For many homeowners, painting the exterior of their house seems too daunting a task, one best left to the professionals. However, with detailed information, the proper materials and plenty of preparation, you can paint your house as well as a pro, saving money in the process.
Before getting started, you will need to estimate how much paint you'll need for the project. To do so, measure the length of all exterior sides of the house, then multiply the length of all sides by the height of the house, adding two feet to the height for overhang. There’s no need to subtract doors and windows as you’ll probably need the extra for touch-ups. Take this information with you to the paint store. Paint cans display what’s known as “coverage rate,” which basically tells how much surface area the can will cover. Now divide the total square footage of your house by the coverage rate on the paint can you’ve selected.
Now for the fun part: Choosing a color. One thing to keep in mind is that many housing developments have restrictions on exterior colors, so you’ll want to find out if you live in one. But from there, select a hue that suits you, your neighborhood and your home's surroundings. A few things to consider:
• Take into account the details that won't change, such as roofing, stonework and driveways to be sure to complement.
• Your home's exterior should match its architectural style and era to feel the most harmonious.
• The relationship your home has with its surroundings is important; do you want it to blend with the landscaping or stand out? A lighter color will give a smaller house the illusion of a larger size, as will painting the trim the same color as the rest of the exterior.
• Lighter color paints are a good choice in warmer climates, as they absorb less heat. Darker hues work well for cold climates to help absorb heat.
You'll also want to select from the various kinds of paint available on the market:
• Gloss exterior acrylic enamel is usually used only on smooth, flawless surfaces, as the high sheen accentuates imperfections. It’s also the most difficult and time-consuming exterior paint, not to mention the most expensive.
• Satin exterior acrylic latex provides excellent coverage and good looks. Another advantage to this type is that it doesn’t attract dirt and dust like other paints. Also a good choice for trim.
• Flat exterior acrylic latex is the most commonly used exterior paint thanks to its good coverage, reasonable price and versatility. It’s also easier to touch-up and doesn’t show imperfections as much as gloss.
• Semi-gloss exterior acrylic latex is used mostly for doors, gutters and window trim as it is washable and resists stains.
• Solvent-based paints are the most versatile, providing ease of application in a variety of temperatures and moisture conditions.
Once you’ve chosen your paint color and type, you’re just about ready to kick off your project. You’ll need more than paint to do the job, such as applicators, tools and materials. There are three types of paint applicators, and you may use any one or a combination of them: brushes, rollers and sprayers. Brushes have different bristle types for different jobs. For instance, nylon or polyester bristles work well with latex paints, and natural bristles tend to do better with oil-based paints. Rollers are a good choice if you have a lot of surface area to cover and work well on siding. Don’t scrimp on a thin, flimsy roller – be sure to choose a thicker-rolled fiber roller for better coverage. Sprayers are typically used outdoors, and they can save hours of labor time.
Also add to your shopping list the following materials and tools: wide-width masking tape, scrapers of various sizes and a utility knife. Remember that it’s better to buy too much paint than not enough. Any leftovers can be used for future touch-ups, and unopened ready-mixed colors are returnable.
Now that you have your materials, you’re ready to get started with the most important step: surface preparation. Proper preparation will prevent problems like cracking and peeling and will determine how long your paint job will last. First, scrape loose paint until most of the surface is exposed. Next, use sandpaper to dull the surface and make it smooth. Use a pressure washer with commercial cleaning solution to wash the surface of the house and rinse thoroughly. Let dry at least 24 hours before painting.
You may need to prime the surface before painting for any of the following reasons:
• if the surface is shiny, slick or hard to paint, primer provides something for the topcoat to adhere to
• to fill and seal pores in bare wood or weathered masonry
• to cover stains from water damage and sap
• to make metal surfaces corrosion resistant
• to provide surfaces that have never been painted before with better adhesion and coverage
After carefully covering windows, doors and trim with newspaper and masking tape, you’re ready to begin painting. Take your time and do a thorough job, and you'll have added value to your home, slowed deterioration and given yourself a sense of accomplishment.