Ask the Expert

A home's exterior paint

How often should we get our home’s exterior painted? Is it more difficult to do a color change than using the same color? If so, is a primer coat needed? Also, what are the latest advancements in exterior paint (such as durability, longevity, etc.)?

Getting your home painted is not only making a cosmetic change, but it is protecting the longevity of one of your biggest investments. A paint job on the exterior of your home should last at least 10 years if done correctly. However, there are many other factors that contribute, including the quality of the gutter system, the type of siding (T1-11 does not hold up as well as OSB lap or aluminum siding), and where the home is located. Homes in Barrow experience much harsher weather conditions than homes in Anchorage.

Changing the color of your home can make painting it more difficult if there is a drastic change; for example, painting a previously red house white. The main reason to use a primer is to seal the siding rather than to assist with coverage. All bare siding must be primed before any paint is applied. The best thing to do is to tint your primer to 50 percent of your new house color, so you not only seal the house, but also give the topcoat better coverage. In general, paints have become much less volatile than they used to be (i.e., lead or oil base) but you should be wary of sales gimmicks such as “paint and primer in one.” There are many different types of primers for different surfaces including PVA (new sheetrock), block filler (concrete), DTM (direct to metal), etc. Using a “paint and primer in one” is like using a combination shampoo and conditioner to fix a dandruff problem. You should use a primer specific to the surface being painted and then use premium paint over top.

Benjamin Campbell is a third-generation Alaskan small business owner, and third generation in the painting industry. His company, Campbell Painting & Drywall, specializes in residential and commercial painting and drywall. Visit