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How to Paint the Outside of Your House

Before you begin your exterior painting project, here are some points to check first:
  • Downspouts and gutters should be checked for cracks. If defects go uncorrected, overflowing water can ruin your paint job.
  • Caulking and flashing should be in good condition at windows, door frames, and other structural joints.
  • Loose boards should be nailed in place.
  • Cracks or nail holes in wood should be filled with wood putty.
  • All loose or flaking paint should be scraped down to the wood.
  • Use rust inhibitive primer to protect iron or steel.
  • All surfaces should be clean and dry before starting.

Paint should be applied in temperature over 40 degrees. Whether you are painting siding or wood, wait until the morning dew has evaporated.

For new work - three coats are best - one coat of primer and two finishing coats. For old work, when the existing surface is in good condition, one coat is sufficient.

Always start at the top of the house. Don't lean out from the ladder - keep your hips between the rails and reach out a normal distance. Always keep one hand on the ladder and the other on your brush. You can make an S-shaped wire hanger and use it to hold your paint can from a rung above you.

Since you're starting at the top and working down, you can choose to do the trim at the same time as the rest of your home. Remember to bring a separate, smaller brush up the ladder with you. Keep a wet rag dampened with paint thinner with you to clean up drips immediately. Also, make sure to have a drop cloth on the ground to protect shrubs and plants.

Remember that the paint used to paint the trim should be different from the paint used for the main part of your home. Use trim paint or outdoor enamel.

Start with the gables and work down to the eave lines. Check carefully for skips - missed areas - and take care of them before you come down the ladder.

Make sure the paint is thoroughly mixed even if your dealer mechanically mixes it. Pour half into another can and mix with a wooden stick until all pigmentation is mixed. Pour back and forth to be sure.

When applying paint to the brush, immerse the bristles in the paint to about 1/3 the bristle length. Tap the brush before removing from can to prevent dripping.

If you prefer a roller, paint the outermost edges of your job with a brush and fill in with roller. Keep the overlap area narrow as there is considerable contrast in brushed and rolled strokes, in different directions.

A roller can be used on cinder block, stucco, brick, concrete or to paint porches, steps and patios.

Other Painting Pointers
A great majority of painting failures can be blamed on wet or hot surfaces. If you insist on painting in hot weather follow the sun. In other words, paint where the sun has just been. Then the sun's heat will not raise the oil content in the paint to the surface.

Paint the main part of the house first. Then proceed to trim windows, doors, and cornices. Afterwards, paint decks, porches and patios. Last of all, do screens, storm windows, and shutters which can be removed and done in your garage on a rain day.

When painting the porch steps, there are 2 popular techniques: one - paint alternate steps, so you can walk on the dry ones. The second is to paint on side of the treads and risers, wait for them to dry and then paint the other side. Paint railings last of all since someone usually manages to grab them while steps are wet (possibly you).

How Much Paint is Right?
Most house paint covers 500 sq. ft. per American gallon, 625 per imperial gallon.
In three mathematical steps, you can figure how much you'll need.

  1. Avg. height of house = distance from top of foundation to eaves for flat roof types, add 2 feet to this for pitched roofs.
  2. Average height x distance around foundation = surface area (square feet)
  3. Surface area / 500 = # gallons required for each coat.
For trim, you need about 1 gallon for an average six to eight room house.

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