How to Paint the Outside of My House
You'll need a power washer, paint scraper, caulk to start
By Stevie Donald
Painting the outside of your house will save you a considerable amount of money and can be extremely satisfying. Take a step-by-step approach to painting your home's exterior. Preparation can be the most tedious part of house painting, but once you're done with the scraping, sanding, cleaning and caulking, the rest of the job will be a breeze. If you're not up for this amount of work, use this guide as a handy way to make sure a professional painter is taking all the care he should with your house painting job.
- What You Need to Know
- Lay out all your materials before you begin. These should include tools like scrapers, screwdrivers, a caulking gun, brushes, rollers and an airless sprayer, as well as materials like detergent, bleach, sandpaper, caulking, exterior spackle, primer, paint, drop cloths, and masking tape and paper.
Assess the surface. Your preparation methods will depend on the materials used to build your house, and its condition. All surfaces need to be free of loose and peeling paint, dirt, chalk, mildew, and rust.
Clean the house. Vinyl and aluminum siding are especially prone to chalking, so check for this even if the house appears relatively clean. Run your hand or a dark rag over the siding on the sunny side of the house. If white, chalky residue comes off, this must be removed or the paint will not adhere. Scrub the siding by hand with a mild detergent. If you need to remove mildew, use a 50-50 mix of bleach and water or a house-washing detergent that removes chalking, dirt and mildew. A power-washer can speed the process considerably.
Scrape loose paint. While a power-washer will remove a lot of loose and peeling paint, you will have to do some of it by hand. There are several styles of scrapers for removing paint but a 2-3-inch chisel-edged scraper is the most versatile hand tool for this. Wire brushes work well for removing loose paint and surface rust from most metal surfaces.
Prime. Once your house is cleaned and scraped, it's critical to use the correct primers. Use rust inhibiting or rust conversion primers for rusty metal. Bare wood can be primed with oil-based or water-based primer. Aluminum siding should be primed with a thin coat of oil-based primer. Vinyl and masonry (e.g. stucco and brick) typically don't need priming.
Caulk all gaps around windows, doors and on wood trim. Not only will this seal your home from drafts and make the paint job last longer, it results in a better-looking job. Use exterior spackle to fill nail holes in wood. Extensive damage to wood or metal sufaces can be fixed with automotive filler, like Bondo. Sand any rough patches to match the surrounding surface. Caulking does not need to be primed but spackle should be spot-primed using water-based primer.
Choose the best paint. For almost all properly prepared exterior surfaces, 100 percent acrylic (water-based) paint is the best choice. Steel doors and wrought iron can be painted with oil-based or acrylic paint.
Apply the paint to the body of your house using a brush, roller or spray. In most cases you will have a more uniform finish and a longer-lasting paint job with two coats of paint. Refer to the paint label for instructions on drying times and application, as specifications can vary from product to product.
Paint the trim last. Use a 2-3-inch angled sash brush for windows and narrow trim, and a 3-4-inch flat brush for gutters, fascia and wider trim. A small trim roller speeds the process for doors and wider trim boards.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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Painting the exterior of a house requires much different and more extensive prep work, including stripping and power washing. Understand the steps to painting house exteriors with help from a professional painter in this video on house painting tips.... Watch Video