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Late spring and early summer is the ideal time to paint the exterior of a home. Before you pick up a paintbrush, however, it’s important to realize that half the job is not painting. In fact, scraping tools are just as important as paint brushes.  Preparing your house before applying exterior paint is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a beautiful coat.

Preparing the surface before you start is the secret to a top-notch paint job that will last. Painting the exterior of a house over a dirty or poorly prepared surface is like building a house on a bad foundation.
Begin by removing planters, shutters, house numbers and light fixtures. Then follow the five steps below to create a picture-perfect exterior that can double the life of your paint:

Step One: Clean

A clean surface is crucial if you want paint to adhere properly. A pressure washer is the easiest, quickest and most efficient way of thoroughly cleaning exterior siding. Keep the nozzle 16 inches away from the wood. In addition, use caution selecting the proper nozzle since a concentrated stream may damage wood and break windows. If you don’t have a power washer, a regular garden hose, scrub brush, and elbow grease will work on surfaces without excessive peeling or flaking. Use a good quality, safe cleanser. If mildew is present, try a detergent with mildewcide or a mixture of one quart household bleach in three quarts of water. Be sure and rinse the surface thoroughly when you’re finished.

Step Two: Repair and Scrape

Look for any damaged wood as well as peeling, loose, or blistering paint. Repair any surface flaws with a surface repair compound rated for exterior use. Sand the surface when dry. Scrape away loose paint in the direction of the grain to avoid tearing the wood fibers and creating an unstable surface for your primer. Scraping to the bare wood is not necessary if the old paint is undamaged.

Step Three: Sand

After you finish scraping, you’ll want to sand to smooth the edges with a power sander. Use a 60-grit paper for heavy ridges followed by 100-grit for a smooth look. Sand shiny, old paint surfaces as well as old, bare wood.

Step Four: Prime

Now it’s time to prime. Either oil or latex primer will yield good results. Oil primers, however, are generally more effective on new wood, metal, and previously chalked surfaces. If you’re priming over bare woods that have a high tannin content, such as cedar and redwood, ask your paint supplier for a special stain-blocking exterior primer.

Step Five: Caulk and Putty

Use putty and caulk to fill any nail head depressions, cracks, and imperfections. When necessary, scrape old caulk and re-caulk around the door trim, windowsills and any other areas that need to be sealed with paintable exterior caulk. Also repair and re-putty windows as needed. Allow to dry thoroughly before painting.
Follow these steps and then lay drop cloths under the areas you plan to paint to protect flowerbeds, shrubs, and lawns and you’re ready to start painting.
Remember, properly preparing the surface will save you time and money in the long run. If you don’t have the time for the prep work, consider using a professional painting contractor who understands the proper techniques that will achieve top quality results.

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