Remember, what's on the outside counts too

By Terry Lobb

It's that time again when we should be thinking about sprucing up the outside of our homes, not necessarily for Christmas, but because homes need maintenance, and what better time to do it than in the settled spring and summer weather.

We get so busy we sometimes forget about the upkeep of our homes. A little bit of work here and there helps if you're not quite ready to do the full makeover of choosing new colours and painting.

If you are lucky enough to own a weatherboard house then you'll know about maintenance. Other substrates won't appear to need as much maintenance but that doesn't mean you should neglect your valuable asset.

Paint and stains break down under grime, dirt and UV light. It's no different from the interior of your home; carpets, fabrics and wallpapers eventually fade or rot in sunlight.

We vacuum our floors regularly and dust and polish our furniture and, every so often, we will see to our curtains and vacuum the upholstery. So why is it that we tend to forget about the exterior of our homes?

Surely with the high exposure to the elements, we should look more closely at the exterior. The simplest task is to wash the exterior down, including the roof, if you're game enough to get up on it. There are companies that will do this if you have a problem with heights or lack the time.

You can purchase attachments for your hose, which makes the job a lot easier, and give it a good scrub. Preferably don't use a waterblaster as I have seen houses where people got carried away and did a lot of damage, either by stripping off paint they hadn't intended to or damaging the weather boards.

Years ago I was called to a property to do a colour scheme for a client who was unhappy with the performance of the paint system. The paint was only a couple of years old but it appeared to have no lustre and looked years old.

I suggested that they give the house a thorough wash down before they made a decision to repaint. It was going to have to be cleaned down for painting anyway.

I had a call a couple of weeks later to say they wouldn't be repainting. The house had been washed down and was looking like new. They had been amazed at the dirt that had come off the paint especially up under the eaves. If only all maintenance on our homes was that easy.

It's not only weatherboard homes that need washing down, it is good to give all homes a good wash at least once a year, if not a couple of times a year. The smoother the surface the easier it is to clean down and the less grime will stick.

If you do find flaking paint, it is best to deal with it there and then. Once it starts flaking, it will continue and have a tendency to let in moisture. The affected area needs to be scraped back, feathered off with sandpaper and then spot primed or undercoated, depending on whether you are back to bare boards. Then apply a couple of coats of top coat.

For older homes with old paint be aware that it could be lead-based paint and will need to be treated differently in the preparation than newer paint.

If you are unsure, you can purchase a test kit from your local paint shop and test the paint yourself. Lead stays in the ground so any paint flakes need to be cleaned up completely.

Good preparation is important to getting a good end result when painting. And the little things save time in the long run.

I choose exterior colour for may homes. Not always just straight paint colours as some of the substrates being used are already premixed with colour.

Be aware that if you are building new, some of the deeper colours may not be guaranteed on your homes. It always pays to read the spec sheets on product thoroughly. How disappointing to find that the colour you have chosen absorbs too much heat and creates problems for water tracking into opened joints.

Who is responsible? If you stick within the guidelines there shouldn't be a problem. Rule of thumb is the darker the colour, the more it attracts the heat, but many of the paint companies have re-formulated their paint systems to reflect the sun's harsh rays. Also, the higher the gloss, the easier it is to clean and the more flat the paint, the harder it is to clean.

Painting the exterior of a house is an on-going and expensive process; you don't really want to get it wrong or be disappointed in the result.

It is also quite different choosing exterior paint colours to interior paint colours; the light is very different and often the area more expansive.

If you have any questions about issues discussed or product supply give me a call on 0276023298 or drop me a line on (website under construction)

- Wanganui Chronicle

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