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Tips for painting exteriors
Painting the exterior of your home will do more than simply create an attractive appearance. It will provide protection from the sun, the weather, and other environmental factors that can gradually damage your home.
Many homeowners are becoming do-it-yourselfers and choosing to repaint their own homes -- a move that can save them money. If they plan carefully, the results can be entirely satisfactory. Important considerations are: choosing attractive colors; choosing correct types of paint; selecting proper applicators; preparing the surface well; following correct application procedures; and thoroughly cleaning up.
Exterior color selection
Whether you're repainting or painting your home for the first time, you'll want to carefully select exterior colors. After all, the outside of your home will likely be in public view for all the world to see!
Here are some points to remember when making your selection:
Paint type selection
There are several varieties of paints available today for exterior painting -- many suited especially for a particular surface. It is not practical to list all these paints, but this information will affirm you with some helpful facts to take with you to your paint store. Paints are designed to be used on certain surfaces and to perform well under certain conditions. You should consider the various surfaces of your home that will need painting and choose the paints with this in mind. The paint retailer can be helpful and reading the paint can labels can also be beneficial.
Most paints are either solvent-thinned or water-thinned and often you can have a choice of either type for a particular surface. Alkyd and oil-based paints are solvent-thinned. They are durable, and resist abrasion well. Because they are solvent-thinned, clean-up of brushes, rollers, etc. must be done with turpentine or mineral spirits.
Latex paints are water-thinned. They are often more popular because brushes, rollers and splatters can usually be cleaned up with soap and water. Latex paints are durable, easy to apply, and retain their color well.
Either latex or alkyd types can be used successfully provided the surface is properly prepared. Both are available in a variety of sheens from flat to glossy -- the lustre or sheen of a product is referred to as its gloss. A paint with a higher gloss is preferable on exterior areas where dirt or abrasion are a problem -- such as doors and trimwork. For high gloss trim paints, alkyds are usually preferred. Flat paints are attractive and are often preferred on siding, masonry and stucco.
Most wood surfaces may be topcoated with any of the exterior paints -- latex, alkyd, or oil-based.
Exterior wood stains, available in solid or semi-transparent types, are popular for textured wood surfaces. Solid stains hide the color of the wood, but at the same time allow the texture of the wood to show through. Semi- transparent stains are used when more of the natural wood color is desired.
Coating exterior wood surfaces with clear coatings is a somewhat questionable practice. Sunlight penetrates the clear coating, affecting the wood surface. This causes the clear coating to lose adhesion and peel off. If you decide to use a clear finish, it is necessary to set up a strict regular maintenance program. A new clear coating should be applied before deterioration of the old coating begins. Some clear coatings contain ultra-violet absorbers which help to lengthen their life. Ask your paint retailer for a recommendation.
Considerations for specific surfaces:
Masonry -- masonry often contains alkali, therefore a paint which is not affected by alkali should be used. Latex paints are the usual choice for masonry, but buy one which is designed for use on masonry.
Siding above decorative masonry surfaces -- since chalk will wash down and discolor lower surfaces, freely chalking flat white paints should not be chosen for these areas.
Asphalt roofs -- no primer is required. Clean all dirt off and use special asphalt roof coatings, many of which have metallic aluminum pigment for heat reflection and durability.
Wood shingles/shakes -- painting is usually not recommended for wood roofs. Because of moisture problems it is difficult to keep paint intact on rough wood surfaces. However, a water-repellent preservative will give the wood some protection against decay, stain, fungus, swelling, shrinking and warping.
Porches and decks -- should be coated with special porch and deck paints or stains, designed to stand the wear and weather.
Rough sawn siding -- use a solid or semi-transparent stain.
Metal surfaces -- once primed properly with a corrosion-resistant primer, they can be topcoated with any exterior paint.
There are many miscellaneous surface areas such as swimming pools, underground metal, driveways, and glass windows for which specific coatings are available. Ask your paint retailer for a recommendation.
On surfaces that have never been painted, or areas that have become bare, the first coat should always be a prime coat. The primer seals porous surface materials so the topcoat won't soak in and dry unevenly. It also forms a tight bond between the topcoat and underlying surface material.
The keys to selecting a primer are adhesion to the surface and compatibility with the topcoat. The paint you select for a topcoat will usually recommend a type of primer on the label.
Figuring the proper amount of paint to buy
It is always helpful to buy all the paint you will need for a particular job at one time -- both for convenience and to reduce the chance of a slight color variation between batches. Often your paint retailer can select all your cans of paint from the same batch.
The amount of paint needed will depend on the type of paint, kind of surface to be painted, and the amount of surface area to be covered. To compute the surface area, measure the height and width of each area and multiply to find the number of square feet of surface .
The paint can label will tell you the number of square feet that a gallon of the paint will cover. Divide that into the number of square feet to obtain the number of gallons per coat to buy. It is important to apply the paint at the spreading rate recommended on the label by the manufacturer.
The type of surface you are painting can also make a difference. For instance, rough materials have substantially more surface area than smooth materials, so more paint will be required on them.
Selecting the best applicator for the job
The right paint applicator can mean the difference between a long-lasting, professional-looking paint job and a sloppy, amateur one. Perhaps more importantly for the do-it-yourselfer, the proper applicator will make the job much easier.
For most exterior painting jobs, three sizes of brushes are needed: 1 to 3 inch oval or sash brushes to paint window frames and moldings; 2 to 3-inch brushes for shutters, windows and door trim; and 3 to 4 inch brushes for larger areas.
You might choose to use a roller -- a 7 to 9 inch roller can be speedier over large flat surfaces. However, a roller should not be used for the primer coat on wood because brushing gives better penetration and more complete coverage.
Pad applicators are good for smooth surfaces since they are usually faster to use than a brush, but be sure to apply enough paint for protection.
Brushes are available in a variety of bristle materials; rollers come in various nap lengths and fabrics; and pad applicators also vary in fabric types. The applicator wrapper covering should tell you what type of paint that particular applicator is intended for. The key is to select a good quality applicator -- the extra money you might pay will be well worth the results.
Proper surface preparation is the key
It has often been said that the actual painting is a breeze -- the surface preparation is what takes the most time and effort. Proper surface preparation, however, is essential to a successful paint job. A poorly prepared surface is often the cause of later paint problems. But regardless of that, it is always worth the time spent preparing a surface, because the results will be more attractive and longer-lasting.
The first step should be a thorough inspection of your home's exterior, checking for peeling paint, dirt, grease, cracks, knots, rusty nail heads, bare areas and mildew. Follow these steps to obtain the smooth, clean, dry surface before painting:
Here are some additional suggestions for special surfaces:
Application of the exterior paint
Tips for a successful outdoor painting job:
Clean-up at the end of the day
Clean-up after painting need not be a chore if you follow these few suggestions:
Reprinted with permission of the National Paint and Coatings