What’s Involved With an Exterior Paint Job
Expect professional painters to more or less follow the steps outlined below.
- House Washing: Cleaning a home of all dirt, dust, mud, mildew, spider webs, hornet nests, and other debris is a critical first step, as it ensures paint will fully adhere to the siding. A pressure washer is typically used for this, and has the added benefit of removing loose paint. Chemicals such as bleach and trisodium phosphate (TSP) as well as scrub brushes might also be used for cleaning.
- Scraping, Filling, Sanding, and Priming: Once the siding is clean, the remainder of the prep work is performed. Any loose paint that remains after pressure washing is first scraped away. As the painter moves around the house scraping, he or she should also at this time fill in cracks, holes, and gaps with caulking (used for gaps between boards) and putty (for use on clapboard/trim board faces). Any rough spots, including those areas that were scraped, should be lightly sanded, as should excess putty when it dries. The final step before finish painting is applying primer to bare wood spots.
- Finish Painting: With the siding fully prepped, the actual painting can commence. Many painters begin with the clapboards and paint the trim last, but as you’ll read in the next section, the actual technique depends on the painting method used.
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Exterior Painting Options
You have a few major decisions to make when having your home painted, including the following:
- Power Spraying vs. Brush Painting: Many exterior painters today use a pneumatic sprayer to apply the finish coat. When handled by someone who knows how to properly use it, a power sprayer lays down a smooth, even layer of paint. And of course, it is much faster than brush painting, despite the extra prep work required to cover windows for overspray protection. Some professionals and homeowners, however, insist on using brushes, contending that they better penetrate the siding. At any rate, brushes should always be used for trim and other detail work. Talk to prospective contractors about the pros and cons of brushes and sprayers and how much money power spraying could save you.
- Paint: Choosing a paint color from the thousands of available shades can be a painstaking process. Once you’ve succeeded in doing so, you’ll next want to decide whether you want the finish to be flat, satin/eggshell, semi-gloss, or gloss. Keep in mind that higher sheen paint won’t be able to hide imperfections well, but will better resist scuffs and be easier to clean. Flat paint, on the other hand, won’t show marks, but is more difficult to clean. Many homeowners compromise by choosing satin or semi-gloss paint. As far as the choice between oil and latex paint, it is rare to use oil paint for home exteriors nowadays. Latex paints perform very well.
- Contractor: The painting industry, like every trade, has its share of hacks. A true professional will be on time for appointments, promptly provide estimates, and return phone calls within a reasonable timeframe. Work with a company that employs experienced painters and can provide contactable references.
Home Exterior Painting Costs
- Painting a single story home with approximately 1,500 square feet should cost $2,000 to $4,000. A larger, 2-story home (2,000 to 3,000 square feet) might cost $3,000 to $6,000. Larger homes, especially tall homes, those with complex layouts such as multiple dormers, and those that require safety equipment for accessing hard-to-reach areas could cost up to $10,000 or more.
- Note that a full 3/4 or more of the costs associated with exterior painting come from labor. Depending on the company and the painters’ experience level, labor costs might be anywhere from $15 to $50 per hour. Paint, on the other hand, by far the largest material cost, should run $20 to $45 per gallon. Most homes require between 20 and 40 gallons of finish paint. You can estimate the cost of your exterior paint job here.