How to Paint Wood Exteriors

Learning to Paint Wood or other material on the Exterior of a Home may be the most important painting (and preparation) you do and unless you have experience with painting you might want to consider leaving this for the pros, because if you make a mistake everybody will see it. Paint and preparation vary with the type of surface: even if it's stucco, metal, or masonry. Check with your paint store to ensure you've got the right products.


1 Repair or replace any damaged surfaces, whether this type of material, stucco, masonry or metal.

2 Wash off all surfaces. Use a high-pressure water sprayer (available to rent) to reduce labor. Make sure that surfaces dry thoroughly.

3 Use sandpaper or a paint scraper to remove any loose, cracked, chipping or blistered paint - down to raw surfaces if necessary. Use a small drop cloth as you go to catch loose bits of paint and debris. If you decide the exterior needs to be sandblasted, hire a licensed professional.

4 Patch all nail or screw holes, gouges and cracks.

5 Caulk such places as seams and corners, above door and window trim, and where trim meets siding - or where any material meets a different kind of material, such as trim over masonry. (Exception: Don't use caulk where siding or shingles overlap or between shingles.) Use high-grade exterior caulk. Better caulks (such as silicone) actually bond to surfaces like glue and resist breaking down. , Use epoxy filler (the material used for car bodies) to repair serious problems in woodwork.

7 Cover dark stains - a wood knot, old paint, wood stain - with a stain-blocking primer. The same goes for mildewed areas; you can find primers and additives made especially for mildew.

8 Sand all rough or glossy surfaces; paint needs a slightly roughened surface to stick to. You can also use paint deglosser on all glossy surfaces. Remove sanding dust and debris.

9 Remove or cover all light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers and house numbers.

10 Remove all screens. You don't want to get paint on them; it's difficult (or impossible) to remove.

11 Use drop cloths to cover everything you don't want to paint, such as plants, walkways, cars and your neighbors' property.

12 Apply primer over all raw surfaces. Note that different surfaces - paint, metal, wood, stucco - require different primers.

13 Allow the primer to dry, then apply at least two coats of exterior paint. Let each coat dry between applications according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use a brush on all woodwork and a paint roller or spray machine for everything else. Part of the initial look you have at a foreclosure is to check the Exterior and determine the condition of the wood, or other material with which it's constructed.

Tips & Warnings

• You can't paint vinyl or plastic. If there's a problem with any of these surfaces, you'll probably have to replace them.

• If the exterior was painted before the 1980s, you may be dealing with lead-based paint, which is extremely hazardous, especially for kids and pregnant women. Call the National Safety Council's Lead Information Center at (800) LEADFYI for instructions on how to deal with it safely.

• If you're using anything other than water-based latex, never put paint-soaked or cleaner-soaked tools or rags in an enclosed area of any kind - even a trash can with a lid. This is a recipe for spontaneous combustion.

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