How to Paint Exterior Siding

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Power washer
  • Scrub brush, bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Screwdrivers
  • Ladders
  • Scrapers
  • Metal file
  • Shop vacuum
  • Power sander
  • Sanding block
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife
  • Paint pad, roller and pan
  • Roller screen
  • 4-in. paintbrush
  • 3-in. sash brush
  • Airless sprayer
  • Brush/roller spinner
Materials Required
  • Bleach
  • Drop cloths
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust masks
  • Exterior acrylic-latex caulk
  • Exterior 2-part wood filler
  • Foam backer rod
  • Exterior latex primer
  • Exterior latex paint

Before You Begin

Below are the steps involved in the job. If you don't have the time or desire to paint, you can find a painting contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right. Click Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local qualified contractors.

  • Step 1 : Wash your house

    Wash siding

    New paint will bond better to old paint if the surface is clean. In addition, it is essential to remove and kill any mildew (gray or black spots) with chlorine bleach. Wash the siding by hand with a scrub brush or with a garden hose and scrubbing wand or rent a power washer. Use a phosphate-free cleaner such as Soilex for cleaning dirt but for mildew, mix in household bleach: 1 cup per gallon or according to manufacturer's instructions. Allow the solution to sit on the surface of the paint for at least 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with clean water. If washing by hand, wait until after scraping and sanding to wash the house. If power washing, make washing the first step because a power washer removes most loose paint. Keep the wand constantly moving at an equal distance from the siding and don't get too close to the surface with the nozzle or you may damage the siding. Wash from the bottom up to prevent the cleaner from causing streaks. Plan to rinse again after scraping and sanding to remove the dust.

  • Step 2 : Prepare for scraping and sanding

    Cover the ground with drop cloths to prevent contaminating it with paint chips. Remove shutters and easy-to-remove fixtures. Cut or tie back overgrown brushes so that they are out of the way. Cover bushes with canvas drop cloths. (Don't use clear plastic drop clothes since they do not allow plants to breathe and, therefore, can kill them.) Load up a tool belt with an array of scrapers and a metal file for sharpening the scrapers.

    Turn exterior light switches off or cut power at the circuit breaker. Tape over the switch as a reminder.

  • Step 3 : Scrape flaky and loose paint

    Scrape loose paint

    You'll probably notice that paint peels at window and door sills, trim joints and other places where water can seep in and get beneath the paint, causing it to separate from the surface. Remove all flaky and loose paint with scrapers and putty knives. A two-hand model with a long handle works well on flat surfaces because it gives you good leverage. For contoured surfaces, try a smaller scraper with various shaped interchangeable blades. Wear a tight-fitting dust mask and goggles during this process. Paint dulls blades quickly, so keep a fine metal file handy and use it often to maintain a sharp edge. To pick up paint chips that wind up on the ground, use a shop vacuum.

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