It may seem as simple as brush, roll, and spray, but creating the perfect exterior paint job requires a certain level of expertise, particularly when working in an extreme climate such as what we have in Phoenix. Add in the high winds the Valley often experiences and the unique requirements of painting on stucco, and you have a situation rife with the potential for disaster. For the best exterior paint job, certain techniques and even colors need to be considered. This post walks you through best practices for painting a house in Phoenix.
The Ideal Conditions for Exterior Painting
Like every other product, exterior paint has guidelines designed to ensure you get the best result. For example, temperature and humidity play a large role in how the paint cures. If the paint dries too quickly, as is typically the case in extreme heat, it may cause cracking and ruin the paint’s texture.
The ideal temperature for exterior painting is between 60 and 85 degrees, with no more than 50 percent humidity. It’s important to remember, though, that the surface of your home often registers a good 10 to 20 degrees hotter than what your thermometer reads. That’s why most experts recommend 70 degrees as ideal painting conditions, and to not paint in direct sunlight.
You also want to avoid painting either too soon after a rainstorm or too soon before one. Painting too soon after it rains impacts how well the paint adheres to the surface, often causing the paint to bubble and peel. Painting within 48 hours before it rains ruins the finish. Another thing that ruins the finish is high winds, which often accompany Phoenix rainstorms and send dirt and debris flying into your wet paint.
Phoenix Issue Number One: The Weather
If you’re new to the Phoenix valley and have yet to live through one of our summers, the extreme heat may surprise you. You read that the average summer high is around 107 degrees, and that sounds… not too bad. After all, it’s a dry heat, right?
No matter how dry it is, though, it’s still pretty darn hot. And remember, your home’s walls are a good 10 degrees hotter than whatever the thermometer reads.
Between June and July of 2016, Phoenix had 48 days where the temperatures broke the 105-degree mark, and on 27 of those days, temperatures soared past 110. With ideal paint temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, summer clearly presents a challenge. The windows when temps fall within the optimal region are extremely short, thanks to lows ranging from the mid-70s to a sweltering 90 degrees. On many days, that 70-degree window doesn’t open at all.
Summer is also when the Valley experiences its heavy rain season, often accompanied by extreme windstorms call haboobs. You’re now looking at a triple threat to your paint surface: extreme heat, rain, and wind.
Phoenix Issue Number Two: Stucco Walls
Stucco is one of the most common exterior finishes in the Phoenix area. There’s a reason for that; the material is highly durable even under the valley’s extreme weather conditions. However, even though it looks great and holds up well under the relentless Phoenix sun, stucco isn’t the easiest surface to paint.
Stucco is especially susceptible to three main finish issues: cracking, fading, and efflorescence (salt crystal deposits, which typically appear as a powdery, whitish stain).
The nature of stucco coating also means that it attracts and holds onto dirt, sand, and dust. That means a lot of cleaning before you begin to paint. If you’re painting a stucco home, expect surface prep time to take nearly as long as painting does.
9 Tips for a Fabulous Paint Finish – Even in Summer
Of course, the best way to ensure a perfect finish is to hire a professional contractor to paint your home, preferably one with plenty of experience working with Phoenix’s unique challenges. If DIY is your only option, though, the following tips should help.
- Start with quality materials to ensure the best possible outcome, and look for paints designed for all weather. Expect to pay around $25 per gallon for quality paint.
- Don’t skimp on other painting supplies, either. You want heavy duty, quality brushes, and rollers with a thick nap. Also, make sure you have the right sized ladders for the job. You’ll probably need at least three ladders of varying heights.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast to avoid rainy days and high winds.
- Thoroughly prep the surface, especially if painting stucco. This means a good power washing (follow directions carefully, as power washing presents its own challenges) and scrubbing dirty areas with a stiff, nylon brush and a mixture of 1/3 cup detergent for every gallon of water. If you see mildew, add a quart of bleach to that mixture.
- Repair cracks before painting. Quality paints should fill hairline cracks (those you can’t press a fingernail into). Do these repairs early in the morning, when the cracks are larger.
- Heat also affects the paint before it goes on the wall, causing it to thicken. Before placing your liner in the bucket, add some ice cubes to help cool the paint and reduce thickening.
- Avoid painting in direct sunlight; start on the south side of the home and work your way around, trying to stay in the home’s shade as much as possible.
- Allow plenty of drying time before applying a second coat, typically double the manufacturer’s recommendation during extreme heat, as applying a second coat too soon may cause the first coat to peel away, especially when using a roller. Also, finish at least an hour or two before the sun sets, to protect the finish in case the temperature cools rapidly.
- If painting stucco, use either a sprayer or a roller (or both), but not a brush.
One Last Safe Painting Tip
Be careful. If you aren’t used to working in extreme heat, it’s easy to become dehydrated and even suffer heat stroke or sun sickness. Drink at least one pint of water every hour (water – not tea, soda, or anything else). You can also add a sports drink or two, since you’re going to sweat out a lot of salt.
Painting is an extremely physical job – those rollers and brushes aren’t light, especially when they’re loaded down with paint. Take extra care on ladders, and recognize that pulling a muscle or straining your back is easier than you might think.
Finally, understand that painting your home yourself, especially if you haven’t done it before, will take a considerable amount of time. This is especially true during the summer months, when early mornings are really the only time conducive to exterior painting.
As you can tell, painting a home in Phoenix comes with a set of unique challenges. Now that you know all it involves, you may be wondering if the DIY approach is really for you. If so, get in touch with Chris Bridge Painting. Our team of professional painters has the experience and tools to handle any paint job, even during a Phoenix summer.