How To Paint a House Exterior


Your home’s siding and height may pose challenges when painting exterior walls but here’s how to overcome them

Although siding types vary -- and each may call for slightly different exterior paint application techniques -- for the most part, the steps in this guide will have you covered.

You’ll also need to address how to safely access the highest points of your home. Using brushes, rollers and sprayers can help.

This project guide covers surface preparation, cleaning, priming and painting techniques and applications.

Safety: If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic and exposure can cause serious illness, especially in children and pregnant women. Scraping, sanding or removal of lead paint may also be subject to federal, state or local regulations. Consult your local building authority before you begin, or visit for more information.


Trim or tie back bushes or limbs
Trim tie back bushes limbs - Paint House Exterior

• Cover nearby plants with drop cloths or tarps.
• Turn off any A/C units and cover with plastic and tape as needed.

Remove shutters and close storm windows
Remove shutters close storm windows  - Paint House Exterior

• Inspect your siding and trim carefully, looking for holes and cracks, then make any necessary repairs.
• Fill any holes with wood filler, and then sand smooth after drying.

Reglaze windows if old putty is cracked or shrunken
Reglaze windows cracked shrunken - Paint House Exterior

• You can remove the old putty with a chisel or putty knife, but be careful not to break the glass.
• Apply new glazing compound as needed, pressing it into place with a putty knife.

Scrub the siding and trim with TSP solution
Scrub siding trim TSP solution - Paint House Exterior

• Using a wire brush or broom, apply either TSP solution or a TSP substitute cleaner.
• Use a pressure washer to speed up the process, but be careful not to force water into any cracks between the siding planks. Be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses when using cleaners and chemicals.
• Only remove existing paint if it is loose or flaking. If your home was built prior to 1978, be sure to follow proper safety and contaminated procedures for lead paint.

Rinse the entire house with a garden hose
Rinse entire house garden hose - Paint House Exterior

• Rinse until the runoff water is clear.
• If you used a TSP solution to clean the house, rinse twice to ensure the solution is completely gone.
• Let the siding and trim dry completely, usually two days, before painting.

Prime masonry surfaces if there are water stains
Prime masonry surfaces water stains - Paint House Exterior

• You’ll also want to prime surfaces if glossy paint is to be top-coated.
• Cedar and redwood contain less resin that bleeds through water-based paints, so use oil-based primer on woods.
• Make sure the surface you are painting is dry and there is no rain in the weather forecast.
• Apply primer to bare siding. For best results, allow primer to dry.

Rinse the entire house again
Rinse the entire house again - Paint House Exterior

Paint roof trim and soffits before the walls if they are a different color.

Paint the inside corners and around the trim
Paint inside corner around trim - Paint House Exterior

Use a corner roller or trim brush to paint these areas.

Paint the siding
Paint the siding - Paint House Exterior

On clapboard or shingle siding, cut in the lip (bottom edges) of the siding before painting the face.

Roll or brush, starting at the top of the wall
Roll or brush, starting top wall - Paint House Exterior

• Work as far away as you can reach.
• Finish the stroke directly in front of you. Repeat until the block of siding you can reach is painted.

Start each stroke to the right by feathering the brush or roller
Start each stroke feathering brush roller - Paint House Exterior

Feathering means placing the surface of the brush or roller against the siding gradually, instead of abruptly. This eliminates a definite start line and makes it easier to blend the next block of strokes into the present block.

Blend the two strokes together where they meet in front of you
Blend the two strokes together  - Paint House Exterior

• Work quickly as it is important to blend the new stroke with the old while the paint is still wet to avoid overlapping marks. Never stop in the middle of a section.
• Paint the corner of the house so the paint color is consistent. Move the ladder so you can reach the completed block of siding.
• To eliminate overlap marks, rewet the feathered edges of the previously painted block with your brush or roller just before you start each new stroke.
• Repeat the process until the top area is completed and then finish the lower sections.

Use a paint sprayer to speed up the process
Use paint sprayer speed up process - Paint House Exterior

• Choose a calm day to paint as a windy day can make spraying difficult.
• Be sure to let it dry and then touch up any missed areas.