How to Paint the Exterior of Your House

Portage MI – Are you planning your Spring and Summer projects yet?  It is close to decision time.  The exterior of the old homestead needs a fresh coat of paint.  Does Dad borrow a ladder, risk life and limb, save a few bucks and paint the outside of the house himself?  Does he devote every Saturday in June and July to paint the house?  Or does he do the prudent thing and call Van Tuinen Painting?

Should he decide to tackle this project, here are a few tips to make the job go smoothly.  We have a suspicion he’ll call Van Tuinen Painting the next time.

Safety when painting outdoors

Your family needs you as a breadwinner much more than they need the house painted.  So, PLEASE, follow a few practical safety suggestions.

  1. Beware of power lines.  They don’t mix well with aluminum ladders.
  2. Make certain, absolutely certain any ladder you climb is set up safely.  If you’re uncertain, get junior to hold it while you’re up there.
  3. DO NOT reach out too far off the ladder.  Falling is embarrassing. Landing can be excruciating.

Surface Preparation

This is where we find out if you’re going to give the quick and dirty job or make a run at being a semi-professional.  Skimp on the surface preparation and you will have a marginal job.  Guaranteed.  If you don’t want to spend every Saturday in June and July again in 2 years, do the following:

  1. Wash the house.  Rent a power washer or at least hook up a garden hose.  Get rid of the dust and the mildew.  Paint doesn’t stick well unless the surface is clean.  Please, please be careful with the pressure washer.  1500 psi (that’s pounds per square inch) can knock you off the ladder when you squeeze the trigger.
  2. Cover up:  Get out a drop cloth, old draperies or plastic to cover the bushes and sidewalks.  Just on the off chance you drip here and there.
  3. Scraping and sanding:  “The paint you put on is only as good as the paint you’re going over.”  How’s that for a trite sounding slogan.  Guess what?  It’s a fact, Jack.  If you don’t scrape the loose paint off the new paint will peel-soon.
  4. Lead safety tip:  There’s a reason the government issued all those lead safety guidelines.  Cover yourself up (masks, gloves, goggles, etc.) if your house was built before 1978 as it almost certainly has lead paint on it.  You’ll need those brain cells for the breadwinner thing again on Monday.
  5. Glazing (that’s the stuff along the glass, also called puddy), caulking the cracks, patching any holes-all this helps keep water out of the house.
  6. Priming:  Primer will seal and protect the wood for the finish coat you will apply.  It’s very important to prime bare wood AND, if you want to someday work for Van Tuinen Painting, also prime any cracking, marginal surfaces.  This helps extend the life of the paint job.

Finish coating

  1. You’ve got the toughest part of the job behind you.  It’s time to make the house look pretty.   Buy the best paint you can find.  Remember, a flat finish will allow dirt and dust to cling to it.  An eggshell or satin finish is more durable and will resist dirt and mildew.  Acrylic latex house paint will generally be your best bet.
  2. Repeat after me:  “I will not buy cheap paint.  I will not buy the bargain paint for $5/gallon less because it will make my job harder, the job won’t last as long and the house will not look as nice.”
  3. Start from the top and work down.  This sounds logical but not everyone does it this way.
  4. Choose the best brush or roller.  Great paint stores will make your job much easier by getting the right tool in your hand.  Go ahead and save $30 on cheap brushes and rollers if you’d rather spend a couple more Saturdays’ painting than golfing.
  5. Spray painting?  So your buddy sprayed his house in a day.  Well here’s the deal.  Spray rigs are great tools.  If, big if, you know how to use them.  Please use caution.  And, beware of that shiny new white van in your neighbor’s driveway.  He probably doesn’t want the speckled version.
  6. Spread the paint smoothly and evenly, completing a section at a time to avoid lap marks.  Work the paint into the surface with your brush or roller for maximum penetration and adhesion.

Once you’re finished, cleanup your tools with water or thinner.  Take care of that brush for the next project.  Unless you’ve had it up to here with house painting.  If that’s the case, Van Tuinen Painting can be reached at 345-4444.  Next time, go golfing and let us do it for you.

Once it is painted, it may be the right time to sell it too? Give the Veenstra Team a call if you would like to explore the options.

Thanks for reading!
Your Kalamazoo neighbors and expert home team

David Veenstra, REALTOR
Jason Veenstra, REALTOR
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