How to Paint the Outside of Your House

Most of us look at painting our house as a daunting task. Although it is a big job, it may not be as difficult as you think. Here are some key guidelines on how to paint the outside your house:


No matter what paint you use, if the surface to be painted is not properly prepared, you are wasting both your time and your money. In most cases, the house should be power washed. Occasionally, after a good washing, you may find that it is not time yet to paint the house however, almost always, a good pressure washing reveals a real need to paint. Power washers can be rented from most rental yards and are relatively easily to operate. Work from the top down, if your surface is wood, make sure to keep the pressure wand at least 1 foot from the surface to avoid accidently peeling or gouging the wood. If you have a multi storied home, you may need to rent a scaffolding to reach the higher levels.

(Please Note: If your house has stucco siding, you cannot use a power washer as it will destroy your siding. Before washing stucco, be sure to look for cracks that should be repaired. Use a quality cleaner such as tri-sodium phosphate and rinse completely. Use a long handled bristle brush to wash the stucco).

When the wood is totally is dry, in a day or two depending on the weather, you can start removing the peeling or cracked paint that did not come off with the power wash.

Using a sharp, long handled scrapper, scrape with the grain as close to bare wood as possible. Change blades often. The sharper the blade, the faster and easier the job will be. Fill any cracks, gouges or holes with exterior surface compound. Feather sand the scraped areas to smooth the surface and make for a flat surface when painted.

Use a quality primer to cover all bare spots. Some primers can be tinted by your supplier. This makes painting easier later on as you will not have to put as much paint on.

The next step is to caulk all the joints between doors, windows, trim, vent's and outside lighting and plumbing fixtures. Use either an acrylic silicone, or acrylic latex, paintable caulk. If your window panes are held in with a glazing compound, check all of the panes for cracks or missing compound. Replace cracked or missing compound by first removing the old compound down to bare wood.

Prime any bare wood spots and install new compound. Only then can you paint the window trim. Note: If your house was built prior to 1972, you may have lead paint on your house. If you are not sure, there are test kits available at your local hardware store. You should check with your local environmental agency for proper removal and disposal of any lead based materials that you remove from your house.

Tools Needed:

In addition to power washers, scrapers and sanding blocks, your selection of brushes and rollers is very important. You should be able to do all of your painting with just two brushes. A 4 inch brush should be able to handle wide trim and the house siding, and a 2.5 inch angled brush is just right for smaller trim and window work. I recommend highly that you don't scrimp on brushes. Use quality brushes as it will make the job easier and faster. The type of paint you are applying determines the type of brush you will have to use. Synthetic bristles are best for latex paint. For oil based paint, use a natural bristle brush. Although there are brushes that say "all purpose", it is always best to use brushes that are made for your type of paint. You may choose to try rolling your paint, and that is fine, as long as you brush lightly over the rolled-on paint to eliminate any bubbles or streaks. Rolling lays paint on more evenly and faster, but it must be brushed over for a clean finish.


As with brushes, do not short change yourself on paint. Cheaper paint will have to be replaced much sooner with the same amount of labor involved. Quality shows and lasts. Ask around and select a paint that will do well where you live. You will be much more satisfied with the overall job and will not have to do it again so soon.

Do not paint when the sun is shining on a hot day. The outer layer will dry too soon and leave the inside layer wet. Try to paint in the spring and in warm, dry weather.

When you finish the job, you will be proud to look at your home and know it was done right and will last.