Painting the exterior walls of your home is expensive and, to be fair, a bit of a pain. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could just do it once and forget it but, with most conventional paint systems, it’s a job you have to keep doing every 3-5 years.
So a solution that claims to last a lifetime has to be tempting right, even if it does seem a bit expensive? Or, perhaps, it’s all a con – how can you know for sure?
Why do you need to paint the outside walls of your house?
The exterior walls of your home are under constant attack from wind and rain and, to a great extent, they do a pretty good of defending against this. Both traditional single thickness walls and modern cavity walls will keep the weather out, although neither system is perfect.
Traditional, single-thickness, masonry and brick walls absorb moisture and allow its release by natural evaporation. Over time though this damp can build up and lead to internal damp and mould, especially where walls don’t get a lot of sunlight. In severe cases, excessive moisture can also cause timbers to rot.
Modern cavity walls have two skins with an air-gap in between which prevents moisture from passing from one side to the other. But a combination of poor design and workmanship sometimes means this gap isn’t maintained and this can lead to damp problems. Some cavity-wall insulation materials have also been incorrectly used and can act like a sponge and allow water to penetrate internally.
Also, with either system, there are weaknesses, especially where there are openings for windows and doors. It’s very difficult to allow for the differential movement of timber or uPVC and masonry – moisture will get in eventually.
Masonry walls are also subject to movement and this will, inevitably, lead to hairline cracks in the mortar and cement render. Water can get in via these cracks and become trapped, leading to all manner of problems.
It makes sense then, if you can, to paint the exterior walls with masonry paint to shed water and to avoid a lot of the associated problems.
However, it’s only paint and won’t last forever. Dirt in the atmosphere will discolour the surface over time. Hairline cracks will develop, where there is movement, and allow water to get in. Mould growth can also be a problem, especially with North facing walls, and this will need treating from time to time.
So are Miracle Coatings the Answer?
Businesses offering exterior painting solutions can make some rather extraordinary claims about the effectiveness of their systems.
- Typically they’ll say their paint system will last for 10 – 20 years, or sometimes a lifetime.
- They’ll claim they can cure damp.
- They’ll say their paint is revolutionary and is some kind of technological development.
- Their system will applied by spray and will be ‘many times’ thicker than normal masonry paint.
- They’ll sometimes offer some kind of insurance backed guarantee or warranty.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But if their paint is so good why don’t the likes of Crown and Dulux offer something similar?
Maybe it’s a conspiracy to get you to keep buying their products? After all, selling an exterior paint that lasts forever will just put them out of business?
Or, maybe, they already formulate their paint to be as good as is possible – and anyone saying otherwise is talking nonsense?
Decide for yourself.
What these businesses don’t tell you…
They’ll be very cagey about the products they use. Not because they have secret ingredients but so you can’t do any of your own research.
The cost will be much higher than if you had the work done by a regular painter and decorator.
The work may be done by a different company to the one you’ve paid your money to.
The guarantees they offer will have a lot of small print and exclusions. You may also have to pay extra for ‘this guarantee’ and it’s unlikely to cover you for normal defects like hairline cracks in the walls or around openings.
It’s likely also the business that did the work will have to be given the opportunity to come and rectify any problems before you can claim your money back.
Questions you need to ask anybody painting the exterior of your home
Regardless of which company you want to paint your home, be it a conventional painter & decorator or one of these ‘miracle coating’ companies, there are a few basic questions you need to ask.
- What products do you use and where can I find data sheets for these?
- Can I contact some of your previous customers?
- Do you have public liability insurance and, if you have people working with you, employer’s liability insurance?
- What qualifications do you have?
- Who will actually be doing the work?
- How much will the work cost, exactly?
- If I have to pay money up front, what is this for?
- What happens if the work is not satisfactory or there are defects?
- What guarantees or warranties do you offer and which company is underwriting these?