Prepping the Surface of Your Home to Paint

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Prepping the Surface of Your Home to Paint

Some of my favorite areas of Bryan and College Station are the historic districts. There are grand, old, colonial-style homes with soaring red brick chimneys and white columns. What has kept these areas of the twin cities beautiful is the upkeep of these old homes. Renovations to homes such as painting the outside may seem time consuming but when done correctly, they add value to a home and look beautiful.

Painting the entire outside of your house is no small undertaking. With a few helpful pointers, it can be made into a manageable job and can go off smoothly. There may be one area of your home that needs attention such as one side or a porch, or you may need to paint all of it. No matter how much area you have to cover, the general process is the same.

The three big steps are to prep the surface you will be painting, decide what paint you want to use, and then begin painting! The ideal time to paint is after a rain shower which settles the dust and promotes less dirt from coming into contact with the paint you are applying. It is also best to paint on a cool, dry day that is not particularly sunny either in late spring or early fall.

Step one, prepping the surface, requires you to take an inspection of your house, looking for wear and tear and old paint. Sometimes, the surface can be the cause of paint problems. We will cover some ways to fix the surface and avoid problems, and then what to do if you do encounter the problems.

Sometimes, all that your home needs prior to a coat of paint is a rinse. Wash the outside of your house with a hose or power washer and scrub dirty areas with a scrub brush and soapy water. A quality bath for your house will make the paint look better and will last longer. Be thorough when examining your house and make sure you cover areas that you might think are hidden—around doors and windows, along the foundation, and under the roof. Also, look for problem areas where siding or shingles may be split or nails may be loose. Peeling paint, leaks, mildew or mold and rust may need proper care. Cracks in the siding of your home and loose caulking should be filled and replaced. Making these repairs is part of keeping up with and maintaining your home. Do not skip over them.

If you do encounter peeling paint or rust, you can remove it with a variety of different tools. Use a wire brush and a wide-blade putty knife to scrape it off manually. To get the job done more quickly, use a wire brush attachment on an electric drill. Another scraping option is a pull scraper. This tool is held with the blade perpendicular to the wood and pulled across the side of your home. As it is  pulled, it removes paint and smoothes out surfaces. Keeping the blade flat is crucial because this tool is capable of gouging the surface if used incorrectly.

You can sand the edges of scraped spots or rough edges with an electric orbital sander, or you can simply use a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood. The electric orbital sander obviously works more quickly than the sandpaper and is more efficient if you have to cover large areas. Use an electric orbital sander instead of an electric disc sander or belt sander, which both can leave dips in the wood.

If you have layers of thick paint on the outside of your house, you may need more than just an effective wire brush to get it off. Melting the paint off is an effective option done with an electric paint remover. This device has plates that heat the paint and a built-in scraper to scrape it off. To use it, follow the instructions on the box. Typically, you will hold the tool against the paint until you hear sizzling. Then, pull it over the surface of the paint.

You may be wondering about liquid paint removers. It is true that paint removers work well, but they are expensive when you have to buy enough to cover the entire outside of your house. The liquid remover is also less controllable and may drip onto or touch perfectly acceptable paint that you were not planning on removing.

After you get all dirt and old paint off of your home, you can apply primer. You will especially want to prime areas that have exposed wood or metal underneath where old paint used to be. Decide what primer to use after you know what kind of paint you will need to use later in your project. For example, if you are using a latex paint, use latex primers, etc. Primer gives your home extra protection and creates a solid base for applying paint.

To make your painting experience easier, remove storm windows, screens, shutters, street address numbers and anything else that may hinder you from painting. Clean these and paint them separately. Any shrubs near your house that rub up against your home or are near the sides of your house can get in the way. To avoid this hassle, prune any branches that are in the way. If you do not wish to prune them, you can cover the plants with drop cloths.

Susan Hilton (979)764-2100

CENTURY 21 Beal, Inc.

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