Covering Your House from Roof to Cistern
I recently sat down with Jerry Edmunds from The Paint Factory in Tortola who offered some helpful tips for painting every surface of a home, from top to bottom.
Starting at the top, Jerry said there’s no reason to paint a roof a dark colour, including the famous Caribbean red. The main reason not to paint the roof a dark colour, Jerry stated, is that they absorb the radiation from the sun which immediately creates a drastic expansion and contraction—just from the change in temperature between night and day, on the painted surfaces. The second reason not to use a dark paint is that it increases the ambient temperature inside the house “by hundreds of percent—even if it’s insulated because the heat will eventually go right through the insulation by conduction,” he said. “It’s a strange thing because in the Caribbean and even in Newfoundland where I’m from, the early coatings were made of ochre—this earth red—because that’s what you had.” But now we have better choices, and we can choose reflective paints that even lower the temperatures in homes.
BVI Governor Boyd McCleary and team paint a local home for a good cause. Photo courtesy of BVI Governor’s Office.
Moving down the house from the roof, Jerry noted that pH-balanced primer is the most important element because it’s the basis of the paint sticking to the wall, and a good primer should be able to cover all surfaces—wood, concrete, cement, metal and stone—and different alkali levels within those surfaces. For mildew and dirt resistance, the surface area needs to be as smooth as possible. Jerry mentioned the buildings near the roundabout in Road Town, where some are stained with a layer of dark mildew while others are not. The dirty ones have a textured coating that has been applied to them that increases the surface area, giving grime millions of nooks and crannies to cling to. The smooth buildings collect minimal dirt, appearing virtually dust and mildew free. For additional mildew resistance, exterior and interior walls in the Virgin Islands should be painted with at least semi-gloss paint because the higher the gloss, the higher the resistance to mildew and the easier to clean, based on the same principal as the surface area—grime has an easier time sticking to chalky, matte surfaces.
For lower sections of the wall, closer to the ground, sealing is crucial. “Paint will fragment off an uncoated room that is even partially underground,” said Jerry. Anything near the bottom of the house or beneath the foundation should be coated in Drylok. For backfilled walls and foundations, “we recommend foundation coating,” Jerry said. “It doesn’t come off the wall, and it does a great job sealing.”
Deeper below ground, cisterns need an interior waterproof, long-lasting and non-toxic coating, and Jerry recommends Drylok or Thoroseal. They need to be applied properly to ensure the seal and potability, so Jerry recommends closely reading the instructions or consulting a professional. White serves as the best colour for cisterns as it’s easier to determine if organic material is growing inside.
In comparison to other home improvement and building costs, painting is the least expensive and, if done properly, can actually save homeowners money.