How to prepare for a house paint job

While most homeowners would have no problem picking up a gallon of paint at the hardware store to paint a baby’s bedroom, tackling the exterior is an entirely different matter. Creating an attractive, long-lasting paint job requires the equipment, knowledge and skill of a professional for best results.

Q: What is involved in exterior surface preparations?

A: One should always powerwash to clean the house. This ensures good adhesion and removes loose paint. There is also a special tool that feathers in the edges where paint was peeling. It’s also necessary to apply a prime coat to any raw wood.

The amount of caulking done depends on what you’re looking for. Caulking is for cosmetic purposes only and should not be depended upon for stopping water leaks, as it would only be a temporary fix. It’s good to caulk all wood siding to wood trim, as well as all the joints of wood trim.

Some painters use a special elastomeric patch for cracks in stucco to prevent them from reappearing. All windows and any surfaces that are not to be painted should be covered, and cover the perimeter of the home with drop cloths. The house should now be ready to paint.

Q: What kind of paint should I use?

A: Material costs usually only make up about 15 to 20 percent of the total price of a paint job, so this is not a good area to skimp to save money.

Oil based paints are not what they used to be and manufacturers have come a long way in developing latex paints. Some use high quality, 100– acrylic flat latex from a manufacturer that only sells paint for the body and trim. Some prefer low-sheen or semi-gloss enamels because they easier to keep clean. Just remember that enamel should not hold up any longer than flat latex, and the higher the gloss rating, the more noticeable surface imperfections and rough wood will be.

Q: How do I choose attractive paint colors?

A: Many people don’t realize that colors often reflect styles, which is why Terra Cotta, which looks great on a Spanish style home, can look goofy on a contemporary home.

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Q: How many gallons will it take to paint my house?

A: Paint quantities are figured on the square footage of the surface area to be painted. Paint will cover between 200-350 square feet per gallon, depending on how rough the surface is. Smooth lap siding will take less paint than a textured stucco, for instance. An average 1,700 square foot single story house will take about 25 to 30 gallons for the body and three to four gallons for trim.

Again, this is not a good area to skimp to save money. The amount of paint used will directly affect how long it will last.

So for a home paint job? Consult our True Cost Guide for estimated costs.

Q: What do I look for in a good painting company?

A: A reputable painting company will have no problem answering the following questions:

1) Do they have a state contractors license?
2) Do they have any complaints filed against them?
3) Do they carry both Workers Compensation insurance on their employees and liability insurance in case of damage to your property (or that of your neighbors)?
4) How long have they been in business?
5) Do they have references who you can contact?
6) Do they use journeyman painters who have years of experience in the trade?
7) Do they sub-contact their work or pay their own employees by the hour (so they don’t hurry or cut corners)?
8) Do they use a professional bid package?
9) Are they on time for their appointments and have their estimate to you in a timely manner?
10) Do they warranty both material and labor?


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