PAINTING YOUR HOME’S EXTERIOR: AN EASY DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT FOR THE NEW HOMEOWNER.
Painting is a common choice for a homeowner’s DIY project. It requires relatively few special tools and the skills are easy to learn. If you are new to the do-it-yourself world, painting your house is a great first step. Follow this guide to pick up some tips, tricks, and techniques to get your first project off on the right foot.
Selecting Exterior Paint
Choosing paint for exterior walls is easier in some ways than interior choices. Exterior paint is much more limited, so there are fewer options to overwhelm you (you can’t get it in eggshell finish, for example). The color options are also more limited, and many people find it easy to choose an exterior paint color – most people stick with the existing color, in fact.
You should always make sure to choose quality over cost when choosing paint. A high-quality paint will cost more than the lower-quality brands, but it will also last much longer, and look much better. Quality paints are also formulated to be easier to apply, making your job that much easier. A cheap paint will chip, flake, crack, peel, and fade, requiring you to repeat the painting job more often, and costing you more money in the long run.
Estimating how much paint to buy can be slightly difficult. Different surfaces will need different amounts of paint, so simple math with the square footage won’t always get you the right answer. Smooth surfaces will generally conform to that estimate, but surfaces such as stucco or overlapped siding will require 10 to 50 percent more paint. Ask at your paint store for help with the estimation, or try one of the many “paint calculators” available on the internet.
While you’re purchasing your paint, don’t forget the exterior primer! Primer, as its name suggests, prepares the surface for the new paint, ensuring good adhesion. Don’t be tempted to skip this step to save time or money, because without primer, even the best paint can begin to peel quickly.
Select Your Tools
Power sprayers are often the first choice for professional painters, and may be a good option for you as well. These can often be rented for use over a week or a weekend. A power sprayer will apply the equivalent of two coats of paint at one time, and is great for covering large areas quickly.
Whether you choose a paint sprayer or not, you’ll still need brushes. The sprayer cannot get into tight spaces and corners, and is not suitable for painting trim. Even the highest quality brushes are relatively inexpensive, so choose a good one. Well-made handles and bristles will lead to a smoother coat of paint and easier application.
Don’t forget the other equipment! You’ll need a sturdy ladder, of course. Depending on your specific case, you may need buckets, trays, mixing sticks, dropcloths, paint remover, or specialty tools such as an edger or sander.
Techniques and Tips
Choose the right time for painting. Autumn is a great season to paint. Paint has to have time to cure, and rain is its worst enemy. Intense humidity can get underneath the paint and cause irreparable bubbling. In a very humid area such as Houston, the driest time of year tends to be fall or winter, so check the weather reports and bring out your paint when the weather gets cooler.
Before you begin to prime and paint, you need to prepare the surface. Rent or borrow a power washer (or get a big sponge), and thoroughly clean your walls. Once clean, use an electric sander to smooth the surface, if your wall is made of wood. While you are cleaning and sanding, check the siding for signs of rot, mold, mildew, or other damage.
If you have multiple cans of same-color paint, combine them in a big bucket to ensure a uniform color. Even a very slight color difference can become obvious when it’s applied to large areas.
Always start at the top! This will prevent streaks and drips down an already-painted surface. While painting, use broad, even strokes to get smooth coverage. Apply two coats of paint over one coat of primer to ensure solid coverage.
If you’ve never painted before, take some time to visit the paint department of your home improvement store, or a specific paint store like Sherwin Williams. The staff there should be more than capable of helping you figure out how much paint you need and which equipment you need, as well as answering all your questions.