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Prepping for Exterior Painting

Just like with interior, prepping is by and large the most important step to a professional, long-lasting paint job. The exterior of your home, especially in the PNW, is exposed to many different elements (harsh sun, rain, mold and mildew buildup, bugs and pests, and the list goes on.) Keeping up with exterior painting is essential in protecting your home’s siding and trim from wear and tear over the years. Although it can be fun to change your house’s exterior through paint, it can be an expensive project that homeowner’s probably don’t want to repeat often.


In theory, a fresh exterior paint job should last about 10-12 years for houses built after 1979, and around 6-8 years for those built before 1979. You can ensure a long-lasting, high-quality paint job by prepping correctly.  



Pressure Washing


Pressure washing is an incredibly important first step, but should be done with caution. A lot of homeowner’s believe that by pressure washing their house should be sparkling clean.  Beware of this! We all want our house to sparkle, but blasting your siding with a pressure washer can cause serious damage to the siding and trim, resulting in a project that just got that much more expensive. We recommend a soft pressure washing where the aim is to simply knock off surface contaminants such as spiderwebs, dirt, nests, etc. If you choose to not wash away surface contaminants, this could eventually lead to failing paint, so it is important to clean the siding without blasting it prior to painting.


Don’t have a pressure washer? No problem! Another option is to simply hand clean the areas to be painted. Pick up a box of rags from your local Sherwin Williams or Miller paint, and wipe the surface of your home with a damp rag in order to remove the same surface contaminants. This may take a bit longer than a pressure washer, but it will leave your home ready for painting.




This one may seem like a no-brainer, but so many people like to skip the step in order for a faster paint job. Painting on top of already peeling, failing paint will result in the new paint to also fail and peel. If there is not a sound surface for the paint to bind to, it will fail.  


Pick up a scraper from your nearest paint or hardware store, and begin by simple scraping away at any areas with peeling or flaking paint. You do not need to scrape the entire house, just areas that have noticeably failing paint.  




Once you’ve finished scraping, make sure to apply a Peel Bonding primer on top of the scraped areas. Peel Bond is a glue-like primer that encapsulates and holds down the existing paint, and creates a clean surface for the fresh coat of paint to adhere to, eliminating any opportunity for failing paint.  


All steps are important in preparing your exterior prior to paint application, but making sure to apply the primer to disturbed paint is incredibly important. Without a primer base, the fresh coat of paint will be simply adhering to old, failing paint and can ultimately begin to flake and peel as well.




The final step before painting is making sure all caulking is fresh and up to date on your home. The type of caulking needed is dependent on the type of siding on each home. Homes with hardie plank siding will just need corner boards and gaps around windows and door trim caulked. Cedar siding and T1-11 siding may need butt joints caulked as well as the corner boards and gaps around window and door trim.  


We recommend using a urethane caulk from either Sherwin-Williams or Miller paint. You can simply apply a bead to the needed areas and smooth out with your fingers to make an even line of caulking.


Apply Paint


Once your home has been scraped, caulking, and primed appropriately, you’re ready to move onto painting! Although you can apply all paint by brush and roller, we highly recommend renting a Graco Paint Sprayer (or competitive brand) from your nearest Tool Library or Home Depot. The Graco sprayer applies an even coat and finish making for a professional looking paint job. Make sure to mask and protect windows, doors, light fixtures, any landscaping you wish to protect, and especially your roof prior to using the sprayer. Overspray is a common issue and even on a slightly windy day, paint particles can drift off into the air and land on undesired areas.  


We recommend using the sprayer to spray out the body of the home. Some siding, such as combed cedar, may require back brushing and rolling. This is to ensure that the paint is filling in all the gaps and cracks in the siding. To do this, spray out the first coat of paint and use a brush or roller to apply another coat of paint.  


Once siding is complete, you can take a brush or roller to finish the trim.


Other Miscellaneous Items


We’ve covered the basics on how to prep your home and get it ready for painting, but there are still some things that may pop up on a house. Afterall, not all houses are alike. For instance, before any priming or painting begins, make sure to inspect the exterior thoroughly and check to see if you have any areas affected by dry rot. Dry rot is extremely common on homes in the PNW, and will need to be taken care of quickly. Dry rot is rotting of the wood (can be on siding or trim) and it will continue to rot as long as the issue is not remedied.  


To fix dry rot, you’ll need to remove the piece of rotting wood and replace with a brand new piece of siding or trim.


If your home was built in 1978 or and year earlier, there are important steps to take before prepping and painting your exterior altogether. Homes built in 1978 or prior may have lead based paint. You can pick up a lead testing kit from either Sherwin-Williams or Miller Paint and test your siding and trim to see if there is lead paint present on your home.  


It’s important to familiarize yourself with the issue of lead based paint and what your options are as the homeowner to protect your home, your family, and your neighbors from lead paint. You can visit the EPA website for a comprehensive pamphlet to familiarize yourself with the issue.  

It’s important to remember that not all houses are the same. Although scraping and caulking are an important step in prepping your home correctly for painting, it’s important to know and understand what material you have on your home and how to prep it correctly. Unsure on how to prep your home in particular? Feel free to comment below or email us at We’re happy to answer any and all questions so that you can prep your home like a pro.


Have a paint or color question you would like answered? Please send your question to and we will do our best to try and answer it in an upcoming blog post.

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