If you’ve been putting off painting the exterior of your home but have decided to make it happen this year, congratulations! Our professional house painters at The Paint Manager are ready to put our years of professional experience to work for you! However, should you have decided to take the DIY route, we offer the following advice on the pitfalls to avoid at every step of your project.
First, be sure that your self-confidence isn’t greater than your ability. Whether you’re planning to take on the job single-handedly or with some of your friends and family, you and your helpers need to have the right tools and safety equipment. That means a sturdy ladder, the correct brushes and/or sprayer for the job, etc. As we always say, don’t depend on watching a few videos on YouTube to claim competency at house painting.
Also, be honest with yourself about your physical ability to do the work. Even under optimum conditions, it’s physically demanding and best left to the young (or youngish) and strong. Underlying health issues can be triggered by strenuous outdoor work. And as we’ll soon cover, working under Florida’s intense summer sun can be hazardous no matter how young and healthy you are!
Still ready to start painting? Here’s what you need to avoid in order to achieve a great, long-lasting paint job that will beautify and protect your home for years to come! For more in-depth information, we recommend reading two informative articles on home improvement website The Money Pit: Tips to Avoid 7 Common House Painting Mistakes, and 4 Exterior House Painting Tips for Perfect Finishes.
Slow down, don’t move too fast
Performing the necessary prep work is absolutely essential to getting a seamless result. Yet, too many people skip the steps involved, then wonder why the surface is uneven and the paint starts peeling fairly soon after. It’s false economy to do it yourself to save money when – by not taking the time and effort to prep – the effect is sloppy and you’ll need to repaint sooner. The pros at Nolan Painting, Philadelphia, list the following must-do prep steps before opening the first paint can:
- Scrape away all loose paint chips.
- Sand the rough edges of the paint that remains. A smooth surface allows new paint to apply more seamlessly.
- Thoroughly clean the surface that will be painted. Remove all dirt, dust and other debris. A power washer is a great way to remove the debris, but if this technique is used, the surface must dry for one or two days before painting. Ensuring that the surface that is being painted is at the proper moisture content is important. Painting a surface when the moisture content is too high can lead to early paint failure.
- Repair areas that are rotten or deteriorating.
- Caulk any open seams.
Note of caution: If your house was built before 1978, check for lead-based paint. While there are DIY testing kits available, results aren’t always accurate. Be safe, and hire a lead abatement company to perform the test.
Primer is important
As a general rule, Lowe’s points out that because exterior primers are more durable than interior, the best exterior primer to use is one that protects surfaces from mildew and minimizes cracking and erosion. However, not every exterior painting project requires applying a coat of primer. If your house has exposed wood, chalking or chipped paint, use an oil-based primer. Again, do your prep work and scrape away as much chipped paint as possible, and wash off any chalk.
For concrete block (masonry) construction, use block filler before painting a new surface (as in the case of an addition or a major repair). If repainting, scrape off loose or peeling paint, and cover with latex paint. Use a block filler only if the paint has been completely scraped off.
Make sure to use quality paint
Cheap paint is no bargain. In addition to improving the curb appeal of your home, high-quality paint helps to better protect against the elements – which is a necessity, considering Florida’s climate extremes. Paint brands sold in home improvement centers are good quality that you can buy with confidence. Paint department team members can make recommendations based upon your home’s exterior construction materials and answer questions about application methods.
Typical Florida houses fall into the following types: concrete block, wood siding, aluminum siding or stucco – which, in this state, tends to be stucco applied over concrete block.
For the best results for most exterior surfaces, industry professionals recommend 100% acrylic latex exterior paint. According to The Money Pit, “These paints have superior adhesion, so they’ll ‘grab’ tightly onto a properly prepared surface. They also are very flexible, which permits them to expand and contract with the surface below in extreme cold or heat. Down the road, these qualities help prevent many common exterior paint failures like peeling and flaking.”
Also acrylic latex paints have a better ability to conceal dark colors, which make them a good choice if you want to paint your house a lighter color. They’re easy to apply by brush, and contain special additives that can prevent mildew growth. Although acrylic latex paint has a higher cost, it combines paint and primer, and can last 10 years or longer.
Though 100% acrylic latex paints have a higher cost per gallon, they help you save time and money over the years. They combine paint and primer into one, which means you don’t have to buy and apply two different products.
You may have heard of elastomeric paint. It offers several advantages over 100% acrylic latex paint, but has such drawbacks as a small spread rate (you’ll have to buy more to paint your house) and higher cost. Because of the challenges of application, electrometric paint is recommended for application by professional painters only.
As mentioned earlier, not having the right tools and equipment is a common amateur mistake. The Money Pit advises that the best quality tools and accessories not only help you apply a thicker, more uniform coat of paint, they’ll also make your work easier. Choose well-balanced brushes with tightly packed bristles that feel springy when you run an open hand across them. Assuming that you’re applying latex exterior paint, work with brushes and rollers made of synthetic materials, such as polyester. Should you rent spray-painting equipment, be sure you know how to use it and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Again, this is no place to cheap out!
Timing is important, too
In Florida, we have another concern: time of year. Summer isn’t recommended, as it’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. In addition, afternoon thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence. When there’s a break in the thunderstorms, Florida’s triple-digit summer temperatures make exterior painting dangerous, putting you at risk for heat stroke. Also, paint won’t effectively adhere under extreme high temperatures. And let’s not forget pollen season in spring!
The Money Pit recommends painting your home exterior in moderate weather – when temperatures are no higher than about 85 degrees, with little wind. These conditions will permit your paint to form a durable, protective film that will last for years. In Central Florida, fall and late winter (February) are the optimum seasons, as the risk of hurricanes decreases in late September.
The take-home message
As the adage goes, “Any job doing is worth doing right!” And when it comes to a project as important as your house, it holds true even more. If you have a can-do attitude and the experience and skills to back it up, you can turn your home into the neighborhood showpiece! Should all of the steps and work required to get good results prove daunting, however, there’s no shame in calling the pros!
The Paint Manager has served Central Florida since 2000 with quality professional residential and commercial painting services. Visit our website to learn about many other services we provide – including pressure washing, roof cleaning and stump removal. Become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer.