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7 Tips For Painting Your House

1) Evaluate doing it yourself

Painting is one of those jobs that requires only a moderate level of skill and a few basic tools. By doing the work yourself, you can usually save more than half the cost of the job. But should you do the work yourself? That depends on a number of factors, including your experience, fitness, available time, and the difficulty of working on your homeís exterior walls.

2) Buy quality paint

Choosing high-quality paint is critical to achieving a long-lasting paint job and can also make the work far easier. Not only will quality paint weather the years durably, but it is also easier to maintain, and it covers the walls more quickly and easily. Just think about the effort and expense of painting your houseóthis should make it clear that you donít want to have to do the job again in four or five years.

3) Repair & prepare

Even high-quality paint wonít guarantee a lasting paint job if you donít prepare the surfaces properly. Start by repairing damaged siding. Peeling, blistering, wrinkling, and flaking paint must be removed from wood siding by scraping and sanding, ideally with a power sander. Be advised that this is difficult, tiring work, and you must do it carefully so as not to gouge the wood. Always wear a dust mask, gloves, and protective goggles.

4) Mask off

Avoid getting paint on roofing and other unwanted surfaces by masking with plastic sheeting and 3-inch masking tape. Use dropcloths to protect walkways, shrubs, and other surfaces from dripping paint. Youíll be painting the siding first and then the trim; after the siding is painted and dry, mask the siding around the trim. Be sure to remove the masking tape immediately after painting, before it has a chance to form a stubborn bond.

5) Paint surfaces from the top down

Begin with the gutters, fascia, and eaves and work your way down the main surfaces, painting in 3- to 4-foot-square sections. Use a high-quality 4-inch brush. If your home has lap siding, first draw the bristles along the bottom edges of three or four boards and then paint the surfaces in line with the boards. Regularly check for and correct drips and streaks; they are much more difficult to clean up after the paint dries.

6) Paint trim in the proper order

Use a 2-inch angled trim brush to paint trim, always working in line with the woodís grain. With a window, begin with the muntins and then paint the stiles, rails, head casing, side casings, and sill.

Sometimes itís easiest to remove a door and paint it on sawhorses. Otherwise, just paint it in place over a dropcloth. Start with the inset panels, panel moldings and recesses, horizontal rails, and then vertical stiles and mullion.

When painting along glass, donít bother to mask it if you have a steady hand. Just let the paint lap onto the glass by about 1/16 inch and then remove the wet paint from the glass with a rag wrapped around the end of a putty knife. Use a razor blade to remove any residual paint after it has dried.

7) Clean up properly

Use soap and water for latex paints and paint thinner for alkyd paints to thoroughly clean your brushes and gear right after painting. Donít pour paint thinner or excess paint down the drain or onto the ground as this is a serious source of ground-water pollution. Keep it in an old sealed paint can and dispose of it at a toxic-waste collection site.