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Understanding the Importance of Proper Paint Application on Exterior Walls

In the world of construction and design, the exterior paint is not just about aesthetic appeal; it’s a crucial layer of protection for buildings against the elements. For London’s diverse architecture, which includes historical buildings that have withstood the test of time, the choice of paint and its application method can significantly impact the longevity and structural integrity of exterior walls.

The Pitfall of Using Non-Breathable Paint

A common misstep in maintaining exterior walls is the application of non-breathable paint. Such paints can trap moisture within the walls, especially problematic for older constructions without damp proof courses (DPC). This moisture, if not allowed to escape, can deteriorate brickwork, leading to costly damage.

Breathability: The Key to Wall Maintenance

For structures built before modern waterproofing methods, like those common in London, breathability is paramount. Materials that allow vapor movement help prevent the accumulation of moisture within the walls, which is why lime plaster and breathable paints are often recommended for such buildings. They enable the walls to ‘breathe’, allowing moisture to escape, which is vital to preventing the ‘blowing’ of bricks—a condition where the brick surface deteriorates.

The Right Approach to Painting Exterior Walls

When selecting paint for exterior walls, especially for heritage properties, consider the following steps to ensure a long-lasting and protective finish:

Assessment: Evaluate the condition of the walls, checking for dampness and the type of existing paint and materials.

Preparation: Address any issues with moisture and repair any damage before painting. Ensure that the surface is clean, dry, and stable.

Choice of Materials: Opt for breathable paints and materials compatible with the building’s substrate. For older buildings, traditional lime-based paints and plasters are often preferable.

Application: Apply the paint according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to achieve the right finish and ensure the longevity of the paintwork.


In conclusion, while the right color can bring life to a building, the right type of paint ensures its health. By choosing breathable paints and applying them correctly, you can maintain the structural integrity of the walls and preserve the beauty of London’s architectural heritage. As always, consult with a professional to make the best choice for your specific project.


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