How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (2023)

A fresh paint job has the power to totally transform the look of your house in less time and for less cash than any other remodeling project.

That thin skin of resin and pigment also protects your investment, shielding it from sun, wind, and rain—until the paint begins to crack and peel, that is. Then it's time to button up with a couple of new coats.

How Long Does Exterior Paint Last For?

Properly applied, new paint should last for a good 15 years, provided you use top-quality materials, apply them with care (and with an eye on the weather), and, most important, clean and sand every surface first.

How to Paint Your House

Is it time for a fresh coat? Here's what you need to know to get a first-class finish on your home's exterior.


How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (1) Photo by Sarah Wilson

A thorough scrubbing is a must before painting any exterior surface. It removes the dirt and broken-down paint residues that keep fresh coats from adhering and gets rid of mildew that grows on paint in all but the most arid climates. Most contractors clean with pressure washers, but in the hands of someone unfamiliar with the equipment, these can gouge wood, shatter glass, and drive water behind siding and trim. Using a hose, a pump sprayer, and a scrub brush is slower but safer, and just as effective.

Before the scrubdown, protect nearby plants by misting their leaves and saturating the surrounding soil with water, pulling them away from the house, and shrouding them in fabric drop cloths. (Plants will cook under plastic.) Lay more drop cloths along the base of the walls to collect any falling paint debris.

Walls should be wet down before getting scrubbed, then washed with a gallon of water mixed with 1 cup chlorine bleach and 1 cup of either a concentrated, phosphate-free cleaner, such as a trisodium phosphate (TSP) substitute, or Jomax House Cleaner. Working in sections, from the bottom to the top, will avoid streaks. Be sure to rinse walls well before the solution dries. Wood siding and trim should be ready to paint after a day or two of dry weather.

(Video) How to Paint a House | DIY Exterior Painting Tips

Scrape, Part I

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (2) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Paint that has peeled, bubbled, or blistered has got to go. But if lead is present—a strong possibility in houses built before 1978—you need to proceed with extra care. To lay any doubts to rest, you can send paint chip samples to a lab, such as Macs Lab's Home Free; for about $38, they'll give you a definitive answer.

If your paint does contain lead, you'll need to take special precautions during the scraping and sanding phases to protect yourself, your family, and the environment from toxic dust. If the paint is lead-free, you need only don a dust mask and lay down tarps to catch debris before tackling the most crucial part of the project.

New Orleans contractor Joseph Wallis did use a PaintShaver on this project to capture lead dust. This carbide-tipped angle grinder, which has a dust-collecting shroud that connects to a HEPA-filter vac, can be rented by mail from the manufacturer for about $50 a day.

Scrape, Part II

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (3) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Scraping paint by hand is a grueling task because you've got to attack it from every direction. But compared to power grinders and sanders, it's the least damaging way to remove the old layers. You can speed up the process by using a heating gun to soften the paint (as shown).

Safety First: Use a respirator when scraping paint by hand. Also, make sure you protect the surrounding work area—including any plants and shrubs—with a tarp covering.

Sand, Part I

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (4) Photo by Sarah Wilson

With loose paint removed, it's time to step back and assess what remains. If most of the paint still adheres well and it's not too bumpy, the boundary between the paint and the bare wood can be smoothed with 50- or 80-grit sandpaper.

Sand, Part II

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (5) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Small random-orbit or pad sanders make this job go faster. (Wallis first covers these boundaries with Synkoloid patching compound so no edge is visible after sanding.) As shown, you want to make sure that there is a feathered, smooth transition from exposed wood to old paint. For areas that might get close scrutiny, you can follow up with a 100- or 120-grit rubdown to erase any scratches.

(Video) How To Paint A House. The 4 Step Process To Painting Your Home.

If less than half the old paint is left, however, it may be worth stripping it all off. Guertin gets rid of stubborn remnants using shrouded grinders (like the PaintShaver), infrared paint strippers (such as the Speedheater), or chemical strippers (like Multi-Strip), then smooths the wood with a course or two of sanding. When siding (or bank accounts) can't take the shock of a total strip job, Rich O'Neil, of Masterwork Painting in Bedford, Massachusetts, has successfully hidden rough, well-adhered paint under Peel Bond, a thick primer.

