How To Prepare a House For Repaint

Proper preparation is the most important element to painting any structure. No matter what type of coating is to be applied to the building, if not properly prepared, it simply won’t last. Although the points made in this article will apply to a broad number a projects we are primarily going to be discussing residential repaints for stick build homes.

Most newer homes will show signs of needing repainted within 3-5 years after the initial paint job has been preformed. This is usually done by the general contractor who built the house or a sub-contractor hired on by the general to complete the task. A quality repaint should last much longer than the first application that was done at the time of construction.

Why does the first paint job have such a short life? Good question! There are a few reasons for this. Most home builders are on a tight budget and are not willing to pay for a high quality painting outfit to complete the task (cheap labor renders sub-standard results) and since the painters aren’t making much money on the labor the will in turn make it up by applying a cheap product to the building and possibly even thin the paint to make it go further. Another reason is that, simply put, it’s only one coat of paint. Multiple coats of paint or of any coating is always better than just one.

Myron House (Historical) - Stanwood, WA (BEFORE)

Let’s answer one more question before we get on to the preparation techniques. How do I know when it’s time to repaint my house? The answer to this question depends on many variables so you want to look for signs that the current paint job is either failing or is about to fail. You’ll want to check the side that gets the most sun. At the FIRST sight of fading, cracking, or peeling of the current paint job you should consider repainting as soon as possible or at least touching up said areas. You NEVER want to wait until the current paint job is falling off of the building as you will almost certainly be dealing with a warped, split, and/or rotted substrate material allowing water intrusion into you home. Unfortunately most homeowners wait to long before repainting their homes and end up paying for many costly repairs due a lack of maintenance.

So you’ve decided your house is ready to repainted. Weather you decide to tackle the project yourself or hire it out to the pros here is what should be done in preparation for a long lasting paint job that will look fabulous and protect you home from the elements.

  • First and foremost – If you are contracting the work out be sure to do your due diligence and check up on the company’s credentials, call their references and do some product research. Be sure your painting contractor performs these tasks.
  • Clean all surfaces to painted – Apply a mild bleach water solution (about 10%) to entire structure or at least where mildew is visible. This will help loosen up all the dirt and grime built up on the surface. Then rinse entire building with water. A pressure washer is the best method for rinsing but be sure not to get overly aggressive as you can easily damage wood surfaces.
  • Allow adequate time for drying before proceeding to next steps. Depending on subsequent weather and temperatures this could take up to two weeks
  • Replace or repair any damaged or rotted substrates including siding, trim boards, corroded or rusty metal, door jams, window sills and glazing, etc.
  • Install flashing for added protection on unprotected horizontal surfaces such as: window and door ledges, trellises and pergolas, rafter tails, beam ends and fascia board ends.
  • Scrap and/or sand any loose or peeling paint and prime bare wood or metal.
  • Caulking – Apply a high quality caulk to fill joints and voids as necessary to avoid water intrusion. It is best to remove the old caulking if it has failed before reapplication.
  • Protect – use appropriate masking and place drop cloths under and adjacent to work areas.
Myron House (Historical) - Stanwood, WA (AFTER)

Now you are ready to apply a fresh coat of paint to your home. Make sure to use top line products from the paint manufacture of your choice throughout the preparation process but most importantly for the top coat. You may decide to use one several applicators to apply the top coat. Weather it is an airless sprayer, a brush, paint pad, or roller you should follow the manufactures recommendations for the type of product you choose and the substrate you’re applying it to.

Good luck and please comment if this was helpful to you in any way or if you have any questions. Also, let me know how your project goes. I’d love to hear about it.

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