It’s that time of year again so how about some top tips for exterior decoration this season?
I’ve been painting houses since the age of 14, and now at the ripe old age of 48 (!) I thought it was about time I shared some of my top tips with you. (no that isn’t me in the photo!)
We are going to look at the typical sorts of repairs houses need from time to time, some insider tricks on how to diagnose problems, and of course how to remedy those problems in the most cost effective way.
Whatever country you have surfed into our site from, and whatever your budget, you should be able to find something here, and if so, please be sure to user the buttons at the foot of the page to share on your favourite social networks!
So without further ado, here are my top ten tips for decorating exteriors and watch out for my mini top tips in the text too!
Top tip 1: Fail to plan and you plan to fail!
The best laid plans of mice and men…….
It’s no good approaching a DIY project like a bull in a china shop as sooner or later you will come a cropper, forget what it was you were doing, or simply lose interest.
It is important that you formulate some sort of plan as to what exactly you are going to do. Even if it’s just a job like having a tidying up blitz outside, or maybe changing some stuff in the garden, you need to plan.
You don’t have to create something that looks like you are about to submit a dissertation to a university, nor does it have to submitted for the Turner prize, just one side of A4, with a few scribbled notes is all you need, and it will make things much clearer and you will be more focused on the tasks ahead.
MINI TOP TIP: Your plan could include how much paint you need, the cost and the colour, or what tools you require, in order to get the job done. It’s important, which is why it’s my #1 tip.
2. Work safe and avoid problems.
Working safely is not just something that is only of importance to tradesmen, it is of vital importance to any DIY’er too. Whatever you plan to do, not only make sure you are capable of doing it, but make sure no one could get hurt and that includes pets and kids too.
Each year thousands of people hurt themselves while working around the house and no one wants that, and it could ruin far more than just your decorating plans, in fact it could change into a funeral plan if you take stupid risks.
Here are some insider tips on working safely.
- Keep all kids and pets well away form any work you are doing, no matter how minor the task is.
- Work according to your abilities and don’t try something you are unsure of.
- Always use safety gear like gloves, goggles and other safety items.
- Don’t touch gas or electrics, call a tradesman (or woman) instead.
- Be aware of who and what is around you when working.
- If ladders scare you, hire scaffolding or a cherry picker, it’s much safer.
MINI TOP TIP: Do your own mini “risk assessment” before you start, maybe enlist the help of your partner or a friend and take a good look for risks. What COULD POSSIBLY happen?
Any slippery paths or driveways? Should those planters be moved away from the wall? If the house fronts directly onto the pavement, are there measures to keep pedestrians away? You can contact the HSE for more help, or your local council.
3. Start at the top!
Time and time again we see people who are not that confident, attempt repairs or painting to the exteriors of their homes, but they start at the bottom first as they lack confidence.
Doing some work around the house should be enjoyable and a bit of research and light reading beforehand can make all the difference between a good and a bad job.
When you are painting the outside of the house by all mean try a bit of painting lower down to see if you paint is right for the wall, or perhaps see if you need to carry out some repairs such as fixing cracks, but if you are painting the walls of a house then start at the top and work downwards!
MINI TOP TIP: When painting walls around railings, pipes or gates, to avoid paint getting on to them too, get a roll of aluminium kitchen foil, tear off strips and wrap them around the bits of the fence near to the wall. Once you finish painting, wait a few hours for the paint to dry and then simply take the tin foil off and chuck it away!
4. Pay attention to your gutters
Your gutters don’t probably get a lot of love and attention from you, they are just stuck there, just below the roof and you expect them to do their job come what may. Well, if you don’t give them a yearly clean out, especially if trees are nearby, you could be in for a shock as they may let you down.
If your gutters get blocked, they won’t do their job, which is to displace water from rain coming off the roof. Get a ladder up to them, make sure someone is at the bottom holding it, and drench the gutters with a mixture of soap and water.
MINI TOP TIP: save up some buckets of dish washing water and pour that down the gutters and pipes, thus recycling water and making good use of something that would otherwise be emptied into the kitchen sink and wasted.
Once this is done, go up the ladder again with a hosepipe and wash the dirt and debris out of the gutters and into the pipes and drains. If any leaks are found, seal them with something like Evo-Stik Waterproof Roof & Gutter Sealant for only about £3, available on ebay and other places.
Once it’s all cleaned out, turn your attention to the exterior of the pipes and give them a good clean too.
5. Tidy the garden and finish the job!
There is nothing worse than doing a load of reparation work and refurbishment to the walls, for example, and then standing back (not on a ladder please) to admire your work, and what catches your eye?
