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How Does You Go About Paint-ing The Exterior and Interior of a House

Updated on September 24, 2012

Painting Your House: A Guide

Painting the outside of a home can be extremely tedious, as well as take up a entire day, or even weekend. A lot of people would love to paint their homes, and while it is generally not that expensive, as well as being a very easy way to increase your homes resale value for very little investment, its a smart thing to do every so often, to keep your house up to shape. Not all homes require a entire paintjob though. A lot of times, some simple TLC and a little maintenance, and some touch ups is all your houses exterior needs. so come along, learn some tips and tricks, and get your house back to looking like new again! And just remember that, like all other home improvement projects, while basically simple, can get very complicated, or time consuming extremely quickly. Luckily, home painting professionals are just a phone call away if you have bitten off more than you can chew, or if you just cant get to painting your home.

For starters, the best paint jobs are done to the best prepared surfaces. You're going to need to clean the outside of the home, pick the paint color, pick the paint type, then paint. Best times to paint are late spring and early fall, when the weather isn't too hot or cold, as well as not as sunny. Temps below 40 and hot sunny days will ruin your paint job.

Prepare For Painting

Most homeowners are fairly lucky, and all the house needs is a little simple TLC, and a good bath. Washing your home before you paint is a good way to make sure that the paint has a clean surface to adhere to, making the paint last longer. Washing with a power washer will also remove any loose or bad paint, fairly easy, making your job of sanding and scraping down the road a little easier. Properly prepared surfaces for paint are shown to make the paint last at least 5-10 years longer than those that just slap paint on a house without properly preparing the house for paint.

Home Examination

Start by examining the entire outside of your home, and take note of all the paint issues discussed above. Don't look at just the walls. The eves, windows, doors, and even foundation all play a part. This is also a good time to find other problems with your home such as broken shingles or gutters that need to be cleaned and repaired.

Fix Problems

Once a problem spot has appeared, it's time to fix it. If you find that your home needs scrapping, then a wire brush and wide blade putty knife (small ones work good in tight locations, but for the exterior of a house, with its large areas, a larger putty knife is better). If the exterior of your building is metal then a wire brush on an electric drill will probably be the fastest and easiest way to scrape. For really tough problems, investing in a high quality pull scrapper is well worth it, as this tool can get all the way down to bare wood. To properly use a scraper, hold it so that it’s perpendicular to the wood, apply constant firm pressure, and drag it along the surface. Keeping the blade flat will keep it from gouging your wood. After you scrape the bad paint off, you need to sand the edges and make them smooth. Using a piece of sand paper and your hand in small spots is fine, but for larger areas, it’s a lot easier and less time consuming to use an orbital sander. Disc sanders and belt sanders aren't recommended as they have a tendency to sand dips or holes into your surface, which show through the paint, instead of smoothing the surface. To use an orbital sander, go up and down or back and forth across the surface to remove the old paint. Using an electric paint remover can be done, and is used to cook the paint off the surface. Use an electric paint remover according to the manufactures instructions. Liquid paint removers and thinners should only be used as a last resort. They do work well, but are extremely expensive for large jobs. Another drawback is that it can drip or splash onto good paint, causing more problems than what you started with.


Now that you have the base and prep work finished, your home is clean, scraped, sanded, and ready for paint, it’s time to apply the first coat, the primer coat. Primer coats of paint are a great way to get that awesome finish, as this helps smooth the wood, and primers are specially designed for the type of paint you’re using so that the paint will adhere to the primer even better and give you that professional look. If using latex paint, use a latex based primer. Same goes for solvent based and metal applications, use a solvent based and metal based primer for each. The primer will give you extra protection, as well as hide the original paint better, and creates the smooth foundation needed to paint the top layer of color everyone is going to see. Priming is always required if working on new or bare wood.

Other Prep Work:

Even if you don't have to scrap, sand, and prime, there still might be some issues that you need to address before applying paint to your home. Rust stains on sidings, overhangs, and foundations need to be removed, as well as leaks in gutters and downspouts. Caulking that is loose or damaged needs to be repaired, and cracks in siding need to be filled in, sanded, and primed. Mildew should be washed off.

To make painting easier, removal of anything that you can from the home, such as storm windows, screens, shutters, wall mounted fixtures (lights for example), should be removed from the house prior to painting. For an extra touch, clean and paint all these before reattaching them after the paint on the house has dried. Downspouts can be removed as well, as paintbrushes have a hard time getting behind these. Take this time to also inspect for any nails that are sticking out, or completely missing. Setting nail depth about 1/4 inch below the woods surface is a good practice. Use a nail set, and then apply a rust prohibitor, followed by putty or spackling. Fill in the hole, sand smooth, and apply a coat of primer. If the head of the nail is flat, sand shiny and apply primer.

Covering all the stuff outside that you don’t want to get paint on is another important step for painting. Also, take this time to prune trees and shrubs so they don’t touch the house or the paint as it dries. Wrapping small shrubs and trees with drop cloths can help avoid getting paint splatters and spills on them, as well as tying ropes around larger objects and pulling away from the house, and staking them to the ground is another good practice, as this will help keep the tree away from the house while the paint dries, but also gets the tree out of your way while you paint.

How Much Paint Will I Need?

