When warm weather arrives, it’s time to get cracking on projects that make your outdoor space that much more inviting. Painting your exteriors, whether your house, your deck, fence or even just your front door, is one of the easiest ways to freshen up your space, and make the most of the longer days and nights outside. Here’s how to get started.
Timing Is Everything
Make sure the weather is working in your favour before you start your project. Consistent warmer weather is what you’re looking for: temperatures of 10C or higher, with overnight temperatures not dropping below 0C for about three days after you’re finished. Low humidity conditions are preferable too. Keep in mind that darker colours can take longer to dry. Try to avoid painting in direct sunlight.
Calculate How Much You’ll Need
In thinking about how much paint you’ll need, consider not just the area, but the type of surface too: if the surface has never been painted, or is textured, that often is going to mean more than one coat. Colour is a factor too: if you’re painting over a lighter colour, a primer, or going for a vibrant or deep shade, you may need multiple coats. Factor in other surfaces you may or may not need to paint, such as decorative features or window trim.
Once you’ve got a sense of the area you’ll be painting, try PPG’s Paint Calculator tool to estimate how much you’ll need.
Prep Your Surfaces
The first step in preparing your exterior is to wash it: pressure-wash with a TSP (trisodium phosphate) solution, soap solution or, if you don’t have a pressure washer on hand, with a hose. For vertical surfaces, work from the top of the structure to the bottom. The goal is to remove as much dust, grime and residue from your exterior.
Once the surface is dry, you can get to work on scraping or sanding existing paint, if necessary. Not all old paint needs to be removed. Focus on any paint that’s loose, peeling or curling. But if you’ve got alligatoring paint dominating your surface, follow PPG’s tips in “How to Fix Alligatoring Paint,” which tends to happen over time when older, oil-based paints get subjected to the elements.
If you’re painting your house, this is also the time to fill any holes or cracks with epoxy, smoothing the surface with a spackle knife, then sanding the area with medium-grit sandpaper.
Pick the Right Paint for Your Surface
No matter the material you’re painting, PPG has an exterior paint that will provide quality coverage against the elements, whether it’s UV damage, moisture, or extreme weather. When choosing the type of paint, consider your exterior’s material, but also consider how much exposure to wear and tear the area might be getting (e.g. a deck or gate), weather and sunlight, plus other potential issues like algae and mildew.
Working with vinyl siding? PPG’s Acri-Shield Max is an exterior latex paint formulated to protect vinyl siding against harsh Canadian winters and keep siding looking fresh year after year. Acri-Shield is also a good choice for wood siding, trim, masonry, weathered aluminum and metal. SICO Premium exterior paint is another excellent option for long-lasting protection against the elements, and for a one-coat exterior paint that stands the test of time, consider SICO Super Premium. If your house gets a lot of sun, PPG’s Sun Proof is a great option for full exteriors, or smaller sun-prone areas like trim and doors.
Do You Need a Primer?
Primers help ensure your hard work lasts longer, but it’s not always necessary. Go for a primer when you’re painting a brand new surface, or any surface that’s porous or rough. It’s great to paint primer over stains or wood knots, too. The primer will get your surface smooth and flat, plus help with adhesion, in addition to protecting the surface from the elements. Acri-Shield Max is a great option for bare wood, chalky painted surfaces, and projects ranging from siding and trim, to shutters and fences.
Choosing Your Equipment
For larger, more uniform surfaces, your best best is a paint sprayer. When you’re tackling smaller areas like trim, paint rollers or—for areas that require the most precision—paint brushes are your best option. If you’re using latex-based paint, go with polyester or nylon brushes. For oil-based paints, choose natural brushes. If you’re painting multiple coats, keep your brushes in good shape by making sure they’re cleaned and dried at the end of each day.
Get the Look You’re Going For
Precision takes practice, but a few basic rules of thumb can get your project looking sharp. First, paint from corners or edges inward, and use less paint than you think you need to avoid sagging or dripping. Especially for smaller detail areas, you may find that two thinner coats get you a better look than one thick one. Work on the spaces you need to use most, like doors and windows, earlier in the day, so they’ll be dry enough to close. And, to help speed things up, get comfortable painting with both your left and right hands when tackling larger, hard-to reach areas like your house’s exterior.
Ready to get out there? Check out PPG’s selection of exterior paints for options that can stand up to the elements and keep your exteriors looking their best for the long haul.
Get more helpful painting tips to visually see paint colours for the exterior of your house from PPG: