Exterior Painting

by Jane VanOsdol on June 3, 2011

Do you dread the thought of painting the exterior of your home? All the scraping, priming and painting is a formidable task that you may just want to leave to the pros. And then there’s the task of choosing the paint color that will complement your home and endear you to the neighbors–a stressful choice all on its own. Let’s consider a few home improvement tips to help make this whole process much easier.

First of all, when choosing your paint color, consider any other outbuildings on your property to make sure they all match. Also take a look at the other homes in your neighborhood. While you do want your home to be a stand out, you don’t want it to stick out like a sore thumb from the other houses around it. Is your home an historic house? If so, then research to see what colors of exterior paint are typical for the era and the style of your house.

Professionals will tell you that the most important part of painting is the prep work. First you need to evaluate how much of the paint you need to scrape. Usually you don’t need to scrape to bare wood—an expensive, long process—unless you’re experiencing massive paint failure. Otherwise, you can scrape off the peeling paint and use a sander to smooth out any rough patches and to help the new paint to adhere.

Next, you need to check for the presence of mold and mildew. Even vigorous scraping can’t get rid of mold and mildew that is living in the wood fibers. You need to apply a solution that will kill the mold, usually a mixture of bleach, water and trisodium phosphate. After that has done its work, rinse the house with water from the garden hose, not a power washer. A power washer is too strong to use on clapboard.

If you have to scrape down to bare wood, some painters are now using a new technique of applying a paintable, water repellant preservative to the wood before painting to help the paint stay on longer. This is not yet a widespread technique, so check with your painter to see if this is standard operating procedure for their company.

After that dries it’s time to use the oil-based primer and then finally the paint. Make sure your painter does the fine work by hand—a spray painter just doesn’t do the trick on trim and decorative woodwork.

By choosing your paint color wisely and hiring a professional who doesn’t take shortcuts, you’ll end up with a home that has the most curb appeal on the block.

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