Exterior Paint Guide: Proper Painting

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso

The adage success is in the prepwork couldn’t be more true when it comes to painting your home’s exterior.  And depending on your home’s style and age, there may be safe and specific ways to go about it. Read our exterior paint guide to learn how to create a clean and smooth surface for the paint to stick onto to ensure your new paint job withstands the test of weather and time.

For a more in-depth look at exterior painting best practices, stay tuned for our other guides: FAQ, Products, Choosing a Color, and New Types of Exterior Paints.

Safe Stripping

Be sure to remove any peeling or flaking paint before painting.

On houses built after 1978, you can use sanders, scrapers, or chemicals, as well as with heat; using a device like the Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover (about $600, Eco Strip), shown.

On a pre-1978 home, the paint could contain lead, and blindly attacking it will be harmful to you, your family, and your property.

When in doubt, test the paint, either with LeadCheck swabs, available at home centers, or by sending a sample to a lab, such as PRO-LAB.

If the results are positive, your safest option is to hire a contractor who is trained and EPA certified in proper paint-removal procedures. (To find a pro in your area, go to U.S. EPA.)

Removing lead paint from a house can be pricey, but you should never cut corners when dealing with this toxin.

How to Get a Long-Lasting Paint Job: Prep

Paint adheres best to clean, dry, sound surfaces. First, wash siding and trim to remove dirt and mildew, then scrape and sand loose paint down to the substrate or a smooth base layer. (Warning: If you suspect lead paint, see “Safe Stripping,” previous.) Replace or repair rotted or broken siding or trim. Fill holes or divots, and caulk open joints.

How to Get a Long-Lasting Paint Job: Prime

Primer grips the surface and gives it a uniform porosity. Use primer over unpainted wood siding or a chalky surface. It’s not needed over sound paint. For best results, stick with primers labeled “exterior” or “interior/exterior.” All oil-based primers and some water-based ones stop “bleeding” of red cedar and redwood. Coat knots with a pigmented shellac, such as BIN.

How to Get a Long-Lasting Paint Job: Paint

Stay in the shade as much as possible. Start at the top and work down. Do the siding before tackling the trim. But if a wall is trim, as shown in the photo, paint that first. Keep a wet edge as you work to avoid leaving lap marks. Postpone painting if heavy rain is likely within 6 to 8 hours after paint is applied.

Exterior Painting Tip: If spray painting, go over the wet paint with a brush or roller after application to achieve proper paint thickness and coverage.

(This information originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author //  Thomas Baker.)

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso
Dani is House One’s assistant editor. As a Norwalk, CT native, Dani graduated from UConn with a BA in Digital Media and Design. This millennial longs for the days of All That, Tamagotchis, and Dunkaroos. When she’s not working, she’s hanging outdoors, playing with her dogs, or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

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