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The Importance of Painting the Exterior of Your Home or Outdoor Structure

Updated on December 3, 2019
Nicoartz profile image

I have done exterior and interior house painting projects. I have painted both single and two-story homes. I'm an experienced mural painter.

Paint = Protection + Beauty

Most people consider repainting the exterior of their house for the new color or look it will achieve. But did you know that it is actually critical that you paint your house every 10 to 15 years? Think of paint as armor that protects your house from the environment’s harsh elements, sun, rain, wind, critters, and bugs. The paint will shield your home from them all. Without paint your house is defenseless. It's like sending a knight into battle without his armor, and completely naked. Let's just say he probably wouldn’t survive the battle, nor will your home or structure survive the battle that it will have to face every day. So don't leave your house unguarded. Let's get to work!

A Neglected House in Need of Painting is in Danger of the Earth's Harsh Elements
A Neglected House in Need of Painting is in Danger of the Earth's Harsh Elements

When is it time to paint the exterior of your home?

How do you know when its time to paint the exterior of your home or other structures? Look for visible wear and peeling or flaking of paint. Start checking for wear on the west side of your house first. The west side will typically take most of the sun and show wear the soonest. Also, check the walls of your property for chalkiness. Run your finger along the surface of the wall. If color transfers to your finger or if it looks chalky, it may be time to paint.

Getting ready for an exterior painting project

Getting Approval

The first thing you’ll want to do when getting ready to paint the exterior surfaces of your house is to check if you’re in a Home Owners Association (HOA). If you’re in an HOA, there may be rules and regulations for exterior painting. Often only certain color and paint schemes are to be allowed. It's best to get approval from your HOA before starting any major home renovations. Once you have approval then it’s time to begin planning.

Buying Enough Paint

The next thing you'll want to do is figure out how much paint you’re going to need. You can do this by getting the sq. ft, of your home and dividing it by 400. My house is 2600 sq. ft and each gallon of paint will cover roughly 400 square feet. In my case that comes to about 6 and 1/2 cans of paint for the project. Since they don't sell half cans of paint, I’d need to buy 7 cans to be safe. Better to have more than not enough.

Choosing The Right Paint

Using the right paint is just as important as choosing the right color. Don’t waste time and money buying cheap paint. Painting a house is not easy work! By buying good paint you’ll save money and time in the future. Furthermore, a cheap can of paint (3 to 5 years) will cost roughly about $35 dollars and a great can will cost about $45 dollars (10 to 15 years). If you do the math it's smarter going with the longer-lasting product. I recommend one of two brands of paint; Sherwin Williams & Dunn Edwards. Both paint brands are excellent. If your choice is Sherwin Williams then a great exterior paint choice would be their A-100 and DuraCraft paints. However, if you decide to use Dunn Edwards I'd go with EVERSHIELD paint it’s awesome as well. Either way, you can't go wrong, both paints are long-standing and perfect for any home's exterior painting project.

Sherwin Williams A-100 & DuraCraft Paint  - lasts up to 15 years
Sherwin Williams A-100 & DuraCraft Paint - lasts up to 15 years | Source

Masking & Prepping the Exterior of your Home

Before you begin any exterior painting project you’ll have to prep the home. Start by power washing the entire exterior of your home. Once the house has been power washed, wait for 24hrs for the home to fully dry. The next day you’ll want to start repairs to any damaged stucco, siding, or drywall. Start by scraping all area that has flaking. Next, fill any and all cracks with caulking. For large cracks, I recommended using conflex sherlastic. Once all repairs are finished it's time for Masking!

Covering the essentials

Properly covering the non-paintable areas of your home is crucial to a successful painting project. These areas often include covering windows, bricks & stone, patio floors & furnishings, cars & boats. Whatever it may be, if it’s not being painted it will need to be covered or moved from the painting area.

What you will need to start Masking

1) 3M Hand Masker, Translucent Masking Plastic. It comes in 6-inch, 9 inches, and 12 inch wide rolls. Each roll has 120 yards. It’s fairly inexpensive, starting at $6 dollars a roll. So, I usually like to buy some of each size, just to make things easier when putting it up.

2) Get yourself a good sharp utility knife. You’re going to be doing a lot of trimming if you want things to come out just right. Neatness will count.

