Lowe's Home Improvement
FREE PARCEL SHIPPING on Qualifying Orders

Prepare Your House for Exterior Painting

Learn how to prepare your home's surface for exterior painting. These helpful tips will come in handy when you're cleaning surfaces, repairing flaws and priming.

Exterior view of house.

Tools & Materials

Product costs, availability and item numbers may vary online or by market.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Before You Begin

Caution

Use eye protection when pressure washing. Choose the proper paint applicators and exercise caution when using a ladder.

Caution

Paint on homes built before 1978 may contain lead. Check with your local health department or the Environmental Protection Agency if you have questions or concerns.

Preparing an Exterior Surface

Step 1

A clean surface is essential for a good paint job. A pressure washer with the proper detergent is the most efficient means of thoroughly cleaning exterior siding. Use caution when selecting the nozzle - a concentrated stream can damage wood, seep under lapped siding and break windows. On surfaces that aren't suffering from excessive peeling or flaking, a regular garden hose and scrub brush will work. Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a good, safe cleaning agent. To remove and prevent mildew, use a detergent with mildewcide or a mixture of one quart household bleach in three quarts of water. Rinse the surface when cleaning is completed.

Step 2

Scrape away loose paint. Using a wire brush, scrape paint that's flaking or located in areas that the washer didn't reach. Scraping to the bare wood is not necessary if the old paint is intact. It can be painted over after sanding.

Step 3

Repair any surface flaws with a surface repair compound rated for exterior use. Sand the surface when dry.

Step 4

Remove old caulk. Re-caulk around door trim, windowsills and other areas that need to be sealed with a paintable exterior caulk.

Step 5

Repair and re-putty windows. Remove old putty and apply new glazing. Make sure it's dry before painting.

Step 6

Use dropcloths to protect flowerbeds and lawns. Gently tie up and cover shrubs.

Step 7

Prime bare wood and any area where repairs have been made.