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Exterior Painting

A fresh coat of exterior paint gives a home an instant facelift. A clean, bright exterior can be the difference between liking your new home and loving it.

Picking the Right Paint Color

White remains the most popular exterior color. Gray, blue, brown and tan are also very popular. Like interior painting, lighter shades will brighten your house and make it seem larger.

After choosing a color for your siding, make sure your trim, shutters and doors are a complementary color. Ask a Lowe's associate, or look through our paint center for help with your project.

Picking the Right Kind of Paint

After establishing a color palette, you'll need to choose paint based on type, quality and finish.

Type and Quality. For a long-lasting, even paint job, use a high-quality latex paint. Latex is durable, retains color, and is chalk resistant. It's also easy to apply and clean, and coats all exterior surfaces: wood, new stucco, masonry, and weathered aluminum siding. Choose a higher quality paint for longevity, smoother application, and to avoid brush marks.

Finish. Flat paint is best suited for siding because it resists moisture and hides imperfections well. Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints are best suited for trim and doors because of their durability.

Getting Enough Paint for Your Exterior

A gallon of paint will cover about 200 square feet with two coats. Use our paint calculator or ask a Lowe's associate for help with your estimation. It's always a good idea to have a little extra paint for touch-ups. Let us help you choose the right brushes and other supplies as well.

Preparing the Exterior Surface

  1. Use a power washer with the proper detergent for the most efficient and thorough cleaning. Use caution when selecting the nozzle - a concentrated stream can damage wood, seep under lapped siding and break windows. If you need additional cleaning power, trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a good, safe cleaning agent. To remove and prevent mildew, use a detergent with mildewcide. Rinse the surface when cleaning is completed.
  2. Using a wire brush, scrape away any loose paint. Scraping to the bare wood is not necessary if the old paint is intact.
  3. Repair any surface flaws with a compound rated for exterior use. Sand the surface when dry.
  4. Remove old, loose caulk. Re-caulk with a paintable, exterior caulk.
  5. Repair and re-putty windows. Remove old, cracked putty and apply new glazing.
  6. Cover bushes, flowerbeds, decks, and sidewalks with dropcloths. Tie back your shrubs, so they won't rub against fresh paint.
  7. Prime new wood, bare wood and any area where repairs have been made. A primer may also be needed when painting over an existing bright or dark color. A primer will help paint adhere to the surface, providing a more uniform appearance.

When painting exterior brick, cinder block or other rough surfaces for the first time, apply a coat of latex block filler. The filler closes and seals the pores of the block and provides a smooth substrate for the finish coat.

Waiting for Good Weather

Check the weather forecast before starting the job. Rain or high wind can cut a day of painting short and ruin what's already been applied. Paint when temperatures are above 50° and below 85°. High humidity on a newly painted, uncured surface can cause blistering.

Avoid painting in direct sun. Paint the west-facing side in the morning and the east in the afternoon.

Painting Your House

  1. After setting up your ladder or scaffolding, paint the windows and trim. To prevent windows from sticking, don't completely close. And leave a very small strip of paint around the windowpane edges to seal out the weather.
  2. Paint the siding. Start at the top, painting horizontally as you work your way down. Use a scaffold if possible, or move the ladder regularly.
    If you're painting aluminum or vinyl siding, use satin or low-luster paint. These finishes are best for aluminum siding since they hide dents and make imperfections less noticeable.
  3. Paint the foundation. Remember to prime any exterior brick or cinderblocks. Almost any quality exterior paint can be used on masonry, depending on the structure's age. For masonry less than one year old, use acrylic latex paint only.

See other articles in our Painting section, for tips on supplies, clean-up and more.

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