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How to paint the exterior of your house so it looks like you hired a pro

How to paint a house exterior: A DIY guide

Your home’s curb appeal not only impacts its value but also affects how much you enjoy your home. A gorgeous and pristine house exterior can really lift your spirits every time you arrive home, and it can give you a sense of pride and joy. If you’re looking to give your home’s exterior a face-lift, painting it is a great option that will make it look new and modern.

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3 hours

What You Need

  • Ladder

  • Brushes, paint rollers, and paint sprayer

  • Paint buckets and trays

  • Painter's tape

  • Primer

  • Paint

  • Power washer

  • Scrub brush

  • Metal paint scraper

  • Wire brush

  • Paintable wood putty

  • Putty kninves

  • Sandpaper

  • Orbital sander

  • Caulking gun

  • Exterior sealant

  • Tarps or drop cloths

  • Twine

  • Blocks or weights

Whether you’re trying to sell your home or just tired of looking at that old, drab paint job, we’re here to help. We’ll discuss how to paint the exterior of your house like a pro.

Painting exterior house white

What’s the best time of year to paint a house exterior?

You may think that summer is the best time to paint your home’s exterior, but hot and humid conditions actually aren’t ideal for outdoor painting. Those conditions can negatively affect the end result of your paint job.

The best seasons to paint the exterior of your house are actually late spring and early fall, as long as the weather forecast is clear for several days. Your paint will need time to dry, so ideal conditions are:

  • 50-85 degrees F
  • 50% humidity
  • Clear skies

What type of paint should be used on the exterior of your house?

You should never use indoor paint on your house’s exterior, as it is not designed to withstand harsh conditions like hours of sunlight or wind, rain, and snow. If you use indoor paint on your exterior, you’ll find that it will:

  • Chip, flake, or peel quickly
  • Turn chalky or powdery
  • Fade from sun exposure

There are a few different options for exterior paint, and it’s best to use the same type that’s currently on the exterior. If the previous paint job was done with an oil-based paint, for example, and you cover it with latex paint, you’ll find that the new coat will peel off quickly.

Here are two types of exterior paint and their benefits:

Latex paint

  • Easy to use and apply
  • Dries quickly
  • Spills clean up easily with water
  • More economical

Oil-based paint

  • More durable and weather-resistant than latex
  • More expensive, but higher quality
  • Results are a hard finish
  • Often used by professionals

How to paint a house exterior: Clean first

In order for paint to adhere properly, you’ll need to rid the exterior of dirt, grime, mold, and mildew. The best way to do this is with a power washer, but you can also use a hose and an outdoor cleaner. Either way, you may need to use a scrub brush to get off any tough grime.

Scrape off flaking or chipped paint

If there are loose portions of old paint, the new paint will not adhere and it will peel off faster. While power washing may pull off sections of extremely loose paint, you’ll have to use a metal scraper and a wire brush to remove the remaining flaking or chipping paint on the entire exterior.

Check for exterior damage and reseal windows and doors

Before you paint, it’s a good idea to check for and repair any exterior damages or broken seals. Rotting wood, broken or loose siding, and warping trim should be repaired before you paint in order to save time and money repainting down the road after the repairs become urgent.

Protect against drips and spills

Since drips and spills will almost certainly happen, be sure the area you’re painting is protected against them. Lay down tarps or drop cloths, and hold them in place with twine or weigh them down with blocks or weights.

Apply primer and paint

Be sure you’re selecting a high-quality exterior primer if your selected paint requires one. Primer helps the paint to adhere to the exterior material better and keeps it from peeling or flaking.

Step 1: Be sure you’re using proper safety measures while you prime and paint, particularly when you’re using a ladder.

Step 2: Use a paint brush or roller to apply your primer, starting at the highest point that you’ll be painting, and working your way down. Make sure you are brushing with even strokes that go in the direction of your siding.

Step 3: Allow the primer to dry fully before moving on to painting.

Step 4: Use a brush or roller to apply the first coat of paint, using the same brushing direction and method as you did with the primer. Don’t use thick amounts of paint in your strokes, as this may cause dripping or uneven coats.

Step 5: Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely before applying the second coat, and be sure to use new or cleaned brushes and rollers for the second coat.

Painting your home’s exterior is a big job, and it will require a lot of time and effort on your part. However, the overall cost of a DIY exterior paint job is a fraction of the cost of a professional job. If you’re looking to save some money on this update and you have the skills and time to do it right, your DIY paint job will look like it was done by the pros.

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If you're planning a painting project and you're concerned about humidity levels while you paint, you've come to the right place. Since paint needs to dry properly to have a beautiful and smooth-looking result, moisture in the air is certainly an issue. So, is painting in humid weather possible? While the answer to that question is yes, we're going to discuss some of the concerns and tips for dealing with humidity and painting indoors or outdoors.

How does humidity affect your paint job?
Moisture in the air means that there's moisture on the surface you're about to paint. A damp surface is not ideal for painting, and you will find that your overall result doesn't look as great as you'd hoped. Let's dig into the specifics of how high humidity negatively impacts your paint job.
Moisture could lead to mold growth
When you're dealing with high humidity, surfaces tend to dry slowly. When you're painting indoors, for example, you always want to wash your walls before slapping down a coat of paint, so high humidity could slow down the drying process. If your walls are damp when you start to paint, this could lead to mold growing between the wall and the paint. The mold will eventually grow through the new layer of paint, and you will need to clean the area and paint again.
Paint will struggle to dry
For a coat of most paint types to dry, the water in the paint needs to evaporate more quickly than the solvents. In high humidity, the water struggles to evaporate, making for a gunky, gel-like layer of paint. Eventually, when the humidity level falls, you'll find that this type of consistency will dry with a wavy texture since it has not been set properly, and you won't be satisfied with the result.
Wood surfaces could swell
As you may know, moisture on wood causes it to swell. If you're painting wood when there's a lot of moisture in the air, the wood could start to swell a bit after you've put on a coat of paint. This swelling could cause cracks or chips in your coat of paint which will eventually lead to the surface needing to be repainted.
Paint may not adhere to metal surfaces
Painting metal objects can be difficult enough, since paint doesn't adhere to them as easily as it does to wood. Humidity can worsen this, so if you're trying to paint something metal, it might be best to leave that for a drier day.

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Different types of paint finishes and their best uses
A paint's finish, or "sheen," refers to the way it reflects light once dried. Some finishes reflect light well, creating a glossy appearance, while others reflect little to no light, resulting in a more matte finish. These sheens also have a variety of other benefits, like cleanability or their ability to hide surface imperfections, so there's a lot to consider before purchasing a paint can or two.
Flat and matte finishes
Since flat finishes don't reflect much light, they tend to hide surface imperfections well, making these products great for textured interior walls. Flat and matte finishes also go on smooth and are the cheapest types of paint, so painters like to use these for large areas. Unfortunately, these finishes are not very durable and don't withstand cleaning well, so they're not recommended for high-traffic areas.
High-gloss finish
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Eggshell and satin finishes
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Semi-gloss finish
A semi-gloss finish falls somewhere in between high-gloss and eggshell finishes in terms of sheen, durability, and coverage. It is more durable and moisture-resistant than eggshell but doesn't cover imperfections as well. However, it has better coverage than high-gloss paint. This is like the jack of all trades finish, as it performs fairly well in all categories.

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Painting is a fun and artistic project that often requires careful attention to detail. Imagine spending countless hours dusting, spackling, sanding, washing the walls before painting, taping, and then finally layering on those glorious coats — only to find the final result isn’t as flawless as you had originally hoped. The paint is no longer smooth — instead, it’s horribly bubbled.

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