How to Paint Your House

Paint Your House : Painting is one of those truly satisfying jobs, because you can immediately see the results of your work. Plus, exterior house painting looks relatively simple. It doesn’t appear to require a lot of tools; simply ladders, scrapers and brushes. Also, it can be done in stages, so it’s perfect for the evening and weekend do-it-yourselfer. This is why so many of us decide we will paint our own houses. But do we really know how? And do we understand what happens if we don’t?

To know how to paint your house, it’s important to know how not to.

Don’t skimp on preparation. A professional house painter we know thinks preparation is 4/5ths of the job. The pros use high pressure washes to blast off peeling paint, dirt and mildew. Pressure washing saves a lot of scraping. Don’t think your garden hose will give you the same result. Unless you rent a power washer, you’re looking at a hose in one hand and a long handled brush in the other. Paint will simply not adhere to a dirty surface. Covering up dirt, rather than removing it, is definitely NOT how to paint your house.

Don’t think a good coat of paint will cover all flaws. You need to find and repair every crack and hole in the siding of your house; patch stucco; and replace rotted wood or dented metal. Insect damage needs to be treated and then patched. Stucco, in particular, demands expert repair. You can do it yourself, but a bad patch job will stick out even when covered with a new coat of paint.

Don’t forget the bleach. It kills mildew. If you paint over it, it will rapidly grow through the new coat of paint. Wash any molded or mildewed spots with bleach or a commercial fungicide.

Don’t forget to caulk. A professional painter always removes all old putty around window casements and in seams. This is how to paint your house and get a finished look. It is also your opportunity to seal up small, bothersome drafts. Caulk is cheap. Air conditioning is not.

Don’t buy cheap paint. Good paint dries quickly. Inferior brands stay tacky for a long time. Poor quality paint often requires more than one coat to cover. So what are you actually saving if you need that many more gallons of the cheap stuff? Also, if you apply poor-quality paint too thickly, it will take even longer to dry. If you apply the second coat before the first is dry, your paint job “alligators”; it separates into pockets. You will have to scrape it off and start over.

Don’t use just any old ladder. You can rent painting ladders. A proper painting “platform” makes it easier to reach all of the places in eaves and peaks. But it is really a safety issue. Missing work with a broken limb will cost a lost more than if you had rented proper equipment, or even hired a professional painter for the job.

Don’t paint the trim first. Our inclination is to think that the detail work will take longer, so we’ll do it first. A pro would advise you that’s not how to paint your house. Painting walls can make a mess of trim that has been painted first. But fresh wall paint can be easily masked off and protected while you do the sashes, shutters and fascia.

Don’t be impatient. You should always paint on a shady side of the house, because a hot surface, or a hot sun shining on the paint, will result in blistering and peeling. You can plan your work around the direction of the sun, but wait patiently for the wall to cool before going to work on it. If you are painting after a rain, the surface must be completely dry. Oil paint will not stick at all to a damp surface.

Don’t use too much paint. You will know you are putting too much paint on your paint brushes when you get an undulating, uneven surface. If you let it dry this way, you’re looking at sanding it off and starting over. More paint on the brush won’t make the job go any faster.

Don’t use a sprayer if you haven’t covered absolutely everything you don’t want paint on. Plants, patios, sidewalks and driveways must be protected. You can rent sprayers inexpensively by the day, so that if the wind picks up, you can keep it for another day. Don’t spray if it’s breezy. No amount of tarps will help you. The best advice on how to paint your house boils down to “the two Ps”: preparation, and patience.