Exterior House Painting

Spring is here! There’s nothing like a good outdoor project and a couple of days in the fresh air to start the season.  How about painting the exterior of your house?  It can be a demanding job, but if you take your time, and plan carefully, it’s completely doable.

To begin, carefully inspect the exterior of your home for any damage: in particular, water damage.  Our previous blog offers some tips and advice for searching for, and fixing water damage – check that out, and fix any issues you may have. If your home is damage-free, and structurally sound, a new paint job will not only look great, but it can also extend the life of your house’s exterior.

pressure-washing-housePrepare the exterior with a careful cleaning.  You should be working towards a clean, dull, and dry surface. Wash off any chalk, dirt and mildew.  A power washer works very well for most homes. Our previous blog post offers advice for using power washers.  Remember to keep the power washer in constant motion.  Spraying for too long in one spot will cause damage to the surface.  It’s a good idea to protect any plants, flowers, or surrounding landscape with plastic covers.   Once you have cleaned thoroughly, scrape off any peeling or cracked paint with a scraper or putty knife.  We won’t lie to you, this will be unpleasant.  It may also be necessary to sand the exterior to a smooth(er) surface.  Be patient!  This prep is worth the effort, and you don’t need to remove all of the old paint, but anything loose must go, or you’ll risk bubbles and chips in your new paint job.

Also, check your flashing.  Make sure it is secure around the eaves, and there are no gaps to cause water damage.  Screw flashing down, and make sure there are no gaps.  Taking the time to check all of this out will save you money and many headaches down the road.

primingNow that the prep work is complete, it’s time to prime!  Don’t try to skip this step.  Paint will not adhere to a bare exterior, such as wood.  Use an oil-based primer.  Try to plan to begin your painting on warmer, low-humidity day for best results, and plan to allow the primer to dry for 24 to 48 hours before applying your exterior paint.  Onto the paint! Hopefully by now you have selected your paint colors.  If, at this point, you are still undecided, purchase a quart of each of the colors you’re considering, and use the paint to create samples for comparison, just as you would on a wall inside your home.  Many paint companies offer suggestions for color-combinations in their sample books.

holding-a-paint-brushRegardless of your color choices, make sure you purchase the best paint you can afford. And, the brushes are almost as important as the paint itself! With latex paints, use a brush made of a nylon/polyester blend. Use a natural-bristle brush with oil-based paints.  Applying the paint is not hard, but you will want to maintain consistency and control.  Hold the brush so that it balances on your hand at the point where the handle meets the brush. Place your fingertips on the metal ferrule, and use your wrist to guide the brush. The paint will flow more smoothly from the brush.

paint-gunIf the idea of dragging a brush up and down the side of your house is not your idea of a good time, consider using a paint gun.  Used by professionals, paint guns spray paint quickly and evenly.  They are similar to power washers in that they can be very dangerous if the nozzle is accidentally aimed at a body part, so exercise extreme caution.  Whether you use a paint gun, or brushes, plan for two coats of paint.  Hopefully, you will begin painting on warmer days; if they are sunny days, try to follow the shade, so that fresh paint isn’t exposed to direct sunlight.  You want to avoid blistering.   Try to keep a “wet edge” by overlapping painting areas over the areas you finished most recently. Don’t paint into a drying paint film: the film could buckle.

back-rollingOnce you have completed the first layer of paint, go back over the entire surface with a small roller, performing a technique called “back rolling.” Roll upward over the surface in order to push paint into the minute nooks and crannies, creating a seal. Omit this step, and be prepared to suffer the disappointment of chipping in mere months due to air bubbles being trapped under the new layers of paint.  After the main color of the house has dried, prepare to hit the trim.  If you have shutters, it’s best to remove them from the house to paint them.  Keep in mind that dark colors – often selected for shutters – absorb more heat, and can cause warping.

Paint any remaining trim, again with two coats.  Use a paper taper to mark your territory and protect any of your finished work.  Remember to back roll your work to avoid dripping.  Once it has dried, remove the tape, and pat yourself on the back.  That is one big job.  It’s ok to outsource; call HandiCo!  They have painted the immediate Chicagoland area three times over!  HandiCo is insured, experienced and will be finished painting the house before you can load a paint gun.

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