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Exterior Paint Tips

Some people may always choose a classic style for their renovations; however, many are more inclined to apply fresh and new trends to improve the overall look and feel of their home.  Old wood siding, fast becoming a dinosaur in new construction, regularly needs the protection of a new coat of paint.

A professional will charge you between $4,000 and $6,000 to paint a 2,000-square foot, two-story house. But you can do it yourself in a few weekends for the cost of paint and supplies.

A good paint job can last 10 years. The key is proper preparation.

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Here are 8 steps to take to make sure your exterior paint job looks great, adds value to your home, and lasts a long time.

Test for Lead

If you’re tackling the paint job by yourself, the first step is to test for lead paint.  You can get a kit online, and at paint and hardware stores.  If a test proves positive, you need to protect yourself and your neighbors from airborne lead particles.  You can accomplish this by laying plastic drop cloths and collecting scrapings; wearing masks and Tyvek suits; cleaning up an area with a HEPA vacuum; and disposing of all materials at an approved hazardous materials site.

Professional paint contractors are obligated to follow EPA regulations for lead-safe practices.

Wash the Exterior

If your exterior walls are dirty, grimy, and spore-sporting, your new paint will not adhere well.  Mildew will thrive under fresh paint, so to avoid such disaster, power wash your exterior before painting.

Your best bet is to hire a professional to pressure-wash your siding; not only is it a difficult task, you can damage siding by pushing water under the boards.

Remove Flaking Paint

Once clapboards are dry, scrape off any loose paint with a handheld scraper, a hot-air gun or infrared paint stripper.  However, never use an open-flame torch – it can easily start a fire, and is illegal in most states (unless you have a permit).

To smooth out any remaining rough spots, use a pad sander or sandpaper (80-grit random-orbit fitted), and make sure not to push too hard, so that you don’t leave sander marks in the wood.  To protect from lead, use sanders fitted with HEPA filters.

Inspect and Repair

After washing, scraping, and sanding your wood siding, inspect for any holes, dings, and chips, and repair them with a patching putty or compound, such as Zinsser’s Ready Patch.

If you have a major rot problem, you will need to replace the rotten wood.  Also, make sure any drainage problems are fixed.

Apply Primer

Apply primer immediately after prepping your house siding.

White, gray, or tinted primer provides an even base for topcoats.  Small gaps in joints and around doors, windows, etc. will all stand out and show where you need to fill in with caulk.

Latex primer is ok for painting over bare wood or existing latex paint; but if you’re painting over multiple coats of oil-based paint, it’s best to go with a new coat of oil-based primer.

Caulk the Joints

The benefits of caulking are aesthetic, as well as practical.  Siliconized or top-of-the line polyurethane acrylic caulks will give your exterior paint job a smooth, pleasing look, and also prevent air leaks and block water penetration.

Choose Paint

How to choose between water-based acrylic latex and oil-based paint?

Painting with water-based acrylic latex paint is easier to apply, dries quickly, and cleans up with soap and water.

An oil-based paint is more durable than latex; and, if your house already has oil-based paint, you’ll have to stick with it.

As far as the finish, choose it carefully.  Here are some things to consider: the higher the sheen, the better the paint is at blocking the sun’s damaging rays; satin is good for shingles or clapboards; gloss paint protects high-traffic parts of a house, such as window casings, porches, and doorframes.

Apply Paint

Less is more when it comes to applying top coats – less paint bonds better to layers beneath, and more layers can result in paint flaking off down the road.

If you’re going from a white house to beige or yellow, you might only need one coat. Going from a light color to a dark color, and vice versa, usually requires two coats.

And if you’d rather leave it to professionals to transform the exterior of your house – count on our skilled and experienced painting contractors to bring your vision into reality.

As a locally owned remodeling and painting company providing Quality General Contracting Services, at Harbor Stone we have a reputation for completing projects that meet or exceed expectations, on time and on budget.

Contact Harbor Stone’s licensed contractors in Chester County PA and Greater Philadelphia today to discuss your residential and commercial projects: 610.467.0872