by Brendan Charters
Great at the barber, catastrophic at home
Sometime since the dawn of civilization, we became obsessed with curb appeal. Emotional creatures to the core, what started as a basic need, shelter has evolved as an avenue of self-expression. The exterior materials, architectural details, combination and orientation of finishes tell a story to the world about who we are, what we may value and how uptight we might be about the state of our affairs. Like it or not, the face our homes show to the world is a reflection of ourselves. Since the absence of personal time seems to be the norm, and very few people enjoy allocating their time or their hard-earned money toward regular maintenance, we will explore the finishes and colours that provide long-term value for your next exterior renovation project.
All good things must come to an end. Rain, wind and sunshine erode mountains into prairies and valleys. Volcanoes are transformed into beaches. Some would argue none of those changes are bad things, but when Mother Nature applies her weathering ways to the face of your homestead, a bleached-out and battered esthetic is almost never a desired outcome. As such, when designing and installing your home’s exterior finishes, work from the following basic principles for lasting success.
1. Natural materials weather best: Fight Mother Nature with Mother Nature!
- REAL STONE
- WOOD rot-resistant or heat-treated woods, which are neither painted nor stained
- METAL such as zinc and weathering (corten), steel which is naturally self-sealing upon initial rusting.
- avoid man-made materials with topically applied colouring.
2. Integrated colouring: These are products with colour that is within or part of the makeup, rather than applied
- NATURAL STONE
- STUCCO with paint infusion (rather than painted after application)
- EXTRUDED MATERIALS (such as PVC’s)
3. Factory-applied finishes: Controlled environment with baking process to cure finishes to substrates
- search out flexible vinyl wraps, paints and stains that can expand and contract with the substrate, as all materials move based on their environmental exposure.
- Warranty of finish is a massively important piece, as is stability of company manufacturing and honouring it.
- Composite wood, Cement-fibre siding, aluminum siding all great examples of this.
4. Light to Dark: Dark colours attract sun and heat while light colours show dust and dirt more easily.
- dark will dry more easily after rains but will oxidize and fade faster and more visibly.
- light will pick up road wash and garden splash back, muddying the appearance.
- lighter colours fade less and less quickly.
5. Moisture control: trapping moisture is never a good thing in a home, and it will always impact colours through bubbling, peeling and cracking.
- design a method of moisture escape
- understand the wall system as a whole, not just the exterior-applied finish as it works as a system.
When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. The process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.