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The 7-Step Exterior Home Painting Process

New paint has the power to transform the look and feel of your home, from shabby and neglected to fresh and cherished. There’s more to paint than just rolling a new coat on top of the old. In fact, most professionals will tell you 90% of a great paint job is accomplished before the paint is even applied to the surface. Learn the proven process Phillips Home Improvements follows when painting home exteriors.

Step 1: Cleaning

The first step of any exterior paint process is cleaning the surface that will be painted. Proper cleaning removes dust, dirt, oxidized particles, loose paint and old paint residue. Power washing makes this process much faster, but power equipment should only be operated by experienced professionals; there is a risk of gouging wood, shooting water behind trim or siding, and personal injury. At Phillips Home Improvements, we pretreat surfaces with a biodegradable cleansing solution before washing; this eliminates mold and mildew (both seen and unseen) that lurks in and around surfaces.

This step often reveals rotten or damaged wood hiding under old paint that needs to be repaired or replaced.

Step 2: Carpentry Repairs

Once the surface is clean, rotten wood should be replaced. Phillips recommends replacing rotted siding with James Hardie fiber cement siding, which accepts paint just like wood and won’t rot or burn. Then minor cracks, holes, and dents should be patched and filled.

Replace rotten siding before painting

Step 3: Surface Preparation

After any necessary repairs, loose and peeling paint is scraped away, followed by sanding so there is a stronger bond between the surface and paint or primer. At Phillips Home Improvements, we prefer to lightly sand surfaces by hand rather than using power tools like an orbital sander; while these tools are used by homeowners and low-grade paint contractors to make the process go faster, they are more abrasive than necessary and can leave divots and dents in boards that show through after new paint is applied. Note that sanding may lead to delamination (separation) of the layers in certain types of composite siding, such as masonite or oriented strand board (OSB). In these cases, we recommend scraping but not sanding.

Next, if necessary, loose but otherwise good-condition boards are secured with new nails or screws. Then primer is applied to help paint adhere to the surface and prevent stains from rising to the surface of the new paint. Phillips uses oil- or water-based primers depending on if it’s going on bare wood, rust, galvanized metal or on top of water stains. Primer does not need to be applied over clean, good-condition water-based paint since new paint will bond to old paint just fine. Beware of companies that recommend a complete primer coat over existing good-condition paint; this is frequently unnecessary work.

The surface preparation step is complete once sealant (that is, high-quality, highly flexible caulk) is applied to seams and joints where wood meets wood or brick. Loose, cracked caulk should be stripped away and joints should be resealed using a full application; don’t just caulk over cracks in the old sealant. Don’t skimp by getting an ordinary 15-year siliconized acrylic sealant. Most contractors use this type of caulk because it’s cheap and easy to work with. But if you want the best for your home and want your paint job to last, buy a higher-quality 50-year-or-greater sealant. Phillips Home Improvements uses these sealants exclusively for their flexibility, bondability, and longevity.

Caulking garage door exterior

Step 4: Masking and Protection

Many contractors skip this step, and if you’re painting your own house you may be tempted to skip it as well. One of the reasons homeowners choose Phillips is because we take this additional step to mask off any areas where you don’t want paint – like your landscape, roof, eaves, gutters, brick, windows – you name it. Your home is getting a paint job so you can take pride in it, so why take the risk?

Mask off brick before painting

Step 5: Paint Application

Amateur painters should use a combination of paint rollers and brushes, as these are much more forgiving than using a trusted name-brand paint sprayer/air compressor combination. A paint sprayer in the hands of someone inexperienced will apply paint unevenly and often result in a coat of paint that is too thick, leaving running or dripping paint and nearly always ends in a mess. The advantage of using a paint sprayer is that it is able to lay paint on heavier, quicker, and (when used by a qualified professional) provide a nicer finish compared to a roll or brush.

When painting a home exterior, NEVER cut paint with water or otherwise dilute it. Unfortunately, this is a common practice among exterior painting contractors and one that disheartens the folks at Phillips Home Improvements. Diluting paint results in a slightly lower materials cost but cuts the lifespan of an otherwise good paint job in half (or more). If you’re going through the trouble of painting your home, be sure it stands up to the test of time – and be sure your contractor is following suit.

Step 6: Cleanup

After painting, the next-to-last step is cleanup. Nobody likes a mess. If you hired someone to paint your home, they owe it to you to leave your property as clean as it was when they started. At Phillips Home Improvements, we try our best to clean the job site at the end of each day, not just when we’re done.

Step 7: Walkthrough and Final Inspection with Customer

At Phillips, once the work has been completed and the job site is clean one of our crew leaders or project coordinators performs a walkthrough. This thorough examination of the work by another party lends a fresh pair of eyes to help identify any areas that need touching up. Once problem areas have been addressed, we perform a final inspection with you, the customer, to ensure you’re beyond satisfied with your home.

Ready to Get Your Free Estimate?

Right now, Phillips Home Improvements is providing free estimates for exterior home painting projects. If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and interested in receiving a quote for your painting project, call us at 972.867.9792 or 817.421.2326 and get your free estimate and color consultation.