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.
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.)