How Often Should I Paint My House?

Paint on the exterior of your home isn't there just to make the building look attractive. It forms a protective barrier over the surface of siding or stucco, keeping water and weather at bay and preventing the degradation of the siding material. When that barrier begins to fail, your home can be in danger of significant damage.

Average Life Span of Paint

Depending on the conditions to which the exterior of your house is exposed, it may be as long as 10 years after painting your house before it shows significant signs of wear or fading. However, the paint's protective qualities are likely to have diminished to the point that the building's siding materials are in danger well before that happens.

In general, expect to repaint the exterior of your house every 5 to 8 years. Inspect the siding or stucco and the trim around doors and windows for indications of worn, chipped, faded or flaking paint, as well as signs of weather damage each spring. If you find places where worn or damaged paint is leaving your siding or stucco exposed to the elements, it's time to repaint.

Climate Conditions

The local climate -- in terms of the region in which you live and the specific conditions of your home site -- plays a significant part in determining how often you need to repaint your house. Harsh sun in Southern and Western regions can cause paint to degrade quickly, but so can the snow and temperature extremes of Northern climates. In mild climates, paint may last 10 years or more, but in harsh climates a house may require repainting in less than 5 years.

Exposure to climate extremes can vary considerably even across different parts of the same house. A south-facing wall that's exposed to sun, wind and rain may need repainting sooner than a wall that's turned away from the sun or that is shaded by trees. Paint on walls that are exposed to the spray from irrigation systems or that are in close proximity to shrubs or other landscaping may also need to be repainted more often because of consistent exposure to moisture.

Surface Preparation

Proper preparation of the surface of exterior walls is crucial for a long-lasting paint job. If the siding or stucco is not correctly cleaned, scraped and primed before painting, the paint is likely to fail long before a properly prepped paint job would.

Wood Stains

Oil-based semi-transparent stains used on wood siding or shakes work differently than paint in that the material penetrates the surface of the wood. The pigment in the stain does degrade over time and with exposure to the elements; stained wood siding needs regular refinishing just as painted siding does. Oil-based stains as opposed to water-based also tend to develop mold more quickly and may require replacement sooner.

The life span of stain depends to a large degree on the amount of its exposure to the elements. On south-facing walls, refinishing may be necessary every 4 to 5 years, while on north-facing walls, the stain may last as long as 10 years. Consequently, you may need to refinish some parts of your house more often than other areas.