4 common DIY house painting mistakes

4 common DIY house painting mistakes
house painter

house painter

It's already fall, and you want to get the wood siding on your home repainted before winter sets in. Here's a quick guide to help you avoid four common exterior painting mistakes.

Improper preparation

Plan for preparation to take about 70 percent of your project time because improper surface preparation is the single biggest contributor to poor end results.

Start by rubbing your hand along the wood siding. If it leaves a chalky residue (a naturally occurring by-product of older paint products) remove it by washing the structure down with a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP). Because TSP is caustic, you'll need to cover nearby foliage and, more importantly, you need gloves and eye protection. After application, rinse the area thoroughly with water and then examine the siding for any blistering or failed paint.

Pay particular attention to the areas where the siding overlaps. Remove any loose paint and scrape any blistered spots, then sand until smooth and seal the areas by brushing on an alkyd (oil) primer with a stain blocking agent. Don't skip this step because unsealed wood bleeds tannins through numerous coats of paint.

When all problem areas are sealed, even out imperfections by applying good quality Spackle with a broad knife. Once dry (about two hours), sand the spackle and reapply primer to these areas. Using 125 grit sandpaper attached to a sanding block with a swivel head, sand all the surfaces you plan to paint, since this helps paint adhere. Finally, caulk all lines and openings with a latex silicone caulk.

Use a wet rag to wipe off any excess and allow to dry. Under normal weather conditions this will take a minimum of four hours.

Your surface prep is now complete. For brick, stucco, adobe or other less common exterior finishes or where you will require long ladders or scaffolding, you may want to consider hiring a professional painter.

Not masking properly

All the preparation in the world, however, does nothing if you forget to mask off areas you don't want to paint. Removing paint splatter from windows is much more time-consuming than taking the time to cover them properly in the first place.

You also need to mask any other areas where you don't want any paint to bleed and anywhere siding meets other features such as vents or downspouts. Apply quality masking tape and remove it as soon as the paint is dry.

Picking the wrong paint type

Don't skimp on product here. For your finish coat, select a good quality 100 percent acrylic latex exterior paint. You are essentially covering your home in an elastic envelope that will expand and contract with the seasons and add an extra layer of waterproofing. Interior paint, no matter the quality, will not perform outside.

Speak with painting contractors about their choice of brand. Do your research and select a good quality paint that is formulated for the task.

Once you have chosen the paint and are ready to start, you first need to cut in along the top of the siding where it meets the fascia, around doors and windows and along all the edges of the overlapped siding. You may need to cut in twice. You can roll out the flat areas with a 3/4 inch roller sleeve. Look back as you go to correct any runs before they harden, and allow 24 hours between coats.

Painting in the wrong weather

Be alert to the weather. A perfectly prepared surface, a top-notch masking job and the best paint will be wasted if you apply product under the wrong weather conditions.

It should go without saying that you can't paint in the rain. Similarly, if there is dew on the siding, wait until it has evaporated before beginning.

If at all possible, avoid working in direct sunlight because hot paint tends to ball up and become unworkable. If there is no shade, thin the paint with a small amount of water to slow down the drying process.

In addition, don't try to paint in temperature extremes: above 90 degrees or near freezing. Pay particular attention to how cool the temperature will be over night. A frost before your paint is completely dry can ruin an otherwise perfect effort.

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For detailed painting work, especially around intricate moldings like this, consider hiring a professional. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Neely M. of Fuquay Varina, N.C.)
For detailed painting work, especially around intricate moldings like this, consider hiring a professional. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Neely M. of Fuquay Varina, N.C.)

Painting projects around the home can seem daunting, especially for an amateur. But with smart preparation, the right tools and the right paint, you can easily tackle most small interior paint jobs.

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