Painting the Home’s Exterior is All in the Prep

Painting is one of the most economical ways to add curb appeal outside your home. Use these guidelines to freshen up the façade of your home.

Painting the Home’s Exterior is All in the Prep

Test for Lead

  • If your home was built before 1978, your old paint may contain lead. Purchase a lead paint test or have a professional test it for you before cleaning or removing paint. Repairs, prep and painting can stir up toxic lead dust and even a small amount could put you and those around you at risk of lead poisoning. If there is lead paint present, it’s best to let a renovator who is certified in using lead-safe practices. The National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) is a good source of information for you.

Organize Your Tools

  • Have the tools you will need at the ready: paint brushes and rollers, sandpaper, scrapers, exterior-grade caulk and putty, painter’s tape and a drop cloth or two to protect shrubbery, walkways and cars. Use protective eyeglasses and a face mask to protect yourself when sanding and scraping old layers of paint.
  • You’ll also need a sturdy ladder to help you reach high spots. A hook you can use to hang the paint bucket from your ladder is also handy.

Power Washing

  • Using a pressure washer, you can blast loose paint, dirt and debris off the siding of your home. A simple electric model will remove flaky paint without damaging your siding. But for paint preparation, a heavier-duty model (about 2800 psi) will do a more thorough job. If that’s more power than you need on a routine basis, you can rent a power washer at your neighborhood Ace.

Repair Damages

  • Scrape off flaking paint, repair surface flaws, remove old caulk and re-putty windows. Sand over and prime spots where repairs have been made to ensure a smooth area for the paint to adhere to.


  • An exterior primer seals porous surface materials so paint won’t soak in and dry unevenl. It also helps prevent peeling, rusting and bleed-through. An exterior paint and primer in one can save you some time on this step.


  • To figure out how much paint you’ll need, a good rule of thumb for estimating is multiplying the length of each wall by its height, then add another 30 percent to be safe. Typically, one gallon of paint will cover 200 to 350 square feet. Also, buy more than you think you will need – you can always use the extra paint to touch-up.
  • Above all, invest in the best paint you can afford. Doing so will actually save you money in the long run because high-quality paint truly outlasts lower-quality brands.

Apply Yourself

  • Brushes help you get into cracks and crevices and to paint trim. Rollers make quick work of broad expanses of siding. But a paint sprayer can really save time on an exterior paint job. Opt for the technique you feel most comfortable with.
  • Follow the “top-down” rule – work from the top down to get the most even coverage, and finish with the trim. Also, take care to paint into already wet paint, and not away from wet paint, making sure that there are no noticeable overlapping marks or shading nuances.

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Published: 3/5/2020