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The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your House’s Exterior for Painting

The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your House’s Exterior for Painting

The importance of exterior painting in Danville, CA,  goes beyond just enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a building. A fresh coat of paint protects exterior surfaces against the elements, prevents issues in the future, boosts a home’s curb appeal, helps maintain its structural integrity, and potentially increases its property value. Some exterior paints even improve a home’s energy efficiency.

Exterior painting is also a cost-effective way of personalizing the look of one’s home, reflecting their personal style and design preferences.

Proper preparation before painting is critical to enhancing the durability and appearance of the paint job. Cleaning removes dust, dirt, soot, and grease from the surface, allowing the painter to do the necessary repairs, sanding, priming, and finishing (painting, staining, etc.). A clean surface allows the proper and even adhesion of the topcoat, resulting in a smooth and durable finish.

The result looks more professional by thoroughly preparing the surface and carefully executing the painting process. It withstands the test of time better, saving money and effort in the long run.

Assessing the home’s exterior

The importance of a thorough evaluation

Evaluating a home’s exteriors thoroughly before painting is crucial for several reasons that collectively ensure the longevity of the paint job, optimal use of resources, and enhancement of the property’s aesthetics and value. It helps identify repairs, cleaning, and preparation needed before painting.

Homes are made of different exterior surfaces requiring specific paints and treatments for optimal performance. A thorough evaluation helps select the right products best suited for the particular conditions and materials of the home’s exterior, ensuring the paint job will last longer and protect the house effectively.

Understanding the local climate and weather patterns is essential for planning the best time to paint and selecting the correct type of paint. For example, some paints are better suited for high-humidity environments, while others are formulated for higher resistance to UV radiation. A thorough evaluation includes considering these factors to ensure the paint will withstand local weather conditions over time.

By identifying all issues upfront, homeowners and painters can plan the project more efficiently, avoiding surprises that could lead to additional costs and delays. It ensures that the project stays on budget and is completed promptly.

A thorough evaluation can also influence how good and aesthetic the results look. It ensures that the finished paint job looks professional, with even coverage and the correct color choices that complement the home’s architecture and surrounding landscape.

Evaluating the home’s exteriors can also help identify potential safety issues or areas requiring special equipment or techniques. This factor is crucial for planning the project safely and efficiently, ensuring that all areas are properly painted without risking injury.

Preparing Your House’s Exterior for Painting

Identifying areas in need of repair

Exterior siding protects the building from weather, improves its aesthetic appeal, and provides insulation. However, it can deteriorate or become damaged over time. Common examples of exterior siding areas often require repair:

  • Cracked or broken siding can allow water to penetrate behind the siding, leading to potential structural damage or mold growth.
  • Loose siding panels may become loose due to improper installation, strong winds, or physical impact. Loose siding can be a risk for further damage to the siding system and the structure it protects.
  • Rotting can compromise the structural integrity of the siding and the building.
  • Bubbling or blistering can occur in vinyl siding when exposed to excessive heat or sunlight, indicating that the siding may fail and thus need replacement.
  • Fading or discoloration from sun exposure, harsh weather, and age can lead to fading or discoloration of siding materials, affecting the building’s appearance and potentially the material’s durability.
  • Mold, mildew, or algae growth discolor the siding. They also indicate moisture problems that could lead to more serious damage if not addressed.
  • Water stains on the siding or the interior walls directly behind the siding may indicate leaks that must be fixed to prevent structural damage.
  • Dents and holes can occur in metal or vinyl siding from hail, debris, or accidental impacts. If not repaired, small holes and dents can lead to more significant problems, like moisture intrusion.
  • Peeling or chipping paint needs to be addressed not only for aesthetic reasons. Repairing them also protects the siding material underneath from exposure to elements.
  • Missing pieces of siding leave the structure vulnerable to weather and pests. It’s crucial to replace missing pieces promptly.

DIY or hire a professional?

Choosing between DIY and hiring professionals for exterior siding repair and painting depends on several factors, such as your skill level, the extent of the damage, the type of siding, your budget, and the time you have available. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:


  • Skill level – If you have experience with home repairs, especially siding, you might be comfortable taking on the project yourself. Painting and doing basic fixes, such as replacing a few damaged boards, can be straightforward for those with DIY skills.
  • Cost – DIY is usually less expensive since you’re not paying for labor. However, consider the cost of tools and materials you may need to purchase.
  • Time and commitment – DIY projects can be time-consuming, especially if you learn as you go. You must be prepared to invest your time and energy into the project.
  • Quality and satisfaction – Completing a project yourself can be rewarding and allows for direct control over the quality and materials used. 

