We all have a house somewhere in our neighborhood that’s in need of a fresh coat of paint. Between its outdated colors and its cracked and peeling surface, you’ve probably passed that house once or twice with the looming suspicion that a witch lives somewhere inside. Then again, perhaps you don’t pass that old haunted house every day. Perhaps you live in it. But before the neighborhood kids become too scared to ring your doorbell, consider these 7 tips for exterior painting perfection.
It’s true that exterior painting can seem like an enormous undertaking; not only is the surface area large, but the task also requires specialized ladders and equipment. But before you blow thousands on a team of professional painters, close your eyes and take a deep yoga-style breath. You can do this.
The truth of the matter is that exterior painting isn’t all that different from interior painting. Furthermore, the task doesn’t have to consume your life for months on end. With the help of 1-2 other people, you can finish the project in a few days to a couple of weeks.
Tip #1: Assess for lead paint
The first item on our list of tips for exterior painting is to assess the surface of your home for lead paint.
If your home was made and/or painted before 1978, there is a possibility that the existing coat of paint contains lead. Lead is hazardous to the health of our bones, muscles, and nerves. Extremely high levels of lead toxicity can even cause brain or kidney damage. Assessing the paint for lead is especially important if you have small children, as lead is particularly harmful to their development and overall health.
You can test the existing paint for lead with the reasonably priced Scitus Lead Test Kit. If the paint tests positive for lead, you will have to clean up paint scrapes and debris with a HEPA vacuum, wear a protective face mask and Tyvek safety suit, and discard all used materials at an approved hazardous material site.
Regardless of whether or not there is lead in the existing paint, we recommend protecting the perimeter of your home with heavy-duty plastic. We recommend Weather-All Plastic Sheeting. You can fasten the plastic to the outside of your home with some duct tape.
Tip #2: Put safety first
Our second item on our list of tips for exterior painting? Be a ladder safety nut!
Climbing a ladder may look like a horrifying trapeze act, but it’s incredibly safe when the proper precautions are taken.
The first precaution you should take before climbing is to stabilize the ladder with a specialized device, such as the Louisville Ladder Stabilizer, which offers quality stability. This product will extend the surface on which the ladder touches the wall, making it much sturdier at the top.
You should also make sure that the ladder is the proper height for your home; your waist should never go higher than the stabilizer, or you may lose balance and fall. As you climb up and work on the ladder, make sure that both feet (and at least one hand,) are on the ladder at all times. Furthermore, you should always place the base of the ladder on a solid and even surface.
Tip #3: Scrape and sand loose paint
Nobody wants to apply primer and paint to a peeling surface. Consequently, you will need to scrape and sand the chips from the existing coat of paint.
You should always begin this process by scraping the old paint. To scrape like a pro, use a sharpened putty knife (try the highly-rated Purdy Surface Prep Tool,) and peel along the grain of the wood. As a safety measure, you may want to consider wearing a mask and goggles as you complete this step.
The uneven surfaces left by scraping should be smoothed with a wireless sander, such as the compact and affordable BLACK + DECKER Mouse Sander. We recommend using 60 grit sandpaper. As you sand the exterior, be sure to protect your eyes with safety goggles.
Tip #4: Wash away the grit
After all that scraping and sanding, the exterior of your house is probably grimier than ever. Because you should never apply paint to a dirty surface, we recommend washing that grit away with a Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer.
A pressure washer is a powerful tool. When using one, you must exercise precautions for both your safety and the safety of your home. Always wear goggles when using this tool and be sure to use it on a low setting. High settings may inflict serious damage on your house’s exterior. Furthermore, be sure to avoid spraying windows, doors, and fragile surfaces.
Tip #5: Apply your primer
The fifth pointer on our list of tips for exterior painting is to apply the right primer. Although primer is not always necessary for interior paint jobs, it is integral to the success of exterior painting. Primer seals the wood and helps the paint weather environmental conditions.
If the exterior of your house is extremely bare, you will need to prime its entire surface with a flat sash brush and a roller. If your home only has a few bare patches however, you can “spot prime” the surface by only applying primer in high-need areas.
If you are painting your house a dark color, you should definitely invest in a tinted primer. This will save you time and energy by cutting down on the number of coats needed for beautiful end-results. If you are painting your home a lighter color, stick to white primer. We recommend the reliable and durable KILZ Exterior Primer/Sealer.
Tip #6: Caulk those cracks
Our next tip is to caulk those cracks! Before applying your paint, you should apply a fast-drying caulk to all exterior joints, cracks, and holes. Doings so will lead to a smooth and even finish that your neighbors will envy. Try this with GE Sealants All-Weather Caulk for a flawless finish!
Tip #7: Paint like a pro
Congratulations, you’re finally ready to paint like a pro! Grab your favorite color of Prestige Exterior Paint, your flat sash brush, and your trusty roller.
To make working from your ladder easy and breezy, keep the paint can at your side with this very helpful tool, a Warner Paint Hook. You will need to apply at least 2 coats of paint to achieve picture-perfect results. Although you can use your brush and roller in any order on the first coat, make sure to complete the last coat with your roller. This will create a smooth and handsome finish.
Frequently Asked Questions: Exterior Painting Tips
How much paint will I need for this job?
The standard method for determining how much paint you will need for your home is to multiply your house’s perimeter by its height. This calculation will give you the square footage (sq ft) of your home.
As mentioned in our article about painting walls, 1 gallon of paint will cover 400 sq ft. To determine how many gallons of paint you will need, multiply the square footage of your home by 400 sq ft.
How long will the new paint last?
A well-done paint job could look great for ten years or more! One of the keys to applying a lasting paint job is making sure that you prime the surface thoroughly. If you’re looking for a long lasting coat of paint, take extra care while priming.
Can I use a sprayer to paint my house?
Yes, but there are a few factors that you should consider before committing to this decision. For information about the pros and cons of spraying paint, check out our article on tips for painting ceilings.