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Fall's the Time to Paint Your Home's Exterior

Let's face it, painting isn't the most exciting outdoor activity when fall arrives. But exterior painting is totally weather dependent, and conditions favor painting as autumn's cooler temperatures and drier humidity arrive. So after inviting family and friends over to watch the game on Sunday, hand them a paintbrush. And follow this plan for a successful do-it-yourself project.

Before climbing up and slapping a wet brush on damaged or mildewed surfaces, first assess your home's condition. Inspect for mildew, rotted boards, crumbling or missing caulk, or water damage. Chances are, if your home is 15 years or older, you'll find something that needs cleaning or repair. First of all, don't paint over mildew. Mildew spores are extremely hardy and persistent. Use a sponge or bristle brush with a solution of highly concentrated bleach (not your standard Clorox) from your home improvement center mixed with a cleaning agent. You can use a spray bottle to speed application. (Be sure to use gloves and eye protection.)

Next, replace any rotted boards. While you're at it, take note of any shrubs, trees or flowers that might get in the way, and prune them back. You don't need the hassle of catching a ladder on a tree branch, and you don't want your paint job damaged by vegetation rubbing against your home. Finally, caulk around windows and doorframes and any gaps more than 1/4-inch wide.

No, you're not ready to paint yet! Check for loose, blistering or peeling paint, and remove it. Use a sharp scraper. And follow up with sandpaper to smooth out windowsills, doorframes or other visible areas for the best appearance. Preparing the surfaces will prevent blistering and cracking and ensure you get good adhesion.

Okay, now you can paint. But start first with an oil-based primer, especially to protect exposed wood. You may wish to cover the entire home with primer to ensure an even finish and good adhesion. When selecting paint for your finish coat, don't scrimp on quality. Choose an acrylic latex paint that provides a thick, smooth finish. Try to use higher quality brushes and rollers, too. Here's a sampling of the supplies you will need:

  • Paintbrushes at least 3 to 4 inches wide - $5 to $12 each.
  • Angled brush at least 2 inches wide for painting trim - $5.50 to $10.
  • Rollers - $5 cover, $5 frame each.
  • Tray liners - 99 cents.
  • Paint trays - $2.50 to $3.
  • Sharpened scrapers in various sizes - $5.50 to $10 each.
  • Large wire brush - $3.50. 80 to
  • 120 grade sandpaper - 40 cents to 80 cents per sheet.
  • Caulking gun - $4.
  • Caulk - $1.50 to $3 per tube.
  • Dropcloths (disposable plastic) - $1 to $3.50 each.
  • Mineral spirits to clean brushes and rollers - $2.50 to $3 per gallon.
  • Extension ladder (aluminum) - $100 to $200.
  • Paint - $17 to $22 per gallon.

Your supplies will cost about $400 to $700 including paint, depending on the size of your home. And of course, you'll need to take several days off to tackle the job. It's up to you to decide whether you're better off paying a professional painter, with prices ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 for smaller to larger homes.

Sources used to create this article include Michelle Johnson and the Des Moines Register.

If you do decide to go the professional route, AHA can help you find a reliable contractor to paint your home. Your AHA membership provides unlimited access to licensed and insured tradespeople who have been pre-screened and pre-qualified for their past service quality. For a referral to contractors in your area, call toll free 1-877-486-1520.