Exterior Painting & Staining Tips

July 15th 2011
Exterior Painting & Staining Tips

Painting your home is the fastest and most economical way to improve its appearance and keep it protected from the environment. A good paint job will last for many years, have a pleasing appearance and maintain the value of your home. You can add drama, style, and personality to a home faster with paint than most any other kind of home or landscape project.

Painting a house can be easily managed by breaking the project into a series of tasks: planning a color scheme, preparing the surface, choosing top quality paints & materials, painting, then finally cleaning up.

Identify any problems requiring special attention: Loose or missing knots in siding, broken or deteriorated siding, chalking, mildew, areas of peeling, etc.

A well planned color scheme creates a pleasing overall impression and brings out the most attractive features of your home. Use color and finish to highlight features and hide unattractive parts of the house.

Calculate Your Paint Requirements

Calculate the total surface area by multiplying the width by the height for each wall and add together for the total square feet (square metres). Adjust for large surfaces not to be painted.

The exterior front of the house to be painted, sided with new wood, is 50 feet wide x 12 feet high (15.24m x 3.65m) = 600 sq.ft. (55.74 square metres) Divide the square feet (square metres) by the coverage factor below.

total surface area - coverage per can = # of gallon (3.70 litre) cans required

600 - 250 (55.74 - 23.225) = 2.4 or 2-1/2 gallon (3.70 litre) cans.

Here is a rough coverage guide, by surface type, for a one gallon (3.70 litre) can:

150 square feet (13.935 square metres) coverage for stucco
200 square feet (18.58 square metres) coverage for shingles
250 square feet (23.225 square metres) coverage for new wood
350 square feet (32.515 square metres) coverage for smooth siding

One (1) coat of premium paint will cover most previously painted surfaces of similar color if the surface is in good condition.

Two (2) coats may be required for major color changes, painting over damaged or old surfaces, or to maximize the time before painting again.

Flat to low gloss finishes are the most popular paints for siding and fences. Gloss paints are popular for doors, railings and trim and on areas exposed to high traffic or abrasion. Gloss finishes are tough and durable and are characterized by a sheen that results in a cool, crisp finish that reflects light.

Choose the Paint Type

Latex - (water based) Easy to apply and clean-up, low odour, quick drying, durable, can be applied to partially moist surfaces, resists peeling, chalking, blistering and is flexible. Second coats can usually be applied within 2 - 4 hours of the first coat. Available in many glosses and has excellent color retention and UV protection. Ideal for siding, fences, stucco, masonry.

Alkyd - (oil based) Excellent adhesion, smooth finishes, tough and durable. Alkyd paints are better over chalky surfaces or previous alkyd paints. They require mineral spirits for clean-up. Allow overnight drying between coats. Available in many glosses. Ideal for siding, trim, windows and doors.

Enamel - (oil or water based) A glossy finish that is tough, durable, smooth and impact resistant. Enamels are available for a wide variety of surfaces including metal, pipes, etc.

Wood Stains

Paints cover the surface but stains soak in and allow the natural texture of wood to show. Stains are popular for textured wood surfaces. Ideal for wood siding, shingles, shakes and fences.

Solid Color Stains - Penetrate and cover the natural grain of wood but allow the natural texture of the wood to show. Use on new wood or previously stained surfaces. Available in alkyd (oil) or 100% acrylic latex base.

Semi Transparent Stains - Penetrate the surface of the wood to protect and color while letting the natural grain and texture show. Ideal for new wood or over previously semi transparent stained surfaces.

Specialty Paints - For decks, driveways, machinery, masonry, rusty surfaces. We carry an extensive selection of coatings for all architectural, industrial, maintenance and marine applications.

Choose Primers

Primers seal the surface and help form a tight bond between the topcoat and underlying surface material. Primers should be applied to surfaces that have never been painted and areas that are bare or have been patched.

