How to Paint Your House

Learn how to paint your house with this helpful guide. To maximize the life of your outdoor painting projects, follow these expert steps for prep work, application and choosing the right paint for the job.

| August/September 2007

Follow this expert advice, learn how to paint your house and maximize the life of your outdoor paint.

How to Paint Your House

Freshly painted outdoor wood is a beautiful thing. Too bad it doesn’t last. After five, 10 or 15 years of exposure, siding, trim and fences need a recharge — that’s just the way it is. But painting outdoor wood, especially an entire home, can be a high stakes game: Do it right and your efforts will endure two or three times longer than if you cut corners. That’s why a little extra know-how and effort is so worthwhile.

Beauty does matter, of course, and to understand the essentials behind a long-lasting outdoor paint job, you need to recognize the three forces that will work against you: sunshine, moisture and temperature fluctuations.

These are the archenemies of outdoor paint. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation breaks down surface paint layers, while seasonal expansion and contraction of underlying wood causes paint films to crack. Flaking, bubbling and peeling follows shortly behind as water sneaks in behind the paint, breaking its bond to the wood. Getting the most from an exterior paint depends on thwarting these three forces.

By the way, you may be surprised to learn that exterior paints and stains do not enhance the rot resistance of wood in any meaningful way. In fact, in some cases they can even trap moisture and promote rot. We’ve been conditioned to think otherwise in an effort to boost product sales. The fact is that exterior wood finishing is mostly about aesthetics. According to the University Extension office of Iowa State University, “The simplest and most economical way of finishing an exterior wood surface is to allow it to weather naturally. Wood exposed to the weather will undergo color changes during transition from the original to the final gray color.” For more on this, download Finishing Exterior Wood Surfaces. Got a new barn or outbuilding? Letting the surface weather naturally or painting only the trim is a viable option. Bare barns everywhere stand as testimony to the enduring qualities of unfinished exterior wood. (See photo in the Image Gallery.)

Prep before House Painting

It’s often said that preparation is key to long paint life. But what exactly does this mean? Part of the confusion comes from the fact that effective prep for new wood is quite different from what is required for renewing a previously painted surface.

10/8/2008 10:21:54 PM

Great article! It covers basically all the bases, and it doesn't try to fool the reader into thinking that painting is easy work, or that there are shortcuts. Do it right, and reap the benefits.

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