It’s a daunting challenge to repaint your wood siding, but when applied properly exterior paint can easily last 10 years or longer. In addition, it’s typically a much less expensive option to replacing the wood with vinyl siding.
Not interested in doing it yourself? Nothnagle can help you save time and money through our Home Services department. We have qualified, professional painters to fit your budget and our coordinators will help you locate the right professional for your job.
If you do decide to do-it-yourself, the key to a successful job is in the preparation. Here are the steps to take to make sure you get perfect results.
Step 1: Wash the exterior
Pigment won’t adhere well if you don’t wash grime off the house first. A good cleaning agent is water mixed with a phosphate-free cleanser such as Jomax House Cleaner or Green Clean by Sherwin-Williams, which won’t harm your plants and landscaping. Using a power washer is an easy and efficient way to make sure all dirt and mildew is removed.
Step 2: Scrape off loose paint
Once clapboards are dry, remove loose, flaking paint. A handheld scraper is usually the best tool for the job. Never use an open-flame torch. They can easily cause a fire and are illegal in most states unless you have a permit. Always check for lead paint prior to doing any scraping. To work lead-safe, you must wear a mask and Tyvek suit, spray water on the paint as you scrape, and collect the debris.
Step 3: Sand rough spots
A pad sander or random-orbit sander fitted with 50- to 80-grit sandpaper will smooth out any remaining rough spots. Be careful not to push too hard or you run the risk of leaving marks in the wood.
Step 4: Fill and repair
Inspect what you’ve uncovered and make some decisions. Minor holes or dings in the siding can be easily filled in with a patching putty or compound. If you’ve got a major rot problem, the wood will need to be replaced. If you’re handy, you may be able to make the repair yourself or it may require the expertise of a professional carpenter.
Step 5: Apply a coat of primer
Apply primer as soon as possible. White, gray, or tinted primer provides an even base for topcoats to adhere to, and a uniform canvas from which to survey your work. Small gaps in joints and around doors, windows, and other spots where horizontals meet verticals will all stand out in high relief, showing you where you need to fill in with caulk. If you’re painting over bare wood or existing latex paint, then latex primer is fine. But if you’re painting over multiple coats of oil-based paint, it’s best to stick with a new coat of oil-based primer.
Step 6: Caulk all joints
Siliconized or top-of-the line polyurethane acrylic caulks give paint jobs a smooth, pleasing look. But the benefits aren’t purely aesthetic. Tight joints also prevent air leaks and block water penetration. It’s worth springing for $7-a-tube polyurethane caulks with 55-year warranties, which will stand up to weather better than 35-year caulks costing less than $3. The average house requires about 7 tubes of caulk; contractors buy them in 12-pack cases and use them for several jobs.
Step 7: Choose the right paint
Painting with water-based acrylic latex is so much easier than dealing with oil-based paints. It’s important to choose the right finish. A general rule to follow is the higher the sheen, the better the paint is at blocking the sun’s damaging rays. Satin is fine for shingles or clapboards, but you’ll want gloss paint to protect high-traffic parts of a house, such as window casings, porches, and doorframes.
Step 8: Apply top coat(s)
There is such a thing as too much paint. The more layers, the more likely the paint is to flake off years later. Apply lightly. If you’re going from a white house to yellow or cream, you might be able to get by with one coat. Going from a light to a dark house, and vice versa, usually requires two coats.
Step 9: Practice good maintenance
You can extend the life of a good paint job by inspecting the caulk every year, replacing any that’s cracked or missing, and do minimal touch-up jobs to keep the pain fresh and from peeling or chipping.