Painting the exterior of your house will protect, revive, and beautify your house more quickly, effectively, and affordably than any other single project. Painting your house can be a big project, but it’s a job that can be completed in a week or two depending on your familiarity and amount of free time.
Doing the job yourself rather than hiring a professional can save you money. But make sure you follow these 10 tips that will make your life easier and give you better results on your exterior painting projects.
Opting for higher quality paint, primer, and caulking compound will likely save you money in the long run. Top-quality paint will last longer and protect better than cheaper brands. Look for a paint brand that has a lifetime warranty against defects in the finish like Sherwin Williams.
2. Good prep work is key
For paint to bond well, it must be applied to a clean and dry surface. The surface must be free of any flaking or peeling. Depending on the existing condition of siding and trim, this generally means a lot of scraping and sanding before you paint.
Start by washing all surfaces. You will want to use either a hose and scrub brush with water and detergent or a pressure washer. With a pressure washer, you’ll have to be careful not to spray water too deeply between siding joints or erode the surface of the wood too much.
You’ll need to remove flaking paint with a scraper. And then for tougher rough paint, use a power sander starting with 60 grit sandpaper and moving to 100 grit sandpaper.
When removing paint with a scraper or sander, you don’t want to remove all of the paint. The goal is to remove the loose or rough paint and leave a smooth surface. Fill cracks and holes with wood putty and after the putty dries, sand these areas again. When finished sanding, be sure to brush off any dust. Then caulk all joints and wait for the caulk to dry before you apply any primer.
3. Watch out for lead paint
Modern paints no longer contain lead. But if your house was built before 1978, it’s possible (even likely) that the paint will contain lead. The EPA warns that dust or chips created by working around lead paints can be very hazardous to adults and children.
If you’re not sure if your house has been painted with lead paint in the past, the EPA recommends contacting a local lead-safe certified renovation contract. You can find a list of these on the EPA’s website: Click here to find a local contractor.
4. Don’t skip necessary coats of paint
Paint primer is important to help paint bond to surfaces properly. Begin with a quality oil-alkyd primer if painting over bare wood or metal as a base coat. After the primer dries, apply the first finish coat and after it becomes tacky, apply a second topcoat. Two finish coats are key to having great color coverage and long-lasting protection from the elements.
5. Buy the right tools
Whether you’re buying a high-quality brush or roller, or renting an airless sprayer from your local hardware store, read reviews of the product first. Buying the cheapest tools will turn into a headache in the middle of the project when the tools fall apart or clog up with paint.
The easiest and quickest way to apply primer or paint to a textured surface is to spray it on with an airless sprayer and then roll over the paint by hand to ensure adhesion.
If you don’t have any experience with an airless sprayer, start with a section of your house that isn’t normally looked at. Always use a paint strainer with an airless sprayer to prevent clogs.
6. Know your own limits
Painting a house takes tools, know-how, lots of time, and stamina. Depending on the size, height, and condition of the existing siding of your house, the prep work and painting can be a very tedious job. Consider hiring a professional for the things you aren’t comfortable doing yourself.
7. Wait for good weather before exterior painting
Avoid painting on hot, rainy, or windy days. The best temperatures for painting are between 50 and 90 Fahrenheit. Overly hot weather or direct sunlight will cause the paint to dry too quickly. Whenever possible, follow the shade around your house as you paint. Temperatures below 50 degrees can prevent the paint from bonding to the surface properly. Never paint when your surfaces are damp from rain or dew as this can cause bubbling in the painted surfaces.
8. Cover all other surfaces
Be sure to protect decks, plants, patios, and other surfaces from over-spray or paint spills. Over-spray can go further than you expect. Think about your neighbor’s property too.
9. Research painting techniques
If you’re new to painting, spend time researching painting techniques online. There is a wealth of information in the form of blog posts, technical articles, and Youtube videos that explain specific techniques.
Always work from the top down. Start with overhangs to avoid drips on already painted surfaces. Paint your siding first. Then tape around windows and doors and paint the trim. Always remove the tape right after painting (before the paint dries) so it won’t leave a residue. After everything dries, touch up any places that aren’t fully covered.
10. Consider hiring a professional
If this project sounds like more work or time than you want to invest, find a good professional. Get bids and references from trustworthy local professionals. Ask for references from previous customers and contact those references to see the contractor’s work first hand before deciding.
Rhodes Custom Finishes has references available upon request. Let us provide a free consultation and get you a quote for our quality work and craftsmanship.