The first lesson that many non-professionals learn (the hard way) is that preparation is half the battle. In fact, the more time you devote to preparation, the better your result will be. So you should spend an hour, minimum, cleaning and getting the surface ready for each hour you’ll be painting. Many amateurs and do-it-yourself homeowners try to save time by cutting short the “prep” time. But they find that they have an unattractive paint job, one that won’t last. Or they have to use another coat of paint to cover streaks and other issues, increasing cost and time spent.
Getting Ready to Paint
Of course, you should use the best paint you can afford to get the most durable surface. But a good portion of your time should involve a thorough inspection of the exterior walls to find wood that is decaying or has been damaged by moisture. It’s also important to find cracks and other blemishes that can be repaired with special glue or epoxy wood fillers. Don’t make the mistake of painting over these spots. You’ll regret it later.
Before you dip the brush in paint for the first time, make sure that your gutters and fascias are in excellent condition so that rain water is fully directed away from exterior walls. This can be an important step in preventing trouble later. You should also give the areas around windows and doors special attention. If there is no flashing (sometimes referred to as drip edges) to keep moisture away, you’d be wise to install it. If water is present and you paint that area, you’ll soon see blistering or peeling.
Clean Is Essential
If there is any evidence of mildew or mold, you should take steps to remove it, of course. But it generally isn’t enough to clean it up. You should do all you can to prevent its return. One part bleach in 10 parts water can be sprayed on and allowed to sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. A thorough rinse with the garden hose can work wonders. To keep those areas clean and dry in the future, start by trimming bushes and trees away from the exterior walls.
You might also consider pressure washing as a first step in cleaning exterior surfaces. Once these cleaning steps are complete, it’s time to use a scraper or a power tool with brush attachment to get rid of old, cracking, and peeling paint and other rough spots. A thorough wipe-down will be necessary after this step is completed. But you’re not ready to paint yet.
You should now take the additional step to caulk and fill areas that require it so you’ll have a smooth surface. Only then are you prepared to put on your first coat – primer.