How-To Videos

Exterior Home Painting Prep Tips

By: Danny Lipford
Using a rotary sander to remove old paint on the outside of a house.

Using a rotary sander to remove old paint on the outside of a house.

Preparing the outside of your home for painting is one of the least enjoyable, but most important, aspects of house painting. Your paint job is only as good as your prep work, so spend the extra time needed to thoroughly scrape, sand, and prime your house before painting.

If your home was built before 1979, the existing paint may contain lead. Have a sample of the paint tested, or test it yourself with a lead test kit, before sanding or scraping.

If the paint does contain lead, check the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) and your local building and health departments for recommendations on safe removal. If the paint on your house is lead free, it’s time to start on the prep work.

Anytime you’re scraping or sanding paint or other materials, be sure to wear the proper mask or respirator, regardless of whether the paint contains lead or not. Also, wear eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles.

Tools and materials needed for exterior painting prep:

  • Eye protection
  • Respirator or mask
  • Hand scraper
  • Rotary power sander
  • Caulking gun
  • Exterior paintable caulking
  • Exterior putty
  • Exterior primer
  • Exterior paint

Preparing your house for painting:

Use a hand scraper to remove peeling or blistered paint. You can also sand the surface with a random-orbit or rotary power sander. Use a power sander to blend any bare wood to the previously painted areas so the surface will be smooth.

Next, spot prime any bare wood with an exterior oil or latex primer. After the primer is dry, caulk and putty any holes, gaps, or cracks in the exterior surface.

The final step is to apply two topcoats of exterior paint to the entire surface to complete the job.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: The weather can really do a number on the outside of your home and its protective coating—the paint. Problems like this can be prevented from reoccurring if you or your painter will properly prepare the surface before it’s repainted.

Now no part of painting is glamorous, but certainly the prep work is the least fun of all and probably the most neglected in the job. Now, no matter what type of paint you use, it’s only as good as the bottom layer of paint.

Now if your house was built before 1978, it could contain lead in the paint. You need to have it tested or test it yourself with a test kit. If you find out that your house paint has lead in it, then you need to check with the Environmental Protection Agency on the guidelines to safely remove it.

If you don’t have any lead in your paint, then it’s time to start scraping. Begin with a hand scraper to remove all of the loose paint and tight spots. For larger easy to reach areas, a rotary sander is the tool for the job. You’ll need eye protection and a respirator. The sander is powerful, so you have to be careful not to damage the wood while removing paint. Any paint that is cracked, blistered, or peeling needs to go. Next, smooth the transitions from the bare wood you’ve revealed to the existing paint.

When everything has been scraped or sanded, you’re ready for the primer. Here we’re spot priming, which means we’re only covering the areas where we’ve exposed the bare wood. Caulk where needed, let it dry, and you’re ready to put on two coats of finish paint.

It’s a lot of work, but it’ll make your paint job last a lot longer.



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