close up of paint roller on a wall

Determining a Paint Project’s Lifespan

Whether a building is old or new will affect if paint needs to be recoated

By Frank Rigas, Contributing Writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: 4 Keys to Successful Painting ProjectsPt. 2: This Page

Upon completion of a painting or coating project, the timeframe for touch-ups or recoating depends on many factors, including whether the surface is interior or exterior, environmental conditions and the type of surface.   

“Generally, well-painted interior walls in commercial or residential buildings can typically last for 5 to 10 years before requiring touch-ups,” Edrosa says. “However, high-traffic areas, such as hallways and entryways, may require more frequent attention. Exterior walls generally need to be recoated more often than interior paint because of exposure to weather conditions.” 

In moderate climates, Edrosa says exterior paint might last 5-10 years, but that interval might fall to 3-7 years in tropical climates. He also says metal surfaces, especially those exposed to the outdoors, might require recoating every 5-10 years due to the rust and corrosion. 

Other factors that can affect the lifespan of a paint or coating application are substrate preparation, method of application, the quality of the product used and the product chosen. 

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“Product selection is critical in long-term performance, as well,” Boyer says. “Using an impermeable paint can trap moisture behind the coating, resulting in a host of potential issues, including, but not limited to, delamination or peeling, sub-surface efflorescence, cladding fastener corrosion and substrate degradation.”  

Facility type 

Managers of newer building sites are working in different conditions than managers of older facilities. But there are challenges and obstacles that both types of facilities share and cannot be overlooked. Just because a facility is newer does not mean putting together application plans can be taken lightly. Boyer says improper preparation can ruin a paint job and delay the project’s completion. 

“Often in new construction, substrates may have loosely bound contaminants, such as sawdust, general dirt and grime, that can interfere with the coating’s ability to bond,” he says. 

Paint applications in newer facilities involve a series of steps that need to be coordinated with the other trades working on the site, Edrosa says. A poorly developed schedule can lead to further delays. 

Meanwhile, older facilities and several layers of paint can offer significant degrees of difficulty for managers tasked with reconditioning the building. 

“Old facilities can be challenging, since the manager may not have knowledge of existing coatings or how to properly prep the substrate before it can be recoated,” Fiorilli says. 

Managers also should understand that not all existing coatings can be covered with new products, so they need to consider several factors when determining how to proceed. 

“Depending on the composition of the wall, the chemistry, quality and bond strength of the underlying paint or coating, and the conditions the coating has been/will be subjected to, the existing coating may be suitable for recoat or may require removal prior to application of a new coating,” Boyer says. 

Furthermore, Edrosa says managers at older facilities face challenges, “related to compliance with regulations for lead and asbestos containment and compatibility with existing coatings.” 

Frank Rigas is a freelance writer based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. 

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  posted on 2/23/2024   Article Use Policy

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