So you’re finally sure it’s time to update your home’s exterior with a fresh paint job. Just stop at the hardware store, buy some paint, rollers, brushes and away we go, right? Not if you want to maximize efficiency, minimize frustration, and stretch the longevity of the work as far as possible. Close to 50% of painting is preparation. Before the first drop of paint hits the wall, follow these steps to guarantee a paint job that looks great and last as long as possible:
- Wash the exterior from top to bottom, all around. Renting a pressure-washer is affordable for even the budget-minded, and will save untold hours of time and effort compared to hand-washing. Straight water is good enough to get the job done. Cleaning additives should only be used in cases of mold and other severe stains. A thorough washing means a clean surface, maximizing the adhesion of the new paint to its surface.
- Scrape away any flaking paint after washing, and—we can’t stress this enough—give your home at least twenty-four hours to dry before scraping. Scraping the house while it’s still wet will only result in more flaking paint once it dries. A standard paint scraper, a little elbow grease, and a lot of patience are all it takes.
- Caulk any cracked seams between clapboards or along vertical junctions. Fill voids and cracks with caulk until it overflows, and wipe away the excess with a damp rag or towel. Be careful not to caulk gaps between structure that are supposed to be there for ventilation purposes, for instance between the edge of a soffit and a gutter.
- Repair any damaged or rotted areas first. In extreme instances this may require the assistance of a carpenter or handyman. Don’t get in over your head with jobs that call from replacement of clapboard, stairs, overhangs, etc.
- Prime any bare or exposed areas on your home’s exterior with an exterior-grade oil-based primer. This will seal the bare wood and create an air and moisture-tight barrier between the house and your new paint job. A light sanding by hand or with a palm sander for especially rough bare spots is highly recommended prior to priming.
- Landscape and trim any trees, bushes, or plants in close contact to your home. This will guarantee enough space for you to work around the house without having to fight branches and thorns, and will also prevent foliage and plant life from hitting the wet paint once it’s applied.
Any home improvement is an investment, and painting holds no less true. Better to invest the time to do the job right, putting in all the necessary prep, than to rush it at the cost of quality, because a well-prepped job will look better and last longer, 100% of the time.