After a long, cold Minnesota winter, it’s nice to get outside. In addition to your favorite recreational activities, don’t forget to assess the exterior of your home. If you have painted siding, you’ll want to evaluate both the siding and the paint covering it in order to detect any problems early on. There are many signs to watch for and factors to consider as you do so.
When you think of damage to your home’s exterior paint, this is likely what comes to mind first. Cracking, peeling, and bubbling are obvious signs that your paint is not holding up to the elements. They may also indicate a current problem or lead to a future problem with dry rot or mold. You’ll want to address these concerns as soon as possible. These problems will most likely appear on the south and west sides of your home first, as they are most prone to be directly exposed to the main culprit of this damage: the sun.
If your paint is wearing out, it may begin to fade, especially the sides subjected to the most sunlight. Don’t look the other way, especially if you’re considering selling your home, because potential buyers certainly won’t. Curb appeal is important, so consider repainting your home if it’s looking worn out. When you do, keep in mind that dark paint colors fade quicker than lighter shades.
Mildew is spore-based fungi that grows on parts of your home that are often damp. It is typically black or gray, and can be mistaken for dirt or silt splash from rain. To identify mildew, apply a bleach solution to an area that you suspect has been affected by it. If it is, indeed mildew, spores will lose their color after a minute or two, while dirt will remain dark. Modern exterior paints are antimicrobial, which provides a level of protection from these problems.
Watch for soft spots that have been saturated with water. Especially check window sills and other areas susceptible to rain and sun. If you have soft spots in your hardboard siding, you want to identify them and fix them quickly, as rot will only worsen overtime. Be especially mindful of the north side of your home, areas not protected by soffit overhead, and areas closest to the ground, as they will be the first areas to rot.
Stains below windows are obvious signs that there may be hidden damage or defects with stucco that is 40 years old or newer. Also look for cracked or chipped stucco, as moisture can get behind the paint, cause it to bubble, and lead to water infiltration.
It’s usually easy to spot rotted wood windows when you’re up close. Once again, lightly poking it with your finger is an easy way to identify rot.
Other signs of rot include shrinking or gaps between siding boards. If you notice this or any other indications of rot, be sure to consult a professional to assess the damage before having your home painted.
There are several types of exterior paint stains. Not only are they ugly, they’re indicative of damage. Don’t clean off the stains without identifying and remedying the root of the problem.
Blue stain is caused by a microscopic fungus that often infects the sapwood of trees harvested for structural materials. The stain does not harm the structural integrity of the wood, but it can be unsightly. Even if you don’t have wood siding, if you have wood trim, it could be subjected to blue stain.
If your home has cedar siding, watch for tannin stains. Tannins help cedar resist wood rot and pest problems, but when they come in contact with too much moisture, they can run. Be on the lookout for brownish streaks or discoloration.
Iron stain should not be an issue, as the industry standard is to use galvanized, stainless steel, or aluminum nails on siding; in addition to commonly caulking nail heads to create a smoother painting surface and keep water out. However, in the case that common ferrous nails or low-quality galvanized nails were used, rust may form, which can then cause light to dark orange or copper colored stains.
In addition to all these visual cues, another thing to consider is the age of your paint. Recommendations include painting wood every 5 to 7 years, aluminum every 10 years, and stucco every 7 years.
Beyond just checking the paint and wood itself, be sure to inspect the caulking, which is your next line of defense against harsh weather. Look around windows and between siding planks. You want to make sure it is rigid and sealed. If not, it can let water in, which would cause serious problems. Sometimes slight touch ups are enough. Other times, all the caulking needs to be replaced.
If you have trees or shrubs that are too close to your home, it could lead to moisture problems. Before it gets to that point, trim those plants so they don't get close to the painted surface.
Now you know what to look for, but you may still be unsure of the seriousness of a problem or how quickly it needs to be addressed. Or, maybe you’d rather have a professional look at it in the first place. We at Cityscape Painting would be happy to evaluate your exterior paint. Contact us for a free estimate today.
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