3) Cover your floors. To cover patio floors and other surfaces that may require protection from paint overspray or drips, I recommend using Surface Shields Floor Protection Paper. It’s about $14 a roll. Each roll offers about 150 ft., so one or two rolls should do the job fine.

4) TAPE, TAPE, TAPE! You’re going to need a lot of TAPE! There are two kinds of tape you're going to want to get. I like to use 3M Exterior Painter's Masking Tape. It’s great on metal, glass, painted surfaces, and vinyl. This tape is typically a little pricey, about $14 bucks a pop, but it worth picking up a few rolls. To save some money, I like to also use plain old Masking Tape. It's only about $20 for six rolls. Regular Masking tape is great for taping down floor coverings and big plastic tarps. I recommend picking up both kinds of tape.

5) Buy disposable Plastic Drop Cloths. They’ll run you around $15 dollar and usually come in packs of two. Each cloth is 9ft by 12ft. These plastic tarps are awesome for covering large objects such as cars, boats, grills, tables, and so much more. An absolute must-have when painting.

Getting the right supplies
Getting the right supplies | Source

Below you will find a list of items typically used when masking non-paint items:

  • 3M Hand Masker & Translucent Masking Plastic
  • Utility Knife
  • Surface Shields Floor Protection Paper
  • 3M Exterior Painter's Tape & Masking Tape
  • Disposable Plastic Drop Cloths

Rentals and Equipment

When you’re getting ready to paint your exterior of your home, you’re going to need equipment. But if you’re not going to make painting your profession, then it may not be worth buying all the equipment that is needed to paint the exterior of your house. Therefore, the best way to obtain painting equipment is by rental. Power washers, compressors, paint sprayers, and ladders are all high cost items that can be rented for just a fraction of the cost. Equipment can be rented at your local Home Depot, Lowe's, or other privately-owned rental companies. It’s always a good idea to shop around and get the best prices. Once you've obtained everything you need, then you can start your project.

Having Multiple Sized Ladders Can Make The Job Go Faster!
Having Multiple Sized Ladders Can Make The Job Go Faster! | Source

Here is a list of some equipment that may be considered for renting:

  • Powerwasher
  • Compressor
  • Paint Spryer
  • Ladders (Big, Medium, and Small)

It's time to paint!

At this point, you should have gotten all of the paint and supplies you need. The house has been power washed, the repairs have been made, and the coverings have been set in place.

Let’s start painting!

What to paint first:

  • #1 Body of the house
  • #2 Facets and Gutters
  • #3 Windows and Door Trim

Where to start

Look for logical start and stop points. You never want to start and stop in the middle of the house. (*QUICK TIP) When painting it’s helpful to use a cardboard shielding holder to keep paint away from the footing.

Painting the body

Start painting your house from right to left. Use smooth even motions. Don't over-saturate one section of the wall with too much paint too fast. This could cause unsightly paint drippings. It's better to spray a section of the wall, and then move on to the rest of the wall. Then come back over-spraying smoothly and evenly again in the same area. Doing this will give you a beautiful finish. Once the entire body of the house has a full covering of paint, it’s time for the facets (pop-outs), and the gutters.

Facets and Gutters

Once the body of the house is completely painted, remove the Facet and Gutter paint splash coverings. Be sure the new paint is dry. Add new coverings around the facets and gutters covering to protect the freshly painted body (like a negative). Then you can either spray or hand brush the intended areas to be covered with paint. In the end, you should have a clean looking job.

Windows, Doors, and Trim

It's best to paint Window Trim, Doors, and Door Trim the old-fashioned way, with a paintbrush. Don't overload your brush with paint. Take your time in these areas. Long smooth strokes side to side. Don't use a crisscross pattern.

Exterior Painting 101

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Time To Hang Up The Brush?

Hang Up The Brush
Hang Up The Brush | Source

Painting the exterior of your home is a lot of work.

It's true painting the exterior of a home can be a ton of hard work. It can really be quite overwhelming once you begin a project like this. It may be just too much work for one person to handle. So what are you going to do? It may be time to hire professionals, and you'll want the best. From my experience contractors are all over the place with pricing and warranties. Make sure to ask if they are adding water to the paint. If they do, I don't recommend using them. Also, most painting contractors usually don't ask for money upfront, if they do that could be a red flag. So be sure to do your research and get a lot of quotes.

Here is an actual photo of my freshly painted house!
Here is an actual photo of my freshly painted house! | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jason Nicolosi


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