Painting is often one a homeowner association's most frequent and expensive repairs. Paint has a relatively short life (depending on the surface, tree cover, exposure to sun and wind: 5-10 years) yet acts as a critical barrier of protection for siding which is intended to last thirty years or longer. When paint fails prematurely, the siding deteriorates and fails faster. If the siding fails, it often leads to structural dryrot and failure. Cost of siding and structural repairs are massive compared to painting. Failure to paint properly has dire consequences.
One of the most vexing paint failure issues in HOAs involves new construction. New construction can, and often does, suffer from the consequences of "low bidder syndrome." Painting contractors that specialize in new construction often have extremely low profit margins which encourages cutting corners like:
- Failure to Prime: Unpainted trim and siding requires primer so that the finish coat will adhere properly. While many sidings come pre-primed from the factory, wood trim almost always comes without it so needs to be field primed. Since the finish paint looks the same with or without a primer undercoat, this critical step is often skipped.
- Application Temperature: 50 °F is the minimum temperature that latex paint should be applied. Winter temperatures in many locations can fall below (way below) 50 °F. Even if this happens only at night and the temperature rises during the day, the surface temperature of siding can take hours to rise above 50 °F. If latex is applied to a surface below 50 °F, it will not bond properly and fail prematurely. Most paint contractors will not wait for the correct surface temperature since it reduces production time.
- Using Oil vs. Latex Paint: Latex paint is recommended for most exterior siding applications because it remains flexible longer and resists solar, wind and temperature degradation better than oil base paint. But when colder application temperature is an issue, many paint contractors will use oil base paint which can be applied at lower temperature. While oil looks as good as latex, it fails much sooner.
- Effects of Heat, Wind & Humidity: Hot, windy or low humidity conditions force paint to dry too fast. High humidity can cause paint to sag and run.
- Painting Wet Surfaces: In wet climates, it's common for framing, sheathing, siding and trim to be applied in the rain and be thoroughly saturated with moisture. Applying paint to such wet surfaces creates a barrier that evaporating moisture will eventually cause the paint to fail.
So, as a rule, any new construction completed in the cold, wet weather is likely to suffer from premature paint failure. What this means to a new homeowner association is that the next repaint should be planned in half the normal time. Since the HOA will usually be paying for the repaint, it is important to prepare proper specifications to correct the problems of the past.
The good news is that paint supply companies will inspect the property and prepare those specifications to ensure their product will perform properly. Many offer a paint contractor inspection surface to ensure that the contractor is following the specifications. Both of these services are free of charge.
If your HOA suffers from poor paint application, consult with painting professionals to correct the sins of the past. It's also wise to pay more for the application contractor so the job can be done correctly.
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