Safety First: When using a random-orbit sander, be sure to protect yourself from refuse with a respirator. For sanding by hand, a dust mask will do.

Patch and Fill

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (6) Photo by Sarah Wilson

After the sanding is done, it's time to fill minor cracks and dents, repair any rot, and replace any pieces that are too far gone. (Wholesale replacement of wood siding or trim will likely require a carpenter.)

O'Neil patches shallow holes and divots with Ready Patch because it dries fast, sands smooth, and stays flexible. Deep cracks and rotten spots are best repaired with two-step epoxies, such as those made by Advanced Repair Technology. (For a step-by-step instructions, see Repairing Rot with Epoxy.) The days of using polyester auto-body fillers on wood are over. "They cure too hard," says Portland, Oregon–based painting contractor Kathleen George. "They look good at first, but then they peel away."

Hold off on caulking the cracks until everything has been primed. "Primer protects the wood when—not if—the caulk fails," says O'Neil.

Prime, Part I

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (7) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Primers are formulated to penetrate, seal, and provide a good surface for the top coats to stick to. Use them over bare wood, Spackle, and epoxy, or over paint with a chalky, deteriorated surface. (If the paint surface is clean and sound, you can skip the priming step.)

Acrylic primers can be used on most surfaces, but on cedar or redwood, oil-based coatings are a must because they lock in these woods' reddish-brown "extractives," which will leach out and leave behind rusty stains if the wood is primed with a water-based product.

(Video) How to Paint an Exterior DIY. 1 Painter, 6 Days, 3500 Square Feet.

Painters often tint primer close to the color of the top coat, but Wallis thinks that's a recipe for "holidays," or missed spots. Instead, he tints his primer a contrasting color. "If I can see the color coming through, I know I need to apply more paint," he says. On the cottage shown in this story, he chose a gray-blue primer to go under a peach top coat.

If primer is sprayed on, "back-brushing" it immediately by hand will work the coating into every crack and crevice.

Prime, Part II

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (8) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Tip: Spray exposed nailheads with a metal primer to prevent rust from bleeding through the paint.


How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (9) Photo by Sarah Wilson

When the primer is dry, caulk all small joints (less than ¼-inch-wide) in the siding and trim. Most pros use siliconized acrylics—paint won't stick to straight silicones—but Guertin and O'Neil like the new, more expensive urethane acrylics for their greater flexibility and longevity. O'Neil stresses that it's shortsighted to skimp on caulk. "If the joint fails, you're back to square one." Guertin uses the lifetime rating as his quality guide. "I don't expect 35-year caulk will last 35 years, but it should last longer than a 15-year caulk."

Paint, Part I

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (10) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Deciding which paint to use has gotten much easier now that acrylic latexes have pushed oil-based paints almost to extinction. The acrylics offer superior performance (they don't harden with age, the way oils do, so they move and breathe without blistering), they don't mildew as readily, and they emit fewer VOCs, so they comply with new air-quality regulations. They also work over both oil- and water-based primers.

Oil paint still has a place in high-traffic areas such as wood steps and porch floors because of its superior wear resistance, and on steel and cast-iron railings, which benefit from oil's water repellency.

Paint, Part II

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (11) Photo by Sarah Wilson

The last big decision is how to apply the paint. Most pros use paint sprayers because they're fast, but in inexperienced hands a high-powered sprayer can leave drips, thin coats, and a mist that may land on many things other than your siding.

(Video) MASKING the Exterior of a House With The Idaho Painter

If you do hire a painter who uses a sprayer, make sure he is meticulous about removing, covering, or masking off everything in the area that might get hit with overspray: gutters, roofs, windows, shrubbery, walkways, cars—you name it.

Once you choose a paint brand, the pros advise against additives, such as mildewcides. But they will add conditioners such as Floetrol (for latex) or Penetrol (for oils) to slow drying times in hot weather so brush and lap marks don't show, and to make paint more sprayable.

