Step by Step Guide to Exterior Painting

May 17th 2010
Step by Step Guide to Exterior Painting

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.

Inspect all Surfaces:

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

Select Colors & Finishes:

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. Take some time and look at color schemes of other homes. This can be very helpful and serve as a source of inspiration for your color decisions.

Tip: If you're not sure of the color, buy a small amount of paint and apply it to the intended surface.

Selecting & Buying Paint or Stain:

Choose the Gloss: 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:

Paints are designed to be used on certain surfaces and to perform well under different conditions:

- Latex - (water based) Easy to apply and clean-up, low odor, 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.

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.

- Spray Application - Sprayers can be bought or rented. Ask one of our professionals for advice before attempting this method of application.

- Special Tools - Surfaces with unusual angles and contours are sometimes difficult to paint. Special tools can make difficult areas easier to paint; pipe rollers & paint mitts for pipes and other contoured surfaces, various paint pads and trimmers, long handled rollers and brushes for hard to reach areas.

Surface Preparation & Application:

Prepare to Paint

1. Gather materials and tools.
2. Remove or cover window and door hardware.
3. Use low tack masking tape. Regular masking tape is very difficult to remove if left on outside for more than 24 hours.
4. Cover shrubs and walkways.
5. 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 hand or by pressure washing the surface. If mildew is present, wash with Shell Busey's Home Cleaning Formula or a solution consisting of 1 part bleach with 3 parts water. A car wash or turks head cleaning brush works great. Leave the bleach solution on the surface for at least 20 minutes to kill the mildew. Scrub solution vigorously on the surface and rinse thoroughly with water. Allow to dry. Use gloves and eye protection and follow the bleach manufacturer's instructions. Don't forget to cover your plants and shrubs.

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 TSP 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.

8. Apply Paint & Stain.

Applying the Paint:

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.

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. Store paint and cleaners safely. Ensure that paints are airtight. Store paint in a cool, dry area - ideally a shed, closet or locking cabinet. Keep out of storage areas that freeze. Ensure that paint is stored away from radiators or any other source of combustion. Transfer partially empty cans to smaller containers where there's less air to dry the paint out. Keep away from children & pets.

3. Dispose of paint. If you bought too much paint and don't want to store it, offer it to a friend or community group. If you can't give it away, check with your local municipality for disposal advice.

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

5. Replace hardware.

Enjoy your new, revitalized home!

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