House painting is often an important step of the moving process. If your home or rental property is in need of a fresh coat (or two) of paint, you’ll have to decide how you want to proceed. Do you hire a professional painter or break out the ladder and purchase the exterior house paint yourself? Depending on the scale of the project, your time frame, and whether it’s an exterior or interior house painting job, the answer might be different. Read up on our house painting tips and tricks to see what choice is the best for you.
House Painting Options: Hiring Help vs. DIYWhen deciding whether to hire help or take on a house painting job yourself, there are a few factors to consider. Depending on your level of ambition, certain circumstances may prompt you to leave house painting up to the professionals. Think about your painting needs and see how the following situations apply to you.
ScaleScale has one of the biggest impacts on deciding whether to hire painting help or take matters into your own hands. If you want to paint your home, consider whether or not this is a realistic task to take on yourself. For instance, is your house multiple stories or a townhouse? Do you just want to paint the kitchen or the entire exterior? Once you factor in the time it takes to do the prep work and lay down multiple coats of paint, a DIY paint job can get complicated. If the house painting job is extensive, you may want to leave it to professionals. Current state of paint Painting a brand new house with smooth surfaces dramatically reduces prep work. On the other hand, if you’re painting an old home with peeling walls or siding, it’s going to take a lot longer. When deciding whether to hire house painting professionals or do it yourself, take the current state of the paint into consideration. If you’re not up for the challenge of scraping and sanding for hours, you should hire help to get the best results. Interior vs. exterior
- Needless to say, an exterior paint job tends to be more complicated. Indoors, you don’t have to deal with the elements. When painting the exterior of a home, however, you have to think about tough to reach places and the unpredictability of the weather. If you just want to repaint your front door, we trust that you’ll be able to do it yourself. Contrarily, a full exterior makeover requires professional help.
- Even if you hire a professional, you may need to play a small role in your house painting process. This could be anything from moving your furniture to the center of the room to removing switch plates and outlet covers. Ask your painter how much prep work is expected of you before hiring. The amount of work you’re willing to do could help you narrow down the right painter for the job.
Latex paintLatex paint refers to water-based paint, the most popular and environmentally friendly paint. Since latex paints provide great color retention, they’re ideal for exterior walls that face a lot of weathering. Latex paints are also a good option for interior walls that are subjected to a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. Additionally, latex paints dry faster than oil-based alternatives and produce fewer odors.
- Containing either natural oils or a synthetic alkylate, oil-based paints are more durable than latex paints. Oil-based paints should be used on surfaces where you want the finish to last for a long time. While this kind of paint has a stronger odor and takes longer to dry, its durability is unmatchable. The strength of oil-based paints makes them a great choice for moldings and trims.
Estimating paint needsPaint can be expensive. Buying too much paint is particularly frustrating since paint stores won’t refund an already tinted gallon of paint. That’s why it’s recommended to first buy around 80% of the estimated paint you need and then purchase the remainder when you’re almost finished. Factors such as square footage, surface type, and quality of paint all play into how much paint you’ll need. Paint stores should be able to help you determine how much paint you need for a specific job. If you aren’t sure how much paint to buy, ask a salesperson for advice.
Paint lusterFrom dull to shiny finishes, paint comes in several different lusters. A paint’s luster depends on its mixture of pigment, resin, and additional ingredients. If you’re struggling to decide what finish you want, note that glossier finishes tend to be more durable and washable. Flat paint, on the other hand, is better at hiding surface imperfections. Pearl and eggshell lusters fall somewhere in the middle, as they are more washable than flat paint and partially hide irregularities. DIY Exterior House Painting A new coat of paint will immediately transform the exterior of your home. For best results, take the following tips into consideration, keeping in mind that a large-scale, multi-story paint job should be left to the professionals. Should you decide to do a DIY paint job, here’s how to get started.
Plan your paint job
- As you can imagine, there are good and bad times of year to paint the exterior of a home. Any expert will agree that inclement or extreme weather is not ideal for house painting. This includes wind, rain, and severe heat, just to name a few conditions. The best time of year to paint your home is when temperatures are between 40° and 90° F — if you’re using oil-based paint. If your exterior house paint is latex, temperatures should be between 50°and 85° F. For the best drying results, relative humidity should be between 40% and 70%.
Remove loose/peeling paintBefore taking a paint scraper to the side of your house, give the outside of your home a quick, but not too forceful, power wash. This will remove any loose dirt or peeling paint. Once the exterior is cleaned off, use a paint scraper, putty knife, or wire brush to remove any additional loose or peeling paint.
Remove or replace any rotten woodPainting over rotten wood is a recipe for disaster, bound to either prolong or worsen the rotting. Instead, you should immediately replace or repair any rotten boards that you encounter. This will help ensure that your paint job lasts as long as possible.
SandUsing a sander for paint removal is an efficient way to speed up the paint removal process. Determine the right type of sander for the job and make sure you’re exercising proper safety measures.
Tape and cover doors, windows, and hardwareNothing’s worse than getting paint where you didn’t want it to go. Prevent house painting mishaps by taping off doors, windows, and any hardware with painter’s tape. For extra precaution, cover hardware such as lighting fixtures with plastic bags. If it’s not too much trouble, you can also remove hardware for the time being.
PrimeIf the exterior of your home is unpainted or has been scraped and sanded, you will want to lay down a coat of primer. Make sure that the primer you’re using is right for the surface you’re painting. While most surfaces can be treated with acrylic primer, some surfaces, like cedar and redwood, require oil-based primers. The oil stops the wood tannins from bleeding through the topcoat.
CaulkUse paintable exterior caulk to fill any gaps or cracks in your home’s trim. Caulk will prevent air and moisture from getting into the walls of your home. If there is existing caulk on your trim that’s old and cracked, you’ll want to scrape it off before adding more.
Choose equipmentWhile many professionals use paint sprayers, they can leave drips and uneven coatings in the hands of an inexperienced user. If you’re set on DIY house painting but don’t have much practice, you may want to stick to rollers and brushes. Brushes are great for edges and smaller areas, while rollers can be used to paint large and long surfaces like siding and trim.
Practice ladder safetyPracticing ladder safety is key. When using an extension ladder, always test that its resting at the right angle by putting your toes against the feet of the ladder and extend your arms outwards. At the proper angle, you should be able to rest your hands on the rung in front of you comfortably. When on a ladder, you should always keep your hands free and maintain a steady center of gravity.
Get startedThe following guidelines will set you up for success. First, start at the top and work down. Second, paint out of the sun’s glare, since the sun will cause the paint to dry too quickly and flake or blister. To avoid marks, try to brush from one wet surface onto another. If you do have to paint onto a dry surface, overlap the wet paint onto the dry surface by several inches.
Paint the trimLike the rest of your home’s exterior, you should start from the top down when painting exterior trim. If your window sills look particularly weather-beaten, you might want to give them a second or third coat of paint. When painting doors, paint the panels first, then the rails and stiles, and finally the edges. For more details, read up on trim painting guidelines.
Apply a second coatMost house painting professionals will agree that two coats of paint are needed on a home. Using one coat of paint may look sufficient, but will not hold up over time. Two coats of paint, on the other hand, provide protection, washability, and help retain the true color of the paint. If you are still toying with the idea of hiring a professional painter, ask if two coats of paint are included in the pricing estimate.
CleanCleaning up is an essential part of the house painting process. Be sure to seal any leftover paint in cans and clean paintbrushes and rollers with warm soapy water. Remove any used painter’s tape as soon as possible, as leaving it on for too long will make it harder to get off. DIY Interior House Painting Interior house painting is often easier than exterior house painting since you don’t have to deal with outside elements. Still, there are a number of steps to take to properly paint your walls.
Prep your wallsBegin prepping your walls by removing any outlet covers or lighting fixtures (if possible). Next, inspect your walls for any defects. If you encounter cracks, dents, or holes in your walls, simply fill them in with caulk or spackling compound. There are also a number of DIY tips to fill nail holes. Once your repairs dry, smooth them down with sandpaper and wipe the walls down with a damp sponge.
Tape and spread drop cloths
- To prevent a mess when painting, tape your windows, doorframes, and moldings with painter’s tape. If you aren’t planning on painting your ceiling, go ahead and tape its perimeter as well. To successfully apply painter’s tape, make sure it’s flat and even so the paint does not bleed through. As for your floor, use drop cloths to protect it from paint drips and splatters. This is particularly important if you’re renting your home. You can also cover your furniture with drop cloths — or simply move it out of the room while painting. When moving your furniture around, take the appropriate measures to avoid furniture damage.