salisbury gable end during work-min

How to paint a house exterior from start to finish

If it’s that house painting time of the year again, the dreaded time to get the outside of the house cleaned and painted, but there are a few things you really need to know, so we put together ten of our best top tips for you.

Painting the house is NOT an easy job and in many cases, we would recommend calling a decorator or wall coating specialist, but if you fancy having a go yourself, here’s a few hints from house painting guru Guy Alexander Bell, to make this years painting project that little bit easier!

(Just a quick heads-up before we start, if you have surfed onto this page looking for a company to actually PAINT your house, rather than just here getting information, no problem, if you contact us we can tell you how much it would cost to paint your house.

Anyway, as I was saying…..

The following tips are related to painting the OUTSIDE of the house, not the inside, although there are probably one or two of my tips that are relevant to both activities.

SAFETY whilst painting and decorating is also of primary importance.

Do not take risks and do not use tools or chemicals that you are unfamiliar with.

Do not under estimate how major a task painting the house can be.

It is important also that I tell you that if you are not confident, and I don’t mean super confident as we all have our fears and worries if we are doing something that we are not used to doing, but if you are absolutely scared stuff of this then do yourself a favour and hire someone else to paint the house!

Anyway, here we go, Guy’s top ten tips to get the outside of your house painted.

1. Plan the work!

This may seem extremely obvious to everyone but you would be surprised how many people fail to plan, and then of course plan to fail, so write down what you are going to do, it helps you FOCUS!

You don’t have to sit down and write an essay, just some rough notes on one side of A4 paper will be sufficient.

Note any repairs or flaking paint you need to look at, make a list of stuff you will need (Don’t forget to buy the paint itself!), and maybe also work out how much you plan to spend on this.

2. Get ready to paint!

Another thing people don’t seem to do is to prepare THEMSELVES for the work ahead.

Painting a house is NOT the same as sat down in front of the telly with a cuppa, it takes hard work and if you don’t make the effort, it will either not get done, or will look awful.

The painter in the image above has prepared themselves and knows the importance of scraping down old paint and also covering the floor. It is not just the painting that requires preparation, YOU DO TOO.

Make sure you have enough dust sheets or old blankets to use, so you don’t end up painting the patio and your lawn too.

Make sure you are physically prepared and able to carry out this work as it does require stamina, and if you are not used to climbing ladders, familiarise yourself with safe use.

Make sure also you wear overall or old clothes as many exterior paints and wall coatings, especially waterproof ones, or damp proof paints, will NOT wash out of your clothes.

3. Get the materials needed to paint.

Time and time again we hear of people starting their decorating in earnest, only to find that in the middle of painting an elevation, an entire wall like the gable end, they run out of paint!

Ok, another trip to the DIY store yes?

Meanwhile that wall you half-painted is now drying, so when you get back, and carry on, once the whole wall is finished, you will see a shadow or a rough line where the 2 different cans of paint were used. DOH!

PRO EXPERT SECRET: The only way you can be sure, if you are not sure about how much paint to buy, is, after you shaken all of the cans of paint (with the lid firmly on!),  AND THEN pour each one of them into a brand new large tub with a sealeable lid and then mix them all together. Then just dispense the paint you need from the larger container.

This also saves wastage and that means IT SAVES YOU MONEY!!!!!

That way, you won’t get brush lines, or shadows in your repainting as this can happen quite often, especially with darker coloured paints.

Oh, and……Make sure you have all ladders, tools, brushes that you need BEFORE YOU START!

4. Hose down the house!

Over time your house, especially if located next to a road, will pick up dirt, dust and grime, in addition to plant pollen, sap and leaf mould.

You should NOT paint over this, even with just primer, because paint won’t cure it, won’t clean it, and also paint, once finished, will look terrible if you have painted over dirt.

If you clean the walls beforehand, and allow to dry, your overall paint finish will be much better.

That sort of dirt build up is usually easy to spot, however for the best painting job, you need to CLEAN the exterior of your house.

This will get rid of any loose or friable material on the wall. If your walls show signs of mould and green growth, they may be hiding a damp problem within the walls, so if you are not sure, get someone experienced to look at it BEFORE you apply the paint.

This also applies to the condition of the surface itself. If the wall to paint has cracks, this could be a sign that your wall needs re-rendering, and this is reccomended before any painting is done.

If the house has a lot of grime then use a power washer, but only the type that is used to clean your car or driveway with, like the fella in the image below, which was a painting pebbledash job we did in Devon.

Pebble-dash cleaning

Remember! Preparation!

5. Spray the paint!

OK, this is the sort of thing we do every day, but if you have not done this before, and are only using masonry paint, you CAN spray it for a much quicker job, but there’s a few things you need to know before hand.

