Selecting the Best Paint and Tools for Your Home’s Exterior


Your home is one of your biggest investments. While owning a home is a great accomplishment, it is also an immense responsibility. One of the ways to protect your home is by doing regular maintenance, such as cleaning and applying a fresh coat of paint. 

Painting is a cost-effective way of protecting your home from the elements, maintaining its structural integrity, and enhancing its appearance. But don’t cut corners by purchasing cheap paints, materials, and tools, or hire a bargain contractor for your exterior painting project. 

Protect your investment with another investment. If you choose DIY exterior painting, investing in premium paints and tools will offer the best value for your money. Use the wrong paints and tools; you’ll have to paint again in two to three years. Having to redo the project means you’ll spend again on cheap paints and tools. 

But if you choose paints and tools correctly, you can have a top-notch paint job lasting 10 to 15 years (or even longer). If you value your time, want to save money in the long run, and want to extend the life of your home, you must invest in the best paints and tools that will make your exterior paint job last.

Why should you use quality paints and tools for your exterior paint job?

Using quality paints and tools for exterior painting projects offers several significant advantages contributing to the paint job’s immediate impact and long-term value. These advantages include:

  • Durability and longevity – High-quality exterior paints are formulated to withstand harsh weather conditions, including extreme temperatures, UV radiation, rain, snow, and humidity. It means your paint job will last longer, maintaining its appearance and integrity over time, which reduces the need for frequent repainting.
  • Better coverage and efficiency – Quality paints typically have better pigmentation and binding properties, which provide superior coverage in fewer coats. Not only does it save time during the application process, but it also reduces the amount of paint needed for the project. The quality tools ensure even and efficient application, further enhancing coverage and reducing waste.
  • Color retention – Premium exterior paints can resist fading and maintain their color over time, even when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors. This ensures that your property retains its aesthetic appeal and doesn’t look worn out or dated due to fading colors.
  • Mold and mildew resistance – Many high-quality exterior paints contain additives that prevent the growth of mold and mildew on the paint surface. This factor is crucial in humid climates or on surfaces prone to moisture exposure, as it helps maintain the health and appearance of the painted surfaces.
  • Aesthetic appeal – Using quality paints and tools can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of a property. A high-quality paint’s finish tends to be smoother and more uniform, reflecting well on the overall appearance. Also, a wide selection of colors and finishes allows for more creative and personalized paint jobs.
  • Cost-effectiveness over time – While the initial investment in quality paints and tools may be higher, the long-term savings can be substantial. A durable and long-lasting paint job reduces the need for frequent touch-ups or complete repaints, saving money and effort over time.
  • Environmental benefits – Many premium paints are formulated to be environmentally friendly, with lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to air pollution and may pose health risks. These paints contribute to better indoor air quality and a lower environmental impact.
  • Ease of maintenance – High-quality paints are easier to clean and maintain. They are more resistant to staining and scuffing. You can wash off marks or dirt without damaging the paint surface, making it easier to keep the exterior looking fresh and clean.

Assessing your home’s exterior

Completed exterior painting

Why is evaluating your home’s exterior necessary before painting?

Assessing the condition of the exterior surfaces is not just necessary – it is crucial, especially when you’re going to paint them. Doing so helps identify any areas needing repair or preparation before painting. They could include cracks, holes, peeling paint, or damaged siding. Addressing these issues beforehand ensures a smoother and more durable paint job, enhances the appearance and value of your home, and helps preserve its structural integrity.

Identifying areas in need of repair

Challenges often experienced when painting an exterior

The exterior siding is your home’s first line of defense against the outside elements and provides insulation to your home’s interiors. A beautifully painted exterior also enhances your home’s curb appeal. But it can deteriorate or become damaged over time. Here are the common examples of exterior siding areas that often require repair:

