Repainting a House - How Often, Why and How?

Aside from repainting a house to change the colour of your internal and exterior walls, there are a few other reasons to consider popping a new layer of paint on your home.

While the right paint gives your home aesthetic appeal and may even impact market value or saleability, the primary purpose of paint is to protect your structure from the elements – namely rain, wind, and sun. When paint cannotprovide protection, you will need to repaint.

Forces that Affect Your Paint:

There’s no simple answer to the question, ‘how often should you repaint a house?’ That’s because several unique factors affect how long your paint should last and when to repaint walls. We’ve identified four leading elements that impact paint quality: the weather, the substrate pH, wear and tear and movement, and paint quality.

repainting a house

The Weather

As mentioned, the purpose of your exterior paint coat is to protect your structure from the elements. You can reasonably expect that your paint will degrade over time due to harsh UV rays, wind, or rain.

When you notice your paint has faded, it’s time to repaint. The reason for this is that old, faded paint becomes brittle and is easily damaged. In the long run, this could lead to bigger problems, like water damage.

The Substrate pH

The ‘substrate’ is the material onto which you apply your paint. For most, this is usually plaster. Raw plaster reacts with paint negatively, so it’s essential to apply a coat of a good quality plaster primer to neutralise the pH of the plaster before splashing on your first coat of paint.

It can be tricky to get this ‘just right’. You’ll need to check your plaster pH to ensure that you use the correct primer. However, over time, the alkalinity/acidity of plaster leaches out and could negatively impact the paint. When this happens, you’ll need to consider repainting the affected walls to prevent further degradation – once again using a relevant primer.  

Wear and Tear and Movement

General wear and tear on our walls contribute to paint damage. Walls are touched, bumped, and washed often in their lives, slowly wearing down the paint.

A house also shifts with the movement of the earth. A newly built home will move much more over the first few years as the foundations and structure settle. As the rigid structure of a house cannot “tolerate” movement, minute cracks will form in plasterwork. This is natural and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

However, these hairline cracks can develop into larger settlement cracks over time, unfortunately resulting in paint cracks being visible on the walls. If left unrepaired, moisture permeates these fissures, and the substrate (i.e. plaster) begins to degrade. Degraded or water-damaged plaster causes paint to lose its ‘bind’ with the substrate. In other words, the paint becomes powdery, is no longer adhesive to the plaster, and starts flaking off.

This degradation opens the cracks more, allowing more water in, and the problem progressively gets worse, often very quickly.

When you start seeing settlement cracks, it’s always a good idea to scrape them open, fill them with a suitable filler, and paint over them. Repainting a house that’s susceptible to cracks will be a regular maintenance process that you can expect to tackle every 2 to 4 years. 

Paint Quality

The quality of your paint also determines its longevity. Paint quality is not defined by the brand but by the manufacturing process, and manufacturing quality paint isn’t as simple as one would think. It’s a highly technical process conducted by qualified technicians. Numerous compounds, resins and chemicals go into the production of paint. Of course, the better the raw materials used, the better the paint quality will be – and the higher the price. 

Various paint suppliers give different guarantees on their products. Suppliers guarantee that their paint will last anything from 3 to 10 years. However, this guarantee is only valid under the conditions that the paint is used for the correct purpose, applied in an “ideal climate”, and that regular maintenance is conducted.

Paint is designed to last for a certain period, under specific conditions. If those ideal conditions are not met when repainting a house, then the paint degrades faster. 

How many Coats are Needed when Repainting a House?

There is an age-old saying amongst paint suppliers: “Your paint is only as good as the number of coats you apply.

Each time you add a new layer of paint, that layer will last longer than the previous one. At a minimum, we recommend 2-3 coats, depending on the area you are painting and the transparency of the paint colour you have chosen.

It may appear relatively easy to buy a few litres of paint at your local hardware store and have your nephew or a casual labourer repaint your home. However, knowing what paint to buy for your project, how to apply it, and whencan be overwhelming if home maintenance is not your forte.

We encourage homeowners to reach out to a professional painting company. Whether repainting a house interior or exterior, having an expert on the job will save you time, money and convenience in the long run!