How to Paint the Outside of A House

When it’s time to paint the outside of your house, a lot is involved. Surface preparation is critical to paint a house correctly. In our experience, roughly 90% of uniform and durable exterior house painting primarily depends on how surfaces are prepared. 

We explain the steps of the painting process, proper surface preparation, and more! Whether a beginner or an experienced painter, you will learn something from our recommendations.

Painter Skills & Requirements

Painting the exterior of your home will require a few basic skills, and you cannot be afraid of heights. Depending on skill levels, house size, surface preparation level, and how much help you have, painting a home can require 4 days or up to a month to complete. Stripping paint and restoration on large homes will take 3-6 weeks.

House painting will lasts 5 to 10 years, depending on the surface, weather conditions, quality of paint, and how thorough the paint preparations are.

If the paint is chipping, faded, or chalky, you know it’s time to repaint your home! The paint on your home may contain lead if built before 1978 and is likely oil-based. If more than 25% of the house requires lead paint scraping, a lead-certified paint contractor is needed.

House Painting Prep & Setup

This is the most detailed house painting procedure list that we have curated. If you are painting your home yourself, this is the list of things to do in order.

Step 1: Pressure Washing

Initiating house painting preparations always involves pressure washing. Inspect every surface and look for mold, mildew, and moss growth. Soap the entire home with chlorine bleach and thoroughly remove any moss.


Tip 1: Avoid applying too much pressure on the siding and washing windows and doors at close distances. The only surfaces to use high pressure on are concrete and hard surfaces.

Tip 2: Wait one day, allowing all surfaces to dry before continuing.

Set 2: Ladder Set Up

Long extension ladders require two people to set up if your home is over 24 feet tall. We also recommend using ladder stabilizers. Ladder stabilizers are used to keep the ladder in place. Werner stabilizers have a quick-release feature, allowing easy removal. A second person is also handy to hold the ladder on slippery surfaces (also known as footing the ladder).

Tip 1: Lift the ladder upright to handle the ladder. Make sure to lower your dominant hand to support the ladder’s weight while holding the highest ladder run above to stabilize the top weight of the ladder.

Tip 2: Once you have the ladder in place, use the string to raise the ladder, ensuring the safety clips are securely engaged into the runs of the ladder once the appropriate ladder height is reached. Ladders should be placed at approximately a 75% angle. Refer to manufacturers’ specs for details.

Step 3: Scrapping & Sanding Damages

Peeling and blistering paint are surface damages. Remove all loose paint by scraping using a putty knife or paint scraper. Additional sanding may be needed to make the surface smoother and minimize scrapped areas.

Tip: Protect the perimeter and wear a dust mask when scraping.


Step 4: Patching Damages

Inspect the entire home for damages, including wood rot or soft areas. You can treat minor damages with wood hardener or epoxy filler. Although, we recommend total replacements for extensive damages, as patchwork is only a temporary fix.

Tip: 2 part epoxy fillers are best for patching damaged wood.

Step 5: Caulking Gaps & Putting Nail Holes


Sealing all cracks, nail holes, and expansion joints is vital. If it’s your first time caulking or sealing a home, we recommend that you locate and mark the areas with masking tape, then come back to address those areas. This process will help prevent you from missing areas. Cracks found within home exterior trim are common around door and window frames, fascia boards, corner boards, handrails, and other moldings. 

Tip 1: Allow one full day once you’ve sealed and repaired your home, giving time for the sealants to cure before moving on to the next step.  

Tip 2:  We use only the best exterior caulking, which expands and contracts at 70% of the size of the crack.

Step 6: Additional Sanding Doors & Trim

Sanding exterior trim may sound old-school and unnecessary to some, but not the entire home needs sanding. However, doors and exterior surfaces containing lumps or foreign materials should be sanded.


Sanding glossy finishes will increase the paint’s ability to bond. We recommend using an orbital sander ranging from 60 to 120 grit paper when heavy sanding is involved.

Step 7: Priming Raw Wood & Patches

A high-quality primer drastically increases the paint’s ability to stick to the surface. Primers with strong bonding properties will seal the surface, limiting moisture transfer, blocking stains, and holding the paint in place.

Acrylic primers can be used for both siding and trim. Invest in a high-quality 100% acrylic latex bonding primer if you are painting raw wood or unprimed surfaces. All primed areas should be covered by at least two coats of paint.

Chalking (or paint oxidation) happens when the paint wears down, turning into a chalky surface. The best primer for chalky paint is a paint conditioner, which should be applied to the entire area. 


For brick, stone, or stucco, you’ll want to use a masonry primer to seal and prompt a proper bond. Always check the label for manufacturers’ recommendations before painting over the primer.

Tip 1: Tinting the primer will help reduce the number of coats needed for coverage.

Buying Premium Exterior House Paint

Buying the best exterior paint is essential to long-lasting results. Premium exterior paint contains high volumes of acrylic solids mixed with limited vinyl polymers. Choose one with more volume solids when choosing a high-quality 100% acrylic paint. 

Be mindful that a paint label can be deceiving and is primarily marketing. The E.P.A. loosely sets standards for verbiage such as “Premium.” So, you will want to view product data to compare solids by volume and weight. 

Determine How Much Paint You Will Need

To determine how much exterior wall paint is needed, multiply the height by the length of the home and total the square footage for each wall. Each door and window will reduce the square footage by 15 to 25 square feet.

A gallon of exterior paint will roughly cover 250 to 400 square feet. We recommend incrementally buying trim paint since it may be hard to determine how much is needed.

Paint Colors & Curb Appeal

Choosing paint colors is a commitment. Take pictures of homes that you admire. Hold swatches of various shades up to your home at different times of the day. Check with your H.O.A. and compare colors to close neighbors. Considering how the color will fit within the neighborhood.

Do not paint colors that fade, such as red and yellow. Before finalizing your colors, consider how your paint colors complement your roof, brick, and other naturally static features. 

Spraying & Back Brushing or Rolling

Applying paint to siding and exterior walls has several techniques, but working from the top is standard practice. The easiest and most durable method involves a combination of spraying and back-rolling or brushing.

The process of spraying involves two people for larger homes. One person will spray while the other person serves to move the ladders. For back-rolling, there is a third person involved in rolling the surface as the paint is applied.


The person back-rolling rolls a wet paint film directly after spraying the paint. When you combine spraying with rolling, you get the speed of a sprayer applying the paint and the uniform spreading of paint from a roller. 

How Many Coats of Paint

If you are painting with the same color and finish and the home is in relatively good condition, one coat of premium paint will suffice. Otherwise, two coats of paint give new colors better coverage and long-lasting surface protection.

House Painting Processes

Tip 1: Some house painters first start with trim, such as soffits, fascia, porch ceilings, and columns. This technique allows the trim to be sprayed, eliminating brush strokes. 

Tip 2: Some trim can also be painted using a brush or hotdog roller. Quality brushwork is needed while painting doors, windows, and other more detailed exterior trim.

Tip 3: A painter should have a steady hand, keeping all brush strokes even and straight. Never paint against grain or textures. 

How to Get A Smooth Finish

You can always tell if professionals have painted by looking at the paint patterns of a front door. You can also add Floetrol to the paint to help the paint level, reducing heavy brush strokes.

When to Paint A House

Don’t let the weather hinder you from painting! Most exterior house paints allow applications as low as 35 degrees. Pollen is not a deal-breaker either. Prepare early so that when the opportunity arrives, you’re ready to get started! 

Need professional help? Why not get experts to paint your home? Contact us if you live in Raleigh, NC, or surrounding areas.

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