  • Cracks and holes – Small cracks or holes in the surface can develop over time due to weathering, settling, or other factors. These should be filled and patched with an appropriate filler material to ensure a smooth finish.
  • Peeling or flaking paint – If the existing paint is peeling or flaking, it needs to be scraped and sanded to create a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to. Failure to remove loose paint can result in poor adhesion and premature peeling of the new coat.
  • Mold or mildew – Exterior surfaces exposed to moisture can develop mold or mildew growth, which looks unsightly and can compromise the integrity of the paint job. Before painting, clean the surface thoroughly and treat any mold or mildew with a suitable cleaner or fungicide.
  • Rust – Metal surfaces, such as railings or fences, may develop rust over time, which can cause the paint to bubble and peel. Remove rust using a wire brush or sandpaper and treat the surface with a rust-inhibiting primer before painting.
  • Faded or chalky paint – Exposure to sunlight can cause paint to fade or become chalky over time. Clean the surface and remove the chalkiness by washing or power washing before repainting. Depending on the condition of the surface, you may need to use a primer to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint.
  • Wood rot – Wooden surfaces, such as siding or trim, can rot over time due to moisture exposure. Rotted wood should be replaced or repaired before painting to prevent further damage and ensure a stable surface for the paint.
  • Uneven texture – Surfaces with a bumpy texture, such as stucco or rough-sawn wood, may require additional preparation to smooth out imperfections and achieve a uniform finish. It may involve sanding, filling, or applying a textured coating before painting.
  • Surface contaminants – Dirt, grease, or other contaminants can prevent paint from adhering properly to the surface. Clean and degrease the surface thoroughly before painting to ensure good adhesion and a long-lasting finish.
  • Water damage – Water intrusion can cause swelling, warping, or discoloration of exterior surfaces. Repair any water damage before painting to prevent further deterioration and ensure a smooth, even finish.
  • Previous paint incompatibility – If the previous paint job was done with incompatible products or poor-quality paint, it might result in adhesion issues or other problems. In such cases, it’s important to properly prepare the surface and choose compatible paint products for the new coat.

Addressing these flaws before painting will help ensure a professional-looking finish and maximize the paint job’s longevity.

DIY or hire a professional contractor?

Choosing between DIY and hiring a professional contractor for exterior siding repair and painting depends on several factors:


  • Skill level – If you have experience with home repairs and paint, especially with siding, you might be comfortable taking on the project yourself. Painting and doing basic, such as replacing a few damaged sections, can be straightforward for those with DIY skills.
  • Cost – DIY is generally less expensive since you’re not paying for labor. However, consider the cost of tools and materials you may purchase.
  • Time and commitment – DIY projects can be time-consuming, especially if you learn as you go. You must be ready to invest your time and energy into the project.
  • Quality and satisfaction – Completing a project yourself can be personally rewarding. It also allows for direct control over the quality and materials used.

Hiring professionals

  • Expertise and experience – Professionals bring their skills, expertise, and experience, ensuring the job is done correctly and efficiently. They can identify surface problems and address underlying issues you might miss.
  • Time and convenience – Hiring professionals can save you time and trouble. The project will likely be completed more quickly and with less disruption to your daily life.
  • Cost and budget – Professional work is usually expensive upfront, but it also comes with the assurance that the job is done right, which saves you money in the long run. Obtain multiple quotes to determine a balance between quality and cost.
  • Warranty and liability – Professionals usually offer warranties on their work and have insurance to cover any accidental damage. They can provide you with peace of mind.

If you have the skills and time, and the project is mostly straightforward, DIY can be a cost-effective and personally rewarding option. However, for complex projects, especially those involving significant repairs, detailed paintwork, or when safety is a concern, hiring professionals is usually the best choice. Assess your situation, consider the pros and cons, and choose what best fits your needs, budget, and capabilities.  

Responsibilities of homeowners before exterior painting

External siding finish

Even though you have hired a professional contractor to paint your home’s exterior, you can still contribute to the project by preparing the site before the crew arrives on the day they will paint it.

Many contractors include worksite preparation in their job quotes or are willing to do the task for an extra fee. However, you can discuss with your contractor whether you will be the one to clean and prepare the site ahead of time, just before signing a contract. It will save the painters time and save you money.

Preparing the site for professional exterior painting involves a few crucial tasks to ensure the process goes smoothly and efficiently. Here are some tasks homeowners should consider before the professional crew arrives to prepare and paint exterior surfaces.

  • Prune landscaping – Trim any bushes, trees, or plants touching the house. Doing so makes it easier for painters to access all of the exterior areas and helps prevent plants from rubbing against freshly painted surfaces.
  • Remove obstacles – Remove any decorations, movable furniture, hoses, and other items close to the house. Doing so clears the way for painters to work without obstructions and protects your belongings from paint splatters.
  • Secure pets and children – For the safety of pets, children, and the painting crew, ensure pets are kept inside or in a secure area away from the site, and inform children to stay clear of the painting areas.
  • Turn off your sprinklers – If your sprinkler system has a set timer, turn it off before the paint crew comes home to start painting. You don’t want them to get soaking wet, and some water drips or streaks landing in the paint finish.
  • Discuss paint colors and details – Before the crew arrives, confirm your paint color choices and any specific details about the job, such as which surfaces are to be painted and which are to be left untouched.
  • Provide access – Ensure the painting crew has easy access to the work area. Actions might include leaving gates unlocked, providing space for them to park their vehicles and store equipment, or ensuring there’s a water source available if needed for preparation work.

