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All of the details about painting the exterior of our house

The exterior of our house never bothered us until we were painting the interior of our house (ceilings and everything) and figured that the exterior would be even less work.

Once we realized that painting the exterior of our house had potential to be a relatively quick DIY, we pretty quickly made up a plan and got to work!

before
after

The Prep

Painting a house is about 80% prep work and 20% actually painting. The prep starts days before you are painting, so make sure to allow for that in your project timeline!

Scraping & Sanding

Our house has hardie board siding that had been pre-primed and painted only once before. We didn’t have to scrape any chipping paint or sand anything down, but that is a step that some houses will need depending on the kind of shape it is in. Painting over chips is bad news because it’ll just keep chipping. 

Washing

You can wash by hand or powerwash. Power washing is definitely going to be a lot quicker, but be careful not to damage your siding. I hand washed our house because our yard is so small that I didn’t have the space to safely use a power washer. I used a mild biodegradable dish soap and scrub brush to wash the house. 

The goal is really to brush away any dirt and debris so it doesn’t get trapped under the paint and also to get a clean surface for your tape to grab onto. A power sprayer can do this job (much faster) but be careful not to come from under your siding and accidentally either rip siding loose or get water stuck under them. And if you decide to power wash you will have to wait 3-4 days between washing and painting, so plan accordingly!

Taping

When your house is all clean, you’re ready to tape off windows and anything else that you don’t want covered in paint. To tape off the soffits, I used pre-taped plastic sheeting. This stuff is pretty easy to use. The only mistake I made with it was not trimming excess plastic off. It ended up blowing in the wind and clung to wet paint on the house. Also not sure who would need to hear this, but cutting with scissors is much easier than trying to rip it with your hands. I tried to rip it more times than I would like to admit before grabbing my scissors 🤦‍♀️.

To tape off the windows, I used masking paper and blue painters tape. The most important part of this is making sure that you don’t have any open seams. Every piece of paper should be taped down on all four sides because the sprayer will make the paper flap and lift up if it’s not secure. After a couple of windows, I switched to pre-taped plastic sheeting, and found it easier to use than the paper. It clings to the windows nicely and stays put a little bit better than paper in the wind. 

We found cardboard to be helpful to have on hand as well. We hung on to some bigger boxes and used them to block off areas, like the fence and parts of the garden. 

The Tools

We purchased the Control Pro 150 Sprayer from Wagner. We were really happy with how it worked for us! It came with a 25’ hose, which was long enough for our small house, but if your house is taller, you can purchase a 50’ hose separately. You can also purchase different nozzles that are good for different paints, but the one it came with was good for exterior latex paint. If you don’t want to invest in owning a sprayer, check your local Home Depot to see if you can rent one! I highly recommend painting your house with a sprayer. It’ll save you a ton of time and the smooth finish is so easy to achieve. 

The Paint

We used Sherwin Williams Duration Exterior Acrylic Latex paint in flat finish. The exterior of our house is approximately 2200sf with 2 sides at 9ft x 90ft and 2 sides at about 16ft x 18ft. We ended up using about 10 gallons. If you’re buying paint from Sherwin Williams and don’t have a strict timeline, wait until it goes on sale! We bought our paint for 30% off and I’ve noticed that SW has sales frequently. Without any coupons, 10 gallons of this paint will cost you about $800. 

The Painting

The fun part! Really, almost all of the work is behind you at this point. I thought the sprayer would be challenging to use, but it was pretty intuitive and user-friendly. Just make sure you aren’t blowing into the wind, and that you are wearing a respirator. Hold the sprayer from 10-12 inches away and move in a back and forth motion, it doesn’t matter if you spray up and down or side to side, just make sure you’re overlapping to get good coverage. I found that shorter bursts were easier to control than holding it for extended periods of time.

We kept a high density foam roller nearby to catch any drips. There weren’t many, but it was helpful to clean them up as they happened. We had a few drips that we didn’t notice, so we sanded them down in between coats and they were hardly noticeable in the end.

Do one coat, wait a couple hours for it to dry and then go back and do a second coat. You’re going to want to do two coats even if you don’t think it looks like you need two. We made that mistake and ended up being able to see streaks from a distance. Up close it looked great, but step back and take a look at different times of day with different light and I guarantee the first coat is not perfect and is not enough.

My last piece of advice is to wear plastic gloves. I didn’t, and I was covered in paint for days. Anything to make cleanup a little bit easier is a good idea. 

I’m not a professional painter, but I hope that my experience can at the very least be a jumping point for you to launch into your own project. Make sure to do your research about the particular kinds of materials you’re painting (vinyl siding or brick would be a whole other process!)  Painting the exterior of your house can be done and you can do it all by yourself! Good luck!

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