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Of all Exterior Projects, Coloradans Paint their Houses Most

Mar 9, 2024 | Home Improvement, Painting Contractor

In 2023, Coloradans were planning more exterior paint projects than any other exterior renovation job, according to a new study by Houzz, replacing windows tied for the top spot, with one in five homeowners indicating that they planned to freshen up their houses with one of those projects.

While 21% of Centennial Staters are planning paint and window upgrades, fewer homeowners are eying updates to their roofing, doors, and gutters. Chimneys are at the bottom of the list.

Diverse regional trends emerge, such as roofing projects topping the Orlando and Tampa, Florida renovation plans list. Exterior paint updates are a top concern in warm-weather areas like Texas, Arizona, and Southern California.

Why?

What factors contribute to Coloradans painting their houses more than other states? And what does Colorado have in common with these Sunbelt states?

Map of Exterior Home Repaints by Houzz

U.S. Map of Exterior Home Repaint Projects in 2023 according to Houzz.

UV Rays and Exterior Paint on the Front Range

You might have guessed it: Colorado’s famous 300+ days of sun each year do a number on your exterior paint. UV light can break down several components of paint at the molecular level, from the polymers in acrylic to the pigments that keep colors strong and vibrant. 

The result? Paint jobs often look tired before their time, and homeowners start thinking about repainting before their counterparts in cloudy climates. While conventional wisdom tells homeowners to repaint exterior surfaces every five to ten years, Coloradans often find the tell-tale signs of paint deterioration on the low end of the scale.

UV rays are responsible for the following problems:

  1. Fading: Over time, chemical bonds in pigments break down under constant exposure to UV light. The effect is most noticeable on south-facing walls and painted rooftop surfaces, like chimneys. Paint that’s faded looks worn before its time, which can detract from the home’s aesthetic appeal and cause issues for resale.
  2. Chalking: Paint binders and resins also break down under assault from UV rays. The result is a dusty residue on the paint’s surface, known as chalk. Chalking comes with a loss of color intensity and a whitish-grey appearance from a distance, similar to fading. But there’s an additional concern: the added texture of chalk creates a challenge for adhering new paint to the surface of their home.
  3. Cracking and Peeling: As paint film loses its flexibility and cohesion, it can break apart and come loose from the home’s surface. Cracking and peeling paint allow moisture to penetrate underneath the paint, creating the opportunity for more damage. Because this problem could threaten the house’s structure, a new paint job gets prioritized.

How Does the Front Range Fare for UV Damage?

Colorado Exterior Home Repaints and UV Damage

Cloudiness and UV Ray Damage

While all the cities on the Front Range benefit from drier air left by weather fronts dumping their rain and powder in the mountains, they also suffer from an oversupply of UV rays. But not all Front Range cities fare equally.

For preserving a paint job, Boulder’s your best bet. It’s the cloudiest city on the Front Range. Northern Front Range cities are also good candidates for the “longest-lasting” exterior paint.

Other winners? El Paso County, including Colorado Springs, boasts more rainfall than other counties in the Front Range. That means more cloud cover and less UV damage.

With the least rainfall, Fort Collins might be one of the worst places to extend your exterior paint job. 

Altitude and UV Ray Damage

Another factor to consider is that those who leave civilization behind to climb into the mountains get more UV light penetration the higher they go. 

Colorado’s lowest point (the Arikaree River on the Kansas border, at 3,317 feet altitude) gets 7% more UV light than a comparable sea-level city like New Orleans, LA. 

A house will absorb 2% more UV light per 1,000 feet of elevation, so Colorado’s combination of high sunlight and high elevation is doubly damaging to its exterior paint. Homes here see more hours of sunshine per year and absorb more UV light from that sunshine than many other parts of the U.S.

If you built your house in Denver, you’d take on almost 18% more UV light than if you lived at sea level. Move to Woodland Park, in the shadow of Pikes Peak, at 8,465 feet above sea level, and you’ll see 26%  more UV rays than at sea level.

There’s not much that Coloradans can do to minimize damage to exterior paint from our ever-present sun. 

Moving to the mountains may bring you more cloudy days, but the higher altitude will also expose you to more UV rays on sunny days. For example, move to Leadville, the highest altitude town in the Front Range at 10,152 feet, and you’ll take on 16% more UV light compared to Denver when the sun is shining.

Colorado’s high altitude and sunny climate are ideal for nature lovers, skiers, and hikers but not for exterior paintwork.

Colorado Residents Are Looking to Update their Exteriors

Colorado Exterior Home Painting

There are some other reasons why Coloradans might consider exterior painting.

  • With variable weather, the state’s homes experience hail, sleet, rain, and snow, not just sunshine. Intense sunlight and snow can work together to fade and damage exterior paint over time, necessitating frequent exterior updates.
  • Maintaining an attractive home exterior is often a priority in a state known for its beautiful landscapes and outdoor living. Couple that with the desire for an attractive home with a harsh climate, and you may see more frequent exterior painting in our state.
  • HOAs govern many communities on the Front Range, which may enforce maintenance requirements.
  • Efficiency rules when sunshine hours are high, and new paint in bright, light colors can reflect sunlight, keeping a home cooler in the summer. 

Overall, Colorado’s Front Range climate doesn’t escape paint damage. Sunny days and high altitudes might invite more wear and tear on exterior paint. 

Judging by the equal number of homeowners planning to replace their windows, making Colorado’s homes more efficient in sun and snow dominates exterior concerns (it also makes homes more valuable on the real estate market). 

Whether to sell or to enjoy through many sunny summers and windy winters to come, Coloradans are rolling up their sleeves and making it a priority to protect their homes with new paint in the immediate future. Coloradans paint their houses more than most.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only. We recommend seeking professional consultation regarding climate statistics when and where appropriate.

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