The two key factors in primer selection are adhesion to the surface and compatibility with the topcoat. The paint you choose will usually identify a recommended type of primer on the label.

Buy your Tools and Materials

Make sure you buy the best quality tools that you can afford. Top quality tools will save application time and achieve better results. Most jobs can be done with a few quality tools including 1 or 2 premium brushes, a sturdy paint tray that can be attached to a ladder and 1 or 2 good rollers.

Brushes - Select a quality 2" - 2.5" (50 - 63mm) angled brush for cutting-in trim. Choose pure bristle natural hair brushes for alkyd or oil based paints and synthetic brushes for use with both water based and alkyd paints. Top quality brushes will hold more paint, have less dripping and spattering, apply paint more smoothly with minimal brush marks, give a long, even release of paint and provide better "cut-in" ability. Quality tools can be cleaned and saved for your next painting project.

Rollers - Rollers are available in various nap sizes, fabrics, lengths and quality grades. Choose premium quality rollers to minimize fluff, spattering and unwanted marking.

Prepare to Paint

1. Gather materials and tools.

2. Remove or cover window and door hardware. Note: Regular masking tape is very difficult to remove if left on outside for more than 24 hours. Use low tack masking tape or remove the regular masking tape as soon as possible.

3. Cover shrubs and walkways.

4. Play it safe! Wear a long sleeved shirt, painter hat, safety glasses, and a dust mask or gloves if needed. When using a ladder, be sure to have a level firm base.

Prepare the Surface

Paint can accentuate the surface condition, it is important that the surface be well prepared.

1. Scrape or wire brush off any loose paint and rust.

2. Remove oil, grease and dirt by cleaning with Shell Buseys Home Cleaning Formula, available at Cloverdale Paint, Windsor Plywood, select Rona and Home Hardware stores.

3. Make all needed repairs. Patch and fill all holes and cracks, replace loose or rotted wood.

4. Caulk siding joints and around windows and doors. Make sure vents in soffits and eaves are clean.

5. Sand all patches smooth.

6. Exterior weathered surfaces that have been washed with Shells Home Cleaning Formula do not usually need sanding. Areas under the eaves and soffits not exposed to sunlight or shiny areas should be scuff sanded with 80 grit sandpaper to maximize adhesion.

7. Spot prime all repaired or bare areas.

Apply Paint & Stain


For a professional looking paint job, paint must be spread evenly onto the surfaces without running, dripping or lapping onto other areas. Keep these three steps in mind when painting - paint is first applied, then distributed, then finally smoothed.

1. Stir the paint well before and occasionally during use. Use a lifting motion with the stir stick to ensure all solids on the bottom are well mixed. Exterior paint is best applied with a brush. This actually works the paint into the surface for better adhesion. Rollers or paint pads can also be used.

2. Apply paint in the following order;
a. Roof Trim.
b. Walls.
c. Doors.
d. Windows.

In general, work from the top down.

Tip: For the best results, apply paint above 10C (50F). Do not apply in direct sunlight or on a hot surface. Stop painting at least 2 hours before anticipated rain.

Clean Up & Finish the Job

1. Clean tools - Quality tools will last for years if properly cleaned and stored.

Latex Paint - Clean brushes, roller and tray using soap and warm water before the paint dries.

Alkyd Paint - Use the correct thinner then remove residue with warm soapy water.

2. Dispose of paint - If you bought too much paint and do not want to store it, offer it to a friend or community group. If you cannot give it away, check with your local municipality for disposal advice.

3. Record paint name and number for future reference and correct matching. Label each can by area, i.e.: siding, fence, front door.

4. Replace hardware.

Tip: If you have a little paint left over, you can get rid of it by painting on another coat or paint onto scrap cardboard and throw out the dried cardboard instead of disposing the liquid paint. Let rags, paint cans, newspaper, etc., dry before disposal.

For all of your paint and stain needs, visit Cloverdale Paint to find the location nearest you.