Exterior Paint Choice

Two weeks ago there was a major storm forecasted, prompting us to think about the weather-tightness of our house. Buckets were placed in the attic under suspicious looking spots, and moved later when leakier spots appeared. But the roof wasn’t the only spot that needed a little TLC.

When we first bought our house, the view from the back looked something like this:

We then upgraded the doors and windows and the view became a bit more presentable:

But, the hardieplank remained bare and the sills and facings stayed off the windows as more pressing projects grabbed hold of our attention. Suddenly with a storm approaching, the window facings jumped to the top of the priority list. But, before we could put the facings up, we wanted to paint the hardeiplank underneath and around them. This way we wouldn’t have to go back when the facings were up and try to make a nice neat edge. So what did all this mean? It meant that it was time to buy exterior paint. Wahoooo!!!

We had been thinking about this day for a long time. Debating over the subtle differences between Oneroa, Selwyn, and Blue Knob (I kid you not, that’s a paint color, and we almost bought it). The Placemakers giftcards we received from my Aunt Katy for our wedding, had been set aside for this very purpose, and they were burning a hole in our wallet.

So off we went, and paint was bought. What color scheme did we decide on? Here’s a little mock up, Oneroa for the house, Lake Camp for the gingerbread, and our trim will be pure white:
After we purchased our paint I came home and crunched a few numbers in terms of the environmental and financial impact of our choice, Taubmans Sun Proof Max Latex Exterior Paint. I know, I know, I probably should have looked at these things before we purchased almost $200 in paint, but I got excited, and we had gift vouchers.

So it turns out that we didn’t do too bad on either front.

As always, it is good to shop from local companies who support ethical trading principals and service. A major factor contributing to the sustainability of the paint itself is how long it lasts, so it is important to choose a paint with good weather proofing capabilities. Also, Latex paints, like the one we bought are much better for the environment in manufacturing, cleanup, and off-gassing than oil paints.

The off-gassing of volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s, has been a major conversation for the past few years amongst the paint industry and environmentalists. This is because VOC’s can contaminate soil and groundwater, the vapors of VOC’s react with nitrous oxides to form ozone in the lower atmosphere whihc is harmful to both animals and plants, and VOC’s also prolong the life of methane in the atmosphere – a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Oil paints can have up to 400-500g of VOC’s per liter, and traditional latex paints can have 200-300. Paints labeled “Low VOC” must have less than 100g/l and there are even “No VOC” paints available.

After purchasing our paint I did a comparison of other comparable paints, all latex weather proofing paints of a similar gloss. And here’s how it came out:

So basically, for $53 more, we could have gotten a No VOC paint, that is comparable to the one we chose, from a company with much better eco and social practices. Given that we will need about 3 buckets of paint, this translates into over $150. Is this a thrifty trade-off we should have made for the sake of the environment? I’m not sure. That $150 is a significant amount that could be put towards upgrading to an Energy Star appliance, or another project on our never ending list. And 62g/L is still very low. The jury is out.

But anyway, here I am applying the first brush stroke of paint. It is really starting to feel like we might have a beautiful house when all this is over. Don’t be distracted by my massive shoulders muscles, you’re looking at the paint here people.
After a few hours we had covered the places where the facings will overlap with two coats. And were left with a patchwork-looking house ready for facings. Just in time too, because we were greeted with three straight days of rain just as John the Intern arrived.
And here is how the patchwork painted house looks now. And what’s John doing up there on the roof? Looks like the subject of an upcoming blog post.

-June Cleverer