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How often does house need to be painted (wood siding)?

I live in the Seattle area and moved into my home in 2006. I have no idea when it was last painted and have never owned a home that needed to be painted. How often should a wood-siding home be painted?
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December 29 2010 - Seattle
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Whatever you do, make certain that the siding is DRY...DRY...Did I say DRY?  Especially wood...some folks say that wood can be painted year-round...but no matter the prep or quality of the paint, in our local climate wood DOES NOT DRY OUT during the rainy season.  For example, I have wood in my shop that has been out of the weather for 3 years, and in the winter the moisture content increases dramatically....which does affect the adhesion of any paint.  I have seen "pros" hungry for work try to paint wood when it isn't the right time, and the paint doesn't last like it should.  Also, the weathered side of a home gets less paint life! 
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December 31 2010
Painting in the Seattle-area can be a bit tricky. It really depends on what the weather conditions were the last time your home was painted, the quality of paint used, how good the last painters were and the amount of exposure the house has to the elements. It may be the South and West side that wear more quickly, it may also be the side more exposed to wind or rain. If the house is painted when it is too cold, too warm, too wet, not properly primed, not enough or too much paint, etc. you will have problems.

As Dan said, I know some houses with lead paint that are holding up really well. I also own a house that was built in 2002, and unfortunately the builder's sub did a piss-poor job on the timing, and application of paint (painting it in 90+ degree weather, with a very cold night following) that began to peel the very next year(!), much to my dismay. 

If you have lived there for approximately 4 years, how does the paint look compared to when you moved in? How old is the home? Is the siding actual wood or some sort of composite or concrete? What is the exposure to the elements?
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December 30 2010
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I know of a house that was last painted with lead paint. Lead paint was banned in 1978. It is just now showing signs of needing to be repainted in some spots.

New paint without lead needs to be repainted a lot more often. It could be 5-10 years between repaints. I read an article years ago where the author said he painted one wall every year.
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December 30 2010
The South and West side of your home will wear sooner then the other two.  Those are the sides thet get hit hardest with the weather.  Every few years or as you see fit for asthetic purposes is a decent rule of thumb. 

One other thought.  There is a lot of concern about removal of lead based paint these days.  If your house was built before 1976, there is a good chance there is lead based pain on the siding.  If you are going to scrape and remove aold paint, make sure you are very careful to catch and remove all the lead paint appropriately, or use a painter that is certified to do so.
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December 30 2010

HGTV has excellent guides to readDo you know when the previous owner painted the home last? Lot's of factors here, it will depend on the paint used last, as each has a durability life, is it mildew resistant etc. Probably not knowing any of these questions you will need to look at the undersides of the lap and be sure they have good paint coverage. No peeling or cracking in the corners etc. If you have gaps and seperation in seams and peeling paint you will need to caulk and paint soon.

Typically you will need to paint the facia and trim boards more often than the siding, but you will be able to tell if you see that it is peeling.

Avoid painting and caulking in cold damp weather. The paint cans will tell you when it is the right weatrher to paint.

Me, I just paint when I want to change the color. Love to decorate.

Good luck!

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December 29 2010
 
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