Why does painting a house cost so much?

Exterior paint, takes a beating in the Yucatan. The sun breaks down the pigments and binding agents over time and the paint begins to chalk and flake. If you are at the beach, the salt air and sand are even harder on the paint and it does not last as long as house paint in Merida. I am currently having my own house at the beach painted and it is not a quick process if you want it done right, so that it will last. It is not a matter of a quick scrape and slapping on some paint.

First the exterior has to be washed with a good powerwasher. This will strip any flaking paint and dislodge any loose finish. The areas of loose finish, then need to be chipped away, to get to a solid surface, making sure the underlying material is sound.

IMG_3067This area then has to be prepped and resurfaced. We use a special bonding agent to make sure the new cement bonds to the old.


All to often what seems like a small crack ends up like this and of course it takes time to repair properly and time is money.  The whole house has be washed and repaired, then a sealer coat is put on. But this has to be done in sections to make sure the salt air does not get on the old surface again before you paint. The sealer does 2 things, obviously it seals the old and new surfaces, but it also acts as a bonding agent between new and old paint. Only now, can you put on the first coat of paint and it usually takes at least 2 coats, to get a good solid coverage. 1 man working on a small house, will take almost 2 weeks to do it properly, depending on repairs needed and the complexity of the colour scheme and house design. Then of course there is the cost of all materials required and paint is not cheap. Now you know why quotes for painting vary so much. There is quick and cheap or there is doing it right, which costs a lot more, but lasts longer.

Know your proposed budget.

Quite often we are asked for suggestions on a particular project. While we have always got some great ideas, we also need to know your budget for the project. There is no point in any contractor coming up with a design plan, only to be told it is too expensive. It is much better to give your contractor a budget and see what your money can get you. People seem to be hesitant about setting a budget and or sharing it. But realistically, that is the only way you can get a proposal that meets what you expect to spend.


May look like rubble and rock, but!!!

It is the beginning of a pool, terrace and new Baño for our customer.




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Bullpen Restaurant in Chelem has a new pool

When Jill and Martin, owners of  El Bullpen in Chelem, decided it was time for a new pool at their hotel/restaurant, they knew there was really only one choice for professional work. Naturally they called us, Aerocretos de Mexico, for quality, service and price.



Damaged paint on mamposteria or block walls.

imagesThere has been lots of discussion lately on expat forums, about the damage that occurs to paint coatings in the Yucatan. This damage can usually be seen in the bottom 1/3 of the walls. Peeling paint, plaster falling off or even fungus or mould growing are all symptoms of the same issue, water in the walls. When talking about mamposteria or block walls, they both have one thing in common, a binding cement that holds the rock or block together. Now there are newer waterproof cements, but almost all of the homes in question were built with older cements that absorb water, like a wick. There are three basic ways water can get in a wall – from the outside on unprotected surfaces, from the top down filtering through cracks or exposed surfaces and from the bottom up. The first two are pretty easy to fix, a good exterior paint on the outside walls and a impermeable coating on the roof and other topside surfaces. The hard part is stopping moisture from wicking up the wall from the ground, after the wall is made. I am sure a method probably exists to waterproof a foundation after the fact, but I do not have any experience with it.

Lets look at the composition of a typical foundation on an older home here in the Yucatan. Most of the Colonial era homes were build on a foundation of limestone rock and a limestone based cement. This is where the issue actually starts, as limestone is porous and can absorb moisture from the ground. Even new homes here are build on a limestone foundation, for the most part. On new buildings it is easy to put a vapour barrier of plastic, damp course, or a tar coating on the concrete top edge of the foundation, to prevent water from wicking. But that was not done on most older homes in the Yucatan. So when the rains come, water starts wicking into the walls at the foundation level. 120px-AusblühungenAs the moisture gets drawn in to the dryer higher part of the wall, it brings various ground salts with it. And as it rises it also starts to evaporate, but since the inside walls of a house are usually coated with some form of plaster and paint, the water is trapped and eventually causes the coating to fail, this is why the damage is usually restricted to the bottom of walls. The trapping of moisture can also create problems with mould and fungus growth. You may also notice a very fine soft crystalline formation coming out of your paint or wall coating, that is usually Calcium Hydrate being brought to the surface as the moisture (acid) in the walls slowly bleeds it from the limestone and cement. The technical term for this is Efflorescence. Eventually, after many many years, the binding cement may fail, which can be seen on many old neglected structures in Merida, where the cement in the walls just seems to crumble.

The question is how do you stop this from ruining the paint on your walls. The answer is, it is not easy at all.  If you buy an older home, traditionally vapour barriers were not used. You can put sealers on the walls, but you run the risk of trapping the moisture in the walls and maybe make a good breeding ground for mould or the moisture may build to a level where the wall coating fails anyhow. There are also coatings on the market, that open up the pours in the paints to allow the moisture to evaporate quicker, thus saving the paint. I have also heard of people drilling holes into the walls near the ground to let moisture escape, but I have no experience with this process. There is no easy answer other than prevention in new homes.

There are a few things you can do to make life a little easier however. Paint the lower part of the wall a different colour. This means you do not have to paint the entire wall when the time comes. Some people put a pattern on the lower part of the wall, to hide the effects as well. Then of course there is alway wainscotting to hide problems as well. If the exterior of the particular wall is uncoated consider a coating to prevent excess water penetration from the outside to the inside.

Or accept the fact, that it is just part of life in the Yucatan.

A customers photo, wow does this look good!

We raised the level of this pool, refinished it, added filtration, water feature, Talavera tile and a whole bunch more. But that was a few months ago. Today, the client sent us this picture of the pool, now with all the plants and pots added. WOW! it is even better than before and that was pretty good.

pool & garden

One of our mini reno projects

What are you waiting for?  Some times all it takes is a little creativity and imagination to turn something old and faded  and useless into something new and useful. This little Casita started out old, faded and not useful. With helpful creativity from the owners, we were able to transform it into something sparkling, new and more than a little useful. Oh and if you want to rent i,t we know the owners and they are really nice people.


Old and dated.


With a major reno underway, the owners had a vision of the end product. A clean crisp and bright casita. Everything was new and improved. Old doors filled in and new patio doors installed complete with Pasta tile inlay on new terrace. Old bathroom gone and new extension build for new bathroom and shower. All new electric, demand hot water, fresh cool tile you name it, it is all new and fantastic in its layout and with an eye for detail. Even better yet,  this Casita is available for rent at Lulu and the Moon,  a stunning private new casita, with access to a huge pool.


Cool colours and off white tile make for a enticing bedroom.

Cool colours and off white tile make for a enticing bedroom.





Bright and fresh, with new terrace


Stunning Chocolate and tan Bathroom addition.


Look closely for the attention to details.

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