Low Hassle Exterior Painting

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Fortunately, painting the outside of most homes is easier today than ever. Easier… not easy. When the average cost of a professional paint job runs several thousand dollars (though they do earn it), you may want to tackle it yourself.

Get started right by investing in one of the many home design software packages available. You can’t judge color and finish on a computer monitor. But, it will help you estimate the amount of paint needed, provide a list of materials and assist you in budgeting.

Unless you know the effect of a particular paint on your home, try some inexpensive and quick experiments. Buy a pint of your proposed color and finish and try it on a small, out-of-the-way section of the house.

Prepare the surface as you would for the whole job, by cleaning and sanding, if necessary. Scrape off any chips or cracking sections. Apply and let dry for a week and, if possible, observe in different weather conditions (cloudy, sunny, overcast). Take into account the amount of shade in your test area. You may have to try it in more than one spot to get a realistic idea.

You can repeat the experiment using both latex-based and alkyd(oil)-based paints. In years past, oil would have been the hands down favorite for exterior work, but as paint products evolve the choice is now a toss up.

Latex is easier to work with and dries faster, but tends to be less durable. It also bonds more readily with weather stripping. It breaths well, allowing moisture in the wood to come out (or in, unfortunately) more easily. Clean up generally requires no more than dish detergent and water.

Oil-based paints stand up well to wear, making it especially good for doors, trim, porches and so forth. Clean up is more difficult though, particularly since disposal now requires special procedures. Some cities fine residents for placing oil-paint cans into trash, requiring disposal at stores or special facilities – usually for a fee.

If you select latex-based paint, use a synthetic material roller, such as nylon. Couple that with synthetic bristle brushes for trim and crevices. Natural fiber brushes absorb the moisture in latex paint, making spreading more difficult. For oil-based paint jobs use a natural bristle brush. Pair that with a roller made of lamb’s wool or other natural material.

Rollers come in different pile lengths, from very smooth to very rough. For a more polished look and/or use on smooth surfaces the smoother roller is an option. For rough surfaces, you’ll need the rougher roller in order to get good coverage with minimal hassle.

To save time on clean up when using oil-based paints, experiment with popping the brushes and rollers into plastic bags and freezing. The next day or following weekend, allow to thaw for an hour and take up where you left off.

Before you begin, inspect the entire area and prepare the surfaces. Sand any rusty nail heads (or replace, if practical). Putty cracks and sand smooth the result after drying. Remember that paint dries slower on plastic than newspaper. Visit the local journal and pick up a few stacks of returns to cover those plastic drop cloths.

As you plan your job, get two or three weather reports. Aim for a period of moderate temperatures and low humidity.

Good painting!


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