Repainting the Home Exterior A-Z
A fresh coat of paint applied to the exterior of the house will do more to improve its “curb appeal”, and hence its value, than any other single improvement that one can make. Additionally, a coat of paint will protect the exterior surface of the home from damage due to wind, rain, the sun and even structural pests.
Arming oneself with top-quality exterior grade paint is only part of the solution. As a matter of fact, most painting professionals agree that 80 percent of a good paint job lies in the preparation.
The preparation can simply be defined as everything that is done prior to applying the finish coat of paint. Whereas the specifics of surface preparation may vary depending upon the material over which the paint is to be applied, the bottom line is that the surface must be clean and structurally sound.
We have found that one of the best ways to commence an exterior paint job is by power washing the exterior of the building. This will remove any debris that most likely exists on the surface of the paint. It will remove spider webs, mildew, and contaminants in the air that end up making their home on the exterior of your home!
The power washer should not be confused with the inexpensive car washing devices that can be purchased from the auto parts store for under $35.00. The power washer that we have in mind is a commercial grade device that can be rented from the local tool rental outlet or paint store. Look for one that has a rating of between 1500 and 2500 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. Most homes can be power washed in less than a day and for a total rental fee of under $75.00. Carefully follow the operation instructions provided by the firm renting the equipment since an unprepared homeowner can do more damage than good.
Once the pressure washing is complete some addition scraping and or sanding may be required. Damaged areas or depressions in the surface where chipped paint or blisters existed should be filled with an exterior grade vinyl spackling compound. Apply this with a putty knife with about an 6″ blade. After the spackle has dried it should then be medium sanded with 80 to 100 grit paper. A finish sanding with 120 grit papers will help to ensure a superior finish.
Cracks and other penetrations should be filled with an exterior grade paintable latex caulk. Large cracks (in excess of 1/8″) in plaster or stucco should be patched with a plaster-patching product. Cracks should be opened up slightly and thoroughly cleaned before the plaster patch is applied. Galvanized sheet metal that has damage should be repaired and primed with an oil base rust resistant primer.
The final step in the preparation phase involves masking any other forms of protection that will minimize the amount of cleanup that will be require once all of the paint has been applied. Masking paper/tape and canvas or plastic drop cloths are typically all that are required here.
When shopping for paint, your best bet is to go with top quality exterior acrylic latex. It not only offers excellent adhesion to virtually any finish (wood, plaster, and masonry) but also has great elasticity and resists chalking too. What’s more, latex paints are among the most user friendly since they clean up with water. One of the best ways to determine the quality of paint is by the price tag attached to it. The more expensive the paint, the better the quality. Spending a little more money for paint up front can end up saving a ton of money in the long run.
Paint can be applied with a brush, a roller, or a sprayer. Our preference is with an airless sprayer. It makes painting an entire house a task that even the least enthusiastic of do-it-yourself house painters will be willing to take on. An airless sprayer like the pressure washer can be rented from the tool rental outlet or paint store. Paint applied with an airless sprayer should be back brushed or rolled to ensure proper adhesion and a uniform finish. Check with your paint supplier to determine the roller nap length or the type of brush required for the paint you are using. Never attempt to use an airless sprayer on a windy day. The net result could be a neighbor’s car that highly resembles the new color of your home.
Finally, clean up all of the paint equipment so that it will be ready for the next time you feel like playing Michaelangelo. Be sure to properly dispose of all waste material. Thinners, oils, and other solvents should be treated as toxic waste and be disposed of in accordance with local environmental requirements. Call your local department of environmental health for specifics.