Your Guide to Exterior Home Painting

Keeping our homes in tip-top shape—while looking stunning—is a point of pride for many homeowners. Painting your home’s exterior, an important maintenance project, allows you to help preserve your home’s value and boost curb appeal, while creating an opportunity to express your personality through colour. Exterior painting is quite different from interior, so let’s take a look at what this entails!

Why is this important? 

Exterior painting keeps your home looking fresh and vibrant, and protects against weather and degradation, while prolonging the life of its underlying materials. It’s also an excellent opportunity to get up close to detect any damage, wear, or rot you might not otherwise notice—a tactic that can save on costly repairs in the long-term. 

Painting tips

Test your colour palette

Choosing the right colour combination for your home is not always an easy decision. Favourite colours may not translate or combine well in practice. Thankfully, many paint manufacturers offer visualization tools allowing you to test out different colours using a photo of your home. Here are some examples:

Choose the right paint for the job

Since not all exterior paints are created equal, it’s important to select your paint according to its application. For instance, oil-based paints are optimal for doors, trim, faucets, fixtures and wrought iron elements, while acrylic/latex paint is recommended for wood, vinyl or metal siding. Just keep in mind even though oil-based paint can be applied over a water-based paint, the reverse is not the case. Another exterior option is masonry paint, which allows brick to ‘breathe’ better giving it a longer lifetime.  

Buy enough paint

Painting the outside of your home requires a sufficient volume of paint in order to cover the entire surface area—ideally you’re looking at two to three coats of paint to avoid bubbling due to moisture. In addition to the visualization tools, retailers and brands offer volume calculators (like this one at Home Hardware) so you can get an accurate read on how many cans of paint you should plan for. You can also estimate based on a single gallon (3.8L) covering approximately 400ft(122m2).

Paint in ideal weather conditions

It’s best to avoid rainy or humid weather conditions when painting your home’s exterior and the paint experts at Benjamin Moore recommend you do not paint in temperatures below 4.4ºC. It’s also advisable to avoid high temperatures and direct sunlight, as these conditions cause the paint to dry too quickly. Your chosen paint brand will also have specific weather-related information on its label.

Watch out for lead

If your home was built before 1978, there’s a chance lead-based exterior paint was used. You can use an instant lead test, available from your local hardware or paint store, and if detected, special precautions are necessary to protect from lead dust during painting prep.

Consider hiring a pro

It’s a good idea to evaluate whether this is a project you can manage. It’s a time-consuming undertaking involving safety risks, precision, and a keen eye for details. If you decide to hire a professional, be sure to get multiple quotes from different pros, check their references and previous work and be mindful of how much and when you make payments, as recommended by Consumer Reports.

Gear up

If you plan on flexing your DIY muscles for this project, then you’ll need to obtain the following tools and materials:

  • A ladder (extension or multi-use are best)
  • Pressure washer
  • Masking tape (also called painter’s tape)
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint sprayer
  • Paint roller (if you decide not to use a sprayer)
  • Paint pail with roller grid
  • Paint scraper
  • Plastic sheeting to cover windows, fixtures, and trim
  • Paint thinner if you’re using oil-based paints
  • Paint primer
  • Paint (of course!)
  • Caulk gun with exterior caulking
  • Epoxy filler for gaps and gouges
  • Medium grain sanding block
  • Mortar (for brick homes)
  • Steel bristle brush if you’re repainting wrought iron

The process

  1. Pressure wash your home’s exterior.
  2. Repair surface damage—use epoxy to fill gaps and replace any rotted materials.
  3. Re-mortar where needed between bricks (if applicable).
  4. Remove loose paint and old caulking.
  5. Apply fresh caulking to your trim.
  6. Apply primer to stains—this ensures your new paint will adhere to these spots.
  7. Use the tape and plastic sheeting to protect your doors, windows, trim, and fixtures.
  8. Use drop cloths to cover up any bushes, gardens or other objects below where you will paint.
  9. Use your sprayer to paint the exterior.
  10. Apply a second and, if necessary, a third coat of paint after each application has dried.
  11. Remove the coverings from your doors, windows, trim and fixtures and apply masking tape around them.
  12. Paint the trim, fixtures, doors or windows as desired.
  13. Bask in the results of your hard work—you did an amazing job!

There’s no arguing the size and complexity of this type of project, nor its long-term benefits. Any project that keeps your home looking gorgeous while prolonging its life is always worth the effort. If you’re ready for more curb appeal-boosting projects, check out these outdoor lighting ideas, or add some striking autumn colours to your gardens.


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