Learn more how to maintain the different types of house exterior

Exterior Walls - Stucco and Masonry

Stucco is practical since it is inorganic and compared to other types of exterior walls, it's relatively easy to maintain. Stucco is very porous and holds on to paint better than most other kinds of siding. Also, stucco is one of the easiest surfaces to prepare and paint.Unfortunately, its brittle, damage-resistant surface can sometimes be a drawback. When the house shifts, rigid things crack.

Caring for cracks:
For cracks up to a 1/4-inch wide, caulking solves the problem. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Clean all loose debris from the crack. A can opener and a vacuum cleaner work wonders here. Use a paintable silicone caulk - and your finger - to make an invisible repair.
  • Don't use a putty knife. Doing so prevents you from matching the existing texture. With your finger you can force the caulking in the crack to align with the irregular surface of the stucco. Don't use just any caulk; use the 50-year kind, which really does hold better and longer.

You can repair wider cracks and gouges with a latex patching compound. Follow mixing instructions carefully. The amount of water you use can change the properties of the patching compound. If this happens, it may not hold as well. Then follow these steps:

  • Clean all loose debris from the crack or gouge. Use a latex patching product and a putty knife or trowel to fill the area.
  • Apply a second coat to match the surface texture.
  • Thin the patching compound to a pancake-batter consistency. Dip the end of a paintbrush into the mixture. Holding your hand between the wall and the paintbrush, slap the handle of the brush against your hand. The patching compound splatters onto the surface, matching the texture of the stucco. If the texture is flat, wait for the splattering to become slightly firm and then wipe it to the desired flatness with a putty knife or a trowel.

Painting stucco:
Really porous stucco absorbs gallons of paint causing a great deal more paint to be used than is really need. If you're painting stucco for the first time, save paint by using a water hose to completely wet the surface of the stucco before applying paint. The water fills the pores in the stucco thereby preventing excess amounts of paint from absorbing deep into the stucco. Wait for surface water to evaporate first and then begin painting.

Stone and brick masonry - When it comes to cleaning, repairing and sealing, the techniques and materials used for brick and stone are the same. Efflorescence, salt air, stress cracks, and severe weathering can be threats. Applying a sealer can minimize brick or stone damage from salt air and severe weathering. It can even work to prevent efflorescence. However, just as with concrete, brick and stone should be thoroughly cleaned before applying a sealer.

If the problem is a cracked or broken stone or brick, it can be removed by chiseling out the mortar surrounding it. With the mortar out of the way, the brick or stone will have room to expand and can be easily broken up using a cold chisel along with a small hammer. A new brick or stone can be inserted into the hole to replace the one removed. The brick or stone should be surrounded with mortar for a solid fit.Sandblasting, wash-away or peel-off paint removers, hand or electric wire brushing, muriatic acid washing, and power washing are just a few of the ways that you can remove the aged look from masonry.When a new mortar patch dries and doesn't match the existing shade or color, have a small amount of latex paint color matched to the existing mortar. Use an artist's brush to paint the new mortar joints. No one will ever know where the existing material ends and the new work begins - including you. In addition to cleaning your masonry, you need to repoint the brick mortar from time to time as it shows signs of deterioration.    

Wood, vinyl and aluminum siding

Wood siding should be treated with an application of oil, stain, or paint to prevent rot. These materials act as a barrier, preventing water from coming into direct contact with the wood. Therefore, oil is pretty forgiving. When the oil contains stain, the added pigment makes application slightly more difficult (mistakes show more readily). But, the added pigment helps to filter out more of the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. Unfortunately, oil has a tendency to evaporate and won't last as long as paint. However, unlike paint, oil and oil stains do not split, chip, or blister.

Everything's a trade-off. With oil you won't ever have to sand, scrape, or chisel the surface to prepare it for another application. But, be ready to re-apply a new coat every several years. With an oil stain, figure about three to five years of lasting quality. A good grade of paint, applied to a properly cleaned surface, lasts seven to ten years or more. Paint certainly lasts longer, but it is by far the most difficult to apply.

Follow this general rule of thumb to determine the lasting quality of oil and oil stains: the more wood that you can see when the job is complete, the more often you can expect to redo the finish.
Paint experts agree that 80 percent of a good oil, stain, or paint job is in the preparation. But the exterior of your home is no small area. And when it comes to preparation (removing old layers of loose paint, a tattered layer of stain, a discolored layer of wood, or just plain dirt), you can expect to do some major work.

Vinyl siding - Vinyl doesn't warp, split, or buckle and, according to what several manufacturers espouse, it doesn't ever have to be painted. The fact is - it can't be painted. Paint simply will not stick to vinyl in the same way that it sticks to wood, unless if you use vinyl safety color by Sherwin Williams which has an approximately 100 colors to choose from.

Like all types of exterior siding, vinyl does have its shortcomings. The surface of vinyl siding etches in time. As the surface deteriorates, the pitted result causes the material to become dull and prone to stain.
The only way to combat this problem is to regularly clean the siding. Twice a year is good - once in the spring and then again in the fall. Use a pressure washer with Simple Green Solution to get the surface sparkling clean. Most pressure washers have a plastic dip tube that can be used to blend in things like chemicals and detergents.
Keeping the surface of the vinyl clean won't prevent it from oxidizing, but it will prevent corrosive chemicals in the air from attacking the surface. Regular washing at least slows the process of deterioration.

Aluminum  - The fact is that aluminum siding, like all the others, does need to be maintained and occasionally painted. If you want to see a good case of chalked (oxidized) paint, then get up close and personal to a 20-year-old home sided with aluminum that has never been cleaned or painted. So, how do you prevent chalking? You don't prevent chalking, but you can make light work of getting it to disappear. All you have to do is attend to it on a regular basis.

Pressure wash regularly, once or twice a year, and don't forget to use Simple Green Solution. Your aluminum siding will remain bright and shiny for years. And the task won't ever seem overwhelming. When the time comes to paint your aluminum siding, follow these tips:

  • Aluminum siding should not be scraped.
  • Aluminum has a smooth surface and should be sanded with finer 400- to 600-grit sandpaper.
  • A zinc oxide primer (metal primer) is best for bare aluminum.
  • An aluminum surface is smooth and should be spray painted for best results.
  • An aluminum surface should be patched with filler made especially for metal-like car Bond.


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