Posted by: Liz Lichtenberger
Now that the warm weather is here, it’s a great time to work on those little projects around your home’s exterior that can really up your curb appeal. Even if you aren’t planning to sell any time soon (but if you are, click here to learn more about getting your home ready for sale), it’s still a good idea to paint the exterior of your home to make it look its best.
Here are the steps to ensure you do a top-notch job as you paint the exterior of your home.
The prep work is important. A new coat of paint will adhere best if it’s going on a clean surface. Remove mold, mildew, dirt and other debris (including paint that’s chipping off) with a power washer, if you feel comfortable using one, or with a bucket of soap and water, a scrub brush, and some elbow grease. Visit your local independent hardware store for some advice on which cleaning products would be best for you to use.
Make sure to cover your plants before you begin cleaning so they aren’t exposed to soap or other chemicals. And clean in sections, taking care to thoroughly rinse one section before moving on to the next.
For the chipped paint, you’ll need to scrape it off, rather than just washing. Homes built before 1978 may have been painted with lead paint, so if your home was built then, make sure to hire a professional to test and see if there’s lead paint on the outside of your home—and if there is, you’ll want a pro to do the scraping. However, if the test comes back lead-free, or if you have a home built after 1978, you can undertake this project yourself. Again, check with your local hardware store on the best tools for the project, but a scraper can go a long way, especially if you don’t have big sections to scrape but are just cleaning up some chipped areas. And make sure to always wear a respirator or dust mask as you scrape—safety comes first!
The next step is to sand. After the scraping and cleaning, go over rough spots with some sandpaper (try 50- or 60-grit first, followed by finer-grit 100- or 120-grit paper) to ensure you have a smooth surface before painting. Use some filler in any areas where there are small holes or indentations, and make sure to sand the filler down smoothly after it dries.
It’s Time to Prime
Now that the prep work is complete, it’s time to apply primer. You’ll need to use a primer that works best on bare surfaces (for sanded areas) as well as previously painted areas (for those parts that just needed cleaning but not sanding). Different types of materials work best with different types of primer, so talk with an employee at your local hardware store to see which type of primer they’d recommend.
You may want to use a paint sprayer if you’re comfortable with one, especially if you are painting large areas, and even more so if it’s not a surface where you could easily use a roller. However, you’ll want to make sure to go over edges with a brush to ensure you haven’t missed any parts of the surface.
You’ll also need to caulk around the seams, especially where two surfaces meet (like brick & siding), to keep water from seeping in.
Painting Your House
Finally, it’s time to paint. But first, you need to decide what paint to use.
Of course, the color is up to you. As for the type of paint, your best option is probably a latex paint, which should hold up well over time outdoors and comply with air-quality regulations. You can also add additives that slow drying time, making it less likely that brush marks will show. Talk with someone in the paint department at your local hardware store to determine exactly which paint you should buy. They should be able to offer some good recommendations, especially considering other factors, like the climate in your area.
Check the weather report before you start painting. It should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re working, and you want to plan a project during a few days when no rain is expected. However, it’s best to avoid days that are too sunny, as the sun makes it more difficult to see as you work and can speed the drying process.
Next, it’s time to decide how to apply the paint. A paint sprayer works quickly and spreads paint evenly, but it comes with a learning curve, so if you’ve never used one before, now probably isn’t the best time to give it a try. However, if you are comfortable with a paint sprayer, this would be a great time to use one.
Another option is using a brush, which will probably offer the best paint job. It offers more control and allows you to more thoroughly cover the entire area you’re painting.
Although it may be difficult in some areas, depending upon the pattern or surface you’re painting, a roller is also a good option. It’s easier to use than a sprayer and quicker to use than a brush. However, if you use a roller, make sure to also use a brush to get the best coverage possible.
Regardless of how you apply it, make sure to use two coats of paint. Let the first coat dry completely before applying the second, and sand any uneven spots between coats if necessary.
Liz Lichtenberger is an assistant editor at NRHA. When she’s not writing about what’s going on in the hardware industry, she enjoys doing DIY projects around the condo where she and her husband live, trying to decide what paint color to try next, swimming, and cheering on her two favorite college teams: the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.
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