Exterior Painting: How to Get Picture Perfect Results

exterior painting

Exterior paint is different than interior paint, and many homeowners often make the mistake of not choosing the correct paint for the job. With exterior painting, the paint is formulated for color retention, flexibility to withstand expansion and contraction due to weather, resistance to tannin bleed and resistance to mildew. Exterior flat acrylic latex paint is the easiest for do-it-yourselfers to work with. For trim, consider a durable alkyd/oil paint that offers high gloss with good adhesion and stain resistance.

Always buy a bit more paint than you think you’ll need. Before you start your paint job, check the temperatures. Paint won’t adhere if it’s below 55 degrees and won’t go on smoothly if it’s above 90 degrees.

Priming is mandatory to create a firm bond between the substrate and finish coat, unless painting your house is something you like to do on a frequent basis.

pealing paint, exterior painting

Think of it as the glue that makes the paint stick.  Before you prime the house for exterior painting, be sure to give the entire home a good cleaning to remove any surface dirt and debris with a hose or pressure washer and allow the home to dry thoroughly.  Next, remove any flaking or chipping paint you might have and sand to create a smooth transition.  Then caulk around windows and doors (using paintable caulk) to create a weather tight and energy efficient seal.

Now, you are really ready to prime your entire home including the trim detail pieces. Once the primer dries, you are ready for your top coat.

Cheap Paint is No Bargain

When it comes to buying paint, beware of discount brands. You definitely get what you pay for, and the lower the cost, the shorter life the paint will have.  Considering that painting is 90% labor and 10% material, shorter-life paint means your cost per year for the project can be double.

No bad paint─just bad painters

Blaming the paint for an unacceptable result is quite common. Some years ago, a friend mentioned to me that he must have had some “bad paint” because the top gable section of wood siding we were repairing had blistered very badly. My buddy had installed the siding and painted the entire home himself about four years earlier. Upon closer examination, the real culprit became obvious. The “painter” had neglected to back-prime the siding in the gable.

Back-priming refers to the exterior painting technique of priming all surfaces of exterior siding before it is assembled, including the back of the board. Priming controls the amount of moisture absorbed by the board, preventing early paint failure. When I mentioned this to my friend, he recalled that he had completed siding the entire home but ran short of material for the section that failed. When the remaining material finally arrived, he was in a rush to get it completed and took a shortcut that he was now paying for.

exterior painting

Stain vs. Paint: Important Differences

For homes with natural wood siding, exterior stain vs. exterior painting, is a very good option.  Staining enables you to enjoy the siding’s natural wood-grained beauty, while also preserving and protecting the wood from the elements.

As wood ages, you can enjoy each stage by progressing through the opacities of wood stains from a clear finish to semi-transparent to full opaque.  This allows you to change the overall appearance of your home, while maintaining the integrity of the building material, but it also gives you some fresh options.  You shouldn’t put a solid stain onto brand new wood siding unless that’s the look you want.  Consider a natural finish or semi-transparent stain to really enjoy the natural benefits of the wood.



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