Homes - Exteriors

Home decor: Exterior painting dos and don'ts

Yuki Hayashi

Make your faded home look fresh again with expert tips on exterior painting for getting the job done right for your next home decor project.

Painting the outside of your house can yield "wow" results like nothing else. It can make a faded house look fresh again, and transform a mousey one into a showstopper. A good paint job can last from three to six years, and is well worth the effort. Here are some dos and don'ts for getting started.

DO hire a pro (unless you're a truly obsessive DIYer)
Painting a house involves hard physical labour. Besides prepping it properly (see below), you'll be climbing ladders, getting spattered with paint, and working all day in warm weather. Unless you're willing to put that kind of sweat equity into your home without cutting corners, you're better off hiring a pro.

DON'T cut corners on the prep work
A professional looking paint job takes diligent preparation. Protect flowerbeds, bushes, decks, and paved areas with drop cloths. Scrape off blistered or cracking paint, sand the exterior surface so primer or paint can adhere properly. Wash the surfaces to remove dust. Whew! Now you're ready to apply primer, which is essential for even coverage on bare wood, repainting over bright or dark colours, or applying latex over existing oil paint.

DO use the right paint formula
Latex is a smart choice because it resists UV-fading better than alkyd, and is less likely to crack or peel. An added benefit is that water-based latex dries faster than oil-based alkyd, and clean up's a lot easier – just soap and water (versus solvent, in the case of alkyd).

DO check the weather report.
Avoid painting on rainy, overly windy or humid days, as these can detrimentally affect the finish. For best results, paint on days with temperatures in the 10-to-30-degree Celsius range. Don't paint in direct sun.

DON'T scrimp
Choose "premium" paints, not paints marked "economy," "contractor" or "value" grade. And don't buy just one vat of paint to take advantage of the volume discount. Select a semi-gloss for most of the exterior (unless you're painting siding, in which case lower-lustre eggshell is better), and easier-to-clean high-gloss for trim, doors and shutters. You'll need a special porch and floor paint for the porch and any wooden front steps.


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