To avoid the spray going where you don’t want it to go, you must mask up areas that you do not want the paint to go to. A photo showing what looks like is below and here is a blog post we did explaining the method used to mask up a house.

masked up ready to repair

Remember when you spray paint, you create a fine mist, which with the slightest gust of wind, or with the sprayers inexperience, that fine mist can cover not only your windows, but your car too, and your wife’s prized rose bush!!!

PRO EXPERT SECRET: If you see in the photo we also laid dust sheets down, and then paper up to the damp course on the ground.

Why? Because not only will this tip **** save you about two days of cleaning up **** afterwards, its just professional, simple as that. If you want to paint like a pro, ACT like a pro!

6. Tips for preparing the wall for paint.

Quite simply, the majority of any house painting job is the preparation beforehand. ONE DAY that you spend on preparation, will save you at least THREE DAYS of work and cleaning up afterwards.

The wall needs to be READY for the paint, so you need to look at any cracks that need filling, perhaps old render that has come away from the wall and is hollow, and remove mould, dirt and grime from the walls. Sand down any rough bits on the walls and woodwork and fill in any holes, bumps and cracks.

If you take time in preparing, and you don’t have to be a professional decorator, you will SAVE time and MONEY when you paint.

7. Tips to Achieve the best finish

Another great time-saving tip is to do with the finishing off of the job AFTER you have painted the walls. When you paint a house, that is a large surface area, but what about attention to detail?

The pro painter will spend a lot of time on details, such as cutting in to corners and alcoves where the roller didn’t reach, or making sure the paint has gone under the window cills, and right down to the DPC.

This will give nice, neat and straight lines down each opening, for a real pro finish every time.

One tip is to put a masking tape line around the window reveals, and make sure the tape encroaches onto the window frame by a few mm only. Then paint onto the tape carefully, making sure you don’t lift the tape or get paint under it.

As soon as you have finished one line or section, carefully remove the tape, standing away from the window and pulling outwards. Dispose of the tape in a  bag or you may find that scrunched up ball of tape you chucked on the floor will blow around and put paint splashes on the floor.

There does exist a special painters tape, available from your local DIY store, which is much better for this sort of thing, but more expensive than masking tape.

TOP TIP: For a real pro finish, do NOT buy DIY paint, go to your local trade store and buy the trade equivalent paint. This is much better quality than DIY paint and will last longer, something the paint companies fail to tell the public.

8. Paint when its cloudy!

Many DIY painters wrongly think the best time to paint your house is mid summer because of the low chance of rain. (Yeah right, this is England!)

The best sort of weather to paint is not too cold and not too warm and without the sun. This is because when you paint a wall on a sunny day, the sun will shine on the wall and I guarantee that the glare or reflection will affect your eyes, and people who do this every day end up with eye strain. Paint when it is cloudy and try and finish mid afternoon if possible.

If using gloss paint or emulsion, wait until you are confident there is no chance of rain because the painted wall could end up suffering from a term not widely known in DIY circles and that is Surfactant leaching. This is when ingredients contained in the paint becoming affected by moisture which then brings components of the paint to the surface, drying in a waxy film.

9. “bolt-on” something else to finish the job off!

What I mean is, if you are working outside, you may have noticed other things that need to get done too, such as a cracked window pane, missing gutter clips or a blocked gutter, maybe the garden looks scruffy?

With a nicely painted house, you need to finish the job off, and it’s nothing to do with more paint!

Get any other problem areas fixed, or it just ruins all the effort you put into painting the walls, the siding, the trim and any other area outside the home.

Tidy the garden, or at least the area nearest to the house.

This will finish it off nicely, sort of like putting a frame around a painting that you have bought from the shop.  If you are doing some painting for someone else, this can also earn you brownie points and maybe even a nice tip at the end.

10. Start at the top, for a great finish!

Huh? The final tip I will give you today is to start your painting at the top of the house, not the bottom. This at first seems obvious but with the inexperienced painter may be lacking confidence they often start at the bottom and work up.

We know this as quite often the keen DIY painter will start the job, realise he or she can’t finish it and then they contact NEVER PAINT AGAIN to finish the work for them!

Why do you think that TOP decorators are known by that very moniker? TOP!

You must always start at the top, yes on the ladder or the scaffolding, and work downwards, even if only to be bale to have the opportunity to paint over those splashes from your brush or roller whilst painting the top floor exterior?

There is a method and a correct way to do almost everything in life, and, provided you take heed to this collection of pretty simple tips, and use the method correctly to paint your house, you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you do NOT want to paint your own house and would like a quote for us to do it, please be sure to call me, on 0800 970 4928

Guy Alexander Bell. Bsc.(hons.)Pg.Dp.
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