Painting Exterior Walls

On average, the outside of our homes will need redecorating every five years or so. This can be a big job and one that requires a great deal of care, planning and preparation. If the exterior surfaces are not properly prepared, paint can peel and crack, and water can penetrate down to the underlying structure causing more than just cosmetic damage. Damp, heat and frost all affect exterior paintwork: damp will cause paint to peel; heat will cause it to blister; and frost will leave gloss paintwork looking flat.

Choose a warm, dry day with little wind following a spell of dry fine weather to redecorate the exterior of your home – late summer or early autumn is the best time. This way, exposed timber will have had a chance to dry out. Start work as soon as the morning dew has dried and finish work in time for the paint to dry before the evening dew arrives. Begin at the top of the house and work downwards, cleaning, repairing and repainting as you go.

Divide the job into manageable sections: work on one side of the house at a time and remember that long spells on ladders can be extremely tiring, making accidents more likely. Exterior decoration will almost invariably require ladders or scaffold towers. Before you start work, inspect your ladders or hire the necessary equipment so you can work safely and efficiently at heights. Never improvise with equipment and avoid the temptation to over-reach. It may be time-consuming, but it’s safer to come down from a ladder and reposition it so you can reach areas safely without over-reaching.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1 Working with a brush

Choose a 100-150mm (4-6in) brush, which will hold plenty of paint, for working on exterior walls. Use an old brush, if you have one, as the roughness of exterior surfaces will soon wear down the bristles. On wood and metal, use the same brushes as you would for interior work and clean and care for them in the same way.

2 Using a roller

If you use a roller for exterior painting, use an old one or buy an exterior grade, shaggy nylon roller, which will last longer on rough exterior surfaces than the softer types used for interior decoration. Paint in small sections so that the edges don’t dry out before you have painted the adjoining section.

3 Painting pipes

If they have not been previously painted with bituminous paint, the interiors of gutters and the outsides of gutters and drainpipes can be painted with two coats of exterior-grade gloss. If bituminous paint has been used already, apply a coat of aluminium sealer to the old surface before you apply gloss paint. Otherwise, the bituminous paint will bleed through the gloss, spoiling the finish.

4 Treating exterior woodwork

Make repairs to doors and window frames, rub down and sand surfaces or strip back finishes to bare wood. Prime wooden surfaces before undercoating, working the primer well into nail holes, and into the end grain of wood.

5 Finishing exterior woodwork

When the primer has dried, sand it over gently and fill any holes with exterior-grade wood filler and sand smooth. Next, add two coats of exterior-grade gloss for extra protection, lightly rubbing down the surfaces between applications. Gloss paint should be applied as soon as the undercoat has dried.

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