Tips for Freshening Up Your Home’s Paint
The fastest way to grab attention for your home, and improve its curb appeal and resale value, is a fresh coat of exterior paint. It not only makes your house look nicer and last longer, but it also prompts a potential buyer to want to check out the interior.
Although going the DIY route makes sense if you’re on a serious budget, most homeowners will want to hire painters for that professional look – whether to prepare their home for moving in, or for a sale, or maybe just to change up the entire look of the home.
Few home-maintenance projects are as important as exterior painting because paint and caulking form the first line of defense against rain, snow, and ice.
You will also want to repair and repaint as soon as you notice paint starting to crack, blister, and peel. Ignoring these problems will lead to a much more extensive — and expensive— job.
It’s fairly easy to paint a home that’s vacant, but many homeowners don’t have that option and get understandably nervous about how a professional painter will treat the interior of their home – after all, you can easily shrug it off if you are clumsy yourself and knock over a paint can on a new rug or on a wood floor, but if it’s a professional that’s another story.
It’s also nice to trust that the colors you’ve pored over at the paint store will work, but, if they don’t, you will need someone to point that out quickly and find something else that works better.
Once you’ve decided to go the professional route, here are some tips on stepping back and letting them do their job:
Painting is art — leave them alone while they work
Think of painting as not just a skill, but also an art. Most people don’t want to be watched the entire time they work.
Once you’ve decided on a professional painter, and you’ve vetted their other work and references, plan to step back and trust they will do a good job for you.
There are two basic types of exterior paint: water-based latex and oil-based alkyd. Latex cleans up with soap and water, dries quickly, has low odor, and remains flexible longer so it’s less likely to crack. The best quality latex paints contain 100 percent acrylic resins.
Alkyd paints require mineral spirits (paint thinner) for cleanup as opposed to just soap and water. But many professional painters prefer alkyd paint because it’s durable, stain-resistant, flows very smoothly, and dries with fewer brush marks. Alkyds have a strong solvent smell and dry very slowly.
Remember that if you’re applying latex paint over an existing alkyd paint, you must first prime the surface to ensure the new topcoat will adhere to the old oil-based paint.
Most paint manufacturers offer a wide variety of paints ranging from good to better to best. As a general rule, budget how much you want to spend on the project and then buy the best paint you can reasonably afford, because cost is an excellent indication of quality. Expensive paints contain more pigments than bargain paints, so they produce a thicker, longer-lasting, more protective coating.
Compare the specifics of the bids
It’s tough to over-emphasize the importance of hiring painters who provide detailed bids. Deciding between two or three contractors is hard enough; it’s more so if you’re relying on pure guesswork.
Look at the material costs. You don’t need to go with the painter who buys the most expensive caulk, but don’t go with the cheapest, either. Since painting is an art, materials are its medium — and cheap paint shows.
If you have to repaint your house twice as often than you would with a good job, you haven’t saved anything in the long run.
Ask for a discount
If you’re comparing two bids and you really love the more expensive painter — but your budget just won’t allow it — don’t hesitate to ask for a discount.
If the difference is night and day, you and your painter might not be able to find a comfortable middle ground, but it never hurts to try. Get at least three bids — or more, if they haven’t found a good fit. It’s worth taking the time to find a contractor you love.
Prep can take a long time
Many professionals agree, at least 30% of a good-quality paint job will be prep time.
The differences between a rushed paint job and one done properly are enormous: paint on the walls and everything else; uncleaned walls leading to a splotchy paint job and splotches on your favorite couch.
Keep an eye out for the painters that skimp on prep—the best way to find detail-oriented contractors is to ask previous customers for a reference.
Make sure your home is ready to paint
Don’t leave all the prep work to the painters, though. Things will work better if you make sure your home is truly painter-ready, and this could also save you some money.
For exterior jobs, take a look around at the landscaping nearby and plan on trimming bushes and shrubs away from the house, leaving at least 18 inches of clearance. Making sure your gutters and downspouts are in “tiptop condition” can also speed up the painting process.
For the new paint to adhere to the surface, you must clean the house’s exterior of all dirt, grime, mildew, and chalky residue. A power sprayer provides the easiest way to accomplish this, but hand scrubbing with a stiff-bristle brush is just as effective and often doesn’t take much longer because it requires little preparation and setup time.
Use a hammer and a nail set to tap all nail heads below the surface, then fill the holes with exterior-grade putty. Once the putty is fully cured, sand it flush. If you’re applying new caulking around windows, doors, and trim, be sure to use a caulk that’s paintable.
You can paint directly over the old painted surface as long as it’s in good condition. Be sure to scrape and sand any spots where the old paint has blistered or flaked off. And you must prime any bare wood before you paint it.
For interior jobs, make sure you’ve cleaned all of the awkward spots, including behind the toilet, and decluttered any knickknacks that might get in the way (e.g., soap containers, towels, and kitchen organizers). Removing the switch plates and outlet covers from the walls also goes a long way toward speeding up painting time — and painters’ time is (your) money.
Ask for touch-ups right away
After the paint job is finished, ask for a walk-through. Most painters should offer this regardless. Make a list of touch-ups.
That doesn’t mean most painters are willing to provide endless touch-ups, though—especially if it’s not a result of poor workmanship. Feel free to call back about something you noticed only when the light hit the wall in just the right spot — but if you scratched the wall while moving in your heavy dresser, be prepared to pay for a touch-up.
Sit on the toilet
This sounds like a funny one, but it makes a lot of sense, after getting your bathroom painted, to sit down on the toilet and stare. It’s a great way to catch tiny, missed spots you wouldn’t see otherwise.
For the DIYers:
Read the Label
A paint can label has a wealth of information that can help you produce a beautiful paint job. Pay particular attention to the instructions about prepping the surface and outdoor air temperature.
Most paints shouldn’t be applied when the temperature is 50 degrees F or colder. But some paints are specially formulated for application when the temperature is as low as 35. Just take the time to read the label before you start painting and the label becomes smeared with paint and impossible to decipher.
Brush or Roller?
The fastest, most effective way to apply exterior paint is with both a paintbrush and a roller. Brush paint onto narrow surfaces, edges, and smaller areas, and use a short, small-diameter roller to paint large and long surfaces such as siding and trim.
Start in the Shade
Painting in direct sunlight or applying paint to a sun-baked surface will make fresh paint dry too quickly. As a result, it won’t adhere well and will blister and flake prematurely. Begin painting on the shady side of the house. (If the surface is damp, wipe it dry.) Then wait for sun to move and the other sides of the house to become shaded — or just paint on an overcast day.
Take it From the Top
Start painting near the top of the house and work your way down. Apply paint to the butt or bottom edge of the siding first, then paint the broad surfaces. To avoid lap marks, always try to brush from one wet surface onto another wet surface. When that’s not possible and you must paint onto a previously painted and dried surface, overlap onto the dried-paint surface by several inches.
Don’t forget basic ladder safety: Don’t overreach too far to the side or you might topple over. Try to keep your hips within the horizontal rails of the ladder. It’s much smarter to climb down, move the ladder, and climb back up than to risk falling. Consider having a second person act as your spotter.