Gathering the necessary materials and tools

Again, having quality paints and tools ensures a professional-looking finish that withstands environmental challenges and maintains its appearance over time. You should prioritize essential tools and materials that directly impact your paint job, such as brushes, rollers, paint sprayers, painter’s tape, caulk, wood hardener, and primer and paint.  Here’s a list of the following necessary materials and tools:


  • High-quality exterior primer
  • High-quality exterior paint
  • High-quality exterior caulk
  • High-performance wood hardener
  • Exterior-grade adhesive, depending on the type of surface you work on
  • Patch filler, wood filler, or epoxy, depending on the type of surface you work on
  • Mildewcide (for wet or humid areas or if the exterior surface has been previously affected by mold or mildew)
  • Paint strippers or removers
  • Detergent or surface any cleaning agent


  • Power washer or pressure washer
  • Scrapers and putty knives
  • Sanding tools (use any):
    • Sandpaper
    • Sanding block
    • Electric sander
  • Caulking gun
  • Paint application tools (use any of the three when applicable)
    • High-quality paint brushes
    • High-quality paint rollers and extension poles
    • Paint sprayer
  • Ladder or scaffold
  • Drop cloths
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint bucket and grid
  • Safety gear:
    • Goggles or safety glasses
    • Gloves
    • Dust mask or respirator
    • Coveralls
    • Hard hats
    • Fall arrest systems such as harnesses and carabiners if working at heights

Cleaning the exterior surface

building facade with pressure water

Steps for effectively cleaning the walls (including pressure washing tips)

Cleaning exterior surfaces thoroughly before painting is crucial for the longevity and appearance of the paint job. Here’s a comprehensive guide to preparing your exterior surfaces, including steps for power washing:

1. Inspect and repair

  • Inspect surfaces – Inspect the exterior for any damage, such as cracks, holes, or rot in the wood. Look for signs of mildew, mold, or algae.
  • Make Repairs – Repair or replace damaged or rotting wood and fill in cracks or holes with exterior-grade filler. Allow any repairs to dry thoroughly.

2. Remove loose paint and debris

  • Scrape and sand: Use a paint scraper and/or sandpaper to remove loose or peeling paint. Do this thoroughly, as the new paint needs a smooth, clean surface to adhere to.
  • Dust and clean: Using a brush or blower to remove dust and debris from the surfaces after scraping.

3. Power washing

  • Choose the correct washer – A gas-powered washer with 2000 to 3000 psi (pounds per square inch) is sufficient for most home exteriors.
  • Select a Cleaning Solution: Use a detergent made specifically for power washers and intended for the surface type you’re cleaning.
  • Apply cleaning solution – Start from the bottom and work your way up. Applying from the bottom prevents streaks. A low-pressure nozzle is used to apply the detergent solution.
  • Let it sit – Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the surface for 5 to 10 minutes, but don’t let it dry.
  • Rinse – Switch to a high-pressure nozzle and rinse the surface from the top down. Keep the nozzle moving to avoid damage.

4. Cleaning mildew and mold

  • If areas have significant mildew or mold, you may need to apply a mixture of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water before power washing. Always wear protective gear when handling bleach.

5. Let dry

  • Dry thoroughly – Allow the surface to dry completely, which can take 24 to 48 hours, depending on weather conditions.

6. Final inspection

  • Check surfaces – After the exterior is dry, inspect it again for any areas that might need additional cleaning, scraping, or repairs.

Safety tips for power washing:

  • Wear protective eyewear and gloves.
  • Be cautious of the high pressure, as it can cause injury or damage to surfaces if not handled correctly.
  • Never spray water upward under the siding, as it can penetrate and damage the walls or insulation.

By following these steps, you ensure that the exterior surface is optimally prepared for painting, which helps in achieving a durable and aesthetically pleasing finish.

The importance of allowing the surfaces to dry completely

Allow sufficient drying time between each step to prepare the surfaces for painting – this is very important! Your home’s exterior surface requires enough time to dry – inside out – before making repairs, sanding, and priming. Ignoring this step can trap moisture underneath the topcoat, leading to various surface problems like peeling, cracking, or blistering over time. You do not wish to do the project all over again.

Making repairs

painting a wall with a roller

Tips for fixing exterior surface issues

Repairing common exterior surface problems before painting is crucial for ensuring a long-lasting and visually appealing finish. Here’s a short guide on how to tackle some of the most common issues:

1. Peeling or flaking paint usually occurs due to moisture getting under the paint layer or poor adhesion of the previous paint.

  • Fix: Scrape away all loose and peeling paint using a paint scraper or wire brush, then sand the edges to feather them into the existing paint for a smooth transition. Prime the bare areas before painting.

2. Mildew forms in damp, shaded areas, appearing as black, gray, or brown spots.

  • Fix: Clean the affected area with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, applying it with a sponge or brush. Rinse the surface thoroughly after 10-15 minutes and allow it to dry completely. Apply a mildew-resistant primer and paint.

