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Paint is a bad word. There is no money in “paint.” There is tremendous profit in “exterior coatings.”

Please understand that this “exterior coatings” business is fraught with calamity for many honorable contractors. Sears will not do “exterior coatings.” Vinyl siding — yes. “Exterior coatings”? No.

The first thing the salesman will do is walk you around the exterior of your home and point out all of the icky places. Places where your home is falling down and where if you do not fix this all immediately your home will collapse tomorrow. Here it is, right from one of their “secret” sales manuals:

It does not matter if they feel they have a need or problem when you arrive, what matters is that you create that problem or need while you are there.

He will also tell you about this “exterior coating” that “breathes” and that is “space age” and that has a 40-year warranty.

These coatings are popularly seen at home improvement shows and county fairs. Some have been around since the early ’60s. Application consists of a multi-step process where a primer is applied to the wall and then covered with a top coating of the color you want. The coatings are thick and somewhat elastic. Some of these products are oil-based and others are water-based.

The real trick to “coating” a home is possibly not the material used but the reality that few painters actually do what they should do to prepare a home for new paint. If a painter did what he was supposed to do then even a coating of slaked lime and camel dung might last for decades.

These “space-age coatings” are applied over a well-prepared surface. In most cases the company will even trench around the home — several inches down — and prime and coat below ground level.

A high-pressure water jet is used to remove all the loose anything that is stuck to the walls. Workmen then dig out the cracks and fill the cracks with elastic rubbery stuff. The “stuff” will stick to stucco. The “stuff” also expands and contracts so well it will move with the wall and possibly not crack for many years.

The next step will be a primer coat that seals the stucco. This primer is usually a different color than the final coat. This is done so that the guy spraying the final coat can see where he has sprayed and where he has not.

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