Common Exterior Paint Preparation Steps

Good surface preparation is essential for a lasting paint job. You can have all the right materials, but if you skip even the simplest of the common exterior paint preparation steps you will cut years off a good exterior paint job. All good paint jobs are a result of proper preparation.

Here are a few simple, common exterior paint preparation steps you can follow to make the project go easier.

1. Wash

To save time at the end, do the job right at the beginning. Having a clean surface is very crucial to exterior paint preparation.

You will want to remove all the mildew, dirt and excessive chalking by washing all your exterior surfaces. The best place to start is with pressure washing. It is the best way to remove any chalking from the paint surface.

When deciding if you want to use a pressure washer one thing to take into consideration is how big an area you have to wash. If the area is more than 500 square feet, then it is best to use a pressure washer.

Mildewed surfaces can be washed with a mixture of one quart of household bleach in a gallon of water. Loose caulking will have to be scraped off first and then the surface washed.

The most effective way to get rid of mold and mildew from the exterior is to use a power washer with a cleaning solution. The best cleaning solution is a mixture of bleach and TSP (tri-sodium phosphate).

Washing an exterior painted surface area is pretty simple. However pressure washing a stained siding is a much different story. If you are washing a home with a stain finish, instead of paint, then this is the most important step before restaining a home. This is covered in Pressure Washing Stained Siding.

2. Scrap and Sand

Any and all loose paint must be found and gotten rid of because this forms the foundation for the entire paint job. Of all of the exterior paint preparation steps this is actually considered by many to be the most laborious part of exterior painting.

What power washing doesn’t catch, scraping and sanding will. You want to combine your scraping and sanding in one step, as each of these processes can find loose paint that the other technique may have missed.

If you are working with a rough wood, such as sawn cedar, your only choice may be to use a wire brush. The wire brush can be attached to a power drill for use.

As with any job, you need to be careful of the environment. If you have a home built before 1978, your exterior finish might contain lead based paint. Lead paint safety is a major concern when painting. Make sure you protect yourself and your family.

3. Caulk

Caulk around windows and door trim. Caulk any cracks in the siding. Caulk boards that butt up to each other. Just be sure the caulk is paintable. This is a critical step in the exterior preparation process. Properly applied caulking will save the paint job from future damage by weather extremes.

4. Mask

One of the last things you will want to do before you begin painting is to make sure you protect everything. Make sure you use drop cloths to protect all of your landscaping, walkways, porches and driveways.

Also, you will want to mask off your windows and light fixtures using paper, painter’s tape and plastic. Intricate trim will look neater if you mask it off as well, rather than expecting the trim paint to cover overspray or misplaced brush strokes.

5. Prime

Give the top coat a solid base to adhere to. Use a primer to ensure that the new paint adheres securely to the wall.

Always use top quality products. Using top quality products from the beginning is a must so your end product looks its best for as many years as possible.

Preparation is 80 percent of your project. If you do this part right, then you have set the tone for the remainder of the project.


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