Painting A Home’s Exterior

Wooden features of your home’s exterior need to be maintained to protect them from damage and to keep your house looking good. Wooden window frames, wood doors that are directly exposed to weather, and porches or stairs that are made from untreated wood all fall into this category.

a home in need of painting with bare wood exposed

How to recognize the need for fresh paint

You can freshen up the appearance of your house by repainting exterior trim any time you like. However, sometimes a new coat of paint is necessary for more than cosmetic reasons. When the old paint chips or peels exposing the wood underneath a new coat of paint is needed to protect the wood. Ignoring peeling and cracking paint leaves your home’s exterior vulnerable to further damage.

When is the best time of year to do exterior painting?

Exterior painting is best done in the spring or the fall. The ideal temperature range for painting with latex paint is between 50 and 85. Check the weather forecast and try to find a time when 3 or more rain-free days are predicted.

How to properly paint your home’s exterior and outdoor features

man with paintbrush painting wooden house exterior

  1. First clean the area you want to paint. Using a pressure washer will make this job go quickly. If you don’t have a pressure washer and don’t want to rent one, hand washing using a rag and some diluted all-purpose cleaner (e.g. Lysol or Fabuloso) will also work.
  2. Remove as much of the old, peeling paint as possible. This can be done with a paint scraper or putty knife. Another option when working with larger surfaces like porches is to attach a paint removing tool to a drill. These attachments can be a synthetic fiber wheel or sandpaper wheel. If you are repainting windows be sure to look for loose caulk that will also need to be scraped loose and replaced. After all peeling paint has been removed, lightly sand the existing paint so that new paint will adhere better. Use a damp cloth to wipe up any dust left by sanding. NOTE: houses built before 1978 may have lead paint. Refer to the EPA’s website If you are concerned about possible lead paint in your home.
  3. For windows only. Replace any caulk or glazing before repainting windows. Follow instructions on package regarding drying time before paint can be applied. Tape the glass around the edges of the frame so that primer and paint doesn’t get on the window glass.
  4. Let the surface dry completely. The surface of the wood needs to be completely dry before you begin painting.
  5. Next apply a coat of primer and allow to dry completely. Primer can be applied with a small paint roller or a paintbrush. Be sure to use a primer labeled for exterior use.
  6. Paint with exterior grade paint. Exterior paint intended for trim can differ from paint intended for surfaces that will see more wear. If you are unsure about which paint is appropriate for your project an employee at your local paint supplier will be able to guide you. Apply a coat of paint with a small paint roller or paintbrush. Two coats may be necessary for full coverage. Allow the paint to dry before applying a second coat to prevent the paint from bubbling.