That great paint job you did on the windows? No. What stands out is unkempt bushes, tatty grass and weeds in the garden.
Gardening can be fun and you don’t need to be housewives heartthrob Alan Titchmarsh or dad’s on the dole fave Charlie Dimmock to get your garden looking great in no time at all. With or without a bra!
Of course in most cases you need to wait for a dry day, but one the weather breaks, mow the lawn, clear the weeds, trim the hedges and the whole job can make the picture complete.
MINI TOP TIP: Besides that it’s great exercise too, in fact an American health study on active and on active senior citizens, which was also published in the UK by SAGA a while ago, suggested that.….
“The more active gardeners among the volunteers showed the best levels of physical health and all the gardeners had stronger and more nimble hands, not to mention higher-than-average levels of self-esteem. “
6. Work WITH the weather, not against it
When the drizzle and the wind stop, and the skies clear in England, we are reminded of what a beautiful part of the world we live in.
So if you plan on working on the outside of your house this year, you need to pay attention to the weather, for a great job.
If the sun is shining on the front of the house in the morning and you want to paint it, start on the back first, because you won’t get the glare in your eyes when painting, plus it means the paint on the wall will have all afternoon to dry.
This can be a great way to keep track of what bits to do first and what to do next. Applying paint to a house is a prime example of why you should not work in direct sunlight, as if you do, I guarantee that you will miss bits because of the sun glare and then when you paint over the missed bits, you stand a chance of the house not looking its best.
Another weather related tip is the fact that if it has rained or the ground has morning dew, watch your step, and if using ladders, make sure another person holds it for you. If powerwashing, like our man in the photo, don’t do it in very cold weather as it will turn to ice.
MINI TOP TIP: When painting high-up areas, avoid the problems with getting paint off your face by smearing your lovely features with Vaseline™. Once you have finished, simply wipe the Vaseline™ off your face with a kitchen towel, and the paint will come off too!
7. Always think QUALITY
Quality should be at the forefront of your mind when doing anything to your house, minor or major and using quality tools and equipment, along with quality paints and so on, can make the difference between a cowboy bodge job, and a good DIY finish.
If painting a wall, for you, is a once in a blue moon job then of course don’t rush out and buy professional trade brushes, but also don’t use the cheapest, although if you plan on painting every year then a set of good brushes, if looked after, will last for years.
Some good advice came to us from paint pro Edward Kimble, who wrote for doityourself.com and said about brushes:
MINI TOP TIP: Edward adds, “Cheap brushes throw bristles, but the more expensive brushes do not shed bristles. Bristles in paint are a messy nightmare. This is one of the biggest reasons to spend the extra money on professional brushes.”
8. Make sure you clean up well!
Don’t get me wrong, some tradespeople do this too, and it’s annoying, but if you clear up and tidy up immediately after you do you work, not only will whatever home improvement you do, LOOK better, you also reduce the risk of accidents in the home happening .
This is because you didn’t throw away the razor blades from that window scraper, or you failed to dispose of that white spirit that you now remember as you are the vets with Rover who has just drank it.
MINI TOP TIP: Another suggestion is to clean your windows after the work, which often finishes the job off a treat but be careful not to splash any water on a newly painted wall, or stick a ladder on to wet paint and undo all your hard work.
9. Use your imagination!
People are often very surprised at what a little bit of imagination can achieve when doing work outdoors. Recycling and up-cycling are all the rage nowadays and come with karma and street cred built in!
You really CAN add interest and value to the outside areas of your home without spending a lot of money, in fact the materials needed maybe already there right under your nose!
There are all sorts of things that you can do to make the exterior of the house better on less money.
TOP MINI TIP: Why not turn old pallets into garden shelves by, taking off the lower slats and re-affixing them so they are level, and then varnishing them and putting pot plants on each shelf. If you have an old car tyre, you can turn it inside out, full it with earth and plant things in it!
10. Make a budget and in no way exceed it!
It would pointless for me to be sat here writing this, and telling you that you have to save money, amongst other things, when you chuck unlimited amounts of cash at something that clearly is not worth it.
If your goal is to add value, for example, don’t spend more than you would expect to get back. Also take note of the PRIORITY of what needs to be done, and hopefully you should have identified that in tip number 1, as you have made a short list like I told you to do yes?
What do you mean NO? Go on, go back and make your list!
Right now you have the list, you may see that if the walls outside are full of cracks you should NOT just paint over them! If you are getting mould on the walls in one room, get it fixed before you decorate. Get the most important things done first before you concentrate on the minor bits and bobs.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought and stay tuned for more top tips later this year. Please SHARE this with your social media friends and pass on the good news!