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Tips for exterior house painting
Apr 07, 2006

 Painting the outside of your home is an important maintenance investment.

 A good paint job protects wood siding and trim from water damage and rot and guards metal gutters, down spouts and railings from rust and corrosion.

 In preparation to applying the paint, all seams and joints in the outer shell of the house must be inspected and re-caulked as required.

If your house is in fine repair and the paint is still sound, all your house may need is a good scrubbing with detergent and then rinse it down with a hose. A hose brush attachment with an extension pole speeds up the washing.

The washing solution should be a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP) or other heavy-duty detergent. Once the exterior is washed, rinse the surface well.

If you are planning to paint your own house, a professional-type pressure washer to remove old loose paint may be needed. This minimizes scraping and cleans the surface when detergent is added. Without this treatment, dirt and pollution may keep paint from adhering to the surface.

Plan ahead. Be sure you have a steady ladder and scaffolding to reach all the areas of the house. Clip back tree limbs and bushes that may be in the way. Remove shutters, light fixtures and hardware.

Clean and repair gutters and downspouts. Check for leaks and clogs and make the necessary repairs.

Flaking paint should be wire brushed off metal to make a smooth surface. Apply the appropriate metal primer prior to repainting.

Repairs to siding and masonry are your next concern, followed by scraping, sanding and caulking.

If you want an exterior paint job to look good and last, all loose paint should be removed and the edges of old paint feathered smooth before you start.

Plot the exterior painting so that you finish each unbroken section of siding in a single session to avoid obvious paint seams.

Exterior painting is fair-weather work so the day you select must be dry, particularly if you are using an alkyd paint, which doesn’t adhere to most surfaces.

Latex paint can be applied to slightly damp surfaces, but not wet surfaces. 

For the paint to go on properly, the temperature should be at least 10°C. On hot days, avoid working in direct sun. Paint the west side of the house during the morning and the east side in the afternoon.

Mask elements carefully, since nothing makes a paint job look less professional than spattered paint on a lower roof or on hardware.

Buy or rent canvass drop cloths to cover surfaces below where you are working. Protect outdoor meters, air conditioners, faucets and mailboxes with sheets of plastic held in place with masking tape. Cover shrubbery with drop cloths, and tie back any bushes that may be in your way.

Start painting at the top of the house and work down. Siding gets painted first, then trim and widows. Door and porch railings come next followed by thresholds, porch floors and steps.

Shutters and fixtures that have been removed to paint can be done at your convenience.