Exterior Painting Prep
There is nothing better than stepping back and seeing the progress you
have made over the last few minutes, how fresh the new paint looks, how the new color livens
and beautifies the way it looks from the curb. Whether you are using a roller, a brush, or a spray
rig, putting new paint on yourhouse is a very satisfying feeling, and while it is work, it goes pretty
quickly once you get going.
But before you can get going you have to prep.
In one sense, paint prep is about making the job of painting go as smoothly and efficiently as
possible. Also to minimize the chances of the painter making a mess of things that do not need
paint on them. On a deeper level, the prep process is to ensure that the paint coating will work
to preserve the structure of your home.
Begin your paint preparation with a long, slow look at the exterior of your home, identifying
potential painting problems. Are there any bushes or plants that are (or could be) touching the
house that will be in the way of painting and preparation? If so make plans to trim them or tie
Are there any areas where the old paint is bubbling or cracking? These conditions will have to
be corrected before painting, usually with scrapping or sanding. But try to determine why the
paint failed in these areas. If it is simply a matter of the last painter doing a bad job then you
can do a better job this time. Is it an area that gets excessive moisture because of improperly
installed flashing or gutters? If so you may as well fix things before painting.
Scraping and sanding can be the most labor intensive part of the job, but it is necessary. If the
house gets painted every 4-6 years, you can imagine how much paint has built up on an older
home. The new paint may adhere very nicely to the old paint, but that is little consolation if the
old paint comes off! If bare wood is exposed during scraping and sanding, or if there is new
wood from repairs, be sure to prime it before painting.
Finally, the surface that is going to be painted has to be clean. Some will tell you that washing
the house is the first step in paint prep, others point out that you just have to wash again after
scraping and sanding. The bottom line is there should be no dirt or moisture between your
ready-to-paint surface and your paint.
Pressure washers are seen as a time and labor saving tool for paint prep, but be careful using
them. A pressure washer can remove a good deal of the old paint, taking some of the pain out
of the scraping job, but many of these machines are powerful enough to do serious damage to
Finally, arrange drop clothes were they will be needed, remove or mask lighting fixtures, and
use masking tape around the windows. It is nice to be able to open your first paint can early in
the day while it is still cool. There is something to be said for working so that you will be on the
shady side of the house as the day gets warmer. When you’re finished, treat yourself to a few
minutes standing on the curb, enjoying how great your house looks. Just be sure to remove the
masking tape after the paint has begun to set but before the sun sets the adhesive so well it has
to be scraped off!