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How to paint your home exterior

Updated on April 2, 2016
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Painting your outside walls, doors and window frames is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of improving your home. This is particularly worth doing if you plan on selling your property, as first impressions make a big difference to potential buyers. As well as improving the appearance of your home, external painting is essential for weatherproofing and should be part of your household maintenance routine. A coat of paint acts as a barrier to weather, sealing your home from the damaging effects of penetrating damp. So how do you get started painting your home?

Preparing your home for exterior painting

  • Firstly, it’s important to make sure your home is structurally sound and that there are no breaches in external walls, which could cause damp.
  • If you do find any cracks or holes in your exterior walls, they may need rendering (plastering). A professional plasterer will be able to apply the correct type of plaster in the right amounts. It’s important to make sure that plaster dries completely before painting begins, which can take a few days. If you do paint too soon then you’ll end up sealing moisture into the plaster, which will saturate the brick below and could cause damp and mould.
  • Ideally, remove any flaking or damaged paint so that you start with a smooth, even surface. This can be done by scraping, sanding, power washing or chemical removing.
  • Look for signs of mould or fungus growing on exterior walls, this must be removed before repainting otherwise it will grow into the next layer of paint. Shady areas of your walls may suffer in particular, as well as spaces around drains and gutters – regularly check that these are free-flowing to avoid leaks. Mould and fungus can be removed with special cleaners or simply a water/bleach mixture. Always wear protective clothing for this or better still, hire a professional to remove mould and fungus safely.
  • Choose a shade of paint which looks good and is in-keeping with other houses in the area – neutral colours usually work well on property exteriors.
  • Although the weather is notoriously unpredictable in the UK, it’s a good idea to try and plan exterior painting work for dry periods – many leave this till spring or summer.

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Painting the exterior of your home

You might need to use a primer before your paint your property, especially on porous surfaces like brick. It’s important to use the right kind of paint on the exterior of your home; although you want to seal the walls, they also need to be able to breathe. Types of paint include:

Solvent based paint – these contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful to the environment and have also been proven to have a negative health impact. Under EU law, detailed levels of permissible VOCs have been established, which have to be stated on the packaging. Solvent based paints are durable but have a strong chemical smell and are slowly being replaced with eco-paints which don’t contain any VOCs.

Water based paints – are a much more eco-friendly option although they aren’t as durable and thick as solvent based paints, so you may need to apply several coats. However, new, more hard wearing water based paints are being developed.

Emulsion paints – are water based and perfect for ceilings and walls because they’re thick yet fast drying and simple to use.

Choose most usual type of exterior colour paint you prefer

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Don’t forget to repaint window frames and doors, especially if they are made of wood which can rot if untreated. A gloss acrylic paint is suitable for this kind of work. Use masking tape round the edges of frames to stop paint from splashing the glass. Metal window frames, gutters and pipes need a special bituminous paint which is waterproof.

Hiring a painter

Painting the exterior of your home can be time consuming, difficult and dangerous – you will probably need to use ladders and perhaps even scaffolding for a particularly large property. A professional painter will be able to carry out exterior painting safely, efficiently and to a high standard as well as saving you time and effort. Check your painter’s references and qualifications before you hire and make sure they have valid public liability insurance in case anything goes wrong.

Cost of exterior painting

Always get at least three quotes for the work before you hire. Many painters will inspect the property before pricing and will charge either a lump sum or, less commonly, a rate per hour or day (if so make sure you agree a timescale in writing beforehand). The contractor will normally supply paint for you in line with your specifications although you can buy your own. The price of paint will vary depending on the type and amount you need – try using our paint calculator to budget for how much you need. You could try and reduce the cost of exterior painting further by doing some of the preparation work yourself.

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