Painting the outside of your house is a major undertaking. The most common dilemma is how to choose the right colors but there are other important questions to consider. Should you try your hand with a brush? What do you need to know about proper preparation or is priming really necessary? Understanding the dos and don’ts will set the path to a successful exterior paint job. We asked Carl Minchew, vice president of color innovation and design at Benjamin Moore, and Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, for their top tips. Bottom line: Painting is the most cost-effective way to enhance your home’s curb appeal and to protect the exterior, so it’s worth your while to do it right.
Start with a clean slate. Getting the surface ready is key to a successful paint project. “Use putty and caulk to fill in any imperfections so that it’s smooth and free of cracks. You’ll need to dull shiny or glossy areas by lightly sanding,” says Minchew. “A tool like a paint scraper or power washer will remove contamination like oil, mold, or rust,” Wadden adds.
Identify your palette. Take into consideration the materials on your house, such as roofing, brick, stone, or stucco. Earthy tones complement stone materials, while cooler shades coordinate well with wood finishes. “Consider playing up architectural details. A house that features both vertical and horizontal siding could be painted in two tones,” says Wadden. “Or for a neutral house, coat doors, trim, and window mullions with bold colors.” Think about your environment, adds Minchew: “Are you in a wooded area or out in the open? What have the neighbors done?”
Choose the right paint. Do a test patch first. Prime and paint a small inconspicuous spot to see if there are any adhesion or compatibility problems. “Primer is important. It adheres well to the paint and prevents it from peeling. It will also give the paint its truest color in the least amount of coats,” notes Wadden. “If this is a DIY job, invest in a premium paint and paint tools,” says Minchew. “The two go hand in hand and will help the job last longer.”
Check the weather forecast. The weather will affect how well the paint adheres to the surface. Minchew and Wadden agree that you shouldn’t paint your house if the temperature is below 50 degrees or if it’s foggy outside. Also reschedule if it has just rained or if showers are in the forecast.
Do annual maintenance. To extend the life between repaints, both experts agree that washing the house—or power washing, with care—and removing dust and cobwebs at least once a year will brighten up the appearance.