Importance of Exterior Paint Prep

Paint prep is not always the first thing that comes to mind when you look at tackling painting your home. However, proper paint prep is critical for a flawless paint job.  So, what is paint prep? We’re so glad you asked! Paint prep is the process of preparing your home for painting. This happens before you actually even take a paint brush to it. Paint prep is all about creating a clean, fresh canvas so that your paint products will properly adhere to the surface of your home.  There are multiple paint prep steps you’d want to take for different projects and surfaces. We’re going to take a look at the best paint prep practices for painting a standard home.

When it comes to painting your home’s exterior there are a few things you’ll want to be aware of. You should do a thorough inspection of the home before you begin the paint prep process. Things to keep an eye out for include but are not limited to; rotten siding or trim, loose nails, bare wood, flaking, bubbling, or peeling paint, as well as dirt and debris.  We mentioned earlier that paint prep is all about creating a clean canvas so products can perform at their best. Paint prep may feel a bit tedious but it’s critical to getting the finished product you’re looking for.

Replace Rotten Boards

One of the first things you’ll want to do it replace any rotten boards. You should think about your paint as the outermost layer of protection for your home. As your paint breaks down over time it’s integrity is compromised which can lead to warping and rot. There are some instances where you can “prep out” wood by using fillers and avoid replacing it. This can definitely save you some cash in the short term.  Long term though, you will need to replace that wood to avoid the rot from spreading and causing larger damage. Replacing the rotted wood will also give you the best looking final product as caulking and wood putty will only work as a band aid. If you are not familiar with wood replacement we highly recommend letting a professional take care of this part of your painting project.

Secure Any Loose Boards

In the same vein as wood replacement, you will want to make sure all boards are secure on your home.  Check for any loose nails that have popped out and hammer them back in. If they are no longer catching, a.k.a they aren’t securing to the home then go ahead and replace them with a screw.  Again, this paint prep step helps to create a strong barrier to keep moisture out and any loose boards can effect the barrier paint creates.

Clean the Exterior of Your Home

Is pressure washing your home before painting really that important? YES!  Now, when we talk about a pressure wash you should be looking at a light rinse.  There is a time and place for a high pressure wash and this is not it. Pressure washing your home before painting will ensure you’ve removed any dirt, debris, and cobwebs.  If you’re not comfortable pressure washing your home or you don’t want to rent or hire a pressure washer you do have another option. You can wipe down the house by hand. This will obviously take quite a bit more time however, it has the same desired effect.  There are a couple conditions that mean you wouldn’t want a pressure washing; if your home is lead positive you will NOT want to pressure wash as this can spread lead chips. You should also be aware that pressure washing will actually make your windows dirtier so don’t schedule a pressure wash right after having your windows cleaned.

Scrape Failing Paint

Again, there are different precautions you need to take if your home is lead positive so be sure to test your home if it was built before 1978.  Obviously, to create a smooth, even surface you’ll want to scrape any failing paint as part of the paint prep process. This can also be a fairly tedious activity but it will make a huge difference in how your paint adheres. A common misconception is that if the paint is thick enough or enough coats are added, it will cover any problem areas like this.  Paint does a great job of sealing things up but it will show whatever texture is beneath it. That means if you leave bubbled or flaking paint on the home before painting, you will more than likely still see that later. Thorough scraping and removal of these areas will give you a better finished paint project.

Caulk Seams and Nail Holes

This is the part of the paint prep that we all know about!  Caulking the exterior of your home just helps to seal everything up so outside elements can’t cause damage to your home.  You’ll want to find a high quality caulking, now is not the time to bargain hunt, and you’ll want to be thorough. Common areas to pay attention to are around windows and doors, seams where two boards meet, and of course, nail holes.  Please be aware, there is such a thing as overdoing it with caulking. If it’s not a product you’re used to you may want to consult a professional or a more experienced friend. A good thing to keep in mind is that whatever texture you add to the surface with the caulk is what you’ll see through the paint.

Prime Bare Boards

We all know how important it is to protect your siding and trim.  If you don’t know this, scroll back up and re-read the bit about wood work.  If you have brand new boards or older boards that just need a little TLC you’ll want to prime them.  We also highly recommend priming areas where snow typically sits; the bottom of the home and areas by the roof line.  It’s a simple step but really helps your paint stick.

Protect Your Home

A large part of the paint prep process has nothing to do with the paint adhering.  It’s all about protecting the work space from any paint spills or over-spray. If it’s your first time using a sprayer, you’ll want to be extra careful to put plastic down and tape off windows.  Over-spray is a very common mistake when you’re not comfortable with the sprayer so spend the extra time protecting everything to ensure you don’t make a mistake and end up with paint on something you didn’t intend.  Some areas to be hyper aware of are the roof, the driveway and walkways, bushes, windows, brick or stone, and fixtures on the home.

A Professional Paint Contractor Can Help

Now you’re probably thinking, paint prep is going to take more time than the actual painting! This can be true. However, if you keep up with your home and use high quality products you shouldn’t experience a ton of breakdown.  It’s critical to not only keep up with painting your home, you’ll want to make sure you’re paint prep is thorough and appropriate. If you’ve read this and are thinking to yourself, “There’s no way I’m doing all of this!” we highly recommend contacting a professional paint contractor to assist you with the process.  Often DIY projects are underestimated (we’re all guilty of it) but paint prep is really that important. Do it right the first time or don’t do it all, right?

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