DIY Es­sen­tials

Paint­ing the ex­te­rior of a house takes a lot of time— you won’t want to do it again soon! The key to a long-last­ing paint job is solid prep work, and here are 17 tips that get the job done.

The Family Handyman - - DEPARTMENTS -

A long-last­ing ex­te­rior paint job re­quires top-notch sur­face prep. Here’s how to do it right.

1. CLEAN SID­ING AND TRIM

Dirty sur­faces won’t hold paint. Re­move dirt, mildew, cob­webs and any­thing else that isn’t meant to be there. Do the clean­ing in stages. Start by ap­ply­ing a so­lu­tion of bleach, water and a cleaner such as JOMAX (a bleach ac­ti­va­tor), us­ing a gar­den sprayer. Next, re­move weath­ered paint and dirt us­ing a pres­sure washer. Be care­ful, as you can eas­ily dam­age sid­ing and trim with a pres­sure washer. If you don’t feel con­fi­dent us­ing a pres­sure washer, a sid­ing cleaner and scrub brush will do the job. Thor­oughly rinse to re­move any cleaner residue and let the sur­faces dry.

2. SCRAPE

Af­ter the sur­faces have dried com­pletely, scrape off any re­main­ing loose or flak­ing paint. Ap­ply­ing new paint over flak­ing paint will cause it to peel far sooner than it should. Be­fore scrap­ing, pound in any nail heads that could nick your scraper blade. You can buy a hard­ened steel scraper ($5 to $10), or for about twice the price, you can buy a car­bide scraper. Car­bide holds an edge far longer than hard­ened steel. With ei­ther op­tion, buy a cou­ple re­place­ment blades so you don’t have to sharpen as of­ten. You can sharpen a car­bide blade us­ing a di­a­mond stone.

3. RE­MOVE OLD CAULK While you’re scrap­ing, check the caulk­ing around win­dows, doors and trim. If the caulk is in good shape and still ad­her­ing, leave it in place. If not, dig it out with a 5-in-1 tool (shown), util­ity knife or putty knife. 4. SAND OFF RIDGES

Af­ter scrap­ing, sand any sharp paint edges, blend­ing them with the sur­round­ing sur­face. If you don’t blend them in, the sharp edges will cre­ate thin, weak ar­eas in the new paint. Brush away any dust cre­ated by sand­ing, and then rinse the sid­ing and trim thor­oughly.

5. RE­PAIR DAM­AGED SUR­FACES

Don’t paint over rot­ten or in­sect-dam­aged wood. Even if it cov­ers, the paint won’t last. Re­place or re­pair any dam­aged wood. Fill nail holes and other small im­per­fec­tions with ex­te­rior wood putty. Sand off ex­cess putty af­ter it’s dry.

6. CRE­ATE A GAP BE­TWEEN TRIM AND CON­CRETE

Boards that come in con­tact with con­crete won’t hold paint for long. Water on the con­crete wicks up into the wood, loos­en­ing the bond be­tween the wood and the paint. To rem­edy this, trim any wood so that it’s about 1/4 in. above con­crete.

7. KEEP SPACE BE­TWEEN TRIM AND SHIN­GLES

If trim or sid­ing con­tacts the shin­gles, water will wick into the wood and the paint won’t last. Lay a 3/4-in.thick spacer on the shin­gles and cut any trim or sid­ing to cre­ate a gap be­tween the wood and the shin­gles.

8. SPOT-PRIME

Prime nail heads, putty and knots be­fore prim­ing the whole sur­face. These ar­eas are more dif­fi­cult to cover, so they need a lit­tle ex­tra at­ten­tion.

9. PRIME ALL BARE WOOD

You can get good re­sults with oil or la­tex primer. For bare woods with a high tan­nin (a dark, nat­u­ral pig­ment) con­tent, such as cedar and red­wood, use a stain­block­ing ex­te­rior primer. Stain-block­ing primers pre­vent “bleed-through” of tan­nin as well as stains from old, rusty nails.

10. CAULK ALL CRACKS & GAPS

Caulk around win­dows, doors, trim and any­where else water could get be­hind a painted sur­face. Use in­te­rior/ex­te­rior paintable la­tex caulk. Be sure to prime first; primer ad­heres to bare or slightly dirty sur­faces much bet­ter than caulk.

11. DON’T FOR­GET THE THRESH­OLD

The bot­tom of a wood door­jamb will rot pre­ma­turely if you don’t caulk the line where the thresh­old meets the jamb.

12. SEAL END GRAIN

When you in­stall or expose new wood, seal any end grain with a paintable water re­pel­lent, such as WOODLIFE Clas­sic clear wood preser­va­tive. Al­low the re­pel­lent to dry ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tions, then prime and paint.

13. KEEP VEG­E­TA­TION TRIMMED

Plants that come into con­tact with your ex­te­rior walls hold mois­ture against the paint, which can lead to com­pro­mised paint and rot­ting wood. That means more re­pair work, more money and more fre­quent paint­ing.

14. WAIT FOR GOOD PAINT­ING WEATHER

Avoid paint­ing on hot days, in di­rect sun and in windy weather. Ideal tem­per­a­tures for paint­ing are be­tween 50 and 90 de­grees F. Tem­per­a­tures be­low 50 de­grees can pre­vent the paint from ad­her­ing to the sur­face prop­erly. Hot weather, wind and di­rect sun all cause paint to dry too quickly, pre­vent­ing ad­e­quate pen­e­tra­tion of the primer and/or paint. It can also cause oil paint to blis­ter. When pos­si­ble, work in the shade, fol­low­ing the path of the sun through­out the day. Never paint when rain is im­mi­nent or right af­ter it rains. Paint­ing a damp sur­face can cause paint to bub­ble.

15. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PAINT JOB

When­ever you’re out do­ing yard work, check in on your paint. Look closely for ar­eas of cracked or peel­ing paint, or wood that might be rot­ting. With a lit­tle spot main­te­nance, you can ex­tend the life of your paint job by a few years.

16. EASE SHARP EDGES

Sharp edges won’t hold paint; there just isn’t enough sur­face area. If you in­stall any new wood, be sure to give any sharp edges a slight round-over. It doesn’t take much; a sin­gle pass with a sand­ing block is usu­ally suf­fi­cient.

17. DON’T STALL ON PAINT­ING

Primer loses its bond­ing prop­er­ties with pro­longed ex­po­sure to UV light. Af­ter prim­ing, you have a win­dow of time to ap­ply paint. Check the la­bel on your can, as the amount of time can vary among man­u­fac­tur­ers. We checked with two ma­jor com­pa­nies. One said that paint must be ap­plied within one week; the other said any­where from four to six weeks.

Four-Sided Hard­ened Steel Scraper Blade Two-Sided Car­bide Scraper Blade

Ex­te­rior Putty

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