How to Paint the Exterior of a House

This may be the most important painting (and preparation) you do. Paint and preparation vary with the type of surface: wood, stucco, metal, masonry. Check with your paint store.

1. Repair or replace any damaged surfaces, whether wood, stucco, masonry or metal.

2. Wash off all surfaces. Use a high-pressure water sprayer (available to rent) to reduce labor. Make sure that surfaces dry thoroughly.

3. Use sandpaper or a paint scraper to remove any loose, cracked, chipping or blistered paint — down to raw surfaces if necessary. Use a small drop cloth as you go to catch loose bits of paint and debris. If you decide the exterior needs to be sandblasted, hire a licensed professional.

4. Patch all nail or screw holes, gouges and cracks.

5. Caulk such places as seams and corners, above door and window trim, and where trim meets siding – or where any material meets a different kind of material, such as trim over masonry. (Exception: Don’t use caulk where siding or shingles overlap or between shingles.) Use high-grade exterior caulk. Better caulks (such as silicone) actually bond to surfaces like glue and resist breaking down.

6. Use epoxy filler (the material used for car bodies) to repair serious problems in woodwork.

7. Cover dark stains – a wood knot, old paint, wood stain – with a stain-blocking primer. The same goes for mildewed areas; you can find primers and additives made especially for mildew.

8. Sand all rough or glossy surfaces; paint needs a slightly roughened surface to stick to. You can also use paint deglosser on all glossy surfaces. Remove sanding dust and debris.

9. Remove or cover all light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers and house numbers.

10. Remove all screens. You don’t want to get paint on them; it’s difficult (or impossible) to remove.

11. Use drop cloths to cover everything you don’t want to paint, such as plants, walkways, cars and your neighbors’ property.

12. Apply primer over all raw surfaces. Note that different surfaces – paint, metal, wood, stucco – require different primers.

13. Allow the primer to dry, then apply at least two coats of exterior paint. Let each coat dry between applications according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a brush on all woodwork and a paint roller or spray machine for everything else.