How Long Will My Paint Last?

A common question we receive from potential customers is “how long will my paint last?”  The answer for having the longest lasting paint job possible depends on several factors:

  • what is your home’s exposure to the sun?
  • what condition is your home in?
  • what siding/trim does your home have?
  • what type of paint is being used?
  • what color are you selecting?
  • how is the home prepped for painting?

There are other considerations for long lasting paint, but those are the big ones.  All paint will fail.  There is no paint manufacturer making a paint that will last forever. Using the correct paint and applying according to the specifications will ensure the longest life.


Greatly simplified, paint is base + pigment.  The base of the paint is chemical additives, resins/binders, and solvents.  Manufacturers add pigment to the base to produce the desired color.

[caption id=“attachment_5459” align=“alignleft” width=“300”]fading-paint Faded Paint[/caption]

Fading occurs when UV rays attack the pigment molecules. This changes their structure and causes them to lose their color.  The more pigment (the darker the color) the quicker a paint will fade.  Some colors fade quicker than others.  Yellow pigments fade quickest.  In fact, yellow colors available for exterior paints are few due to this.  The darker the color, the quicker the fade.

Fading is the desirable failure mode in our opinion.  Our standard level paint lasts around 8 years before it starts to fade.  Dark colors fade as quickly as 5 years.  Upgraded paint, such as Sherwin Williams Emerald, can resist fading as long as 12 or 13 years.

Home’s Condition

Paint is only as good as the surface it’s applied over.  Apply high quality paint over an old peeling surface does no good.  To get the most life out of your paint, the painted surface must be properly prepared.  A well prepared surface ensures the new paint bonds well.

We’ll write a whole post on prep work in the future.  At a minimum, remove loose material, apply primer where necessary, and paint surfaces that are dry.

Poor preparation of painted surfaces will result in early failure of the paint.  Likely the bond fails and the new paint begins to crack or peel.

Type of Siding / Trim

In our experience, the newer siding materials hold paint best.  Fiber cement siding such as Hardie siding receives paint well.  We don’t see peeling issues on Hardie sided homes.  Engineered sidings such as LP Smartside and Smarttrim also hold paint well.

We see issues with peeling on common wood such as pine or poplar.  Primed cedar holds paint well, and is common in Kansas City.  We notice lots of homes with cedar shake shingles have problems with peeling.  In the houses we look at, this is due to neglect rather than the cedar shingles.  New shingles primed and maintained look great for a long time.

[caption id=“attachment_5458” align=“alignleft” width=“225”]peeling-paint Peeling Paint on Cedar Shake Shingles[/caption]

All exteriors in this area need maintenance.  Some siding/trim like Hardie or LP Smartside need less frequent maintenance than others.  When we estimate a house with failing paint, generally it’s because the house hasn’t been painted in 20+ years.  We also look at projects where the prep was lacking and the paint is failing within 5 or 6 years.

Type of Paint

A high quality exterior paint around the $40/gallon price point is what we recommend.  We apply more gallons of Sherwin Williams SuperPaint than anything else by far.  Behr, Benjamin Moore, and PPG make comparable products.

If you plan on staying in your home far into the future, upgrading to a Sherwin Williams Duration or Emerald paint (or similar) is worth thinking about.  These paints have different additives and resins and resist fading longer.


The darker the color you choose, the faster you’ll notice fading.  dark blue paint will fade fast.  If dark blue is the color, consider using a more expensive paint to get more UV resistance.

Yellows are tricky too.  We paint very few houses yellow.  Talk to the nearest paint store about what yellows they’ll even mix for exteriors.  Often there are only a half dozen or so available they’ll stand behind.


Use a high-quality exterior paint, prepare the surface properly, and don’t go too dark on the color. For the longest lasting paint job, that’s what we recommend here at Great Plains.

Of course if you have other goals, there may be other options. Talk to us when we estimate your home, and we’ll happily balance your needs with our recommendations.

For the longest lasting paint job in Kansas City, contact Great Plains today!