Do’s and Don’ts When Painting Your Home’s Exterior

Do’s and Don’ts when painting your home’s exterior

A fresh coat of paint can increase your home’s value; while failing to paint your home can cost you money. It’s a win-win situation – if it’s done correctly. Besides boosting your home’s curb appeal, properly sealing and painting a home’s exterior can prevent structural damage, reduce energy costs and avoid a struggle with your insurance company. More often homeowner’s are seeing insurance companies refuse a home’s policy renewal until it is properly sealed and painted. You will want to get the most value for the time, labor and money you invest in painting your home. So, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Do take time to plan and budget. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25. But there is more involved than just the bucket of paint. There are rollers, brushes, trays, painter’s tape, and drop cloths. Does your ladder reach high enough? Do you need to rent scaffolding? Figure the time you think it will take and add half that time on top.

Do get expert advice. Once you have your cost estimate and how much time you think it will take you to do the job right, call a professional painting contractor. You may be surprised at how affordable his services can be. The quote may even be better if you are flexible on timing, allowing him to do the job as a fill-in between larger contracts.

Do your research. Does your neighborhood have a homeowner’s association (HOA)? Take the time to read their architectural guidelines. Not complying with HOA color restrictions could be a costly mistake.

Do invest in high-quality paint if you want a long-lasting result. Low-quality paint can have half the life span of high-quality paint – and it can be shortened even more if applied improperly.

Do take time to prepare. No one likes to scrub. It is easy to want to jump right in and start painting. The mental image of the finished product spurs us on to get there quickly. Yet, experts will tell you that the most common mistake made is not properly preparing the surfaces before you paint. Cleaning, scraping, and sanding take a lot of time. Yet, failure to do so can shorten the life of your paint job.

Do clean the exterior thoroughly before painting. Removing dirt, mold spores, mildew and any broken-down paint residue helps new paint adhere to the surface. Consider hiring a professional to pressure-wash the exterior. Make sure he uses a detergent and doesn’t simply count on water pressure to clean the house. If you will be washing it yourself, purchase a commercial detergent such as Jomax House Cleaner. Mix a cleaning solution of 1 quart of detergent with 3 quarts of bleach into 4 gallons of water. Pressure washing can gouge wood and drive water behind siding and trim if done incorrectly. Using a garden hose, a pump sprayer and a scrub brush may be slower but safer if you’re inexperienced with using a pressure washer.

Do protect landscaping before cleaning the exterior. Protect nearby shrubs and foliage. Mist their leaves. Saturate the soil around the home’s perimeter with water. Cover shrubs with fabric drop cloths. Don’t use plastic even though it’s cheaper – it can cook the leaves under the sun. Lay drop cloths along the base of the walls.

Do fill cracks and holes in the trim and siding with paintable caulk. The paint will last longer. It is water getting under the paint layer that causes it to peel. Don’t caulk the horizontal joints where one strip of siding overlaps the next. These cracks between courses provide ventilation and prevent moisture from being trapped inside the wall.

Do match the paint to the home’s surface. Exterior paints are formulated with binders and additives ensure the paint will withstand temperature changes and resist the elements. The formulas vary for different exterior surfaces. If the surface is wood siding, you can use standard exterior paint. Until now, the rule of thumb when painting vinyl siding was to go lighter. Going darker in color could cause the siding to buckle. Today there are special formulas for vinyl that let you choose darker colors as well, but you need to select one of these vinyl-safe formulas. If a surface is stucco or brick you will want to use paint with “elastomeric” additives that provide a “stretchy” quality to the paint. Also, you will want to select different rollers for these types of surfaces to set paint into the small gaps and crevices of highly textured surfaces.

Do consider the climate in choosing the paint. Sun, wind, rain and salty weather all take their toll on paint. An oil-based formula is durable against wind and rain. Although it can handle temperature changes, sun tends to degrade it. Latex paint is a better option for sun-intensive climates that are relatively dry. Avoid high vinyl content. Instead look for a paint product with acrylic resin as the binder.

A paint job done well should last over 10 years. It can be preventive medicine for your home’s health. It can add value if you decide to sell your home. But, for now, it can be a joy to come home to.

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12 responses to “Do’s and Don’ts When Painting Your Home’s Exterior”

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