3. Cracks and gaps – Natural contraction and expansion of the building materials can cause cracks and gaps.

  • Fix: Use a high-quality acrylic caulk to fill small cracks and gaps. For larger cracks, use a patching compound. Once dry, sand smooth and prime before painting.

4. Chalking occurs when old paint degrades into a fine powder on the surface.

  • Fix: Clean off the chalking residue with a power washer or hand-washing with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before applying a high-quality primer and paint.

5. Efflorescence occurs when white, powdery salt deposits leach out from masonry or concrete surfaces, typically due to moisture.

  • Fix: Remove efflorescence by scrubbing it with a stiff brush and a solution of water and mild detergent, or use a masonry cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry. Address any moisture issues before repainting.

6. Rust stains typically occur on surfaces with metal components that have begun to rust.

  • Fix: Remove surface rust with a wire brush or sandpaper, then prime with a rust-inhibitive primer before painting.

7. Wood rot – This problem occurs in wooden surfaces exposed to moisture for an extended period.

  • Fix: Remove the rotted wood and replace it with new, treated wood or fill small, rotted areas with a wood filler. Ensure the area is dry before applying primer and paint.

General preparation tips:

  • Always clean the surface thoroughly before starting repairs to remove dirt, grime, and other contaminants.
  • Use a primer suited to your specific surface type and problem.
  • Choose quality paints and repair materials to ensure your paint job’s best protection and longevity.

Following these steps can help you effectively repair common exterior surface problems and prepare for a successful painting project.

Tips for replacing damaged materials

Replacing damaged materials in exterior siding is crucial before painting to ensure a smooth, durable finish. Here are some tips to help you successfully replace damaged materials:

  • Identify damage – Carefully inspect your siding for any signs of damage, such as cracks, rot, warping, or holes. Pay special attention to areas around windows, doors, and corners where water damage is more likely.
  • Choose the correct materials – Match the new siding material with the existing one in terms of type, texture, and size. Doing so ensures a seamless repair that blends in well with the rest of the siding.
  • Remove damaged siding – Use the appropriate tools (such as a pry bar, hammer, and saw) to remove the damaged pieces of siding. Be careful not to damage the surrounding undamaged siding.
  • Prepare the area – Once you have removed the damaged siding, inspect the underlying structure for any signs of damage or rot. Repair any issues found to prevent future damage to the new siding.
  • Measure and cut new siding – Measure where the new siding will go and cut your new material to fit these dimensions. Double-check your measurements before cutting to ensure accuracy.
  • Install new siding – Secure the new siding piece in place using nails or screws (depending on the type of siding). Make sure it’s flush and level with the surrounding pieces. You might need specific fasteners or techniques for other materials, like vinyl or aluminum.
  • Caulk and seal – Apply caulk around the edges of the new siding piece to seal any gaps, preventing water infiltration and ensuring a smooth finish. Choose a caulk that’s appropriate for your siding material and weather conditions.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the siding material and any products used during the repair process. If the damage is extensive or you’re uncomfortable doing the repairs yourself, it might be best to hire a professional.

Sanding and scraping

Plasterer man

Techniques for removing old paint and smoothing surfaces

When it comes to removing old paint and preparing surfaces for exterior priming and painting, there are several techniques you can use, depending on the type of surface and the extent of the paint buildup. Here’s a list of the common methods:

  • Scraping – This method involves using a paint scraper or putty knife to remove loose or flaking paint from the surface. It’s a labor-intensive method but effective for smaller areas and removing loose paint.
  • Power washing – A power washer uses high-pressure water to remove loose paint, dirt, and debris from surfaces. It’s particularly effective for large areas like exterior walls and decks. However, it may not be suitable for delicate surfaces or older wood, as it can cause damage.
  • Sanding – This method smoothens rough surfaces and removes stubborn paint. You can use sandpaper or a power sander for this purpose. Coarse sandpaper can effectively remove old paint, while finer grits are used to smooth surfaces before painting.
  • Chemical stripping – Chemical paint strippers dissolve paint, making it easier to scrape or wash away. Be sure to follow safety precautions when using chemical strippers, as they can be toxic and require proper ventilation and protective gear.
  • Heat stripping – Heat guns or infrared paint removers apply heat to the paint, causing it to soften and bubble, making it easier to scrape away. This method is effective for thick or stubborn paint layers but avoids scorching the surface or creating a fire hazard.
  • Abrasive blasting – Sandblasting or abrasive blasting involves using compressed air to propel abrasive materials (such as sand or walnut shells) against the surface to remove paint and smooth the substrate. This method is efficient but requires specialized equipment and should be done by professionals.
  • Chemical washes – Certain chemical washes, such as trisodium phosphate (TSP), can be used to clean and prepare surfaces before painting. These solutions help remove dirt, grease, and other paint adhesion contaminants.
  • Filler compounds – For surfaces with imperfections like cracks or holes, filler compounds can fill in the gaps and create a smooth surface for painting. Common fillers include spackling paste or wood filler, which can be sanded down once dry.
  • Pressure-treated water – Some professionals use pressure-treated water, which is a mix of water and a mild detergent, to clean surfaces before painting. It helps remove dirt, mildew, and other surface contaminants without damaging the substrate.