Hiring professionals

  • Expertise and experience – Professionals bring their expertise and experience, ensuring the job is done correctly and efficiently. They can identify and address underlying issues you might miss.
  • Time and convenience – Hiring professionals can save you time and hassle. The project will likely be completed more quickly and with less disruption to your daily life.
  • Cost and budget – Professional work can be expensive, but it also comes with the assurance that the job is done right. Get multiple quotes to find a balance between quality and cost.
  • Warranty and liability – Professionals often offer warranties on their work and have insurance to cover any accidental damage. They can provide peace of mind.


  • Extent of damage – Professional expertise is crucial for safety and longevity if the damage is extensive or involves structural repairs.
  • Type of siding – Certain types of siding, like stucco or fiber cement, require specialized skills for repairs and painting, making professional services more appealing.
  • Safety – Consider the height and accessibility of the siding. Working on ladders or scaffolding adds risk to the project.

If you have the skills and time, the project is relatively straightforward, and DIY can be a rewarding and cost-effective option. However, hiring professionals is often the best choice for complex projects, especially those involving significant repairs or when safety is a concern. Evaluate your situation, consider the pros and cons, and choose what best fits your needs, budget, and capabilities.

Responsibilities of homeowners before exterior painting

Suppose you’ve hired a professional painting contractor to work on your home’s exterior siding (or have just decided to hire one). You may wonder whether you still have a role in the project.

The answer is yes! Even as a homeowner, you still play a crucial role in preparing the work site and exterior surfaces before professionals come to paint your home. This preparation can significantly affect the job quality, work efficiency, and the protection of your property and belongings. It will also save you money.

You should do the following tasks before the painting crew comes:

  • Clear the area by removing any furniture, decorations, or movable objects from the vicinity of the painting area. This includes securing or removing outdoor furniture, grills, and potted plants for outdoor projects.
  • Clean the exterior surfaces to ensure the paint adheres properly.
  • If there is only minor damage, such as small cracks and holes, seal them with filler, let it dry, and sand the excess dried filler to smooth the surface. You may also want to inform your paint contractor of any known damage or areas that need repair. Some painting companies also offer minor repairs as part of their service. However, significant repairs should be completed before the painting begins.
  • Trim any bushes, trees, or plants touching the house. It makes it easier for the painters to access all of the house and helps prevent the plants from rubbing against the freshly painted surfaces.
  • Protect bushes, flower beds, decks, and paved areas with drop cloths.
  • Make arrangements to keep pets and children away from the work area. It ensures their safety and prevents any accidental disturbances to the painting process. If your pets leave some mess in the work area, clean up their waste and dispose of it properly.
  • Turn off your sprinklers. If your sprinkler system has a set timer, ensure it is turned off when the paint crew arrives at your home to start painting. You don’t want them to get soaking wet, and you surely don’t want some water drips or streaks landing in the paint finish.
  • Ensure that the painting crew has clear access to the work site. It may involve unlocking gates, securing pets in a different area, or even coordinating parking if space is limited.
  • If you have any specific requests or areas that need special attention, communicate these with the painting contractor before the work begins. It includes color choices, areas to avoid, or any particular timelines.
  • Even if the work is outside, vibrations and movements can affect your home’s interiors. Secure or remove fragile items from walls or shelves that share walls with the work area.

Gathering the necessary materials and tools


For an exterior painting project, having the correct materials ensures durability, protection against weather elements, and a pleasing appearance. Here is a list of essential materials and products:

  • High-quality exterior primer
  • High-quality exterior paint
  • High-quality exterior caulk
  • High-performance wood hardener
  • Exterior-grade adhesive, depending on the type of surface you work on
  • Patch filler, wood filler, or epoxy, depending on the type of surface you work on
  • Mildewcide (for wet or humid areas or if the exterior surface has been previously affected by mold or mildew)
  • Paint strippers or removers
  • Detergent or surface any cleaning agent


For an exterior painting project, the right tools can make the job easier and ensure a smoother, more professional finish. Here’s a list of recommended tools:

  • Power washer or pressure washer
  • Scrapers and putty knives
  • Sanding tools (use any):
      • Sandpaper
      • Sanding block
      • Electric sander
  • Caulking gun
  • Paint application tools (use any of the three when applicable)
      • High-quality paint brushes
      • High-quality paint rollers and extension poles
      • Paint sprayer
  • Ladder or scaffold
  • Drop cloths
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint bucket and grid
  • Safety gear:
      • Goggles or safety glasses
      • Gloves
      • Dust mask or respirator
      • Coveralls
      • Hard hats
      • Fall arrest systems such as harnesses and carabiners if working at heights

Cleaning the exterior surface

Cleaning the exterior walls of your home is crucial before applying a fresh coat of paint, as it ensures that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer. Here are the steps to effectively clean your exterior walls, including tips for pressure washing: 

1) Inspect and repair

  • Inspect the walls for any damage or cracks. Repair these issues before cleaning to prevent water from seeping into the walls.
  • Seal cracks and repair damaged areas to ensure a smooth surface for painting.

