Q: We have received several quotes to paint two sides of our three-unit, 10-year-old condo building. The front is stucco and the side is wood. None of the surfaces has been painted since the building was new but there is very little peeling. Also, we live near the ocean.

In addition to preparing the surfaces by power washing, scraping, sanding, patching and caulking, three of the quotes call for one coat of primer and one or two coats of acrylic paint. Another quote is for a product called “terpolymer elastomeric paint finish,” which costs more and has a 10-year warranty. Warranties for the acrylic jobs range from two years to eight depending on the number of coats.

One of the quotes specifies an oil-based primer with latex top coat, the others do not. One of the quotes specifies name-brand paints and the others do not.

What kind of primer and top coat would you recommend for this application? Also, are you familiar with terpolymer elastomeric paint and what are your thoughts about it, especially over the long term? The contractor said it’s fairly new and my concern is that it will not hold up well down the road or will be difficult to deal with when it comes time to repaint. What do you think is a reasonable length of warranty?

A: We are not familiar with terpolymer elastomeric paint. We do find it interesting that the proposed warranty is significantly longer than those for the more standard material. Since the contractor claims it is a relatively new product, we’d have many of the same concerns that you do, the chief being, how easy is it to prepare and recoat the surface?

We have one additional concern. What does the warranty cover? If the material fails within the warranty period, is a complete repaint – including labor and materials – provided or does it simply cover replacement material? Since more than 75 percent of an exterior paint job is labor, it probably isn’t worth the risk in trying a newer product if the warranty does not include labor.

If you choose to go with an acrylic top coat, and we’d recommend that you do, an oil-based primer compatible with finish paint on the wood and a masonry sealer on the stucco is the best way to go. This is especially true because your building is close to the ocean. These undercoats will ensure good adhesion of the finish coat. An acrylic top coat is elastic and will offer protection against expansion and contraction of the building materials caused by the moist ocean air.

We’d also recommend that you apply two coats of the acrylic paint as a finish. Although it will cost you more now, the increased life of the paint job as well as the longer warranty will pay for the added cost over time. Let the primer coat and the second coat dry thoroughly before applying the finish coat. A couple of days for each should do the trick.

As with any paint job, the success of the final product is in the preparation. Removing salt residue and dirt with a good pressure washing, scraping all loose paint and priming the surface are the keys to a beautiful and long-lasting paint job.


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