How can I tell when it's time to paint the house?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

“If you have a concrete block home, it’s easy to tell when when it is ready for repainting,” according to Frank “Buddy” Nappy, of Buddy’s Painting in Gainesville, Florida. “Rub your hand across the surface of the wall and, if powdered paint comes off on your hand, it’s time.” 

    Paint oxidizes as it ages, and the resulting powdering is easy to spot on stucco. But it also appears on cementitious sidings like Hardi-Plank, although a little later in the aging process. Wood siding holds paint more tenaciously, so signs that it’s time to repaint are deteriorated caulk, areas of peeling paint, and spots of wood rot on the trim. 

    We have included a few photos below of homes that need to be painted. Because it’s hard to capture deteriorated paint in a photograph until it is more advanced, most pictures are of homes that really need repainting, right away.

Mildew accumulating on paint surfaces.

This is an example of a gable end vent that was not primed before being painted. This deterioration happened after only five years.


Porch ceilings like this one tend to trap moisture and the paint will deteriorate faster than an exterior location.

Broken caulk lines and openings in paint finishes quickly lead to wood rot as seen in this porch post.

Rain water splashing back on exterior doors and trim usually causes mildew and paint distress. 

Another porch ceiling, this one on an older home, with peeling paint.

  “A good exterior paint job should last 7 to 10 years,” says Buddy, and he recommends removing any mildew—like in the first photo below—annually with a light bleach-water rinse/wash to extend the lifespan. “Mildew literally deteriorates the paint, and you want to keep it at bay, especially on the shaded sides of the house.” 

    Also, see our blog posts Can vinyl siding be painted? and Is painted bathroom tile acceptable?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

 What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

 What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

 • What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

 What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

 How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

 What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

 How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

 What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

 What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

 Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

 Why is my stucco cracking?

 There's cracks running along the home's concrete tie beam. What's wrong? 

 What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

 How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall? 

 What is engineered wood siding?

 Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

 What is a "continuous load path”?

 Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

 How can I tell if cracks in the garage floor are a problem or not? 

 What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

 Why is housewrap installed on exterior walls under the siding? 

 How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

 Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

 How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

 Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

 What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

 What causes cracks in the walls and floors of a house?

 How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

 What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

    Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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