10 Tips and Tricks for House Painting Like a Pro
Courtesy of OLFA®
Painting your home’s exterior is a lot like preparing for a major event
like a wedding or retirement: The painstaking prep demands a lot of time up
front, but if it’s done well, the end result is well worth the effort.
Better yet, you’ll also save thousands of dollars, extend the life of your
home’s exterior and increase its value too.
Lane Underdahl, the owner of Eclipse Painting Inc. in suburban
Minneapolis and a professional painter for 25 years, readily attests to the
benefits of thorough prep work. “Doing things right is hard work,” he notes.
“But the more time you spend on the front end, the more time it saves on the
back end. If you want great results, you can’t cut corners.”
There are some things you’ll want to cut during prep work, like old
caulk, painter’s tape or masking film that protects windows from paint
splatters. For these jobs, Underdahl and his employees confidently rely on
OLFA 9mm snap-off blade utility knives. The
XA-1 model is popular with painters working outdoors
because of its no-slip grip, safe one-handed operation (perfect when on a
ladder) and handle materials that are paint and acetone resistant. Plus,
getting a fresh, new blade is just a snap away. No more taking knives apart
and fumbling around every time a dull blade needs replacing. Just snap off
the tip of the dull portion with the built-in snapper and a razor-sharp
blade is ready to go.
“You’ll find OLFA utility knives in all of our paint buckets,” Underdahl
says. “With a regular utility knife, it seems like you never have a fresh
blade when you need one, so you have to stop and get more. It’s way easier
to use an OLFA snap-off blade.”
Speaking of easy, here are some tried-and-true tips from Underdahl for
DIYers who want that pro result when it comes to both prep and painting:
- CLEAN THE HOUSE. Before you start, either hand-wash or
pressure-wash your home. Accumulated dirt and dust forms a thin layer of
film that prevents paint from properly bonding with the surface below,
which leads to early peeling. “Getting a clean surface is the most
important step,” Underdahl says.
- DIAL IT DOWN. While it’s okay to pressure-wash your home’s
exterior at a low-pressure setting, don’t dial up the power and use it
to remove old paint. “When you get that aggressive with a pressure
washer, chances are you’ll either damage the siding or shoot water up
under the slats, which will create moisture issues down the road,”
- FEATHER TOUCH. The more thoroughly you sand areas where you
remove paint, the longer the paint job will last. Remove all peeling
paint, but also “feather sand” to eliminate the tiny ridges that form
between heavily sanded sections and areas where you didn’t sand because
the old paint was still solid. “If you don’t feather sand, those areas
tend to give way in 2 to 4 years,” Underdahl points out.
- PATCH ’N’ PAINT. If you find a patch of rotted wood that’s
larger than a quarter, replace the board. If it’s smaller than a
quarter, dig out the rotted wood with a putty knife, then apply a liquid
hardener, which will firm up any remaining wet wood fibers you may have
missed. Then fill the hole in with Bondo® (yes, the car-body repair
product!), let it cure, sand off the excess and paint.
- UNDERCOVER WORK. Use window-masking film or painter’s tape to
protect windows and other surfaces from drips and splatters. This saves
you the time and effort of going back to scrape off mistakes.
- PAY THE PRICE. Paint is like many things in life: You get
what you pay for. Don’t skimp! Buy a quality paint, which will perform
better and last longer. If you don’t know which paint product to buy,
call local painters and ask what they use.
- WEATHER WATCHER. Don’t paint if the dew point is higher than
70. Watch the weather and wait until the humidity drops.
- GIVE IT THE BRUSH-OFF. If you use a sprayer or a roller to
apply paint, it pays to “back-brush,” or go over it again with a
paintbrush. This ensures a firm bond between the paint and the surface.
- BODY FIRST, TRIM LAST. If your house trim is a different
color than the body of the house, paint the house body first. The trim
takes much more time to do right, and it is almost painful to mess up a
painstaking trim job. Save it for the finishing touch.
- BEAT THE HEAT. Don’t paint in direct sunlight on hot days.
“If it’s too hot, the paint sets up faster than it should, and then it
doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do,” Underdahl says. And hold off if
nighttime temperatures are expected to fall below 35 degrees for two
days in a row. Underdahl’s ideal for a perfect painting weather? 75
degrees with low humidity.
TIPS FROM THE PRO
- To boost efficiency and save time, use carbide-tipped scrapers for
- To more easily apply tape or rolls of plastic, invest in a tool the
pros use, called a “hand masker.”
- Tint the primer paint a color that matches the top coat.