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Common problems with exterior paint

There are not a lot of things that can go wrong with exterior paint, but all of them can be serious and should be addressed. The list below explains the problems you may see, why it is a problem and what should be done to correct it.
  • Peeling

    •       Paint peels when it does not adhere well to the painted surface. It may be due to the paint having been applied to an unclean surface, paint applied directly to the wood without primer, or applied to aged wood without sanding to rough up the wood and open the pores to allow the primer to stick to the wood.

            Peeling paint exposes wood allowing it to deteriorate and make it harder for new paint to stick. Without proper prep work, the new paint will not stick long either, and the money spent on painting is wasted. If left unpainted for extended periods, the wood will absorb moisture and begin to rot.

            The best way to treat peeling paint is to scrape it, sand the edges and prime prior to applying a new coat of paint. You must be sure and remove all loose paint.

  • Cracking

    •       Paint cracks most often as it, or the wood it is applied to dries out. Typically, this is a problem with older paint, and paint that is constantly in direct and intense sun in arid climates. As the paint ages and the resins break down the paint becomes more brittle.

            Cracks in the paint allow moisture to get under the paint and begin to deteriorate the wood. Cracking is often. But not always a precursor to peeling paint.

            Cracking paint should be scraped, sanded, then coated with a high-binding primer to seal any unseen cracks and prepare the wood for the top coat.

  • Chalking

    •       Paint gets chalky as the resins break down and lose their adhesion to the surrounding paint molecules. Chalking begins as a surface-only problem but will eventually go deeper and deeper into the paint. Chalking paint will easily come off on your hand or a cloth that is brushed across the surface. This is also generally a sunny side problem.

            Chalking paint without cracking and peeling is generally a sign of good paint and a good paint job that has outlived its lifespan. As it continues to deteriorate it will allow moisture to get through and begin to exhibit other problems such as peeling, cracking and even rotting wood.

            Chalking paint is easy to treat. A good washing and a fresh coat of paint will usually solve all the problems.

  • Fading

    •       Paint fades as the resins break down and no longer protect the pigments, and the pigments then break down in the sun. This is often the first phase of deterioration.

            Paint that is faded will continue to deteriorate until the more serious problems begin to manifest themselves as well. This is the best stage to stop future paint problems

            Faded paint is corrected by applying a new coat of paint.

  • Peeling on bottem edge of siding

    •       When lap siding gets wet from rain, or lawn sprinklers, the water runs down the siding to the bottom edge of that lap before hanging on until the weight overcomes it and it drips down to the next board and repeats the process. The lower the board, the more water that clings to the siding. Having ‘standing’ water for extended periods more rapidly breaks down the paint and it flakes off, exposing bare wood.

            If the siding is solid wood siding, it begins to weather and rot. If it is a pressed or particle board, it absorbs the moisture, expands, destroys the bonding agents in the siding and falls apart. Although not always, this can also be the sign of a poor paint job where care was not taken to make sure the bottom edges were well painted.

            Flaking paint should be scraped, sanded and primed. If there is excessive damage, sections of the siding may need to be replaced.

  • Nail holes

    •       In addition to being unsightly, nail holes allow moisture to enter the siding and begin the decay process.

            The wood around the nail hole will deteriorate from water entering the wood. The hole may be large enough to allow water to get behind the wood and maintain a high level of moisture or humidity on the bare wood inside the wall causing rapid wood rotting

            Nail holes should be sealed with caulk and painted.

  • Uncalked joints

    •       Uncaulked joints, or old cracked caulking, in addition to being unsightly, is one of the most common avenues to introduce moisture to the back, unprotected side of the wood.

            Any defect in the surface seal that allows moisture inside the wood or wall will sooner or later cause wood to rot.

            Any loose caulking should be removed, and all missing caulk reapplied prior to painting.

  • Rotted wood

    •       Rotted wood is a sign that the paint or caulking has failed. Exposed wood will rot relatively slowly and obviously, however, often the rotting begins from behind due to a failed caulked seam, or from nail holes or other damage.

            Once wood begins to rot, the process accelerates and spreads to all surrounding areas.

            Rotting wood should be replaces, sealed and painted as soon as possible in order to stop a rapid decay cycle



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