14 Professional Exterior Painting Tips

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To get the most out of painting the exterior of your home yourself, you’ll need some serious know-how as to what professional painters do. Painting the exterior of your home is a tough job that requires time, knowledge, and some serious elbow grease. The following tips will help make your job easier, as well as get you the most life out of your paint job.

1. Cover Your Surroundings

Before you begin, it’s essential to use drop cloths or tarps on the ground around the area you’ll be working on. Even though you’re scraping, sanding, and painting outdoors, paint can be toxic to the environment, especially to any plants surrounding your home. Plants, concrete, and rocks in the vicinity of your exterior walls should be covered, but avoid using thin plastic sheets as these can heat up in the sun and damage plants underneath.

2. Clean the Exterior

Before you begin any serious painting work, clean the exterior of your home. While professionals use a power washer, a hose with a sprayer will work just fine and not cause any damage to your home. Start at the top and work your way down. Allow your home at least two warm days to dry before beginning any painting work.

3. Protect Yourself

If there’s a chance your house was painted with lead-based paint, be sure to wear a mask or respirator at all times, and collect all paint chips and ashes with the proper tools, such as sanders with catch-all buckets. Otherwise, a mask is still essential.

4. Know How Old Your Paint Job Is

If your home was built during or before the 1970s, lead-based paint could have been used. In this case, you’ll have to take extra precautions when scraping or sanding old paint away because it's extra toxic to you and the environment.

5. Watch the Weather

Be sure to check the upcoming weather forecast when you start your project. If it rains shortly after you paint, it can wash all your hard work away. Try to paint when you have a few days of warm, dry weather and allow the exterior of your home to dry completely if it does rain.

6. Don’t Skimp on Product Cost

While it may seem beneficial to buy cheaper products for painting the exterior of your home, such as paint, sandpaper, and primer, be sure to research the lifetime and quality of the products you’re using. When attempting a job as big as this, it can be worth it to spend the few extra bucks so your hard work lasts a few more years.

7. Scrape Away

Before you start any serious sanding or painting, inspect your home for severe peeling or bubbling paint and scrape it away with a scraper such as a putty knife. Do not waste sandpaper on thick-looking paint.

8. Use Coarse Sandpaper

Before using a sander, try using sandpaper. Get the coarse variety rather than fine. Sand bumpy areas smooth until they are ready to paint.

9. Always Use a Brush

Keep a scrubbing brush on hand at all times to brush away dirt, grime, or residue you find while working on the exterior of your home. Use it to remove anything that could get in the way of a neat paint job such as insects, dust, or flaking paint.

10. Be Sure to Prime

Priming your home before painting will help the paint last much longer. It might be in your best interest to prime, especially if much of the paint has peeled, chipped, or been sanded away. It’s like paint glue, holding it all in place.

11. Use Metal Primer

This should be sprayed over nails or other metal surfaces so that the rust doesn’t eat through the paint in a year or two. Decide to use this based on how much metal is used in the exterior of your home.

12. Caulk After Priming

Be sure to fill in any joints between walls and siding and other general holes and cracks with caulking after priming. This helps to create flat surfaces and prevent further damage from the weather. Get caulking that is not paint-resistant.

13. Always Work in the Shade

When working on the exterior of your home, always try to work on the side that's in the shade. This will make your work much easier and more comfortable for you, as well as keep your tools, paint, and primer in its best condition.

14. Start at the Top

For all projects involving painting the exterior of your home, start at the top of your exterior walls and work your way down. This will save time in the long run.