Paint, Part III

How to Paint Your Home's Exterior (12) Photo by Sarah Wilson

Every painting job develops a unique choreography as ladders go up and come down and tarps are unrolled and folded up. But two basic principles remain:

  1. Start at the top and work down.
  2. Work in the shade, out of the sun's glare.

As the dance proceeds, keep an eye on the weather. Rain can wash freshly applied latex right off the wall, and a temperature dip below 50 degrees F two days after application can interfere with adhesion and curing and dull the sheen of glossy paints. (Latexes like Sherwin-Williams's Duration and Benjamin Moore's MoorGard Low Lustre are formulated to tolerate temps as low as 35 and 40 degrees, respectively.)

What Do I Need to Paint My House?

Do-it-yourselfers are best off using a brush for maximum control. You may end up with a better quality job, to boot. Says Kathleen George, "With a brush, I know that I've inspected every square inch of a house." Mini rollers speed application on clapboards and trim but should be followed immediately with a brush.

Whichever application method you end up using, the pros are universal in their insistence that two top coats are always better than one. Says O'Neil, "It's one of the real secrets of a long-lasting paint job."


Is there a website to see what your house would look like painted? ›

CertaPro Painters®' paint color visualizer, My PaintColors allows you use a virtual house painter tool to see what your home would look like with your selected color palettes without even picking up a brush. With the virtual painter you can choose from Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore or PPG Paint Color Palettes.

Is 3 coats of exterior paint better than 2? ›

So, How Many Coats of Exterior Paint Should You Apply? Two coats is typically all that's needed, if you're painting over a well-prepped, primed surface. This is particularly true if you are painting a dark color over a lighter, existing one, as you're guaranteed to have good coverage.

Is it better to roll or spray exterior paint? ›

The advantages to rolling a house vs. spraying is that the paint will be applied much thicker giving overall better coverage than if it was sprayed. Also it is much easier to be precise and when a house is rolled it eliminates the risk of such things like overspray.

Is it better to roll or brush exterior paint? ›

The fastest, most effective way to apply exterior paint is with both a paintbrush and a roller. Brush paint onto narrow surfaces, edges, and smaller areas, and use a short, small-diameter roller to paint large and long surfaces such as siding and trim.

Is there an app to change the outside of your house? ›

Hover. This is a new mobile app to change house exterior.

Can I upload a picture of my house and try paint colors? ›

We ended up using the ProjectColor app that Home Depot offers to finalize our exterior paint color. On the app, you can take a photo of your home and “test” colors right on it to see how the final product will look. Seriously, so cool!

Is there an app to see exterior house colors? ›

Introducing Project Color ™ by The Home Depot – an app that allows you to find the perfect paint color for your interior or exterior paint project. Browse colors right from your phone. Once you've found a color, see how it looks in a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom or exterior space.

What is the best exterior paint for 2022? ›

The Best Exterior Paint for Your Outdoor Painting Project
  • Sherwin Williams Duration Exterior Latex. ...
  • Sherwin Williams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex. ...
  • Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer. ...
  • Behr Ultra Paint and Primer. ...
  • Glidden Premium Winter Walk White Satin Latex Exterior Paint. ...
  • Ecos Exterior Vinyl Siding Paint.
6 Sept 2022

Should you cut in twice when painting? ›

Yes. It is actually recommended to cut in for every layer of paint you add. So basically, you should cut in your walls first, and then roll out. Once the layer of paint is dry, cut in for the second time and then roll out again.

What exterior paint color lasts the longest? ›

So first and foremost, if you want an exterior coat of paint that will last for a long time, choose a light color.
let's take a look at some of the colors that last the longest on exteriors:
  • Beige.
  • Tan.
  • Light brown.
  • Light blues.
  • White.
  • Light green.
22 Aug 2020

How many hours does it take to paint the exterior of a house? ›

An average-size house will take an average of three to four days to paint with a team of two to three people. In this case, we'll define “average” as a home with one to two stories and four or fewer bedrooms. A large house, such as a three-story or five-plus-bedroom home, will take five to six days.

