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IN ADDITION TO MAKING YOUR HOME beautiful, exterior house paint is a crucial barrier from the elements. Typically, a house needs to be painted every 6 to 8 years, possibly sooner if you see signs of paint deterioration, such as cracking, peeling, flaking, and fading. These symptoms of paint failure can usually be traced to improper surface preparation or poor application rather than the paint itself.

Most of the work involved in any good exterior painting job is preparation of the surface. For paint to adhere properly, it must be applied to a clean and dry surface- free of dirt, dust, grease, flaking paint, or other types of paint trouble. The time you invest in cleaning, scraping, or sanding and priming will make it all worthwhile. Applying the finish paint is the easiest part of the painting project.

Most houses are painted at least two colors. There is a body color that you apply to the siding of the house and a trim color, which is for decorative molding, doors, windows, gutters, etc. The trim paint serves to accent and highlight the body color. Some house styles, such as ornate Victorian homes, call for two or three trim colors. These colors are dictated by personal taste, but keep in mind the standards of your neighborhood, the style of your home, and the effects of color. For example, light colors will make a small house look bigger. Paint manufacturers all offer cards which illustrate color combinations as useful inspiration. Take your time choosing colors and be sure to test the paint on an inconspicuous part of the house before buying bulk quantities. Exterior Latex Paint. In essence, latex paint is color pigment in a water-based emulsion. Latex paint may be applied in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees fahrenheit and can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed. It is almost odorless, free of volatile organic chemicals, mildew-resistant, and can be re-coated quickly. A big advantage to latex is that tools can be cleaned with soap and water.

Note: When painting over old paint, apply a primer coat first.

Exterior Oil-Based Paint. This traditional paint is becoming less available as paint companies focus their research on water-based products. Oil-based emulsion, usually alkyd, holds the colored pigments in this paint. It is slow-drying, requires solvent for thinning and cleaning, and a second coat cannot be applied for at least a day. Oil-based paint may be brushed, rolled, or sprayed on the surface.

Specialty Paints. There are paints made for specific exterior surfaces. There are masonry paints, usually latex, which bond to chalky surfaces. For porches, decks and stairs, use a finish called porch and deck enamel. Enamel paints can be applied with a brush, roller, floor brush, or a squeegee for a hard finish. Check the label on the container for specific application data.

Primer. This paint is the most crucial step in a proper paint job for both previously painted and fresh wood. Always use primer, not thinned finish paint. Match primer to the top coat. Oil-based primer has a slight advantage in its ability to hide stains. Oil-based primer cannot be applied to a damp surface. Latex primer may not hide a surface as well as oil-based primer, and therefore may require additional top coats. Primer must be fully dry before being recoated; however, it will not be effective if you wait too long to paint the top coat. Read the manufacturer's label specifications for proper use.

Natural or Synthetic Bristles. Natural bristles (also called "China bristles") should never be used with any water-based paint because the bristles absorb water and become mop-like. Natural-bristle brushes are for oil-based paint.

Check the Bristles. The brush should feel "full." The bristles should fan out slightly and not clump when pressed against the palm of your hand. Bristles should also spring back into their original position without falling out.

Choose the Right-Sized Brush. There are different types of brushes available. If you are going to buy only one brush, almost any job can be done with a 3-inch flat brush with a tapered bottom. This brush lets you paint large surfaces while easily cutting a clean line. If there is much fine detail work, such as inside windows, invest in a angled sash brush.

Rollers. Rollers are a great timesaver when painting siding. A roller will apply lots of paint to then spread with your brush. A roller has two parts: a frame and a cover. Covers vary as to thickness and composition of the nap. Nylon covers are fine for exterior work. The nap will be specified on the package as short, medium, or long. Short nap, about 1/4-inch thick, is used to apply paint on smooth surfaces such as aluminum and wood siding. Medium nap covers are used for semi-rough surfaces, while long nap covers are used for rough surfaces such as stucco, concrete block, and brick. (Note that masonry does not need to be brushed in, just rolled.)
Good roller frames are threaded inside the end of the handle to accept an extension pole. Use roller pans that have ribbed bottoms to help the roller pick up paint more evenly. However for exterior painting jobs, a clean five-gallon bucket equipped with a metal roller screen can hold more paint and is less likely to be knocked over.

Ladders. The most important tip when working with ladders is this: Don't do anything
that makes you uncomfortable. Most exterior jobs require an extension ladder. If you don't like heights, don't try to paint your house alone. Always place both ladder feet on secure ground, and check that they are level.
Make sure that the sections of your extension ladder are moving correctly and that both the rope and pulley are in working order. Each extension ladder must be overlapped by at least three rungs. Have a helper assist in raising and lowering any ladder over 12 feet high. Be aware of utility wires overhead. If you climb onto a roof, make sure there are at least three rungs of the ladder extended over the eaves of the roof. Work with your hips between the side rails of the ladder. Do not overreach with your arms; instead, get down and reset the ladder.

Ensure the correct angle when placing a ladder. The ratio is one foot away from the wall for every four feet of elevation. Do not leave a ladder unattended as it can blow over.

