Dear Angie: How often should fiber cement siding be painted? — Kate B., Renton, Wash.
Answer: This is a tough question to answer, because every house is going to tell a different story.
On average, a high-quality, 100 percent acrylic exterior house paint should last five to 15 years on fiber cement that has been properly primed at the factory if it has been applied correctly and there hasn't been any unusual damage to the home.
Climate plays a part, too. Exposure to the sun, rain and wind, surrounding plant life and a number of other factors will affect the wear on the paint. Weather can affect siding on just one side of the house, depending on its exposure, prematurely aging the paint compared with the opposite side.
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Other things, including how well the siding is prepared before paint is applied, the quality of the paint used, the number of coats the siding receives, the quality of the job done and the amount of maintenance it has received after being painted also affect how long the paint lasts.
Paint should always be applied over a sealant to ensure proper adhesion. When applied correctly, paint adheres very well to fiber cement and, in ideal conditions, could last for decades.
If you decide it is time to repaint your siding, plan to use two coats of paint, even if you're repainting it the same color. Adding a second coat won't cost you much more, and it could help extend the life of the paint job for 10 years or more.
One thing you can do to protect your paint finish after you've painted is to periodically wash your siding to keep contaminants from building up on the surface and breaking the paint down prematurely. You can do this easily with a garden hose or pressure washer. If you do pressure-wash it, I recommend hiring an experienced professional unless you're familiar with the various pressure settings. Too much pressure can cause chipping or cracking in the siding.
If you hire painters to do the job, be sure to ask them about the products they use and the guarantee they offer. Many exterior paint manufacturers provide warranties for as long as 25 years. Get at least three estimates and thoroughly research the companies' reputations before you hire.
Don't skip reading the contract — those details are important.