What is the fastest way to paint a house? ›

  1. 01 of 07. Wash Your House Quickly and Painlessly. ...
  2. 02 of 07. Paint Your House the Same Color or Darker. ...
  3. 03 of 07. Prime Only When Needed. ...
  4. 04 of 07. Minimize Paint Scraping. ...
  5. 05 of 07. Paint Roll the Flat Surfaces. ...
  6. 06 of 07. Spray Large Areas or Detailed Areas. ...
  7. 07 of 07. Don't Spend as Much Time Cleaning Brushes or Roller Covers.
10 Mar 2022

Should I power wash my house before painting? ›

Pressure Washing is Critical

Pressure washing before painting is a chance to remove all dirt, debris, and cobwebs before painting. It's important to wash your house so that the new coat has the best chance to bond with the undercoat.

What order should I spray the exterior of my house? ›

Exterior Paint Spraying

If you don't have a lot of spraying experience, choose a flat surface such as the side of the house or other area that won't readily be seen to begin on. Start at the top of the area and work your way down, first spraying any eaves or undersides of any overhangs.

Do professional painters use sprayers? ›

When a home is being built you will see professional painters using a paint sprayer. Most of the time this is because there is very little to mask off because there's no furniture and typically no flooring in the space. But in addition to spraying professional painters will also back roll.

What paint holds up best outside? ›

Overall, we recommend Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish. This acrylic-based paint has a low-luster finish that's appropriate for a number of outdoor surfaces, including wood, siding, shingles, brick, stucco, concrete, and even metal.

What is the best weather to paint outside? ›

As a rule of thumb, the best temperature to paint outside is 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with an ideal painting temperature range of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

How can I make the outside of my house more attractive? ›

  1. Replace your front door. (Image credit: TBC) ...
  2. Upgrade your key door furniture. (Image credit: TBC) ...
  3. Add some extra finishing touches. (Image credit: TBC) ...
  4. Consider your external lighting. (Image credit: TBC) ...
  5. Paint your front door. ...
  6. Tame your lawn and perfect your planting. ...
  7. Build on a porch.
12 Apr 2019

Is the home outside app free? ›

The app is available for free for your iOS or Android device in the Google Play or iTunes app store.

What is the most popular color for a house exterior? ›

What is the most popular color for a house exterior? The most popular color for a house exterior is Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams. The creamy off-white exterior color looks great on every type of siding including wood, vinyl, brick, fiber cement, and stucco.

What should you not paint your house? ›

These Are the Paint Colors Experts Say to Never Use in Your Home
  • Don't use red in the bedroom.
  • Keep away from white in the bathroom.
  • And avoid it in the home office, too.
  • Don't use brown on exterior walls.
  • Or in the living room.
  • Avoid dark shades of gray in the kitchen.
  • Keep yellow off the exterior.

What is ColorSnap Visualizer? ›


ColorSnap® takes the guesswork out of color choice. Get a sneak preview of your finished project by virtually painting your own room. Before you paint it, see it on your walls. Scan a color card with ColorSnap® on your smart phone for instant access to room scenes, coordinating colors and more.

How many colors should a house exterior have? ›

The number of colors used in an exterior color scheme depends on the home and how many details there are to highlight. Typically, traditional homes have three colors: body, trim and accent. Newer architectural styles (and occasionally larger houses) can benefit from more than three colors.

What exterior colors increase home value? ›

"Blues, grays, greens, and whites are timeless, calming colors that allow potential buyers to see a home as a fresh, clean slate.

What colors make the outside of your house look bigger? ›

Making the exterior of your home a light color is the best way to make your home look larger, brighter, and more inviting. Light colors such as white, ivory, pale gray, and sage green reflect higher amounts of light than dark colors, tricking the eye into perceiving the home as larger than it is.

What is the new house color for 2022? ›

Evergreen Fog by Sherwin-Williams

Sherwin-Williams selected the subtly soothing Evergreen Fog SW 9130 as its color of the year 2022.

What is the most popular color for a front door in 2022? ›

It's black that's set to be the most popular front door color of 2022 with blue and green also favored. Some 56 per cent of experts surveyed for the Fixr (opens in new tab) paint and color trends 2022 report agreed that black will be the most popular front door color choice in 2022.

