It’s a popular paint these days and most paint manufacturers have an elastomeric paint option in their stores now to compliment their other offerings like enamel paints, masonry paints, and others, but what exactly is elastomeric paint?
Elastomeric paint is a high-build exterior paint coating design for masonry surface that is extremely flexible and can be up to 10 times thicker than traditional coatings giving it a longer lasting lifespan. With this thickness and flexibility it works very well on stucco buildings to cover over hairline cracks and avoid cracks in the paint film in harsh conditions.
Short for elastic polymer, elastomeric paint consists of lengthy chains of molecules that help keep the rubber-like material flexible. When properly applied, this type of paint creates a thick, durable, water-resistant coating that shapes itself in tandem with shifts in the structure underneath.
Proper Paint Prep
Applying this type of paint, just as with any other painting endeavor, will require preparation, patience, and precision. My grandfather’s 7 secrets for a perfect paint job still apply even with new paint technologies.
No matter what type of paint you’re using you will have poor results without the proper prep. I’m not going to go into the details here, but suffice it to say prep right and you’ll get a great paint job.
As previously mentioned, the main components of elastomerics are the polymers known as elastomers. Pigmentation gives the coating its color. Another prominent additive, mildewcide, helps keep mildew from sprouting on the painted surface.
Different varieties encompass water-based acrylic elastomeric coats and solvent-based butyl, silicone, or polyurethane coatings. In contrast, the main ingredients of acrylic paint can include the following: silicon oils, metal soaps, plasticizers, and an acrylic polymer emulsion.
Benefits of Elastomeric Paint
Elastomeric paint is between four and 10 times thicker than regular acrylic exterior paint. This thickness offers long-lasting durability (over a decade) with little chance of water, sun, or wind damage. Further, the flexibility of the paint helps keep those unseemly cracks at bay and merges well with settling structures.
While it can work on all masonry surfaces, this paint performs especially well on concrete and stucco, especially exteriors. Its UV-resistance and energy efficiency when used in roofing applications makes it a great green option.
Drawbacks of Elastomeric Paint
Elastomeric paint is significantly more expensive than regular acrylic paint, up to 50% more in some cases, and that can add up quick when painting the exterior of a house.
Elastomeric paint is also not as DIY friendly to apply. Improper application of elastomerics, for example, can cause lumpiness. And spraying is especially difficult if not impossible with certain elastomeric paints because of their thickness. Even if sprayed they require backrolling.
Elastomeric paint also does not have high permeability which means that if applied to older homes or wood siding it may create issues with rot.
In my experience and opinion, elastomeric paint works best when applied to modern stucco buildings built after the 1970s. Historic buildings were never designed to be sealed so tightly and this type of paint can cause moisture issues among other things.
The benefits may seem enticing and with a new buildings, especially one in harsh weather conditions like coastal regions, elastomeric paint makes a lot of sense.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that I’ve seen an elastomeric paint coating work with great results over about eight years on a beach condo I visit on the Florida coast. The building was typically needing repainting every two to three years before they upgraded to this new coating and it has held up extremely well since being applied.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.