How Often Should I Paint My House?


Houses are as diverse as the people who live in them. Not only are different homes constructed of different materials, but they are also located in a dizzying variety of locations in various weather conditions. Therefore there isn’t a standard response to the question How often should I paint my house? The closest answer is:

On average, you should paint the exterior of your home every five years or so. However, the material and finish of the exterior of your home, where your home is located, and the local weather conditions will all affect the timeline. As a result, your home may need painting as much as every three years or as little as every ten years, or more.

That said, “it depends” isn’t an answer that is going to help you. Therefore I’ve put together this handy little guide to help you decide how often you should paint your house.

How Do I Know If My House Needs Repainting?

Painting your house should be a regular maintenance task and not a repair job. If you wait until your paint is chipped and peeling, then you risk more profound damage to the fabric of your home, from moisture, pests, and other hazards.

So, paint your home before it is in desperate need of a refinish. To decide when this should be, consider:

  • The materials used on the exterior of your house
  • What was previously used to paint the exterior
  • The general weather conditions in your region
  • When your home was last painted
  • Any local or home-specific issues which may affect how frequently your home needs to be painted.

If you are unsure about any of these factors, there is a simple way to discover how frequently your house needs repainting. Contact several exterior painting companies in your local area and ask them for a quote. Experts should be able to tell you, in detail, about the current state of your external paint job. 

What Is The Exterior Of Your Home Made From?

The following guidelines are for houses in “average” locations that do not regularly experience extremes of temperature or humidity. 

Lower-grade materials and workmanship will decrease the amount of time between repaintings and high-end materials and workmanship will increase the longevity of your paint job. Consequently, these recommendations are also made assuming a house has been painted using suitable, quality materials, and craft.

If you have a home with a brick exterior, and it’s not yet painted, then the outside will only need cleaning. On the other hand, if the brick has been painted over at some point in the past, it will need to be repainted, on average, every 15 years or so.

Wood siding will need repainting every three to six years, but if your wooden siding is stained, rather than painted, you are looking at a four-year restaining cycle. Meanwhile, for houses with aluminum siding, a repaint is needed once every five years or so.

Stucco typically needs repainting every five to six years, but the quality of the stucco finish will have a significant impact on your repainting timeline.

Finally, there are houses with newer types of material, for example, cement fiberboard siding. Your best option for these products is to ask the manufacturer how often it should be repainted. 

Where Is Your Home?

Climate has a significant impact on the longevity of your home’s exterior paint.

For instance:

  • If you live in a region, that experiences frigid winters and hot summers, the swing between temperature extremes will be more likely to cause your paint to crack and flake. 
  • Painted homes in coastal areas are often exposed to sun, winds, and salt-spray, all of which will damage your paint, causing bubbling on the surface and bleaching of the pigment.
  • High levels of humidity may cause your home’s external materials to experience cycles of swelling and shrinking, which will, in turn, damage the exterior finish. Extreme humidity may also affect how well the paint adheres to the exterior of your home.
  • Houses in hot, arid places may experience blistering to the paint finish, but, even if the paint itself survives, homeowners may see bleaching of the color. This is especially true if you choose to paint your home a darker color.

What Is Your Local Weather Like?

Even after taking your region’s climate into account, you have to consider your average local weather patterns.

Both human-made and naturally occurring features can impact local weather systems meaning that even the differences in climate between neighborhoods can be significant. 

Therefore it is essential not just to consider the region in which your home is located but to take into account any local variations.

Are There Any Other Factors That Affect How Often I Should Paint My House?

Even if two houses next door to each other, built with the same materials, were painted at the same time, one may need painting sooner than the other. This is how the exterior of your home is prepared before painting, what type of paint you use, and how well the paint is applied will all impact how long the finish lasts.

Surface Preparation

It is vital to remove all existing paint, and any other surface contaminants before repainting the outside of your house. If patches of the previous paint, dirt, or other impurities are left behind, not only can the finished result look terrible, but those patches can cause problems.

If the new paint is a different type to the old color, chemical reactions may affect the finish causing it to flake, blister or discolor. Remnants of the old paint can also prevent proper adhesion of the new, again causing the resulting finish to flake, crack, or blister, as can other types of contamination.

Paint Application

Just as the surface preparation will impact the quality of the exterior paint on your house, so too will the tools and techniques used for painting.

Type Of Paint

Traditional oil-based exterior paints are more likely to harden, crack, flake, blister. They may allow more mildew growth than the new generation of acrylic latex paints available to today’s homeowners. However, they are incredibly durable and are the paints most often used by professionals.

On the other hand, latex paints, especially acrylic latex paints, are more flexible and less prone to cracking, which makes them an excellent choice for homes where high levels of humidity or extreme fluctuations in temperature are an issue.

Note: If your home has already been painted with oil-based paint, do not try to cover it with latex paint. The latex paint will not adhere well. If you are unsure about which type of paint has been used on your house, remove a paint-chip and fold it. If the chip bends before breaking, it is most likely latex. However, if it cracks quickly, it is most likely oil.

Paint Finish

High gloss finish paints will highlight any imperfections in the paint job or the underlying surface. Therefore, it is often recommended that if you want a shiner finish for your home’s trim, a semi-gloss can be a better choice.

Using a flat or matte finish paint to paint your house is an excellent way to hide underlying imperfections. The downside is that matte paints do not weather as well as other finishes meaning you will have to repaint your house more often.

Satin, or eggshell, finish paints will last longer than matte, therefore if you use a satin finish on your home, you can leave it for longer between repaintings.

Color choice

Darker colors will fade more quickly, and subsequently, a dark color house will need to be repainted with greater frequency.

But this is not the only way paint color affects how often you need to paint your house. 

If you have children or pets, a light color may show up the dirt more quickly than a darker choice, meaning you will have to paint more often to keep your house looking tip-top.

Final Thoughts

There is a myriad of factors that affect how often you will have to repaint your house. Some of these you will have control over, while others you will not.

Knowing about the different factors that affect the frequency with which you will need to paint your house, will help you make informed decisions about how, when, and with what your home should be painted.

Also, having a basic knowledge of the elements to consider when painting the exterior of your house will help you to hire a reliable and trustworthy contractor if you do not want to paint your home yourself.

Not only is this useful for the house you currently own, but this knowledge is also invaluable when you are house hunting. Knowing how often a potential home will need repainting and how much that is going to cost can help you decide whether you want to purchase a home, and if so, how much to offer.

 

This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Geoff

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

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