Brush up preparation before the job

Home truths: external paintwork
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Painting the exterior of your house whether it's the woodwork alone or the walls is costly and time-consuming, but do we know enough about exterior paint to make the right choices?

Painting the exterior of your house whether it's the woodwork alone or the walls is costly and time-consuming, but do we know enough about exterior paint to make the right choices?

Confronted with crumbling or dirty bricks, for instance, many people go for paint to cover up, but because bricks are porous that paint can never be removed and the area will need to be repainted at least every five years.

Any house subject to prolonged periods of strong winds, rain, ice and even sun will need to be repainted more frequently than many manufacturers recommend. Some paint firms put their products through vigorous tests and the final results achieve lasting effects, at least in controlled conditions.

But how can we consumers make sure we are getting the most value for money from these products?

Well-known makes and own-brands sold by leading DIY superstores are the best you can buy. Unknown cheaper ones are likely to be less effective.

Leading brands of masonry paint and exterior gloss paint such as Sandtex come with a 15-year durability guarantee, and a rain, sun and frost resistance claim.

But, ultimately, the paint's performance is only as good as the preparation. A spokesman from the Paint Research Association says: "Paint durability is less about the paint itself and more about its application." By following the manufacturer's instructions precisely, including the use of preservative primers, own-brand and popular paint will do exactly what it says on the tin. In reality, we all like to cut corners to save time and costs. If we employ a professional we pay for, and expect, the full service. Lower standards may apply to our own work.

The Dulux advice centre's phone operators are happy to answer queries. Dulux's Weathershield masonry paints can last for up to 15 years but they will break down more quickly, as you will be warned, in the "worst and best of weather". The paint should not be applied when the temperature is below 7C or when rain, fog or frost is forecast.

The Weathershield range of gloss paints for woodwork will last for up to six years. Light colours should always be used for south-facing properties because they are less likely than dark colours to absorb the sunlight which leads to bubbling.

Existing coatings should be stripped off only if they are in a very bad state. For the full benefit of any paint system, the most effective method is to apply a preservative primer followed by two coats of undercoat and one or two top-coats.

Mike Wye & Associates is a Devon-based company supplying traditional and ecological products for the repair and conservation of traditional buildings. "People don't know where to go for advice," says Mr Wye. "Some have used modern acrylic paints instead of lime renders and washes on bare stone walls. This traps moisture which will cause the paint to blow or increase residual damp levels."

His one-day courses teaching practical skills are popular.

"People turn to us to help sort their problems. If lime washes are used in the right situation they can last five to 10 years. They are relatively easy to use andcan be cheaper than modern paints."


Painting pointers: Complete all preparation before painting; chose a dry, still day; start to paint in the shade and follow it round the house; begin at the top of the house and work down.


Dulux Advice Centre 01753 550555; Crown Advice Centre 01254 704951; Mike Wye & Associates 01409 281644