Exterior painting is an essential job that protects a home from snow, wind and rain. Coating wood with a quality paint is a part of routine maintenance, and spending enough time to prepare the surface is imperative. Painting is only a small portion of the actual job, and there are a few tips that make it easy for anyone to paint home exteriors like a pro. Finding the right time of year is the first step. Wood has a tendency to absorb moisture, and it needs to be dry before it is painted.
1. Check the moisture level. There are plenty of reliable tools that can actually measure the amount of moisture in the wood. Professional painters recommend that wood has a moisture content that is 12 percent or less. Testers can be purchased at any home store. The machines have two prongs that probe beneath the wood’s surface. Most moisture probes are inexpensive. There is another approach that also works, and painting during the summer is preferable. Working during a week that is expected to be warm and sunny ensures that wood is as dry as possible.
2. Prepare the surface. Home exteriors are often pitted, and the existing paint may have peeled in places. Creating a smooth surface is the second step and ensures a quality job that looks great. Scraping any wood and removing flaking paint is essential. Sanders can also be used, and they are an easy way to quickly smooth large areas. Most homes have lead paint on the exterior, and this is especially true of any home built before 1970. Wearing respirators during sanding is essential and protects from lead paint and dust.
3. Putty surfaces. After paint has been scraped and any surfaces are sanded, small holes are patched with putty. It is essential to use a quality product that is designed for exterior application. A two-part epoxy is preferable and creates a solid surface for paint to adhere. Putty is easily molded into any shape and can be pressed into holes and minor blemishes. Even small rotten areas can be fixed with putty.
4. Sanding. After the surface is puttied and scraped, it needs to be sanded. Using two different grits is the most effective method. Sanding with a 36-grit paper roughs the home’s exterior, and a 60-grit pad finishes the job. A random-orbit sander makes this job easy.
5. Cleaning. Cleaning the wood is essential and removes any mold or mildew. A simple solution is easy to mix and requires two gallons of water, one cup of bleach and one cup of trisodium phosphate. This solution should be sprayed on the home and scrubbed into the surface with a stiff brush. The solution should sit for at least an hour. After the bleach solution has had time to work, it can easily be rinsed off with a garden hose.
6. Painting trim and windows is a great place to start, and sealing the windows first is another tip for a lasting job. Sealers need to be water-repellent, paintable and preservative. The sealant keeps wood from expanding and contracting during rainy weather. This reduces any stretching that paint will undergo and ensures a lasting job. Preservatives in the sealant protect the wood from mold and mildew.
7. Choosing a quality paint and primer. An oil-based primer is a quality product and preferred by professional painters. It adheres better than latex and is essential for a lasting job. After wood surfaces have been primed, they can be painted. Two coats of paint are ideal because they provide better protection. Sprayers are readily available and make an easy job of painting exteriors.
8. Caulking the seams. Sealing the painted surfaces reduces any chance for rot. Any cracks or seams in the finished surface need to be sealed with a quality caulk. There are plenty of materials on the market, and colored caulks match most common paint.