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Preparation is Key

The most important part about any painting project is not putting on the paint but rather the preparation that occurs before any paint is applied.  Proper preparation is the key to whether a fresh coat of paint will properly adhere to the surface or not.  When a new painting project starts to fail or peel , it is usually due to the fact that the paint did not adequately hold on to the surface.  The reason is that the surface was dusty, dirty, wet or loose and these problems were not adequately dealt with before the new paint was applied.  The best painting product will fail if the surface is improperly prepared.  In fact, how a painter prepares the surface is more important than how he applies the paint!  Brushing, rolling or spraying can all be used to good advantage but not if the surface of substrate has not been properly prepared.

Tools Needed

The tools you will need to properly prepare your home depend on what material your home is made of.  Since most homes have wooden eaves, you will need a paint scraper, a putty knife, a wire brush and some 80 and 120 grit sand paper or a sanding block.  The objective you want to achieve is a surface that is clean, smooth and free of any loose paint.  Professional painters used to begin with scrappers and stiff brushes but that has now been replaced with a power washer.  These machines use the water from your hose and increase the pressure to 2,000 or 3,000 pounds of pressure.  They can be rented at a hardware store or some Paint stores.  You will first need to practice on an inconspicuous area first to find out what is too much pressure.  While a power washer is an excellent tool, if it is used too close to a surface it can etch it and damage it.   

After your house is properly power washed it needs to dry.  Because the high pressure washer soaks into the substrate, it will need more time to dry than just a surface wetting.   Ideally, the first coat of new paint called the prime coat should be applied as the temperature is falling.   If you going to repaint a stucco home, you should wait a day or so to allow the stucco to adequately dry.  If the home is wood, you may need 3 to 5 days assuming there has been no rain and humidity levels are not too high.  When moisture is wicking out of the surface as the primer coat is being applied, the primer coat will not properly adhere.  This is where many painters, even professionals, make a mistake.  If you paint too soon after power washing, you are risking your entire job.  Here is where patience pays off.

After you have allowed sufficient time for your home to dry, the hardest part of any paint project comes next.  This is removing the loose paint and smoothing the rough surfaces.  There is no substitute for this step and it involves the most time and labor.  Use a putty knife to get under any paint which is loose and lift and scrape it off.  Some scrapers use blades to dig and chip out paint.  Try several  different styles and see what works best.  Even a wire brush works on some areas.  Be careful not to scratch or gouge wood.   Sometimes a heat gun which works and looks like a hair dryer is effective in removing paint that is thicker.

Once all loose chips of paint are scraped off the surface any cracks or holes will need to be filled with an exterior wood filler.  Sometimes an area will require new wood if the old is too far gone.   When all cavities and holes are filled then it is time to sand.   All sharp edges need to be sanded or feathered so that they will not be noticeable.  You can start with an 80 grit sandpaper and work to the higher 120 grit in the areas that need it.  All edges should be sanded so that they do not show when painted.  The smoother the surface, the more important the feathering will become.

Caulk any gaps around windows and doors.  If you find nail heads that are popping up, nail them back down.  If they are finish nails, then countersink them and then putty the hole.   

Finally Ready to Paint

Now that your home is clean and properly prepared, you are ready to paint.  You will need to tie back any bushes or shrubs that may be touching your home.  It may be easier to just put a drop cloth over delicate plants to protect them and keep them from being painted.  Remove any screens and move any outdoor furniture items or bar-b-que grills.  Always start at the top and work your way down.  This insures that any drips will get covered as you go.  So begin with your eaves first, and then the upper siding before the lower siding.

Whether you use a brush or a roller or choose to rent a sprayer, your finished job will last because you have properly prepared the surface.  

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