Answers to 6 FAQs about Exterior Painting

residential painters in VancouverPlanning to have your home’s exterior painted professionally, but need some key questions answered first? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that homeowners pose about outdoor painting.

Q: Can paint cover all types of exterior surfaces?

A: Almost everything can be painted. The most common surfaces painted include:

  • Wood siding (usually cedar, redwood or pine); another type of wood siding, called T-111, is harder to keep painted because of the many cracks in the plywood. If your house has T-111 siding that is stained, consider re-staining instead of painting.
  • Vinyl and steel can be painted, but there several things to consider. Generally, painting steel siding is the same as painting other types of siding, but vinyl siding and trim require some extra steps. Consult with your residential painters to find the best method for your particular home.
  • Masonite is a very stable artificial material that can be embossed, smooth or wood grained. It doesn’t tend to warp or split like wood. Painting Masonite siding usually requires “back rolling,” a technique that involves rolling over the area sprayed to work the paint into all the crevices. Sometimes you will also back roll paint that has been rolled on heavily to smooth it out.
  • Stucco and Concrete Blocks – Painting stucco is a great way to change the colour or hide unattractive stains. Concrete blocks (more often seen on commercial buildings) don’t tend to last a long while and cinderblock material is highly susceptible to water problems. With ground settling or seismic activity, loosening mortar lines can allow water in. Whereas bricks are solid, concrete blocks are usually hollow, so once water enters it can cause damage by flowing downward in a path much like that of a pinball. Be warned that knowledgeable Vancouver painting companies may not, with good reason, offer long warranties on this type of construction.

Q: What type of paint is best for my home’s exterior?

A: That depends on many factors, the most one being the kind of surface to be painted. If your house is made mostly of wood siding and trim, it will expand and contract, depending on the season. Therefore, the paint used should be able to expand and contract just as the wood does, such as an elastic paint that’s 100% acrylic. The local weather and environment should also be considered, including UV exposure..

Q: What’s important to know about painting exterior trim?

A: With an exterior painting project, tidying up the trim with fresh paint is the satisfying finishing touch that pulls the final effect together. Trim includes features such as fascia boards, gutters, vertical and horizontal pieces of wood forming bands, and window and door frames. Soffits can also be included if the homeowners prefers, though these are usually painted the same colour as the main parts of the house.

Painting methods for exterior trim include brushing, rolling or spraying. Brushing is most common, but rolling can sometimes move things along a little faster. Spraying exterior trim is not as commonly done, but might be used, for example, on an ample heritage design with plenty of wood trim.

Q: The exterior wood trim around my windows and doors is pulling away and the nails are rusty and pushing outward. Is it okay to have this trim repainted as is?

A: Definitely not! This strongly suggests that water has been seeping behind the trim—probably because of improper caulking and sealing, and nail heads that weren’t primed before painting. Inevitably you’ll see problems inside your home, such as water or mildew stains on walls and carpets. Have your exterior painting specialist evaluate the extent of the problem and recommend any necessary repairs.

residential paintersQ: My house is less than five years old, but a powdery residue appears when I rub the side of the house. Can it just be painted over?

A: Simply painting over this will only make things worse. This “chalking” condition is caused by poor quality paint or the wrong kind of paint for the job (interior as opposed to exterior paint, for example). It could also happen if the surface wasn’t properly primed and sealed before it was painted. Experienced residential painters will remove the chalking paint by pressure washing the house and applying a primer. A fresh coat of high quality paint will be applied, preferably one with acrylic binders for good adhesion.

Q: How often should my home’s exterior get painted?

A:   The Master Painters Institute of Canada advises that ideally Vancouver homes should be painted every 6 to 8 years. Homeowners sometimes feel that they can stretch out that recommended time frame—especially with stucco exteriors, which tend to look good longer. Superficial appearances, however, don’t necessarily mean that the home is still sufficiently protected by a watertight membrane.

Get Past Procrastination with Residential Painters

If you’d rather put off having your home’s exterior painted, beware of the potentially pricey shock of procrastination. A very wet Vancouver winter (is there any other kind?) will only promote the possibility of flaking and peeling paint, siding damage, and hidden water damage that will call for much more expensive repairs down the road.


Vancouver painter and contractor Peter Byrne“PETER BYRNE is the owner and hands-on manager of Kassel Painting Limited. In the last two decades he has run over 1500 painting projects totaling millions of dollars. There is little that can go right (or wrong) on a job-site he has not seen, solved, and lived to talk about.”

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