Manufacturers of “radiant barrier” or “insulating” paint claim it can save you from repainting your home as often, extend the life of your roof and walls, and hide unsightly cracks in stucco. Plus, they say, it will lower your energy bill by reflecting the sun away from your house.
The paint contains tiny ceramic spheres (and sometimes metallic aluminum pigments), and you apply it about as thick as a credit card to the home. This combination of paint and ceramic works to reflect sunlight so the heat doesn’t pass into the home.
You also can buy ceramic additives to put in your own paint. The technology came from NASA, which used something similar on spacecrafts to protect them from extreme heat when they re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.
Pros and cons
If you want to use this paint, prepare to spend at least three times more on it than on your regular good-quality acrylic paint. And be aware that it can be expensive to repair later because you can’t patch it the same way you can when you have a problem with regular paint. Instead, you’ll need to re-coat the entire wall for an even blend.
Also, the typical warranty on these products does not cover cracks that occur during normal expansion, contraction or foundation settling. The warranty only covers cracks resulting from product defects.
Don’t expect that the paint will allow you to never paint again. All home maintenance jobs require some degree of upkeep.
Still, ceramic coating may help protect your home from UV rays, and some swear it helps make a room a little more soundproof. But the claim that it will cut your cooling bills by 30 percent,or even 15 percent, is disputed. Some researchers have said the average savings is as low as 2 percent.
Some painters also say the paint works like a raincoat, making it hard to water to penetrate in or to escape through it if it does get in. That can lead to a mountain of problems, including trapped moisture that can lead to mold.
Rosie’s recommendation: Don’t rely on paint to insulate your house. Blown-in attic and wall insulation will keep your house cooler.
Rosie’s favorite exterior paint: acrylic. It has greater elasticity than other paints, which minimizes cracking as the foundation moves and settles. It has a better transfer of ambient moisture so water is never trapped inside the home, and, if applied properly, will hold up for five to 10 years.
Hire a good painter who will prep your home well and apply the paint generously. Need help finding one? Visit Rosie’s Referral Network for a list of the home-improvement contractors he relies on when he needs help at his own home.