How Long will the Paint Job Last?

house wood rot

As a painting contractor one of the most frequently asked questions is: how long will the paint job last? My stock answer is, it depends on a lot of variable factors. I suppose the average number of years is around five. Some of the factors determining the length of a paint job are the types of wood used by the builder and environmental conditions. For instance, a waterfront home is challenged by the worst of conditions, and it’s not uncommon for the side facing the water to need a maintenance coat within three years or less. On the North Shore most homes are affected by the ocean’s moisture, even if you live a quarter mile away.

Another factor determining the length of a paint job is the homeowner’s tolerance for fading and failing paint. Many homeowners have their paint contractor touch up failing paint between paint jobs. In this process, the touch ups can be noticeable—the touchup being a little shinier or brighter—but if there is any single way of extending the life of a paint job by an average of two years, it is a periodic touch up. One of the benefits of addressing failing paint as it arises is that it provides a homeowner the opportunity to prevent moisture penetration into the wood that frequently leads to wood rot and costly repairs. The rot on a house that has delayed a paint job can often cost as much as the paint job itself. As Ben Franklin once said, “A stitch in time, saves nine.”

exterior trim rot                          exterior trim rot

Like people, houses are quirky, each holds it paint differently—paint tends to peel and break down in the same spots. Many of the modern construction were built with new growth pine and finger jointed wood; some of these also have clapboards that are not fully primed before installation. These products are notorious for attracting, moisture and rot, and houses built with these products frequently have premature paint failure. (I actually own one!) This is why on the newer homes, particularly on the high-end, all new trim is made of plastic or some type of synthetic. And paint loves plastic, it may fade, but in my experience, it never peels and rarely fails. So how long do you wait between paint jobs? It depends. But blistering or peeling paint is a good indicator, and keeping on a regular schedule of maintenance is a good way to protect your home’s looks and value.