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Cutting Corners Can Cost You - Tips for Vancouver Heritage Homeowners

Posted by: Heidi Nyline

There is no doubt that owning a heritage home in Vancouver has higher maintenance costs compared to owning a newer home. It can be tempting to look for ways to cut corners and save money when it comes to exterior painting.

144 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver Historical Home on the Vancouver Heritage Register. Exterior Painting by Warline Painting Ltd. in the summer of 2011.

Here are a few cost cutting measures you might be considering and why they might end up costing you more in the long run.

Can't You Just Paint Over That?

The answer is No.

It is quite simple. No amount of caulking, bondo or paint can fix rotten wood. Rotten wood needs to be replaced or the problem will spread. Not addressing wood repairs and replacement will result in bigger and more expensive repairs in the not so distant future. That applies to window frames, siding boards, trim boards, decking and any other type of surface showing signs of decay. It is a whole lot cheaper to replace a windowsill now than an entire window later.

You can't ignore these issues.

If a paint contractor suggests that you can just clean it up, fill in the area with a bit of caulking and then paint over it, ask him how long he will warranty the work for. He won't.

Extensive prep is the key.

Substrate issues are also an important consideration. Old homes have often been painted multiple times. A fresh coat of paint might adhere perfectly to the last paint applied but at the same time cause the original paint to react with the substrate and result in blistering and separation. Getting down to the original surface might be required. Thorough scraping and sanding of all flaking areas isn't going over and above - it is necessary.

So is cleaning. Paint doesn't stick to dirt or mold or cobwebs. Cleaning needs to be done with care too. That might mean a scrub-brush instead of a power washer.

In addition, using the right primers to improve adhesion of the paint will also help ensure a long lasting paint job.

Maybe I'll Wait A Couple of Years Before Repainting

Putting off exterior painting of a heritage house is exposing it to the risk of accelerated deterioration. Paint doesn't just add colour to your home, it protects it. Pushing exterior painting off when your heritage home is showing signs that it needs to be repainted means wood rot, moisture and sun damage (UV exposure) are all working overtime on your old home.

This kind of damage is accelerating the decay of the wood behind it.

A smart consideration once you have restored and repainted your home is to schedule annual maintenance and cleaning of your home so that issues can be addressed early, before they become big headaches later.

Maybe I can Do the Prep Myself

In older homes is very likely any paint applied more than 30 years ago contains lead. In the United States the EPA has regulated the removal and remediation of lead paint through the RRP rule. The EPA requires that renovators, contractors and painters working on pre-1978 built homes be certified and trained to follow lead-safe work practices. This includes the proper containment of an area, minimizing dust during the renovation and thorough clean-up. Airborne lead dust and paint chips are a dangerous health risk to both adults and children.

If you have an older home, hiring a professional company that can properly handle lead remediation with dust-free extraction and other techniques is a smart investment for your health and the environment. There are very few painting companies in Vancouver or the lower mainland that are equipped to properly handle lead paint remediation. Warline is one of them.

We often tell owners of heritage homes to look at their exterior painting budget differently than other purchases. Instead of finding ways to make the painting project fit their budget, they should consider finding ways to make their budget fit the cost to do the job properly. The extra price of having the job done right will often mean not paying a higher price for fixing bigger problems in the long run.

Good food for thought when it comes to the cost of owning a heritage home.

If you have one of these old Vancouver (or even New Westminster or Surrey) heritage homes and need to have it painted, give us a call and we'll be happy to meet with you.

Posted by: David Edelman
Great informative post. It is so hard to explain to home owners why our price may be significantly higher on an exterior painting than the guy that just caulks and covers. Preparation is everything. You have perfectly written everything I attempt to tell my potential customers.But, how much they remember is debatable when comparing prices. With your permission, I would like to reprint and hand this article to potential customers in my sales packet.


Absolutely David. Nothing is a greater compliment than having a fellow painter agree so wholeheartedly with an article and want to share it with their customers. Thank you so much.

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