Protection and Maintenance of Exterior Building Structures

Protection and Maintenance of Exterior Building Structures

By Mariann Gerwig, CFO, CGC, HI, CFCAM / Published April 2022

Photo courtesy of Promar Building Services

The protection and maintenance of exterior building structures is critical in order to maintain property values, safety, and the integrity of your building. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is having a schedule in place that includes a structural engineering inspection (every two or three years is recommended) and in-depth inspections by in-house maintenance or management (twice a year is recommended). Keep records of product warranties that may exist from prior painting, repairs, and restoration work. You can save a lot of money if you have all your warranties organized and you have an issue of product failure, rather than assuming all work is a new issue.

     It is common for buildings located on or near coastal areas (salt water) to require the most work to maintain the building integrity and protect units from interior damage. Buildings in these areas will eventually require structural repairs, or what is referred to as concrete restoration. But with proper maintenance the costs can be much less than for undermaintained buildings.

     Kevin M. Hall, the manager at Palmsea Condominium Association Inc. located in South Palm Beach, Florida, states that “keeping our envelope sealed and windows caulked to keep water out” is a priority. This initiative-taking approach allows Mr. Hall the time to select the correct contractor and the best materials to enable the recently completed painting project at Palmsea to run smoothly and be successful. 

     If you wait until a problem has started to become obvious, you may be rushed to hire a contractor and may not be able to select materials that are the best suited for your situation. It is quite common while pressure washing building stucco and concrete that repair needs could be uncovered. With that in mind, you want to make sure that the contractor you hire is licensed and insured to do those repairs as well as painting and waterproofing your building.

     Living in a coastal (especially tropical) environment, people must understand why building painting and balcony waterproofing is so important. Some of the most common issues that can create problems are as follows:

  1. Water evaporates. However, the salt content in that water gets absorbed into the concrete. This can cause the rebar in the concrete to rust and expand; and as this occurs, it fractures the concrete, which diminishes its integrity. Proper and regular exterior painting and waterproofing can protect against this.
  2. Screws and fasteners on shutters and railings should be stainless steel to prevent rusting.
  3. Tile and carpet on balconies can trap moisture between the slab and the covering. Proper waterproofing must be present, and/or the installation of the carpet or tiles must be done with the proper products. Keep in mind that if you have had balcony restoration work performed, you could void your warranty if tile or carpet is installed.

     The positive news is that over the last 20-plus years, contractors in South Florida have become very familiar with the repairs and materials that are required. Historical and current approaches are basically the same. How-ever, products that are used have improved in appearance and quality and give longer warranties.

     In addition, it must be mentioned that the knowledge of association managers and board of directors has increased substantially. Poured concrete can now be a design mix that includes rust inhibitors; suppliers of other products are certifying the contractors to make sure they are knowledgeable in the products and application of products.

     Palmsea Condominium is a perfect representation of common problems. How-ever, the awareness of Kevin Hall as well as the board of directors was the key to success of their project. Mr. Hall did not wait for the exterior painting to show signs of damage. Being extremely aware of protecting the envelope of the buildings from exterior elements, he knew that waiting for the last day of the warranty was not the thing to do. Mr. Hall stated the “learning about procedures and products used on concrete repairs” is important.

     The most important principle for the building manager and the association board of directors to keep in mind is that if the building is not properly maintained or required repairs are not done in a timely manner, the damage will continue to increase and become more costly to repair.

Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, and CFCAM

Promar Building Services

Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, Home Inspector (HI), and CFCAM, is with Promar Building Services LLC (CGC 060027). You can contact her at or learn more about the company by visiting