What color front door sells best? ›

In Zillow's survey, a black front door raked in the highest offer price. On average, the prospective buyers said they'd pay $6,449 more for a home that had this bold, statement-making color.

What is the secret to cutting in paint? ›

Pat the Brush Don't Wipe

After you dip into your bucket, resist the urge to wipe the paint off on the edge. Wiping the sides will remove paint that is necessary for cutting in. Patting the brush on the sides of the bucket will get rid of excess, but still leave you enough paint to make a thick, clean line.

What should you not do when painting? ›

These are forteen things you shouldn't do when painting.
  1. Don't skip the tape. ...
  2. Don't paint without primer. ...
  3. Don't underestimate the amount of paint needed. ...
  4. Don't assume walls are clean. ...
  5. Don't skip surface prep. ...
  6. Don't be impatient. ...
  7. Don't start a painting project without first checking what materials you have or need.

Do you gap fill before painting? ›

Gaps between the skirting, architraves and wall joints also need to be filled prior to painting, using Polyfilla Multipurpose Gap Filler. Ensure that the surface to be filled is clean and free from dust. To ensure a neat finish, tape both sides of the gap before applying the gap filler.

What color paint fades the fastest on house? ›

Red exterior paints tend to fade the fastest based on how their specific pigments interact with UV light. Whites and lighter neutrals are going to get you the most fade-resistant results.

Do you need two coats of exterior paint? ›

Even if you can get away with one coat, two coats are better if you can afford it. Two coats of exterior paint will retain the color and sheen far better and longer, protecting your home more thoroughly and extending the time before the next repainting.

What time of year does paint usually go on sale? ›

Shop seasonal sales.

Shop the week leading up to Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. "It's typically when paint manufacturers and retailers put paint on sale," says Debbie Zimmer, director of communications for the PQI.

How do I make paint colors flow in my house? ›

Unify Colors with Trim. Painting all of the trim throughout the house the same shade of white is a simple way to create a sense of flow from room to room. White trim ensures that these spaces look connected and reinforces the effect with subliminal cues that make people feel anchored as they move through your house.

What is the best month to paint a house? ›

Since most exterior paint requires an ambient temperature of about 50 degrees, painting contractors risk poor paint application if they paint during the spring. Holding off until summer temperatures have truly arrived in late June, July, August, or early September produces the best results.

When should you not paint outside of house? ›

Don't paint on hot days, in the rain or during windy weather. Ideal temperatures for painting are between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot weather causes the paint to dry too quickly, as does direct sun. When possible, wait for the shade.

When should you stop painting outside? ›

Once it starts freezing overnight on a regular basis, we stop painting exteriors.

How many coats of paint can you do in a day? ›

Oil-based paint is dry to the touch in six to eight hours and ready to for another coat in 24 hours. Latex paint is dry to the touch in about one hour, and it's safe to add another coat in four hours.

Can you paint a house in 1 day? ›

But, as someone who paints a LOT, I've gotten good at it, and can feasibly paint a house in a day. The good news is, you can too! You need the right tools, the right paint, and some basic techniques that will make batch work that much easier.

Should I pressure wash my house before painting? ›

Pressure Washing is Critical

Pressure washing before painting is a chance to remove all dirt, debris, and cobwebs before painting. It's important to wash your house so that the new coat has the best chance to bond with the undercoat.

Can I just paint over old paint? ›

If the current wall is smooth, clean and covered with the same type of paint (both are oil-based for example), you can head straight for the paint. You need to fill holes, spackle and sand*, maybe even cut a new piece of drywall in to the existing wall.

Do you have to remove exterior paint before painting? ›

Removing exterior paint or stain is an important step before applying new coats of paint to the exterior of your home. If you don't remove problem areas where the old paint is failing, the new coat of paint will fail as well.

Do pro painters use tape? ›

As a rule of thumb, professional painters advise applying painter's tape. It helps to assure clean lines with no messy edges making your painting project look more professional. But some DIY painters believe that taping takes too much time and is unnecessary.

What brand of paint do professional painters use? ›

By and large, most professional painters use either Sherwin-Willaims or Benjamin Moore paint products. In fact, 50% of painting contractors chose Benjamin Moore's Regal Select line as their favorite paint.


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