Before using any of these techniques, assess the condition of the surface, consider safety precautions, and choose the method that best suits the specific requirements of your project. Always follow manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines when using tools, chemicals, or equipment. If unsure, consider consulting a professional painter or contractor for advice.

Safety precautions while sanding and scraping

Safety precautions are crucial when scraping and sanding exterior surfaces for painting to protect yourself from potential hazards. Here are some essential safety measures:

Personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from dust, debris, and flying particles.
  • Use a respirator mask rated for fine particles (like N95) to prevent inhaling dust, mold, or toxic substances.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges, splinters, and chemicals.

Dust control:

  • Use a dust collection system or a vacuum with a HEPA filter to minimize airborne dust.
  • Consider wet sanding or spraying surfaces with water before sanding to reduce dust.

Lead paint precautions (if applicable):

  • If you suspect lead paint, take extra precautions.
  • Use lead-safe work practices such as containment, minimizing dust, and proper cleanup.
  • Follow guidelines provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead paint removal.

Protective clothing:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your skin from contact with irritants, chemicals, or UV rays.
  • Consider wearing coveralls to prevent dust and debris from getting on your clothes.

Stability and ladder safety:

  • Ensure ladders are stable and placed on solid ground.
  • Use ladder stabilizers or standoffs to prevent damage to the painted surface and improve stability.

Tool safety:

  • Ensure that scraping and sanding tools are in good condition and properly maintained.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation of power tools.
  • Be cautious when using sharp tools to avoid cuts and injuries.


  • Dispose of waste materials properly, following local regulations.
  • Clean up work areas regularly to prevent slips and falls.

Staying hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if working in hot weather.

Taking breaks:

  • Take regular breaks to rest and avoid overexertion.

Following these safety precautions can help minimize the risks associated with scraping and sanding exterior surfaces for painting and ensure a safe working environment.

Priming your home

The benefits of applying primer to an exterior surface

The benefits of applying a primer

Applying a primer to an exterior surface before painting offers several advantages:

Enhanced adhesion: Primers create a smooth and porous surface that helps paint to adhere better to the substrate. Using primers ensures that the paint bonds tightly to the surface, reducing the chances of peeling, blistering, or cracking over time.

Improved durability: Primers provide an additional layer of protection to the substrate, helping to shield it from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors that can cause paint to deteriorate. Using primers extends the lifespan of the paint job and reduces the need for frequent repainting.

Even finish: Primers help to even out the surface by filling in small imperfections such as cracks, gaps, and uneven textures. It results in a smoother finish and a more uniform appearance once the paint is applied.

Stain blocking: Some primers are formulated to block stains from bleeding through the paint. This is particularly useful when painting over surfaces that have been previously stained or discolored, such as water stains, smoke damage, or rust.

Cost savings: Using a primer can save you money in the long run by reducing the paint needed to achieve full coverage. Primers typically cost less than paint, so using them can help you achieve a professional-quality finish while minimizing expenses.

Color enhancement: Certain primers enhance the vibrancy and depth of the paint color. They can also help to ensure that the final color matches the intended shade more accurately, especially when transitioning between different surface materials or colors.

Mold and mildew resistance: Some primers are formulated with additives that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew, making them ideal for use in high-humidity environments or areas prone to moisture buildup, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or outdoor surfaces.

What are the selection criteria for choosing an exterior primer?

Selecting the right exterior primer is crucial for ensuring the longevity and durability of your paint job. Consider the following factors when choosing an exterior primer:

Substrate compatibility: The primer should be compatible with your painting substrate. Whether it’s wood, metal, concrete, or masonry, ensure the primer is formulated to adhere properly to the surface.

Weather resistance: Exterior primers must withstand varying weather conditions such as sunlight, rain, humidity, and temperature fluctuations. Look for primers that offer excellent weather resistance to prevent premature paint failure.

Mold and mildew resistance: If your exterior surfaces are prone to mold and mildew growth, choose a primer with anti-microbial properties to prevent these issues.

Adhesion: The primer should have good adhesion properties to ensure the paint adheres properly to the surface and doesn’t peel or flake over time.

Stain blocking: If you’re painting over surfaces with stains, such as water stains, rust stains, or tannin bleeding from wood, opt for a primer that offers excellent stain-blocking capabilities to prevent them from bleeding through the paint.

