10 Steps to Painting Aluminum & Wood Siding

Professional exterior siding painting requires a balance of skill, adequate tools, and quality paint. How the paint is applied will determine the overall approach and process of achieving the best result. 

Deciding whether the paint will be sprayed or brushed should be done in the early stages of the process. However, the paint application method should be based on quality and ultimate durability. 

Whether painting exterior siding or another sizeable outdoor area, the primary purpose of paint is to protect the surface. Painting for speed or to reduce the cost to the detriment of quality has no value.

Doing it Yourself vs. Hiring Painters

There are several reasons to hire a professional painter vs doing it yourself. The first significant advantage is guaranteed service and support from vendors. 

Exterior painters with experience will also understand the differences and benefits of the process and be able to make suggestions based on your needs. 

The process is efficient when a paint crew shows up versus you doing it yourself. With risk and effort removed, hiring a painter is convenient. It means you don’t have to deal with heights, possible injury, or trial and error if you lack the experience.

Siding Painting Steps

We are going to outline the significant tips and processes to increase the likelihood of you having a smooth painting experience.

Step 1) Tools & Equipment

While doing the project yourself will save money, it may not be as cost-effective as you would think. Several tools and preparation materials are needed to paint successfully. However, you can rent the most significant tools.

  • Extension & Step Ladders ($100 – $400 each)
  • Paint Sprayers ($800 – $4,000.00)
  • Pressure Washer ($300 – $2,900.00)
  • Paintbrushes ($18 – $30 each)
  • Drop Cloths ($19 – $60 each)
  • Cordless Drill ($49 – $300)
  • Sandpaper & Orbital Sanders ($39 – $220)

Small Tools: 5-in-one tool, Paint Scraper, Caulk Gun, Putty Knife, Drop Cord, Rags, Masking Paper, Painters Tape, Masking Plastic 

Total: $240.00

Step 2) Choosing Colors

While choosing color is a preference, it also significantly influences how easy the paint is to apply and the method required. Light colors like off-whites show fewer lap marks than darker colors. Drastic color changes will require more coats of paint. 

Dark colors often require exterior paints that eliminate watermarks, also known as surfactant leaching.

Step 3) Choosing the Paint

The best exterior paints last the longest outdoors. Fade and oxidation resistance are among the most essential qualities of exterior paint. Paint adhesion and moisture resistance are also characteristics of quality exterior paint.

Exterior surfaces painted with a satin or gloss finish last longer but are best applied using a paint sprayer. Having first-hand experience with a paint product is the best way of understanding how it will perform, and experience is another benefit that a professional painter provides.

Step 4) Pre-Painting Preparations

After determining colors and paint, it is essential to consider the outdoor conditions, the potential for bad weather, and how it will affect your paint job. 

Painting during dry seasons when the temperature is above 50 degrees and use cold weather paints for temperatures between 35 and 55 degrees.

Before the painting starts, ensure the house is clear and ready for the process by removing all auxiliary items, such as flags and awnings. When we begin exterior painting projects, the most overlooked consideration is cutting bushes and shrubs back enough to access the house and ensuring limbs are not in contact with the house. 

Step 5) House Painting Preparations

  • The most critical part of exterior painting is detailed surface preparation. Pressure washing to kill all organic growth is the very first step. (How to Pressure Wash)
  • The second preparation step is to cover the landscape, lights, windows, doors, rooflines, concrete, brick, and additional structures such as decks and fences.
  • Scrape loose paint following the woodgrain and remove caulking from failed caulk joints.
  • Sanding rough edges where paint has been scraped will smooth the area, making it look better.
  • Replace wood rot and significant damages. 
  • Use wood fillers for damaged wood and painter’s putty for nail holes.
  • Use exterior caulk to fill all sizeable cracks and joints.  

Step 6) Choosing Primers

Exterior-grade primers are essential, as exterior paint will only bond to a previously painted or primed surface. Since exterior paint is constantly exposed to conditions that challenge paint adhesion, it is vital to understand when a primer is necessary. 


Primer is Needed When:

  • Prime the entire surface when transitioning from oil to latex.
  • Always prime raw wood or bare metal. (spot priming)
  • It is best to use a dedicated exterior bonding primer. 

Application Method Recommendations

Providing advice on spraying, brushing, or rolling a surface without seeing it in person is impossible. However, over 70% of exterior painting projects are sprayed. 

Here are a few application standards exclusive to specific situations. 

  • Smooth Siding: Mostly Sprayed
  • Delaminated Siding: Best Protected by Brushing
  • Heavily Textured Siding: Spray & BackBrushed
  • Wood Siding: Sprayed or Brushed
  • Aluminum or Metal Siding: Best Sprayed
  • HardiePlank Siding: Best Sprayed

Techniques & Tips

Now that you’ve prepared the surface and gathered all the necessary tools, it’s time to learn the process of painting siding. Follow this step-by-step guide to achieve and discover the best technique for painting exterior siding. 

  • Test the Paint: Testing the paint on a small, inconspicuous area is a good idea before applying it to the entire siding. Testing will allow you to assess the paint’s color, coverage, and overall performance before committing to the project.

Start from the Top: Begin painting at the highest point of your siding and work your way down. Starting from the top will prevent any drips or splatters from affecting surfaces that have already been painted. 

  • Use a brush, roller, or paint sprayer to apply the paint in long, smooth, straight strokes. Make sure the painting follows the direction of the siding.

Work in Small Sections: Divide your siding into manageable areas and focus on one section at a time. Dividing each wall into smaller tasks will help you maintain a wet edge and ensure a seamless finish. 

  • Avoid painting in direct sunlight or scorching weather, as this can cause the paint to dry too quickly and result in visible lap marks

Applying Multiple Coats: Depending on the condition of your siding and the desired color intensity, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint. 

  • Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time and re-coating intervals.

Proper Technique for the Tool: Whether using a brush, roller, or sprayer, it’s essential to use the correct technique to achieve an even and consistent finish. 

  • With a brush, use long, smooth strokes and feather out any brush marks. 
  • When using a roller, apply even pressure and maintain a consistent speed. 
  • If using a sprayer, ensure proper distance to avoid excessive overspray and overlap wet paint edges to achieve an even finish.

Check for Uniform Coverage: Inspect the surface for missed spots or uneven coverage after each painted section. 

  • Touch up any areas as needed before moving on to the next section. 
  • Take your time and be thorough to ensure a professional-looking result.

Painter Tape Usage: If you use painter’s tape to establish a straight edge, once the paint begins to dry to the touch, carefully remove the painter’s tape while pulling it away at a 45-degree angle or cut it out using a knife.

  • Careful and timely tape removal will help create clean edges without causing any damage to the freshly painted surface. 
  • If any paint seeps occur, use a small brush to touch up or a rag to clean the affected areas.

Additional Tips for DIY Siding Painting

Painting within a tighter temperature range.

House paint adheres best and dries thoroughly within a specific temperature range. Avoid painting on extremely hot or cold days, as this can affect the drying time and finish. 

(Surface temperatures ranging from 35 to 95 degrees are permissible when using Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams Paints.)


Intense Sunlight

Direct sunlight increases surface temperatures, causing the paint to dry too quickly, leading to visible lap marks and uneven coverage. Choose a time of day when the area you’re painting is cooler, or work on the shaded side of your house.

Mixing All Paint Can

It’s important to mix all paint cans before starting. Combining your paint from different buckets into a larger container (also known as boxing paint) will ensure a consistent color throughout all buckets, as slight variations can occur between different batches of paint. 

  • Buying all paint from the same paint store will improve paint color consistency.

More Than One Person

Painting home siding can be overwhelming, especially if you have a massive area to cover. If you take this on your own as a weekend or DIY project, you will need a hand. Dividing each task in half, by side, or by effort will make the job much more efficient. 

  • One person can cut in the edges while the other rolls. Or, one person can get on the right and the other on the left and work towards one another.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Siding

Skipping Surface Preparation

Properly preparing the surface is the foundation of a successful paint job. Skipping or rushing through this step can lead to poor adhesion, premature paint failure, and an unsatisfactory finish. Before applying the paint, take the time to clean, repair, and prime the siding as needed.

Using the Wrong Paint Type

Using wrong exterior paint can lead to poor adhesion, peeling, and premature fading. Always choose a paint specifically formulated for external use and select the appropriate type. (oil-based or latex)

How Many Coats

Two coats are always better than one but are not always needed. Two coats of paint will last longer and provide better long-term protection but will also increase the overall price of painting your home. 

You must evaluate your efforts if you are painting the siding yourself. How much time do you have? How often do you plan to paint? How long will you live there?

Color changes will require two coats of paint. Outdoor conditions and paint type are also considerations when determining how many coats are needed. 

Clean Up & Maintenance

The ability to reuse paintbrushes and tools is super important when you know the painting will take a long time, which is another drawback of doing it yourself. Do you know how to clean a paintbrush properly?

Home pressure washing is an annual maintenance necessary to preserve your exterior paint job. 

Contact us for exterior painting service if you live in Raleigh or around the Triangle area, and feel free to view more articles or visit our social media channels.

Similar Posts