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Before You Paint Your Exterior

Few home maintenance chores are as time-consuming and labor-intensive as preparing and painting outdoor trim. advises “thoroughly cleaning, lightly sanding, and priming the surface” but you may also have to do some “scraping, stripping, reglazing, wire brushing, filling, and caulking.”

Sheesh. No wonder professional painters charge so much. So if you decide to do the work yourself, you can save yourself a lot of grief in the future by following good advice. Get yourself some good protective equipment, including goggles, a dust mask and gloves. 

Don Vandervort recommends starting with a deep cleaning via a scrub brush and a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP), while Bob Vila says you can substitute borax which has a less negative impact on the environment. Next, rinse the trim and allow it to dry before using primer and paint.  

If you have any woodwork with peeling paint, you’ll have to scrape or disc sand the area. You can also blister the paint with a heat gun, then peel it off with a putty knife. Disc sand windowsills. Fill cracks and holes with vinyl exterior spackling, or paintable caulk, then sand again when dry. 

Don’t skip using primer, as it acts as a seal for the surface you’re painting as well as a base for the paint to stick to. According to Primer seals the surface and provides a base to which the paint can adhere and slow-drying alkyd-base primers are your best bet. On any bare wood, apply two coats of primer. To help the paint cover, have your primer tinted with some of the finish colors. recommends choosing paint according to the conditions impacting your home. For example, use mildew-resistant paint if your home is in the shade or wet climate, and a dirt-resistant one for urban areas. Choose flat or satin finishes on the house and semigloss on doors, windows and trims. 

If you want to paint your brick…

Sometimes brick homes can appear dated or downright ugly. A fresh new color on your home’s exterior brick can go a long way toward updating your home. 

Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional, follow the same steps as for trim. 

Clean the bricks. Use a wire brush, soap and water to clean the bricks, or use a power washer.  For hard to remove stains, you can mix 1/ cup TSP to a gallon of water. If you have mold you can mix one part bleach to three parts water. 

Repair cracks and missing mortar. If you’re painting the brick for the first time, buy a premixed mortar patch, then caulk and seal any cracks in the brick. If your brick is already painted use the wire brush to loosen any paint that may be peeling. 

Use masonry primer. Like TSP, latex masonry primer is made for brick. It ensures that the paint color will go on smoothly and evenly. Allow the primer to dry before you begin to paint. If the paint was originally painted with oil, you’ll have to use oil-based masonry primer and paint or the fresh paint will quickly peel. Apply two coats of paint for coverage, waiting for the first coat to dry before applying the second.