Paint Your Home's Exterior

The key to a good exterior paint job is proper preparation. Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford gives you step-by-step instruction for painting your exterior.

Importance of Preparation

Painting the outside of your house needs to be done regularly to provide protection from the elements. But a good paint job requires a lot of prep work, which is as important as the painting itself.

Treat Mildew

Start by removing any mildew using a solution of one part bleach to four parts water mixed with a little detergent or trisodium phosphate (TSP) in a pump-up sprayer. Allow the bleach to remain on for 10-20 minutes then rinse off. Because bleach can damage plants, wet down and/or cover any shrubs or other plants in the area being sprayed.

Give It a Good Cleaning

Next, pressure wash the house to remove any loose paint and dirt. If used too aggressively, a pressure washer can damage wood, so exercise caution.

Remove Loose Paint

Use a paint scraper, putty knife, or wire brush to remove any loose or peeling paint. Repair or replace any rotten wood.

Sanding Can Speed Up the Process

Rotary sanders can speed up paint removal. The goal is not to remove all the paint, just the part that is loose or peeling. Feather out the edges so the finished paint will have a smooth appearance.

Protect Yourself

It's important to wear a protective mask when scraping or sanding paint, particularly in homes built before 1979, which can contain lead-based paint.

Prime Bare Wood

Once the wood has been sanded, use a stain-blocking exterior primer on exposed areas to prevent knots and sap from bleeding through.

Fill Cracks

Caulk any gaps or cracks with high-quality, exterior, paintable caulk. Allow caulk to dry thoroughly before painting over it.

Use Quality Paint

Apply two coats of a high-quality, exterior latex paint. Be sure to follow the directions on the can. Because the labor involved in painting your house is much more than the cost of materials, don't be tempted to substitute inexpensive paint.

Clean Rollers and Brushes

Use the curved edge of a 5-in-1 painter's tool on rollers to remove any excess paint before cleaning. If working with a paintbrush and latex paint, wash with soap and water, then run a wire brush through the bristles to loosen any dried paint.

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