Drying time: Consider the drying time of the primer, especially if you’re working on a tight schedule or in an area with varying weather conditions. Quick-drying primers can help expedite the painting process.

Coverage: Ensure the primer provides adequate coverage for the surface you paint. Some primers offer better coverage with fewer coats, saving time and effort.

VOC content: If you’re concerned about indoor air quality or environmental impact, consider the primer’s volatile organic compound (VOC). Low-VOC or zero-VOC primers are available and are better for indoor air quality and the environment.

Finish compatibility: Consider the type of finish you’ll be applying over the primer (e.g., flat, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss). Ensure the primer is compatible with your chosen finish to achieve the desired results.

Brand reputation and reviews: Research the reputation of the primer brand and read reviews from other users to gauge its performance and reliability.

Masking and covering areas

Masking and covering areas

Protecting windows, doors, and landscaping from paint drips during exterior painting is crucial to maintaining a clean and professional finish. Here’s a comprehensive list of tips to help you achieve that:

  • Use painter’s tape – Apply painter’s tape around the edges of windows and doors to create a barrier between the paint and the surfaces you want to protect.
  • Cover windows and doors with plastic sheeting – Secure plastic sheeting over windows and doors using painter’s tape to shield them from paint splatters and drips.
  • Trim bushes and plants – Trim back any bushes, shrubs, or plants near the painted areas to minimize the risk of paint splattering onto them.
  • Lay down drop cloths or tarps – Place them beneath the painted areas to catch any paint drips and prevent them from staining the landscaping.
  • Secure drop cloths with weights – Use rocks or bricks to weigh down the edges of drop cloths or tarps to prevent them from blowing around in the wind.
  • Consider using a paint sprayer – If using a paint sprayer, be extra cautious to control overspray by masking off surrounding areas with plastic sheeting or painter’s tape.
  • Work in favorable weather conditions – Avoid painting on windy days, as wind can cause paint to drift and land where it’s not supposed to. Choose calm days for exterior painting whenever possible.
  • Work from the top down – Start painting from the top of the house and work your way down. Doing so helps prevent paint drips from landing on areas that have already been painted.
  • Use a brush or roller correctly – Be mindful of the paint on your brush or roller to prevent excess paint from dripping. Tap off excess paint before applying it to the surface.
  • Practice steady, controlled strokes – Maintain steady and controlled strokes when painting to minimize the chances of paint splattering or dripping onto unintended surfaces.
  • Clean up spills immediately – If paint drips onto windows, doors, or landscaping, clean it up promptly with a damp cloth or sponge before it dries.
  • Allow proper drying time – Once the painting is complete, allow adequate drying time before removing protective coverings to avoid smudging or smearing wet paint onto unintended surfaces.
  • Inspect and touch up as needed – After the paint has dried, inspect the surrounding areas for any missed spots or drips. Touch up any imperfections promptly to ensure a polished finish.

What are the best masking materials for exterior painting?

The choice of masking materials for exterior painting depends on various factors, such as the painted surface, weather conditions, and the type of paint you use.

When choosing masking materials for exterior painting, it’s essential to consider the surface’s texture, the type of paint you use, and the expected weather conditions during and after painting. Always follow manufacturer instructions for proper application and removal to ensure the best results. Here are some commonly used masking materials for exterior painting:

  • Painter’s tape is specifically designed for painting applications. It is easy to apply and remove without leaving residue or damaging the surface. Look for painter’s tape labeled for outdoor use, as it tends to be more durable and resistant to weather conditions.
  • Masking film is a thin, plastic sheeting that can be easily applied to cover large areas such as windows, doors, and trim. It protects the surfaces against overspray and is available in various sizes to suit project needs.
  • Drop cloths protect surfaces such as floors, plants, and landscaping from paint splatters and drips. Canvas drop cloths are durable and reusable, while plastic drop cloths are inexpensive and waterproof.
  • Masking paper is often used with painter’s tape to mask off areas that require precise edges, such as trim and baseboards. It is available in different widths and thicknesses to accommodate various surfaces and paint types.
  • A masking liquid is a rubbery liquid that can be applied directly to surfaces to create a temporary barrier against the paint. It is particularly useful for masking irregular shapes or areas where tape and paper may not adhere properly.
  • Plastic sheeting, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, can cover large areas or create makeshift barriers to protect adjacent surfaces from overspray. It is lightweight, waterproof, and can be easily secured in place with tape or weights.

