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No other home improvement project can make as big of an impact as an exterior paint job. If you want to save money and still get an amazing result you can be proud of, check out our ten simple steps to paint your home’s exterior like a pro.

1. Be careful when working with lead paint

If your home was built before 1978, it could have been painted with lead paint. To make sure you and your neighbours are protected from airborne lead particles, be sure to contact a lead-safe certified contractor or test for lead paint yourself, using a lead paint kit. If the test turns out positive, you will need to take extra precautions to keep lead paint dust to a minimum.

Those include:

  • Covering the parameter with plastic sheeting and collecting all loose scrapings

  • Cleaning the area with a HEPA vacuum cleaner 

  • Protecting yourself by wearing a HEPA-rated respirator, gloves, goggles and a washable hat

  • Spray the surface with water to control dust while you’re scraping the area

  • Dispose of all materials and debris at a designated site for hazardous materials

2. Focus on prepping the surface

The secret to an amazing exterior paint job that will last you for years to come is to put a lot of work into properly prepping the surface before you start painting. Proper prep can be the difference between a professional paint job and a poor, unsatisfying outcome.

An exterior paint job is only as good as the prep you do beforehand. Some of the most important steps when it comes to prep include:

  • Sand and scrape the surface, making sure you remove the majority of the peeling and chipping paint. The tools you’ll need for this part of the process include a scraper and a putty knife. Be careful not to damage the wood, and only remove paint that’s chipping or peeling.

  • Sand any raised areas, edges and bumps using an orbital sander

  • Wash off the dirt and grime using a power washer or a scrub brush and your garden hose

  • Patch up small cracks, nail heads, and trim boards using siliconized or polyurethane-acrylic caulk, so the paint job looks neat and tidy while keeping bugs out of the cracks and small openings. Seal all visible cracks and joints where one type of material meets another, such as door frames, window frames, moulding, and so on.

3. Remove and replace rotting or broken wood

Walk around the entire parameter of your home to check for rotted or broken boards, so that you can remove and replace them before you start painting. You don’t have to use the same exact materials as you had before, you just need to look for a suitable replacement of the same size and thickness as the board you’ll take out.

4. Protect the surrounding area

Make sure to protect all surrounding plants, furniture and items you have lying around from spills, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort cleaning up afterwards.

Use plastic sheeting and some duct tape to cover and protect the parameter of your house, covering any plants, shrubbery, and so on. To avoid any slips and hazards, you can add another layer of canvas drop cloth runners on top of the plastic sheeting so you can have a safer ground to walk on.

5. Apply primer

Apply a coat of primer over any bare wood and let it dry off completely before you start painting. If your home hasn’t been painted in a very long time, and you had to scrape off a lot of paint, you can choose to prime the entire surface of the house. Start with the horizontal siding and the shingles and then move onto the trim.

If you’re planning on painting your home a darker colour, you should go with tinted primer, instead of white primer. This way, you can get the desired results by applying fewer coats of paint, saving you a lot of time and effort in the process.

6. Choose the right paint

Not all exterior paints are equal, which is why it’s important to choose the right one, so you don’t have to spend all that time, money and effort painting your house and then having to repaint it in 2-3 years. If you want your paint job to last you at least 5-10 years, you will need to go with a paint that offers UV protection, is mould and mildew resistant, stain-resistant and fade-resistant, which can all make a significant difference when it comes to the durability of your paint job.

7. Make bold colour choices

While a fresh coat of paint will automatically boost your curb appeal and add value to your home, if you want to achieve an even better result that will draw people’s attention right away, you should consider making a bolder colour choice.

The simplest way to decide which colours will work best for your home is to consider your home’s architectural style and its relationship with the surrounding landscape, and once you narrow it down to a few colour choices, you can buy a few testers and try out each paint on an inconspicuous area of your home to see how happy you are with the way it looks.

8. Check the weather before you start your project

Avoid painting in the heat and in direct sunlight. Not only will the paint dry too fast, which can cause it to peel and blister, but you’ll also risk having a heat stroke, due to dehydration and overheating.

Wind can also cause the paint to dry too fast and can even blow small particles of dust and dirt onto your freshly painted surfaces, which is why you should avoid painting when it’s windy outside. Painting on windy or rainy days can also be hazardous as it can increase the risk of slipping or falling off your ladder, which is why you should stick to painting on a clear and sunny day with minimal temperature fluctuations between day and night.

9. Apply less topcoats

If you’re switching from a darker to a lighter colour, you can make the switch easier by using a tinted primer and one or two topcoats of paint. If you’re sticking with the same or similar colour as before, you can get by with just one topcoat. By applying more topcoats you risk having the paint flake off throughout the years, as the more paint you put on, the worse it will bind with the layers below.

10. Maintain your exterior paint job

The job doesn’t end when you finish painting your house. This is a project that requires regular maintenance if you want to keep your home looking amazing throughout the years, and extend the life of your paint job. 

If you want to achieve that, you need to stay on top of things, by:

  • checking for cracks and holes on a regular basis and applying caulk where necessary

  • removing stains, dirt, grime, mould and mildew

  • touching up any spots that may peel or blister, so they don’t keep spreading