It is very important when applying any spray applied paint or exterior wall finish, to mask up all areas that are not to be sprayed.
This short guide explains how we in the trade can mask up a house quickly and easily whilst carrying out external redecoration work. (Masking can also apply to internal areas, usually large commercial projects such as painting the insides of factories or hotels)
Masking, in this case, applies to the preparation that NEVER PAINT AGAIN undertakes before the installation teams spray apply an exterior textured wall coating to a house.
It does not apply to the trowel and roller render based coatings or render based weatherproof coatings which do not need masking in order to apply the wall finish.
We at NPA take tremendous pride in our work and the author has personally been involved in thousands of different exterior coating projects across the world, all of them being a resounding success.
If the instructions here are irrelevant and you actually want to know how much it costs to paint a house rather than getting DIY advice, then contact us for costs.
Why is it important to mask up properly when spray painting?
If the masking up for home improvements is done correctly then the whole job will go quicker, will look more professional, and ultimately, will cause the least mess and the minimum of cleaning up afterwards this saving time and money.
Equipment and items needed
- Several rolls of good quality masking tape 1″ (approx.)
- A few rolls of wider masking tape 1.5 or 2 (approx.)
- Access equipment such as stepladder, ladders, scaffold etc
- A supply of cloths and rags.
- UPVC cleaning solution.
- Good quality 500mm width craft brown wrapping paper.
- 1m width heavy duty craft paper (optional)
- A quantity of dustsheets or tarpaulins.
- Paint spraying equipment.
- Silicone sealant and mastic gun.
- A sturdy small stool or upturned milk crate (optional)
- And ……….paint(!) & associated materials.
How to mask up a house
Stage one: Getting prepared.
The first thing to do, and it seems so simple but many people don’t do this, is to IDENTIFY exactly which areas are to be sprayed and what areas are to be masked up.
If you are a contractor, you should have a detailed specification, either from the customer, or for the company you are working for. If you don’t and its verbal and its not a DIY project, you should be ashamed of yourself for being so unprofessional!
If this is the case, STOP what you are doing and make some notes, or you could find that the finished job doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, and if someone is paying you to do this, then its your own fault!
Once you have identified exactly which areas are to be treated with either paint or a spray applied wall coating, then it should be very easy to identify where and what needs to be covered over and masked up.
Now is the time to get all your tools and materials ready on site and to hand, to use.
The areas we will concentrate on for this article would typically include: Doors, Windows, Fascia boards, Soffits, gutters, downpipes, garage doors, patio doors, Areas of unpainted brick not to be treated (eg brick window cills or plinths), Security lights, Vents and flues.
Safety first when doing this!
A WORD OF WARNING:
1. When masking up security lights, get the homeowner to switch them off if possible, and consider taking the masking down at the end of the days work before you leave site.
This is because if the light comes on, (and the bulbs can be pretty powerful), put quite simply, it will set the masking paper alight! Remember, lights generate HEAT as well as light.
A WORD OF WARNING:
2. When masking up vents such as flues or outlets, again, be sure that the appliance that requires these outlets is switched off. An example would be covering over a heater flue outside.
When the boiler goes on, for example if it begins to heat water for a bath, the masking paper will not allow the flue to vent the fumes to the outside.
This means that, in the best case scenario, the pilot light will extinguish and the boiler will switch itself off, possibly causing an expensive call to a gas engineer, OR the worst case scenario, the gases that are not being vented outside, will come back into the house via highly dangerous carbon monoxide, which can be lethal.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THOSE PREVIOUS 2 PARAGRAPHS.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, you should NOT do it and call an exterior wall specialist instead such as NEVER PAINT AGAIN on (0800) 970 4928
After you have identified which areas to be masked, now lets start to mask the house.
Stage two: masking up the house.
I always start from the top of the elevation and work downwards, but for the less experienced, it is fine to start at the ground floor until you gain confidence.
Starting with the windows, clean around the edges of the frame to get rid of any dust and dirt, and especially with UPVC plastic windows, sometimes, especially new units, have a sort of oily feel to them, which is often a solution applied to the frames when the factory is making them, to avoid any scratches.
In this case, use a soft cloth, upvc cleaner and kitchen roll or something equivalent.
If you were wondering why the list above included an upturned milk crate, this refers to the fact that the top of most windows are usually about 6 to 7 feet off the ground so unless you are a basketball player or circus side-show in your spare time, you will need to stand on something to get to the top edge of the window.
Once the frame is semi-clean, you need to put your initial GUIDE LINES on with masking tape. (Make sure all corners are square and the line of tape around the window is straight too.)
Apply masking tape around the edges of the frame, leaving an overlap of about 2mm onto the frame.
This will ensure that once the spray applied wall coating goes onto the walls of the house, de-masking the window will leave a neat and tidy straight line around the whole frame, finishing the job off nicely and ensuring that the coating seals any gaps around the window frame.