Dangers of Lead in Paint. If your house is more than 20 years old, there may be lead paint on the walls and trim. The lead-infused dust and chips created by the paint removal is a health problem for adults and especially children. You may be best served by hiring a contractor to do the paint removal. Children and pregnant women must stay away from the work area for the duration of the project. Clean the room daily of chips and dust. Wear respirators and wash work clothes daily.

The quality of a paint job lies in the preparation. Inspect all areas where the paint is peeling or cracking. Is there structural or water damage? Is water migrating out from inside the house? Water is the main cause of many paint problems. Find out where the moisture is coming from and correct it. Suspect poor ventilation if the peeling is around a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room. Look for damaged gutters and down spouts if paint is peeling along fascias and along the siding of a house. Replace rotted wood or chip away the damage (if not too extensive) and fill with epoxy.

Scraping. When all the surface problems are fixed it's time to remove any loose, cracking, or peeling paint. Scraping is the simplest, least toxic, and cheapest way to remove problem paint. While labor intensive, this is the way to go for most homeowners. Use a pull scraper and have a good supply of replacement blades. A sharp scraper will make life easier. When using a scraper, keep the blade flat on the surface and pull toward your body. Don't turn the blade or you'll create gashes in the wood. Wear gloves and eye protection as chips will fly.

Washing the House.

After removing problem paint, the surface must be cleaned before painting. Remove window and door screens and all exterior hardware such as house numbers, mailboxes, and so forth. To clean away mildew, dust, and dirt, use a solution of trisodium phosphate, a little household bleach (about a cup per gallon) and water. Spray the house with a garden hose, then scrub the surface with the cleaning solution. Start washing the house from the top and work your way down. When you're finished, rinse the house with a garden hose and wait a few days until the surfaces are dry. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when cleaning.

If your home is very dirty, hire a professional to clean with a pressure washer. Pressure washers can be rented, but the strength of the water pressure can cause serious damage to siding or masonry when used by inexperienced sprayers.

Final Preparations. When the siding is dry, caulk all open cracks around window and door frames, casing, fascia, soffits, columns, railings, etc. It is estimated that seven tubes of caulking are needed when painting an average-size, three bedroom house.
Tie back or prune any trees and shrubs that touch the house. Cover plants shrubs, walks, railings, and other items with drop cloths.


• Work from the top down. This will keep drips below finished areas and avoid putting a ladder in wet paint.
• Work horizontally as far as you can reach on each ladder position. Stop for the day at visual break points such as at a corner, or at a door or window to avoid drying marks.
• Paint the siding first, then paint the trim on the same side. This technique avoids unnecessary ladder movement and saves time.
• Paint windows and doors on the last day of the painting project. Paint them early in the day so windows and doors can be closed at night.

To paint lapped siding, work from left to right if you are right-handed (right to left if you are left-handed) and from top to bottom. This way you will be reaching and working above the top of the ladder, if a ladder is used.
• Paint the bottom edge first. Run a wet roller under a course of siding, and then follow with a brush to smooth the paint where courses overlap.
• Paint the siding face next. Spread paint with the roller on the face of the siding. Spread as much as you can brush in before the paint begins to pull. Brush the paint out horizontally with the wood grain. Keep brush strokes long and level. Watch for drips on previously painted courses.

If you're painting shingles or shakes, work up and down the wood grain in the shingles, not across. First paint the underside of the shingles-where they overlap-then move onto the flat surfaces and stroke the brush up and down. Use a roller to spread paint then follow with a brush.

To paint fascia, gutters, and soffits, work from left to right if you're right-handed; right to left if you are lefthanded. Go from top to bottom. Coat the gutter first, then the fascia, and then the soffit.

Painting Masonry. If you're painting concrete block, brick, or stucco expect to use more paint on the surface than on a wood surface. A rough-surface brush (7 to 8 inches wide) or a long nap roller are ideal for applying latex paint. Masonry surfaces may be too rough for regular brushes and can cause the bristles to fall out quickly.

When the job is finished, but the paint is not yet thoroughly dry, the surface may appear blotchy and uneven. If so, let the paint dry completely before worrying. If the dried paint looks blotchy, apply another coat.

Painting Stucco. Stucco will definitely require a second coat for even coverage. This coat will not require as much paint to cover the same surface. Never use a portland cement paint over a stucco surface that has been painted with another type of paint.

Painting Metal.
When painting metal that has never before been painted, prime it with a metal primer. If the metal has been painted and the paint film is tightly bonded to the metal, paint over the metal with regular house paint. When painting metal, watch carefully for runs and sags in the fresh paint. Use a fairly dry brush or roller when you paint metal surfaces.

Brushes will last for many jobs if cleaned and stored properly. Wear gloves when cleaning brushes with paint thinner. Whether cleaning with water or thinner, first wipe paint off the handle with a rag. Then soak the brush in the appropriate cleaner. Use a wire brush to comb the paint out of the bristles. Force the liquid out of the brush by squeezing the bristles together. Shake the brush vigorously or use a spinner to force out any remaining paint and liquid. Wrap the brush in its wrapper or in newspaper. Properly dispose of any thinner and store paint in tightly sealed cans.

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Updated: 02/2018   copyright 2012 U-Repair.com