Your Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Eaves and Soffits

When painting your home's exterior, it's smart to start with the soffits and eaves. We'll show you the easiest way to paint these architectural details for both durability and design.

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Eaves add architectural interest, but they also serve an important function. When it’s raining (or snow is melting), these overhangs direct the water away from the facade of your home. They also create shade, and if your eaves have soffits (paneling placed on the underside), they can provide a convenient place to install outside lights.

Upkeep of these overhangs is essential—even if they’re not all that exciting a place to invest time and money. Painting eaves and soffits prevents weathering and keeps your exterior looking fresh. This project is fairly straightforward from an organizational perspective: After you’ve done all the prep work—by far the toughest part of the job—simply proceed from top to bottom. Not only does this keep splatters from marring fresh paint (as might happen if you worked in the opposite direction), but it also knocks out the most difficult details first.

What to do with guttering? The answer is always to remove it. Even if you're not painting the gutters, you will need to paint the fascia (the face of the overhang) where the gutters are anchored. Trying to slip the brush between the fascia and the gutters won’t allow you to coat the surface well enough to protect the wood.

When painting soffits and eaves, allot 1 to 2 hours for every 25 linear feet. Before you begin, make sure the exterior has been properly prepped. That includes scraping, repairing, and priming damaged wood and cleaning the surface thoroughly. Then grab your brushes and start at the top.

Related: How to Paint Your Home's Exterior Like a Pro

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 4-inch brush
  • 1 2-inch tapered sash brush
  • 1 Corner roller
  • 1 9-inch medium-nap roller
  • 1 Ladder

Materials

  • 1 High-quality primer and paint

Instructions

  1. Cut in Edges

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    Raise your ladder until its rests solidly on the side of the house below the soffit. Position the rungs so you can paint all parts of the soffit without overreaching or unnecessarily tucking your head under the soffit. Cut in the edges of open areas, using a tapered sash brush as needed.

  2. Paint Horizontal Section

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    Paint the soffit first, then coat the sides and faces of any corbels or other decorative elements. Don't forget to paint the backsides of any vertical boards or fascia trimming the soffit. Although you won't see these surfaces, they still need the protection of paint.

  3. Paint Top and Bottom

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    Starting at the top, apply paint to the front and bottom edges of any cornices or fascia. If you can't comfortably reach these areas, come down from the ladder and adjust its height—trying to reach too far will lead to uneven paint application. Move the ladder to successive unpainted sections.

  4. Cut In Edges

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    If your house was built after the 1950s or 1960s, your soffit design probably won't have much adornment, which will make painting easier. Cut in all the edges you can comfortably reach, including rafter extensions. Then brush-paint joints or seams in the soffit facing.

  5. Paint Remaining Sections

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    While the cut-in paint is still wet, paint the remaining areas of that section with a roller (use a corner roller as needed), overlapping the strokes and removing any bead marks. When one section is painted, move the ladder to the next unpainted section.

  6. Paint the Center Boards

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    Center the ladder on the wall and start at the peak of the eave. Paint the center section one board at a time, from one side to the other, in order to keep a wet edge. (This is critical for preventing lap marks, where the paint looks darker due to an overlap of wet and dry layers when painting.) Coat as many boards as you can comfortably reach.

    Keeping the ladder centered, move it down a couple of boards and paint them from one side to the other. If you have to overreach, adjust the ladder to one side or the other.

  7. Paint the Side

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    Lower the ladder by a couple of boards and move it to one side of the wall. Cut in the edge of the siding first, then fill in. Paint two or three boards from that side, across the top of the ladder, and then to the other side as far as you can reach.

  8. Paint the Other Side

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    Keeping the ladder at the same height, move it to the unpainted side and continue painting the same two or three boards. Don't paint boards below the top of the ladder, even if you can reach them—you'll lose the wet edge. Continue this process until the entire area is painted.

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