Where mastic beading seals around windows are frayed or missing, they should be re-applied BEFORE the tape goes on but keep the tape away from new mastic, or removal of the tape will peel the mastic away again.
Once you have got your guide tapes, then look at the window, estimate how long a piece of brown paper you will need and then tear or cut that amount off the roll. If you tear it off, make a straight edge at the top.
Apply a piece of tape to the top of the paper and then stick it firmly to the window, ONTO the guide tape, ensuring it runs square to the sides of the window frame.
Then stick the side down, folding a neat edge at the bottom, and stick the bottom of the paper down. Make sure if the window cills are traditional, that the paper runs UNDERNEATH the cill, and over the drip groove below, and then secure with tape, again in a neat straight line, under the window.
If the paper fits the window neatly, then stick down the other side. If the paper is not wide enough, tack the loose edge onto the window, and then repeat the procedure outlined above, until the window is covered.
Watch out for windy weather when masking.
TOP TIP:If bad weather is expected, or you are masking up in an exposed location, it is good practice to tear a small hole in the middle of the paper and stick the middle of the paper to the window, ensuring no glass can be seen through the paper.
This will stop it flapping causing a nuisance to the occupants, plus if the wind catches it, the paper won’t rip off the window.
Be sure to only leave it like this for max 3 days or you will leave sticky tape marks on the window. (tape residue can be cleaned off with window cleaner, white spirit or vinegar)
For windows with a casement opening, the more experienced or adventurous can mask up the window pane, and the casement window separately, which means that, especially in hot weather, the occupants can open the window whilst it is still masked, in order, for example, to get some air into the house.
Repeat the above until all windows are masked up.
Then its time to mask up the doors.
Masking up the doors
Masking up the doors of a house is slightly different than doing a window as doors usually require to be used all the time by the customers or the team popping in to use the loo after all those cups of tea (!!!!!!) and unlike windows, a different approach is called for.
Put simply; mask the frame of the door, separately from the door itself using tape, and mask the doorstep or threshold with paper.
This means that the door is protected and masked up but can still be used. This is also handy if you plan to be doing the job for more than a couple of days.
Again, for the more adventurous, why not keep your customers happy by also masking up their letterbox separately so it can still be used?
Remember to mask the DOOR HANDLE separately, using masking tape but dont overdo it or you will have trouble getting the tape off again, especially if it is covered in textured coating paint that hasn’t dried yet!
Mask around DOORBELLS and door knockers with tape.
So, in theory, we’ve masked up the doors and windows now, and we need to finish the preparation by masking up the pipes, and the brickwork not to be coated.
Masking pipes, fascias and guttering.
Masking up the drainpipes (etc.) is by far the easiest bit:
Simply tear off a length of paper and wrap it around the pipe, securing with tape. Simple!.
All joins and troughs in the pipe work are normally best dealt with by using wide masking tape, but again, don’t be too enthusiastic or you will find it difficult to remove once the job is done.
Masking up the fascias, barge boards or soffits is a bit more difficult and usually requires this to be done at height, so if you are not in the trade, be very careful working off a ladder or tower scaffold.
You need to apply a GUIDE TAPE as per when we did the windows, so a nice neat line is achieved between the top of the exterior wall surface, and the soffits/fascias etc.
Then tear off SHORT strips of paper, apply tape to one EDGE and then stick the taped edge to the underside of the soffits (eaves) and then wrap this OVER and up towards the edge of the guttering, securing with either a small bit of tape or my top tip, a normal clothes peg.
Repeat until the whole roof-line area is masked up.
NOTE: I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THAT UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, THIS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ASPECT OF MASKING UP A HOUSE AS:
1) ITS USUALLY AT HEIGHT,
2), YOU SOMETIMES NEED TO LEAN BACK SLIGHTLY, ESPECIALLY IF THE EAVES ARE DEEP, IN ORDER TO DO THIS. BE VERY CAREFUL. (Again, this is usually best left to the trade)
Masking up patio roofs and brickwork areas
The final part of masking up the house to be sprayed, and just before we lay the dustsheets down on the floor, is to cover any brickwork not be sprayed.
This can take the form of:
- A large area of ground level brickwork (for example if only the top half of the house is rendered or pebbledashed)
- A brick plinth (usually a course of bricks below the internal floor level, outside the house)
- Corner features, architectural features or quoins
- Brickwork separating 2 adjoining terraced or semi detached houses.
- A brick soldier course, unpainted bricks at the header of a window or door.
- Brick or stone window cills. (NOTE: If stone cills are to be painted, use tile paint or long life masonry smooth coating, do not spray cills with coarse textured coating as over time they can trap dirt washed in from rainwater)
One of the trickiest parts of masking brick is getting the masking to stick to it in the 1st place!
If you are having trouble getting your masking tape to stick on brickwork, here’s my top tip: Mix a thin solution of water and PVA unibond. Brush the brick or stone with this thin solution and allow to dry. Don’t use a lot of unibond or it will leave a line of shine on the brick.
