Everything You Need to Know About Exterior Paint Primer

exterior painting
Selecting the right outdoor paint primer for your home's exterior can be tricky. Choose the wrong kind, and you may end up with cracks, peeling, or fading. Choose the wrong color and you'll be stuck with it for up to 10 years. Consider these tips before you pick up the paintbrush.

Oil-Base or Latex?

Nothing beats high-quality latex for exterior paint primer. It's more flexible than oil-based paints, which can harden over time and tend to crack and allow water to seep underneath. It also dries faster and handles shifting temperatures better. It's most suitable for clapboard, vinyl, and aluminum. Opt for quality when choosing exterior paint. Although more expensive, higher quality paints have more in-can preservatives and additives, which provide durability and protect against mildew and fading.

Which Finish Where?

When painting your home and trim, mix flat and shiny surfaces for added interest. Use flat or satin finishes on the body of your house, shinier semigloss paint for accent trim, and semigloss or high-gloss finishes on doors and decorative fixtures. Different finishes also bring attention to exterior house paint colors that make a statement, like drastically different paint and trim colors.

A Gallon's Worth

A gallon of quality outdoor primer paint typically covers a surface of 350-400 square feet with one coat. For the best finish, however, use two coats of paint. You'll need more exterior paint primer when transitioning from a light hue to a dark exterior house color, or to cover rough surfaces such as stucco.

Take Time to Prep

Just as with interior painting projects, creating a flawless foundation helps result in an enduring exterior paint job. Take the following steps before starting to paint.

  • --Protect surrounding areas. Lay drop cloths over any nearby structures and plants to keep them from getting splattered.
  • --Clean all exterior surfaces. Use a hose or power washer to remove dust and dirt.
  • --Check for mildew. Remove lingering mildew using a mix of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Leave on for 20 minutes, and rinse.
  • --Prep trim and siding. Remove extraneous screws and hardware, scrape off blistering and peeling paint, sand rough edges, fill holes and cracks, and replace cracking caulk at wall joints and around windows.

Safety First

Take time to set ladders up correctly. The proper slant for a ladder should be 1 foot out for every 3 feet up. The closer you are to this ratio the more stable your ladder will be. You should always have three points of contact with the ladder and never place your ladder under plastic or any other substance. If you're painting a roof dormer, wear a safety harness, which can be purchased for about $75.

Outdoor Paint Primer and Preparation Tips

Dark Hues

Light colors and white have been popular exterior choices for homes because they're safe and neutral. But the popularity of darker hues is rising as consumers get more comfortable with color. Homeowners often help their houses stand out from other cookie-cutter structures by making a bold statement with color. Beware of potential problems, though: Deep-tone paints can appear to fade faster than light finishes. And if a vinyl siding is painted darker than its original color, warping can occur.

Spray Smart

Using a power washer is a good way to begin the paint preparation process by using a pressurized spray to remove dirt and peeling paint. Before taking the power washer to your home's exterior, practice using it on your driveways and sidewalks. If used incorrectly or too closely to your home, it can result in gouged or damaged siding.

Time and Temp

Before beginning your paint job, watch the Weather Channel. You'll get optimal results if you wait for a string of low-humidity, rain-free days between 60 and 85 degrees F. Wait to paint until dew evaporates and surfaces are dry. To keep paint from drying too quickly and leaving streaks, avoid painting in direct sunlight. For example, paint the west side in the morning and the east side at night.

Work In Order

Paint one side of your home at a time. When painting siding, work from top to bottom and side to side to avoid splattering lower sections or smudging wet paint. Paint the top section across the wall's width, and then do the middle sections, followed by the lower section. Paint the foundation; then finish by painting the trim, doors, and shutters.

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