Choosing the right paint

two women choosing samples of wall paint

Factors to consider when choosing paint

When choosing paint for your home’s exterior, consider the following factors:

  • Climate – Select paint that can withstand the weather conditions in your area, including rain, sun exposure, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.
  • Durability – Look for paints resistant to fading, cracking, peeling, and mildew growth, ensuring a longer-lasting finish.
  • Color – Choose a color scheme that complements your home’s architecture, landscape, and neighborhood regulations or guidelines.
  • Material compatibility – Ensure the paint is suitable for the surface material of your home, such as wood, stucco, brick, or siding.
  • Finish – Decide on the desired finish (e.g., flat, satin, semi-gloss) based on aesthetic preferences and maintenance requirements.
  • Environmental impact – Opt for eco-friendly paint options with low volatile organic compound (VOC) levels to minimize environmental harm and indoor air pollution.
  • Cost – Consider your budget for the paint, any necessary primers or sealers, and potential long-term savings from higher-quality, more durable paints.
  • Application method – Determine whether you’ll be brushing, rolling, or spraying the paint, and choose a product that suits your preferred application method.
  • Manufacturer’s reputation – Select paint from reputable brands known for producing high-quality products and providing reliable customer support.
  • Warranty – Check if the paint comes with a warranty or guarantee, which can provide added peace of mind regarding its performance and longevity.

Paint types and their respective advantages

Exterior paints come in various types, each with advantages and ideal applications. Choosing the right exterior paint type depends on the surface you’ll paint, environmental conditions, desired finish, and personal preferences. Consider these factors carefully to achieve the best results and long-term durability.

Here are some common types and their respective advantages:

Latex (water-based) paints:

  • Quick drying time – Latex paints dry relatively fast, allowing for quicker completion of painting projects.
  • Easy cleanup: As water-based products, latex paints can be easily cleaned with water and soap, making them convenient.
  • Durability – Modern latex paints offer good durability and resistance to fading, cracking, and blistering when properly applied.
  • Environmentally friendly – These paints have lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them more environmentally friendly than oil-based paints.

Oil-based paints:

  • Excellent adhesion – Oil-based paints adhere well to various surfaces, including wood, metal, and masonry.
  • High durability – Oil-based paints provide a tough, durable finish that resists wear and tear, making them suitable for high-traffic areas.
  • Smooth finish – They tend to self-level, resulting in a smoother finish than some water-based paints.
  • Good for trim and metal surfaces – Oil-based paints are often preferred for trim work and metal surfaces due to their durability and protective qualities.

Acrylic paints:

  • Flexibility – Acrylic paints have good flexibility and can expand and contract with temperature changes, making them suitable for outdoor applications where such movement occurs.
  • Fade resistance – Many acrylic paints offer excellent resistance to fading from UV exposure, ensuring long-lasting color retention.
  • Breathability – Acrylic paints allow moisture vapor to escape from the surface, reducing the risk of moisture-related issues such as blistering or peeling.
  • Mildew resistance – Some acrylic paints contain additives that make them resistant to mildew growth, which is particularly important in humid climates.

Elastomeric paints:

  • Superior flexibility – Elastomeric paints have a high degree of elasticity, allowing them to stretch and contract with building surfaces, making them ideal for areas prone to cracking or movement.
  • Waterproofing – These paints form a thick, rubber-like membrane when dry, providing excellent waterproofing properties that protect against moisture intrusion.
  • Longevity – Elastomeric paints have a longer lifespan than traditional paints due to their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and UV exposure.
  • Conceals imperfections – Their thick consistency allows them to effectively bridge small cracks and cover surface imperfections.

Textured paints:

  • Decorative finish – Textured paints add visual interest to exterior surfaces with various textures and finishes, such as sand, stone, or stucco effects
  • Hides imperfections – Textured paints can effectively conceal minor surface imperfections and irregularities, providing a more uniform appearance.
  • Increased durability – Some textured paints offer enhanced durability and resistance to weathering, making them suitable for high-traffic areas or rough surfaces.
  • Non-slip properties – Textured paints with coarse textures can provide a non-slip surface, making them ideal for areas prone to moisture or foot traffic, such as decks or walkways.

Challenges of painting a home’s exterior

Painting a home’s exterior can be challenging due to various factors. Careful planning, proper preparation, and attention to detail can address these challenges to help ensure a successful exterior painting project that enhances your home’s appearance and protects its structural integrity. Some of the common challenges include:

