By Paint Quality Institute
In times of economic stress, we all look for ways to cut back on expenses. But if you’re thinking about having a contractor apply a cheap paint to the exterior of your home, you may want to reconsider. A careful analysis shows that in the long run, it’s actually less expensive to apply the very best quality paint, despite its higher initial cost.
Debbie Zimmer, spokesman for the Paint Quality Institute, explains: “Most of the cost of exterior painting goes for labor, not for paint. Paying somewhat more for top-quality paint won’t greatly increase the overall cost of the job, but the better performance you get will greatly extend its life.”
In fact, field tests at the Paint Quality Institute show that while ordinary exterior paint lasts about four years, top-quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint can last 10 years or more when applied to a properly prepared surface, resulting in a lower cost per year of service. That explains how you can save money by spending more for better paint.
To make the point clearer, Zimmer offers an example for an average-size, single-story home: Labor cost for painting would typically be about $2,500, regardless of the type of paint that is applied. About 20 gallons of paint would be needed for a two-coat paint job.
If an ordinary paint were used, costing $25 a gallon, the cost for the 20 gallons of paint would be $500. Add in $2,500 for labor, and the total cost of the job would be $3,000. Assuming, as the field tests show, that the job will last four years, the cost per year of service would be $750.
Now, assume that top-quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint was used instead of ordinary exterior paint. At a cost of perhaps $50 a gallon, the cost for 20 gallons of paint would be $1,000. The labor would again be $2,500, and the total cost of the job would be $3,500, just a little higher than before. But, since this paint job is likely to last 10 years or more, the cost per year of service would be only $350, less than half the yearly cost of the “economy” paint job.
Zimmer says that even this example may not tell the whole story. If your house needs repair work or extensive surface preparation prior to painting, the labor component could be much higher, producing an even greater return on an investment in top-quality paint.
“Plus, professional painters might charge higher rates in your area, further skewing the math in favor of the highest quality, longest-lasting paint,” she says.
Bottom line: By spending more up front for top-quality paint, you can stretch the life of your paint job and end up saving a lot of money. As a bonus, you’ll avoid the hassle and inconvenience of repainting again after only a few years.
From the Dec. 28, 2011-Jan. 3, 2012, issue