Exterior Painting, How I did it.

By Megan

Exterior painting can sometimes be a chore. But sometimes it can be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I know, because when I was a young teen I had the pleasure of being hired to help flip houses. That’s right. No experience and being a girl didn’t stop them from hiring me.

Well okay, I had a little experience helping my dad when I was a preteen to paint a couple of the houses we lived in. But I did learn some things about painting both exteriors and interiors. Then when I was 15, I started working for somebody who bought houses for cheap, fixed them up, and resold them. Boy did we ever make mistakes.

The First Trick

The first trick to a great paint job is using the right tools for the right surfaces. A roller and a brush isn’t all you need to know about painting. The nap of the roller and the bristle length and content determined how well the paint will coat the surface. Then there’s the sealing coat.

I could spend a couple of pages informing you of what types of brushes to use for each product and when. But I won’t. Just read the labels of the paint and the brush, and that should give you a good idea.

The basics anybody needs to know about supplies are: Natural bristles on paint brushes are better. Buying paint brushes that are a bit expensive pays off. The higher the bristle count, the better they last. If you take good care of them, you can use the same set of natural hair bristled paint brushes for years. Just be sure to have different brushes for different types of paint. One for sealing, one for oil paint, one for vinyl paint, and so on. And clean them well after each use, using the proper applications of water or turpentine, or other chemicals (depending on the base of the paint), then dispose of that properly.

The next thing we learned was about roller naps. Pay attention to the labels here. A good roller nap will provide excellent coverage without flinging paint all over everything. So the smoother the surface, the shorter the nap needs to be on the roller. And the rougher the surface, the deeper and thicker the nap needs to be. Be sure to only purchase roller pads that have plastic backing.

Sometimes companies try to get away with making them with paper backs. Nothing is messier than a roller that starts to come apart while you are painting. Those with cardboard backs can be used with oil based paint. But still, one use and they need to be tossed. A fairly priced roller pad will last about a year, if you paint all the time. We used ours for longer, as long as we cleaned them well between uses and allowed them to completely dry before we put them away.

Roller pans and handles are best when purchased on the rather cheap side. Just make sure the well is deep on them and that the pan lies flat on a surface and doesn’t wobble around. Paint can covers, plastic paint can covers, roller grids that insert into paint cans, and pouring spouts all make the job a little easier. Just be sure to clean them all thoroughly between uses.

If you plan on using a paint sprayer, either take a class, or give yourself some time to practice on various surfaces for a few days before applying paint to highly visible surfaces. Using a paint sprayer has its application in making the job easier and better looking, sometimes.

The Sealants And Paints

The trick to great painting starts with the base coat. Most surfaces, especially the older ones with lead or oil based paints, need to be primed with a sealer/ bonder type coating before the paint is applied. Be sure to use one specified for the two types of paint, both the paint that’s on the surface, and the paint you will be using. And if you are planning on putting a light color over a darker color or a darker color over a very light color, it’s smart to have the primer tinted. And if you are painting over bare or stained wood you may need another primer to help the sealant product bond to it.

Other than that, just make sure the paint is exterior paint. One time, we painted an entire house only to realize later that it was interior paint. We knew something was wrong when it started peeling after the first rain storm. By the way, never use exterior paint on the interior either. The chemical makeup is different and the toxic fumes it gives off may make people sick.

A Few Last Strokes

Additionally, it’s wise to use paint designed for specific purposes. While some exterior paint can go on stucco, wood, or other pre-painted surface, it doesn’t mean they will work on vinyl or metal siding. Vinyl and metal siding both need to be primed before painting. And they may need a stripper to be used, if they have been painting before. The best thing to do with vinyl or metal siding is to renew its surface. A good wash and sealant coat is all that may be needed to bring the original color back to life. That is unless you really want to change the color.

These are just some of the things a person needs to know about various surfaces, especially when it comes to exterior siding, along with knowledge about different types of paint and methods for getting the job done. There were several times where we had to repaint the stucco, or used vinyl paint over lead based or oil based paint only to have it peel on us. If we had only known about using a great sealing undercoat to bind the two types of paints together, to seal the stains from leaking through, and keep the damp and wet weather from damaging the siding beneath, then we might have had less work on our hands.

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