The size of the house, the condition that it’s in, the type of paint you select, and the method used to apply the paint to the house all determine how much paint is needed exactly to paint your house. The good news is if you buy too much premixed paint, most stores will let you return unopened portions usually for a refund or store credit. Begin by measuring the perimeter of the house. That’s the outside foundation. Then measure the height, and multiply that by the perimeter. Subtract 21 sq. ft. for each door, and 15 for windows (provided they are standard size). Divide the final number by the square footage specified by the paint can, and that number should give you the number of gallons you need. No matter what you buy, whether pre-mixed or custom color, always ask about the return policy, and depending on the return policy, buy either more, or less paint than you need. If you can return pre-mixed or custom colors, buy more. If you can’t, or they won’t allow custom colors to be returned, buy less, and go back and buy more as needed. Trim paint is generally 1 gallon for every 6 gallons of wall paint. For best accuracy though, always measure everything. Looking online for measuring guides is your best bet for figuring out how much paint you will really need.

Time to Paint

Finally, with all the prep work done, the paint purchased, and all the paint brushes, rollers, and other things you’re going to need acquired, it’s time to paint. Before you actually start to paint though, mix all paint that is the same color together, as minor differences between batches occurs, and this is natural. Paint is, of course, a combination of different colors, mixed together with a binding agent (or adhesive that makes it stick to the wall) and color pigments. Mixing all the color together will ensure a uniform color across the entire house. Even between buckets, different shades of the same color might happen, so mixing all the paint, then placing it back in the buckets will make sure that all the paint is uniform. Start by planning your day to work with the sun. Work in the shade, and paint after the morning moisture or dew has evaporated, and the surface is dry. If painting in the afternoon, always try to finish that side of the house before the sun goes down, as this can leave lap marks from where you stopped the night before. When painting high up sections, always paint horizontally. Never lean away from a extension ladder or out of arms reach, as the ladder could slip and cause a large accident, with you potentially getting hurt. Paint a high section, then move a ladder. Renting scaffolding from a local store is also a good idea if your house has more than one story, as scaffolding is safer and easier to use than ladders, unless your foundation has shrubs and trees all around it, where scaffolding can’t go. Use your best judgment, and if you have the ability to use a scaffolding, and can afford it, it will make your life that much easier, and will make painting safer. When using either a ladder or scaffolding, hang your paint bucket from a s-hook for hands free use. Also, using the roof and painting from that is safer than using a ladder to get hard to reach places near the roof, as well as lets you cut in on those areas, giving your house that true professional look. When cutting in, make sure to paint wide enough that you can use rollers or a paint gun and not have to worry about getting paint onto edges and places you don’t want paint. When painting clapboard or shingles, make sure to paint a good seal around the drip cap or metal flashing, so water and moisture can’t get under the paint. Paint good seals around metal and wood joints as well. Jabbing paint into these cracks, then smoothing them out with long steady strokes is best, as this gets the paint thick into the opening, effectively sealing it, while the long strokes evens out the final appearance, making everything smooth. As you go, look for drips and runs, and, if still wet, quickly use a paintbrush or roller and go over them, to smooth them out.

Painting the Trim

Painting the trim work of your house is probably going to be the hardest part, as well as the most time consuming part of painting. Once you start to actually paint, you will find that the large sections of wall are generally quick and easy to paint, when using a large roller or paint spray gun. Painting large sections with a brush is possible, but this will take quite a long time. Painting trim, however, should be done with a series of good quality brushes. Larger brushes (such as 3-4” brushes can be used for strait shots, like cutting in on window frames and door frames, where you want to make a good boarder around the door or window that you won’t have to get close to with a roller or paint gun. More intricate work and smaller spaces require the use of smaller brushes, such as ½”-2” brush. Take your time, and work all the way around the object. If need be, the use of painters tape can make edges look sharp, but for most that have some painting experience, this isn’t needed, as a steady hand can produce the same results with quality cutting in. Paint exterior trim from the top down, (i.e., roof, second story, first story, ground level). Make sure to scrape and wipe any splatters or drips that are not needed or wanted, before they dry. If caulking has been replaced, make sure it is dry before painting over that. Painting tight seals will keep moisture, wind, and insects out of your home. Storm windows and screens should be painted separately, and allowed time to dry, before reinstalling them on your home. If you paint them while they are on your house, when you go to remove them, the paint will crack and tear, as the paint will stick to each other. This will cause the paint to be ruined under when you remove it the first time, and cause you to have to paint this area again. Removing knobs, latches, and plates form doors for easier painting, as you don’t have to tape it off or cut in. If possible, remove the door entirely, lie flat, and paint it that way. Sand the edges at the bottom, and apply a good coat of paint to help prevent the door from rotting from the bottom. If taking the door down, remove the hinges from the frame as well, as you don’t want to paint these, and it makes painting the frame easier. Painting the gutters off of the house with a good quality metal paint at this time is also a smart move, as you can paint under the gutters, as well as give the gutters a good through cleaning, preform any needed maintenance, as well as give them a fresh coat of paint. Again, painting the gutters on a house can be done, but if the gutters are to be removed, the paint job is going to be ruined as well. Using a asphalt based paint will waterproof your gutters, as well as seal any small holes it might have, as well as protecting it for years to come.


Submit a Comment

  • silvershark profile imageAUTHOR

    Kenneth Moody 

    5 years ago from Destin, Florida

    Thanks for the tip!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Mad Dog Primer works GREAT. I used it on my house a couple years ago and it still looks great! It is flexible so it allows for expansion and contraction with changing temperatures (works in all climates). You should check them out online. They have a ton of info.


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