Should You Repaint Your Home... Again?
Or is it time for Vinyl Siding!

by Allison E. Beatty

Exterior house paint has been around for decades and is one of the most common home maintenance projects. Paint is popular because it instantly adds beauty and a sense of newness to a home. Here's a look at the ins and outs of exterior paints.

The materials...

Paint comes in several finishes, from flat to satin to semi-gloss and gloss--a progression from no shine to very shiny.

The glossier finishes add more drama to an exterior, but also show the blemishes more than flatter finishes.  Generally speaking, so-called "satin" or "low lustre" paints offer a good compromise between durability and hiding.

Most modern paints are high quality coatings, but there are differences.  Your best resource for unbiased information is the Consumer's Union, publishers of Consumer Reports magazine.  They regularly review a wide variety of paint manufacturers, though all brands may not be available in your area.

Quality Materials and Professional Prep

The defining components to a good paint job are the quality of the material and the thoroughness of the installation. Whether you are hiring a painter or doing the work yourself, you need to start with a quality paint and detailed prep work. After all, the paint is only as good as the surface to which it adheres.

A good painter also takes into account the effect of temperature and sunlight. A general guideline is not to paint when the temperature falls below 60 degrees or when the sun is beating down on a hot, humid day. This helps a quality paint job last, on average, five to eight years.

Exterior painting is one project that is best left to professionals or skilled do-it-yourselfers, especially if you live in a two-story house. While periodic touch ups are easy enough for homeowners, using tall ladders can make it a dangerous project for novice painters.

Cost?  Still the best choice for handy do-it-yourselfers on a budget

The cost to paint the outside of a house will vary, based on where you live and amount of prep work needed. In many areas, the cost averages $2,500 to $7,000,  often comparable to the cost to install vinyl siding. The decision to paint or replace the underlying material should be based on the condition of the original material and your budget.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, repainting is by far the least expensive way to refresh and protect your home.  Since most of the cost of repainting is labor, you can purchase all the materials PLUS that new ladder and other tools and still save money!

In conclusion...

Many people like the nostalgic look of wood siding and don't have a problem with the maintenance and cost of painting it every so often. Others loathe the expense and hassle of exterior painting and prefer lower maintenance products like vinyl siding.

About the Author:  Allison E. Beatty is a syndicated real estate writer who has been writing home improvement columns for 15 years.