Exterior Painting Tips

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Painting 101 Exterior Painting Tips

Just in case you wondered, no this is not our beach house! We don’t have a beach house. Or a beach camper. Or even a patch of sand to call our own. Nothing. Nada.

Whew! On to the next Ask Tim question!

My friend Wendy, my college roommate for 1 1/2 years, asks Tim for some exterior painting tips.

What’s the longest lasting and best paint for the outside of the house? Also, what are good questions to ask when looking for an outside painter? Our last paint job did not hold up well on the trim work. Not sure why. Should have called them back at the 1.5 year mark to show them. I was hoping to get 5 years out of it.


Several thoughts here.

Prep Work

I have always used the very best, and most expensive, paint I could win bids with.  There are some exceptionally expensive products out there that can run over $100 a gallon, but the ultimate responsibility for longevity falls to the applicator – the painter.  Proper surface preparation is critical, as are the conditions under which the paint is applied.  Cleaning with chemical and a pressure washer is a preferred start, then scraping, priming, caulking, filling holes, replacing all rotted wood, etc. 

The ideal, on the entire house (which nobody ever pays for), is a prime coat and two finish coats…everywhere.  Obviously pretty costly.  Most clients and painters settle for one coat slapped on over whatever is already on the house.  An important consideration is always latex over latex and oil over oil.  Rapid peeling usually happens when one is incorrectly applied over the other.  Switching requires a prime coat.  This is also true of interior painting.

Product Choices

As for a specific product, Behr (Home Depot) has some good Consumer Reports ratings.  Sherwin-Williams also has good exterior products.  Stay away from anything at Lowe’s.  Every painter will have his own preference.  Benjamin Moore is also an option but has virtually priced themselves out of the market, at least where I am.

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Hiring a Painter

As for questions for a prospective painter, insist on a reference or two (or three) and then use them.  He will give you people he wants you to talk to, so you might want to ask the references if they have references.  With so much unemployment, there are a lot of people who bought a brush and are now “professional painters.”  You may want to ask about license and bonding. It isn’t necessary but reinforces credibility. My work and references have always been enough. 

Have him walk you through his process, start to finish, and listen for detail in his work.  You don’t really care what he’s doing, you want to know how he’s doing it.  Ask if he requires a deposit and then decide if you trust him with that requirement (back to the references).  Check him out with the BBB.  Ask if he has a crew and if he will remain on the job until completion.  Some guys work a couple days and then disappear with all kinds of excuses.  If he has a crew, you have no idea who will be around your house.  Give him a scenario in which he punches a hole in your window with a ladder.  What happens?  Does he provide all materials?

How Long Does it Last?

As for your specific issue, not many painters will return your call after the first year – too many variables.  They’ll charge you to fix your problem, regardless the fact that you’ll never use them again.  With everything considered above, you should get 5 – 7 years out of a good job and great product.  If you keep the mildew off and don’t have wild weather swings/damage, could be longer.  This will really vary, however, with the kind of surface you have.  Masonite siding is the worst and requires constant babysitting.  And vinyl is final, they say!

WAY too much info here, but I hope it helps.  I hate to see people get a bad paint job.  Good luck!

Have any more challenging questions for my DIY hubby? Painting, DIY projects, home repair, decor ideas (seriously, he’s got definite opinions πŸ™‚ Leave a comment on this post or my facebook page;

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  1. My wife and I are wanting to repaint our home later this year, so thanks for the tips. I like that you mention how a prime coat and two finish coats is ideal for the house. This does sound like a time-consuming process, so we might have to have a painting crew do it so they apply the fight finishes and coats.

  2. I liked that you had mentioned that when it comes to hiring a painter that it can be important to learn about their process of working before hiring anyone. My wife and I have been wanting to repaint our home for a while now and haven’t had the chance. We’ll have to start looking around for a painting contractor in the area and before hiring anyone, we’ll be learning their process for sure.

  3. Excellent tips. The quality of the paint really matters. However, I would say that there are a spectrum of paints and price for the painters to choose from. Each of them have their purpose.

    Good post.

  4. My wife and have been thinking about repainting the nursery for our little one that is coming in January. We want to paint the room with colors that will give off a happy and playful vibe. Thank you for helping us figure out a little bit more about what paint we want to use.

  5. I love that you talked about exterior painting. This is very helpful since we are planning to get our home renovated. I agree that we should have at least three choices for hiring a painter and be sure that you will ask for their license and bonding. Also, check their level of experience with the job to assure that they are fully qualified and that if they can meet your demands and needs. Be aware of the unreliable painters, best to check their names on BBB or Better Business Bureau.

  6. My grandma eagerly wants to paint her house but worries that she is too frail to get the hard to reach places. Hiring a professional house painter seems like the best thing to do in this situation. It is good to know that one should insist on a reference or two and use them. Finding out about if past clients are satisfied with provided work would give you confidence in the painter.

  7. These are some great tips for painting the outside of a home. Our home is old, and the color on its exterior shows it. I like how you talked about hiring a painter. I can see why asking for multiple references would be a good idea to see if the painter knows his stuff!

  8. I had no idea that proper prep work was so important to painting. There is a lot of work that goes into re-painting a home’s exterior before the painting actually takes place. I see why hiring a good painter is a good idea!

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  11. Hi Tim
    I have an older home I bought and the owner told me that they put T111 pine siding on it in the late 70’s. It was painted a few years ago. The front looks great but the back of the house , which has the effects of the sun is peeling real bad. Someone told me to use a oil base primer and then go back with a latex finish. Is this right? What would you recommend?

  12. Hi Tim,
    I can’t figure out what color to paint my brick house due to the bricks are grey,white,red, and some dark grey spots. The current trim is grey with a red door typical colors but to boring for me! I would really like the door to be turquoise but not sure about the trim and siding (garage turned into bedroom). Any ideas?

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  14. Great tips and advice! I’m not a professional but once you do use a higher quality paint, you don’t go back. I’m a Benjamin Moore fan myself. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing Tim with us at That DIY Party, Marty! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Roeshel, for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog. My husband has great tips (if I can only get him to share!) He’s a pretty handy fellow to have around! Thanks for pinning!
      Marty@Marty’s Musings

  15. My husband has been a Professional Painter for over 30 years, and he would totally AGREE with Tim. He used Sherwin Williams paint for 20+ years, until we moved to a town without them. He switched to Benjamin Moore about 10 years ago, and LOVES their product. He will still make the drive to Sherwin Williams for some specific products (depending on the needs of the job and the customer’s preference). He will NOT buy paint at Lowes, but loves to go there for any other DIY project.

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  16. Absolutely disagree with you. Valspar paints, available at Lowes, have a very good reputation. They are the choice of Habitat For Humanity as well. With all of their A Brush Wuth Kindness projects, they would not use an inferior product.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Marsha. As with anything else, every painter has his own opinion and experience with what paint works best. My husband has used them all! He spends enough money at Lowe’s just from our DIY projects but prefers not to use them for his professional painting jobs. Lowe’s support of Habitat for Humanity is to be commended.