How to Prepare the Exterior of Your Home for Painting

Applying a new coat of paint to a home can go a long way towards improving its overall look and reducing future repair bills. As the protective barrier between a house and the elements, the exterior paint job should never be neglected. The biggest mistake that most homeowners make when painting is failing to properly prepare the surface beforehand. Be sure to do the following before you start on your painting renovation.

how to prepare home exterior for painting

Strip Off the Old Paint

It goes without saying that stripping off the existing coat of paint is the first and some would argue most important step. While manual paint scrapers are a pain to use, they do a more thorough job than most power tools. Remove as much paint as you can and sand down the stubborn patches later. Put down tarps to collect the discarded chips.

Sand Down the Substrate

Once you’ve removed the lion’s share of the old paint, you need to sand down the boards to achieve a uniform finish. For most of the surface, a course 60 or 80 grit sandpaper will work just fine, removing paint quickly and leaving a course surface to which primer will stick better. Use a power sander to smooth out the rough edges. For hard-to-reach spots at the edges of boards, use 320 grit sandpaper to manually grind away any remaining paint. Keep in mind that softer woods require a lower grit to avoid damage.

Caulk, Seal and Mask

Next, you’ll need to strip off any old caulk filling the gaps and apply a fresh layer. Be sure to fill in any nail head holes with putty and sand down the surface once again. A Vancouver painter from Student Works Painting recommends paying special attention to gaps between wood and foundational materials, which can be easily missed. Finally, mask off the corner posts so that you don’t accidentally paint them the wrong color.

Apply a Layer of Primer

Whether you’re working with vinyl or wood siding, you’ll need to apply primer before you slap on any actual paint. The best primer for your home depends on the siding material in question. For instance, cedar should be treated with an oil-based primer. For vinyl, it’s best to go with a latex-based primer for rough spots. Acrylic primers work in a variety of scenarios, so if you’re unsure what wood you’re working with, going with acrylic is usually the best idea. If you’re making a drastic color change with the new paint—going from a very dark color to a pastel, for instance—tinted primers can help you get better coverage on your top coat.

Paving the Path to Excellence

The four simple steps outlined above are more or less the entire exterior painting preparation process in a nutshell. Doing your homework when selecting the appropriate primer for your siding material and the local environmental conditions will be the most important variable in the equation. Take your time while you’re preparing your home’s siding and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Erin Emanuel