My house is badly in need of exterior paint. I have never tackled this task, and need to know what is involved. What is the best house paint to use, what special tools do I need, and what is the sequence of events in painting the house?
Jennie G. ~ Orlando, Florida
If you are considering doing the exterior painting of your home yourself, the first issue is safety. Falling while painting a one-story home can be dangerous, and falling while painting a two- or three-story home can be very bad. Make sure your ladders are in good shape, and rated for the work you will be performing. The rating should be marked on the side of the ladder if it is a good quality ladder. When working above one story, use a 20 foot or higher extension ladder. It is a good idea to have a helper steady the bottom of the ladder while you are working.
Exterior paint from any of the major paint manufacturers should be fine to use. Most manufacturers will have several grades of exterior paint, depending on how long you wish to go between repainting the house. Higher paint grades last longer, and are more expensive than lower grade paints. There will usually be a primer you can use as a first coat, which may help to keep the cost down.
The first step in painting will be removing any dirt or loose paint that is on the house. A pressure washer works great for this job, just be careful not to set the pressure too high or it will harm the siding. Once your siding is clean and dry, take some time to recaulk any areas that need to be redone, and make sure all nails are hammered in tight. Gouges or defects in the wood may be repaired with wood putty or dap compound. You are now ready to apply the first coat or prime coat.
There are several methods for applying the paint, it depends on what type of siding you have, and what you are comfortable using. Small areas may be painted with a brush. For larger expanses, a roller or a spray gun might work better. Be careful not to paint during extreme temperatures. See the temperature range recommendation on the paint cans, and hold off on painting if it might be raining prior to the paint drying. Once the first coat is dry you are ready to do the second coat and trim.