Exterior paint prep can be a daunting task to tackle. Depending on the size of the project and your experience level, you might not even know where to begin. Like everything, the best way to start is with a good plan. Identify what parts of the project can be broken into sections and what parts need to be done together. Look for areas that will cause you trouble, so that you can approach them with your eyes open. The planning stage is also the best time to consider testing for lead paint. If you have a house that was built prior to 1979, it's always a good idea to know what you're getting into. This is especially important because it's likely that you'll need to sand or scrape your existing exterior paint during the course of your project. See this Family Handyman article Testing for Lead Paint for more details on how to easily and affordably find out if you have lead paint. Thornton House Painters

Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to pre- pare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth costs $15). The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard floors, so rosin paper ($10 for 400 sq. ft. at home centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hard- wood. Tape the sheets together and to the floor to provide a nonslip surface.
Once you have the approximate square footage that you’ll need to paint, remember that a gallon of paint generally covers between 250 and 400 square feet. You’ll need more if you’re painting a rough, porous material, or if you want to paint a dark house a much lighter color. Depending on your color choice, you may need a more expensive tinted primer to help with the color transition. Thornton House Painters
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