How To: Fight Mildew Formation on Your Home's Exterior

Fight Mildew Formation on Your Home's Exterior

Mildew can be the bane of a beautiful exterior paint job, marring its appearance even when the paint is otherwise in good shape.  And while there's no way to guarantee that mildew won't eventually rear its ugly head on any home exterior, there are ways to fight it.  Here are six steps you can take to combat the problem:

Step 1 Use latex paint

Water-based latex exterior paints tend to resist mildew better than oil-based paints because they contain few, if any, organic ingredients for mildew to feed upon.

Step 2 Use a top quality latex paint

Compared to economy grade paints, top quality 100% acrylic latex paints and other higher quality latex coatings usually contain more mildewcide -- an ingredient designed to fight mildew growth.

Step 3 Apply two coats of paint or a coat of primer followed by a coat of paint  

Either way, the thicker paint film will help prevent mildew from reaching nutrients in the surface below.  In addition, two coats of top quality coatings will contain that much more mildewcide.

Step 4 Use paint with a higher gloss

Paints with higher sheen, such as semi-gloss and even satin paints, tend to resist mildew better than flat paints since they form a less porous finish.  Why is this important?  Pores can harbor dirt and other contaminants that contain organic nutrients, the foodstuff for mildew.  Plus, a porous surface makes it easier for mildew to gain access to nutrients in the surface below.

Step 5 Take paint color into account

Naturally, you'll want to paint your home in a color you love, but certain colors can actually impede mildew growth.  After rain or a dewy morning, darker colors dry out faster than light colors when exposed to the sun.  The quicker a surface dries, the less prone it is to develop mildew.  Bottom line:  If you're torn between two paint colors and you hate mildew, go with the darker shade.

Step 6 Cut shrubs and bushes away from your home

Mildew often gets a foothold in areas that are constantly shaded, where moisture is slow to dry and dirt is quick to accumulate.  By cutting back -- or even removing -- vegetation that creates shade, you can reduce the areas that are hospitable to mildew.

Remember, fighting mildew isn't a battle, it's a war – one that will go for years.  In order to prevail, you need to set up your defenses by using the right quality, color, gloss, and type of paint.  Then, keep your shears nearby for hand-to-hand combat over the course of time.   

For more information on latex paints, click here

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