5 Steps to Prepare for DIY Exterior Home Painting

2539331310_ab4467eb61_mAs much as your home’s exterior paint job is about the aesthetics, it is also about giving your home a protective barrier against the damaging elements of sun, wind, water, and more. Most people wait until warmer weather to paint the exterior of their homes, so many of you may be preparing your home for an exterior home painting job. Whether you are a do-it-yourself kind of homeowner or not, the most important part of an exterior home painting job is in the preparation. Let’s review the steps needed to prepare for a DIY exterior home painting job.

Caution! First, a word about safety. Wear a dust mask and safety glasses while you are cleaning, prepping the exterior walls, and painting. This will ensure that you don’t inhale paint particles or injure your eyes with paint chips.

1. Setup

Build the scaffolding system you will need to give easy access to the house walls all the way to the roof. Staple a plastic tarp along the lowest part of your home’s exterior walls and spread it across the lawn to catch paint chips and other debris.

Tape plastic over the windows to protect them from paint drops. Gently cover flowerbeds and shrubs around your home, moving any planters away from the home’s exterior walls as possible. Remove storm windows, screens, exterior light fixtures and anything else you don’t want to get paint on.

2. Clean

Painting over a dirty surface leads to a poor finish and short-lived results. Exterior painting requires a clean surface. Luckily, there are several ways to accomplish this, including power washing. Be sure you understand how to use a power washer before attempting this or else you risk damaging your home. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the exterior to dry before painting. Using an oil-based paint, the exterior will need several days of drying time; a latex paint can be put on the home after 24 hours of drying time.

3. Scrape

Paint that is flaking, loose, or peeling should be scraped off before new paint is applied. Use a pull-style paint scraper to remove loose paint from the siding. If your exterior walls are made of wood, scrape along the direction of the wood grain to prevent damage to the wooden siding. A wire brush can also be effective to remove flaking located in areas where a scraper won’t reach.

Remove any remaining paint with an electric sander fitted with a 24-grit disk. Connect the sander to a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to prevent paint dust from entering the air around your home.

4. Fill

Making sure that the surface to be painted is smooth may involve filling cracks, holes, gouges and other efforts. Larger areas of repair may need to be replaced. For example, rotting or crumbling wood should be replaced. Sand down exposed nail heads and fill in the nail holes with caulk.

This is an excellent time to repair any surface flaws with repair compound and seal around the windows. Remove old caulk and re-caulk around the door trim, window sills, and other areas that need to be sealed.

5. Prime

Not all surfaces need to be primed, but stucco and bare new wood should be primed. Whether you need priming or not also depends on the paint you are choosing. An exterior paint job may need primer when the color choice is a drastic change too. Spend some time with the professional from whom you are buying your paint to understand whether the primer is necessary or not.

If you suspect that your home has missing insulation, leaky windows or doors, or needs other repairs that you can’t see from the interior or exterior, get an infrared home inspection before you put the paint on. Getting those repairs done before the final paint job will ensure that you don’t have to paint it twice.

Andrew MacDonald has been performing infrared inspections on homes in Palatine, Schaumburg, St. Charles and surrounding towns for nearly a decade. If you suspect the insulation inside the walls of your home may have gaps, request a return call today and we’ll tell you how we can help.

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