Painting on a Fresh Facade
A fresh coat of paint can rejuvenate and protect your exteriors
A fresh coat of paint is the most inexpensive way to transform, revitalize and protect your building’s exterior. As a facility manager, you are responsible for one of the most important elements of your company’s image – the building and its surrounding assets. Painting can rejuvenate and protect your exteriors, providing “curb appeal” that is essential for making a great impression on your customers.
When it is time to spruce up the building’s appearance, protect your facility from the elements or even change the color, it is best to utilize the services of a professional Exterior Services Management® (ESM) company. Exterior painting is often a complex procedure due to the numerous environmental and man-made elements to which a facility’s exterior are exposed. The right preparation, superior materials and quality workmanship are also essential to achieve a paint job that delivers enduring quality and protection. An ESM company will be licensed, bonded, insured and well-trained in a variety of exterior services. They can effectively coordinate the planning and implementation of all activities in the painting process – from paint selection, to preparation and completion.
Prior to initiating any exterior painting job, it is critical that an inspection of the facility’s exterior be performed. Buildings exhibit a variety of exterior paint surface conditions, which often serve as indicators of further underlying problems; therefore, accurate identification of surface conditions and any paint problems is critical for determining appropriate solution and a successful job.
Problems occur most frequently in areas with high levels of direct sunlight, constant shade, water collection, or other highly exposed places such as doorways, corners, window sills, door sills, edges, rooflines, etc.
The chart below identifies some common problematic surface conditions, possible causes and corrective procedures to reverse any damage.
|Problematic Surface Conditions||Possible Causes||Corrective Procedures|
|Peeling: Loss of paint due to poor adhesion. Peeling may involve some or all coats.||• Moisture penetration through uncaulked joint
• Worn caulk or leaks
• Excess moisture in exterior walls
• Inadequate surface preparation
• Low-quality paint
• Applying an oil-based paint over a wet surface
• Previous blistering of paint
|Identify and eliminate moisture source. Use scraper, sander or wire brush to remove all loose paint. Remove old, loose, cracked caulk; seal and re-caulk any seams, cracks, joints, etc. with a top quality paintable caulk. Prime as needed and repaint.|
|Cracking/Flaking: Splitting of the dry paint film. Initially appears as hairline cracks, but later paint chips flake off.||• Low quality paint
• Over-thinning or spreading paint too thin
• Improper surface preparation
• Painting in cool or windy conditions that makes latex paint dry too quickly
|Cracking in small areas may be corrected by removing loose or flaking paint, priming bare areas and repainting. Cracking over large surface areas requires removal of all paint by scraping, sanding or pressure washing. Prime and repaint.|
|Blistering: Bubbles under the paint film that result from localized loss of adhesion and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface. Occurs most frequently on wood.||• Water penetration
• Extremely high humidity levels
• Application to hot surface
• Inadequate surface preparation
• Low quality paint
|Remove blisters by sanding or scraping. Prime the surface and repaint.|
|Chalking: Fine powder formed on the paint film surface during weathering that can cause color fading. Some chalking is a normal, but excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.||• Oil-based paints tend to chalk more than latex formulations
• Use of a low-grade, highly pigmented paint
• Some factory-finished siding
• Use of interior paint on exteriors
• Inadequate sealing of porous surface
• Over-thinning a coating or spreading the paint too thin
|Remove chalk by washing or pressure washing the surface with an appropriate cleaner. If some chalk remains, then wash again for complete removal; scrubbing may be necessary. Rinse well with clear water and allow to dry thoroughly. Using higher-quality acrylic coatings provides the best resistance to chalking.|
|Alligatoring: Patterned cracking on paint film surface that resembles an alligator’s scales. Typically, these cracks do not expose the substrate.||• Application of an extremely hard rigid coating over a more flexible coating
• Applying top coat before the undercoat is dry
• Natural aging of oil-based paints as temperatures fluctuate
|Scrape surface to remove old paint. Pressure washing or a heat gun followed by sanding can be used on large surfaces. Prime and repaint.|
|Fading: Probably the most common problem occurring with aging paint is fading.||• Chalking of the coating
• Constant direct sunlight that changes the paint’s chemical composition
• Can lead to other problems such as cracking or warping of wood
|Prime and repaint|
|Mildew: Black, gray, or brown spots on the surface of paint or caulk.||• Fungi feeding on nutrients contained in the paint film or on dirt adhering to any surface, especially in damp, shaded areas receiving little or no sunshine||Clean surface, allow time to dry completely and paint over the substrate that contained mildew. Change the environment that is contributing to fungal growth – prune foliage that blocks sunshine, check for proper drainage, etc. Use specially formulated “mildew-resistant” primer and finish coats.|
Proper exterior surface preparation forms the entire foundation for any paint job. It is essential for the coating’s proper adhesion on the substrate, a prolonged service life of the coating system and a smooth finish. Improper surface preparation affects coating adhesion and is the major reason for failures of exterior finishes.
After thoroughly inspecting the building’s exterior for any surface problems, a professional service provider will complete the necessary preparation process to ensure any existing paint problems are eliminated and any all preventative measures are taken to reduce the likelihood of future problems. A professional will be knowledgeable of the various procedures required to properly prepare surfaces depending on their composition, age, current condition, previously applied treatments and the coating system that will be used. Taking the appropriate measures to ensure the surface is dry, smooth and in sound condition prior to proceeding with paint application is essential for success.
Various cleaning and paint removal techniques can be used to prepare the surface, but pressure washing, scraping and sanding are most frequently utilized. Pressure washing effectively removes chalk deposits on paint as well as any additional surface contamination such as oil, grease, chipping or cracking paint, dirt, foreign matter, rust, mold, mildew, or mortar efflorescence facilitating good adhesion. Sanding and scraping will remove any remaining loose paint and additional-build-up. No exterior paint application should be performed immediately after rain, when rain is predicted, in foggy weather or when temperatures drop below 50°F (unless specially formulated products are being used). Relative humidity should be below 85 percent.
Pricing guidelines vary by service provider, but when a preparing a quote for your facility’s exterior paint job, a professional ESM company will consider these elements to accurately determine the necessary labor and material:
- Building height
- Number of windows, doors, awnings and shutters, especially if they are a different color
- Preparation – Prep work can also significantly influence price as much as the cost of painting. This is why painting before the paint coating begins breaking down is crucial.
IS IT TIME TO BRING IN THE PROFESSIONALS?
Consider employing the services of a qualified national ESM provider who will streamline all elements associated with the exterior building painting process including paint selection, building inspection, preparation and proper product disposal and clean-up. These providers are experienced in managing all facets of exterior facility maintenance and can coordinate your regular facility maintenance operations, allowing you to focus on interior operations and your business’ bottom line.