Real Homes

How to tackle outdoor painting

Marcus Jarvis, in-house painter & decorator at Harris (harrisbrus­, offers advice on updating outside



First lay a dust sheet on the ground in your work area. To ensure a smooth surface for painting, remove any old paint or varnish using sanding blocks suitable for wood, plastic and metal, and flexible enough to cope with curves. Even bare wood should be sanded for better paint adhesion. Repair any damage at this stage.

Use a damp microfibre cloth to remove lingering dust. Tape off areas you don’t want painted with masking tape, for sharp edges without seepage.


Choose an outdoor paint designed for use on your type of surface. Be aware that most metal will benefit from a primer, especially if using a bright colour.


For large areas or garden structures, the easiest way to get a perfect finish is with an angled brush, like the Harris Ultimate Swan Neck Brush. It holds more paint and lays it off well to ensure good coverage. With the handle at a natural angle, you can paint faster for longer. Attach an extension pole for hard-to-reach areas. A storage case will keep the brush head wet so you can do your project in stages.


Small-scale outdoor woodwork is fiddlier, so you’ll need a range of brush shapes and sizes. Flat, round and angled brushes are suitable for flat surfaces, curves and spindles. For tricky areas, use triangular and angled brushes, or even a small hobby or craft brush.


You need brushes intended for use with metalwork paints for items like railings. A round brush will cover gates, rails and finials, with flat brushes for garages.

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