Rob_PaddockHave you ever really noticed the specific factors that make a building look unkempt? We have recently purchased a beautiful Victorian building built way back in 1902 when pride and care was put into the building process. The quality of the craftsmanship and building work is just superb even a century later.

Why then does the property look so neglected?

It’s simple: no amount of quality craftsmanship “behind the scenes” can hide the fact that the property hasn’t been painted for at least 15 years. As a result, the property currently looks neglected, and a lot of avoidable restoration work will need to be completed simply because the buildings paintwork has been neglected for a substantial period of time. A freshly painted building looks clean, the exterior isn’t faded and it even smells new. As the new appearance disappears, so does the protection provided by paint. In my opinion, painting your scheme is the most important means of avoiding unnecessary maintenance work down the line, and of keeping your scheme looking ship shape, and retaining it’s market value.

To make sure your building does not fall into disrepair you have to know what types of paint and coating protection your scheme has, why it must be maintained, how to maintain it, how often to maintain it, who to call, and have a written plan to maintain the surfaces that protect your home’s appearance and condition.

Often, it is realised that a maintenance plan is needed when it is too late and damage has already occurred. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to maintenance issues and provide basic information to help prevent avoidable and expensive problems from occurring.

What is paint and where should it be applied?

There are many different types of paints used to cover the various surfaces of the building envelope. Paints improve the visual appearance of the building and protect the underlying plastered surface from the damaging effects of the sun, wind and rain. They also help prevent corrosion and damp from occurring.

The appropriate product must be used for each application or you will not get the protection the building needs to keep looking new and stay in good physical condition.

Why must painted surfaces be maintained?

Paints don’t last forever and must be maintained and restored when they have deteriorated due to exposure to the sun, rain, hot and cold temperatures, bird activity, people-inflicted damage and other destructive forces.

An aging and neglected building typically displays many reasons why you should maintain the paint-work in a timely fashion. These reasons include:

Appearance: The colours are faded and not consistent due to exposure to the ultra-violet rays of the sun. Flakes and blisters can occur making the building even less appealing.

Wetting and drying of the building parts: Plastered surfaces that are not protected by paint swells and shrinks, resulting in cracking and possibly water entry further into the wall.

Spalling: When the concrete surrounding steel reinforcement bars is not protected from the elements with paint, the steel reinforcement bars will eventually start to corrode, losing strength, and forcing the concrete surrounding the steel to crack and bulge.

What maintenance must be performed?

You should notify your managing agent if you believe there is a maintenance problem with regard to the paintwork. Your managing agent should keep a log of inspections and complaints as well as a history of maintenance work completed. Maintenance and re-painting concerns should be acted on promptly due to the potential damage of underlying materials if neglected.

The exterior finish of the building should be checked annually by a qualified painter for blisters, loose paint, thin or worn paint coatings, scratches or punctures that permit water to be absorbed into the plasterwork and structural concrete that lead to damage.

If there are any unusual maintenance issues or you have any doubts as to the proper approach to specific requirements for your building, you should obtain proper professional advice from a reputable contractor.

How often is re-painting necessary?

The plastered exterior on most residential buildings should be re-painted every five to seven years, for the average building with average weather exposure, or even sooner if problems become apparent.

Some areas of the building may require painting more frequently than others. For example, on the Atlantic seaboard in Cape Town it is common for the predominant wind-driven rainstorms to attack buildings from the north-west. Sun exposure also has the greatest effect on these sides, so it is likely that they will require re-painting more often than the south or perhaps east sides. Hence, “one-size-fits-all” advice on how often to re-paint may not be appropriate for your building.

Who should be called for service?

Sadly, the value of adequate painting experience is often under-estimated. If your building’s exterior needs repainting, it is in a vulnerable state and perhaps already deteriorating. It is worth getting the best advice and service available to give it the protection it needs. An experienced painting contractor has the knowledge and expertise to determine:

• if painting is required now, or when it will be required
• what sort of preparation is required
• what sort of paint is used and how it is applied
• how much the project will cost, and
• which surfaces should be painted and which require cleaning only.

In my next article for Paddocks Press we will have a look at the process involved in repainting the building.

Article reference: Volume 4, Issue 10, Page 5.


This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license