few more years before you have to repaint. With good prep work, you may see a 10 year performance difference between average and super premium paint.

“Paint and primer in one” does not contain primer. The correct term is “self priming”. Acrylic deck and fence stains are and example of this. But they are not a substitute for primer and don’t contain primer either. A related issue is caulking. Good paint is defeated by poor caulk. Spend the extra $2 for a lifetime quality caulk to keep those cracks sealed.

Paint Thickness

One coat or two? A second coat normally adds about 50% to the life of the paint simply because there is more of it there. Some of the super premium paint is extra thick and has the same effect as two coats of paint. It may cost 50% more but it’s usually out-weighed by not paying for the labor of a second coat.

The point is total DFT, dry film thickness (measured in mils, 1/1000”). Use as thick a coat as the product is designed for. Latex paint is often recommended to haves 4-6 mils WFT, wet film thickness. This can be measued with a wet film gauge available for about $6 at many professional paint stores. The paint will dry to about 40% the WFT or 1-2 mils DFT. About the thickness of one side of a plastic shopping bag.Weather


Here in Colorado the intense UV light breaks down everything faster than at lower elevations. Not to mention hail, snow, rain and ice. The more exposure there is the faster the paint breaks down. That’s why the south side shows wear first. Compare your window sill to the window frame. The sill can have snow and ice on it for weeks compared to a few hours for the frame. Heat also contributes to coating breakdown. For extended paint life, remove water, snow and ice from painted surfaces as soon as possible. Good weather during application is also important for best results.

 Age of paint and substrate

Mother Nature always wins. At some point your paint will wear out and it will have to be removed and replaced. This apply’s to the substrate too. Sometimes wood and siding is to old to hold paint and will need replacing. Which brings us back to prep work.

Finding a contractor that can walk you through this process to help you determine what fits your needs and budget is important. At Better Painting & Coatings, we take the time to listen to what you want then give you options that fit your quality and budget needs.

Better Painting & Coatings is a full service painting contractor in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit for more info or call Tim Hoeffel at 719.641.5043 for immediate help.


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