Thinking Outside the Paint Can
Coat your home’s exterior with a permanent alternative to paint.
…From the pages of Suburban Home and Garden Resource Guide…
If you’re stuck in the loop of repainting the outside of your home every three to seven years, you should know that there is a way to avoid this frustrating and expensive cycle. The first step may be changing the paint you’re using.
Exterior paints have evolved significantly over the past several decades. For years, lead-based paints were the industry standard, and residential paint jobs using these products typically lasted anywhere from 18 to 25 years. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned lead-based house paints in 1978, oil-based paints were the next logical solution, but individual states began banning them earlier this decade due to toxic removal practices, and they are currently banned in 30 states. Latex and acrylics have risen in prominence, but their average life span on a home’s exterior is only a few years. Given these changing commercial and regulatory conditions, it’s no wonder that alternatives like permanent polymer-resin coatings, known commercially as Tex•Cote® and Extreme Performance Coatings in some areas, are gaining in popularity. Many of these coating systems offer lifelong guarantees, which means that once you give your home an updated exterior treatment, you may never have to paint again.
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According to Sam Litwin, president of Pleasantville, NJ-based Final Coat Exteriors, the popularity of paint alternatives has grown rapidly among residential customers in the last decade. Final Coat Exteriors is the authorized New Jersey and Pennsylvania dealer of Tex•Cote, a coating product comprised of polymers, resins and titanium dioxide. “When oil- and lead-based paints were the norm, [homeowners] didn’t have a tremendous need for anything else,” says Litwin. “But the technology has really developed since these types of paints have become outlawed or more highly regulated, and we now have a superior product that’s longer-lasting.”
Most important to homeowners is the quality and durability of these treatments. “Our product protects your home from the environment and makes it look its best,” says Jim Wall, president of Innovative Exteriors, a Pennsylvania dealer of Extreme Performance Coatings. “We use a whole system, including primer, caulk and topcoat. Our preparation of the [surface] is the key to the longevity of our product, which has been extensively lab-tested for breathability and waterproofness.”
If you’re intrigued by the idea of bidding a final farewell to traditional house paint, read on to see how polymer-resin exterior coating products measure up:
Longevity. Exterior coatings come with a limited lifetime warranty. In other words, most homeowners can rest assured that they won’t need to worry about their home’s exterior for as long as they live there.
Appearance. Once they’re applied, coatings look like traditional paint. The difference is how they hold up their appearance over time. Unlike paints, which break down, crack and fade within a few years, coatings retain their color and luster. Most are guaranteed to stay in place for as long as you own your home. They are typically applied using a spray-on approach, although in some cases they’re brushed or rolled onto a home’s exterior.
Suitable Surfaces. While some surfaces require more preparation than others, most exterior coatings can be applied to virtually any paintable material, including wood, aluminum, stucco, masonry and shingles.
Color Availability. Most polymer-resin coatings come in an impressive array of colors -- as many as 1,800 -- and can typically be custom-matched to complement an existing palette.
Maintenance. You maintain your exterior coating the way you would any vinyl siding. It can be cleaned easily with a standard power washer.
Environmental Considerations. On a per-application basis, coatings release a comparable amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as traditional paints. The difference, says Wall, is in the frequency. “When [you’re constantly] repainting, you’re releasing VOCs into the environment every time,” he says. “Since you only have to apply [polymer-resin coatings] one time, the net release is way lower.”
Energy Savings. Because coatings reflect the sun’s UV rays and the pre-coating process seals exterior cracks and leaks, home utility bills are typically lowered.
Cost. Expect to pay anywhere from 1.5 to 3 times more for coatings than you would for traditional paint. Some of these products can even be financed, since they are considered a capital improvement and can be folded into the cost basis of the home. Final Coat Exteriors’ Litwin puts the additional cost in perspective. “Remember that you won’t have to paint again the way you would every few years with traditional methods,” he says. “Instead of renting paint, you’re going to own this coating.”
Find Out More
Final Coat Exteriors
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Home and Garden Resource Guide, South Jersey edition, July 2008.
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