  • Weather conditions – Weather can significantly impact exterior painting. Rain, extreme heat, humidity, or cold temperatures can affect paint adhesion and drying times. Choose the right time of year for painting based on local climate patterns.
  • Surface preparation – Proper surface preparation is crucial for a successful paint job. This includes cleaning the surface, removing dirt, mildew, and old paint, and repairing any cracks, holes, or damaged areas. Inadequate preparation can lead to paint failure and premature deterioration.
  • Height and accessibility – Painting your home’s exterior often involves working at heights, which can be dangerous without proper safety precautions. Accessing high areas like eaves and second-story walls may require specialized equipment like ladders, scaffolding, or lifts.
  • Surface material – Different exterior surfaces require specific paint types and preparation techniques. For example, painting wood siding may differ from painting stucco or brick. An understanding of the characteristics of the surface material helps achieve optimal results.
  • Paint selection – Choosing the right type and quality of paint is essential for long-lasting results. Factors to consider include durability, weather resistance, color retention, and compatibility with the surface material. A low-quality or inappropriate paint product can lead to premature fading, cracking, or peeling.
  • Time and labor intensity – Painting your home’s exterior is a time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially for larger or multi-story houses. Properly applying multiple coats of paint to achieve an even finish requires patience and attention to detail.
  • Cost – The cost of exterior painting can vary depending on factors such as the size of the home, paint quality, surface condition, and labor expenses. Investing in high-quality materials and professional services may increase upfront costs but can save money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent repainting.
  • Environmental considerations – Environmental regulations may restrict using certain paint types or require specific disposal methods for paint waste and cleanup materials. Using eco-friendly paints and following proper disposal practices can help minimize environmental impact.

Planning your paint project

The Art of Safe Painting: Preventing Accidents Effectively

Best practices for timing and sequencing your paint job

Timing and sequencing an exterior paint job involves several considerations to ensure the best results and efficiency. Here are some best practices:

  • Weather conditions – Choose a time when the weather is favorable. Avoid painting during extreme temperatures, high humidity, or rainy periods. Opt for mild temperatures (around 50-85°F or 10-30°C) with low humidity.
  • Season – The best seasons for exterior painting vary depending on your location. Spring and fall are ideal in most regions because the weather is typically mild. However, winter might be preferable in warmer climates to avoid extreme heat.
  • Preparation – Properly prepare the surface before painting. This step includes cleaning, scraping off old paint, sanding rough areas, filling cracks and holes, and priming bare surfaces. Allow sufficient time for prep work, as it significantly affects the quality of the paint job.
  • Priming – If needed, apply a primer before painting.  A primer helps the paint adhere better and provides a uniform surface for the paint to go on.
  • Time of day – Plan to paint during daylight hours with good visibility. Starting early in the morning can be beneficial as it allows the paint to dry before evening dew or cooler temperatures set in.
  • Sequence – Determine the sequence of areas to be painted. It’s best to start from the top and work your way down. Doing so prevents drips and streaks on freshly painted surfaces.
  • Shade – If possible, follow the shade as you paint. Painting in direct sunlight can cause the paint to dry too quickly, leading to uneven coverage and brush marks. Avoid painting surfaces that are too hot to touch.
  • Multiple coats – Plan for numerous coats if necessary. Allow sufficient drying time between coats as per the paint manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Drying time – Ensure adequate drying time between the final coat and any subsequent activities, such as reinstalling fixtures or decorations.
  • Cleanup – Properly clean up tools and equipment after each painting session to maintain quality and prolong lifespan.
  • Safety – Use appropriate safety equipment, such as goggles, gloves, and masks, especially when working with paints, solvents, or chemicals.
  • Professional help – Consider hiring professionals for large or complex projects, especially if you lack experience or time. Professional painters have the expertise and equipment to ensure a high-quality finish.

How long does it take to prepare a home’s exterior before painting?

The average time range is 16 to 24 hours, depending on the repair needed.

How long does it take to paint a home’s exterior?

The usual answers will be: 

  • 1,000 to 1,400 square feet for 2 to 3 days
  • 1,800 to 2,100 square feet for 4 to 6 days

Custom Painting, Inc. has painted a 5,600-square feet home. Our crew tackled the project in sections so as not to disturb the family for a long period.

Considerations for weather and time of the year

In California, the best time of year to do exterior painting largely depends on your specific climate zone, given the state’s diverse weather patterns. However, for most of California, the ideal times are during the late spring, summer, and early fall. These periods generally offer the most favorable weather conditions for painting, with minimal rain and moderate temperatures. Aim for temperatures between 50°F and 90°F. High humidity and extreme temperatures can affect the drying process.


Investing in quality paints and tools for an exterior painting project is beneficial for durability, efficiency, aesthetic appeal, and long-term cost-effectiveness. Combined with proper surface preparation and paint application, using quality paints and tools ensures a professional-looking finish that withstands environmental challenges and maintains its appearance over time.

Custom Painting, Inc. has serviced clients in the Bay Area with premium residential and commercial painting services for over 40 years. We will meet and exceed your expectations with our quality work and professionalism when you need painting, light construction, and custom installation services for your homes and businesses in many Bay Area cities. To learn more about our services, please call us at 925-294-8062 or fill out the online form to request a free estimate.