Because it’s relatively foolproof, one of the more popular do-it-yourself home remodeling chores is painting the exterior of the house. Here are some tips for a good paint job:
• Before you paint the exterior of your house, it is advisable to walk around the house and note problem areas, such as peeling paint, mildew spores or dirt buildup.
• Clean and prepare the surfaces. Scrape peeling paint, remove and kill mildew with a solution of household bleach and soapy water, and hose down excess dirt. Spray the house under the eaves with a garden hose to wash away any accumulated salts. If the house is unusually grimy, consider having it professionally power-washed.
• Select the paint type. Ask a paint dealer familiar with local conditions to recommend whether it’s best to use alkyd paint (oil-based, which cleans up with mineral spirits) or latex paint (the kind that cleans up with soap and water) to paint your house exterior.
Latex paint dries fast, so you can get done fast. It cleans up with water, and goes on easily. It has good color retention and is blister resistant because it allows water to go through it. You can use it for brick and masonry foundations because it is resistant to alkalines.
The advantages of an oil-base house paint are that it penetrates surfaces and covers better than latex, is more water repellent, and comes in glossier finishes. You can apply it in both colder and hotter weather. By using an alkyd primer and a latex top coat, you get the advantages of alkyd’s better coverage and of latex’s better resistance to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
• Follow the application directions found on the paint can about surface preparation. Don’t paint your house exterior if the temperature is above or below the limits indicated on the label. If the weather has been wet, allow enough time for shaded areas to dry sufficiently before applying the first coat.
When using an alkyd primer, be sure it dries overnight before you proceed to the top coat. A paint dealer familiar with local conditions can help you solve special application problems such as excessive peeling – which indicates moisture buildup on the inside – or severe cracking, called alligatoring. Additional expertise is also available through dealers who have access to technical assistance from paint companies.