(NOTE Unibond is a registered trade mark but there are other, cheaper PVA mixtures available in your local builders store)
Masking up brickwork.
For large areas of masking up brickwork, (see photo above), tarpaulin sheets can be stuck or nailed to the wall and the gaps sealed with tape. Be sure to get a good stick or any hand applied primer may bleed or run down onto the brickwork.
If you have quoins or corner features that are to remain untreated, it is best to mask them with tape only, but make sure the edges are very neat and straight and the tape is pressed down and adhered very firmly as over-spray onto unpainted brick can be very hard to remove.
Masking up tiles or sloping porch roofs should be tackled in the same way.
If you have new, lightweight dust-sheets, these can also sometimes be taped, or otherwise if its dry weather, thicker craft paper can be used on the roof, but it wont last long if paint gets splashed onto it, or if the weather turns bad, which is often the case in the United Kingdom.
(Unlike normal painting and decorating, the NPA exterior wall system can be applied all year around and the author has worked in temperatures ranging from -5 (brrr!), rain, wind and the baking hot sun at 95 to 100 degrees in Florida, Malta and Spain.)
NPA’s TOP TIP FOR EXTERIOR TEXTURE COATERS IN SPAIN:
Unlike the UK, many houses in Spain have strong metal security grilles over the windows, sometimes called rejas and to mask them up, even if you plan to gloss paint them after spraying the walls, cover them with normal kitchen foil.
Simply tear off small sheets of the foil and wrap them around the ironwork.
Once you have finished working, simply take the foil off and dispose of carefully. Simple!
This masking method can also be used on homes in the UK too of course.
Tips for those in the trade
A useful thing I should mention is that if you are a textured coating crew foreman and you’re reading this, if the house is to be bagged, the masking needs to be that much better in order to protect the windows from cement splashes which can be hard to remove and can stain UPVC and woodwork.
If you are bagging the house before slushing (priming), it is often a good idea to put masking OVER THE TOP OF the existing masking where bagging will splash, for example on the window sills. This should be just tacked on, and taken off again when the bagging is done.
I always used to put secondary lines of masking tape over the guide lines on the windows, as if you get bagging onto your guide tapes, then primer on top of that, and then a coat of textured coatings, the masking can be an utter nightmare to remove.
After the job is done: Removing masking
Now the job is done, its time to de-mask the house.
One the job has been done (another article in itself), now is the time to take the masking off and view the finished job. It is very important to de-mask starting at the TOP and working down.
Firstly, remove (carefully) the masking around the guttering and fascias, making sure that the paper doesn’t brush against the textured coating finish on the wall.
Then screw up the waste paper into a ball and throw down each piece (providing its not windy) onto a tarpaulin or dust sheet on the floor, preferably to be collected by your labourer or assistant.
Always pay close attention to masking up
(Be sure to dispose of this paper in an ethical way, either by holding a bonfire AT YOUR OWN HOUSE, NOT THE CUSTOMERS, or by taking it to a recycling facility.)
Then de-mask each window, again carefully, peeling it back from one corner and making sure the side of the paper with paint or overspray on it, does not touch the glass of the window.
Then carefully remove the guide tapes we applied in stage one, and you should be left with nice neat lines around the window.
If for some reason, your lines are NOT straight, re-fix new guide tapes (but dont re-mask the window) and then simply mix a small amount of textured coating into a paint kettle or small pot, and with a 1 inch brush, hand paint a nice neat line around the window.
It is good practice and very professional to ensure that once your textured weatherproof wall coating application is completed, you pay attention to detail, as this can work wonders with your reputation and customer satisfaction, which is what we all want.
Be careful on ladders
Taking the masking off the gutters requires some nimble ladder work and you may need the assistance of your crew mate to do this.
De masking the doors is the same as the windows, but be careful of excess paint or coating that may have gathered onto the masking paper, as if you drop it on the floor, you will start to make one heck of a mess, which is usually walked around on peoples feet before they realise.
Also make sure the customers know if they accidentally get paint or coating on their hands or clothes, you will be happy to assist them in removing it.
The first thing a customer usually does is they go to the kitchen and try and wash it off, then realising that weatherproof and waterproof wall coatings don’t wash off! Its fine, they just may need some help if this happens.
Remember a typical waterproof external protective wall coating usually takes up to 48 hours before it the skin of the coating hardens, so make sure nothing is put against the wall for a couple of weeks.
Now all the masking should be removed and the paper safely disposed of, the site swept up and tidied up, and tools and equipment in the van, you’re ready for the final inspection with the customer and the satisfaction of a job well done and a well painted house.
Thank you for reading this article. This is an original piece of work and is protected by copyright. DO NOT copy this article.
You may print this off for research, training or comparison.
The author has written this from 25 years of practical experience in the field and the know how to mask up a house guide is primarily intended for professional working in the exterior textured coating industry.
Please do not attempt to do work that you are not experienced at, always get a professional exterior painting contractor in to do the job. The author accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions and the above text is for information only.