2) Remove loose paint and debris

  • Scrape off loose paint using a paint scraper or wire brush. This step is crucial for achieving a smooth surface.
  • Brush down walls with a stiff bristle brush to remove dust and debris. Pay special attention to crevices and corners where dirt tends to accumulate.

3) Protect surroundings

  • Cover plants, electrical outlets, and light fixtures with plastic sheeting or tarps to protect them from water damage and cleaning solutions.

4) Pressure washing tips

  • Choose the correct pressure washer. A gas or electric washer with 1500 to 2500 PSI (pounds per square inch) is usually sufficient for residential projects.
  • Use a wide-angle nozzle (at least 15 to 25 degrees) to avoid damaging the walls. Test the pressure washer on a small, inconspicuous area first.
  • Apply detergent. Use a detergent designed for exterior walls and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply from the bottom up to avoid streaks.
  • Rinse thoroughly. After applying detergent, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes (but don’t let it dry), then rinse off the detergent with clean water, working from the top down to ensure all dirt and soap are washed away.
  • Maintain a safe distance. Keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the walls to prevent damage. Adjust the distance based on the material of your exterior walls and the pressure washer’s strength.

5) Mold and mildew treatment

  • If you notice mold or mildew, apply a solution of one part bleach to three parts water or a commercially available mold remover. Always wear protective gear when handling chemicals.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the affected areas for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with water.

6) Drying time

  • Allow the walls to dry completely before painting. This step may take a few days, depending on the weather conditions. Painting over damp surfaces can lead to peeling and other issues.

7) Final inspection

  • Once the walls are dry, do a final inspection to ensure that all dirt, mold, and loose paint have been removed and that the surface is smooth and ready for painting. 

Allow sufficient drying time between each step to prepare the surfaces for painting. Your exterior siding needs ample time to dry – inside out – before sanding and priming. Neglecting this step can trap moisture underneath the finishing paint, leading to peeling, cracking, or blistering over time.

Making repairs

Fixing common exterior siding problems involves a few steps and depends on the siding type your home has. This section covers solutions for two common types of siding problems: cracks and rot, focusing on wood and vinyl siding, which are among the most popular materials. 

For wood siding

Cracks or splits

1) Clean the crack with a brush to remove any debris or dust, and let it dry.

2) Use a high-quality exterior wood filler. Fill the crack, ensuring you slightly overfill it to account for shrinkage.

3) Once the filler is completely dry, sand it down to become flush with the siding’s surface.

4) Prime the repaired area before painting it with matching exterior paint.

 Wood rot

1) Assess the damage by determining the extent of the rot. If it’s widespread, consider replacing entire sections of siding.

2) Use a chisel or a similar tool to remove the rotted wood. Be careful not to damage the surrounding healthy wood.

3) If the area is not too large, apply a wood hardener to the affected area according to the product’s instructions. Doing this will solidify the remaining wood fibers.

4) Fill the void with an exterior-grade epoxy or wood filler suitable for exterior use. Shape it to match the siding profile.

5) Once the filler is dry, sand it smooth and finish with primer and paint or stain to match the existing siding. 

Additional tips:

  • Always wear protective gear when sanding or working with chemicals.
  • Consider consulting a professional if the damage is extensive or the siding is in the critical area of your home’s exterior. 

For vinyl siding

Cracks or breaks

1) Clean the crack and surrounding area with soapy water and let it dry completely.

2) You can use a spare siding or purchase a patch kit if the crack is small. Cut a piece larger than the damaged area.

3) Apply a high-quality, exterior-grade adhesive on the back of the patch.

4) Carefully place the patch over the crack and press firmly. Ensure the edges are well adhered.

5) After placing the patch for larger cracks, apply a bead of exterior caulk around the edges for extra waterproofing. 

Additional tips:

  • Avoid patching vinyl siding in cold weather, as the material can become brittle.
  • Use color-matched caulk or paint if necessary to blend the repair. 

General maintenance tips

  • Regular inspection – At least once a year, inspect your siding for any signs of damage, focusing on areas near the ground, windows, and corners.
  • Immediate repairs – Address minor issues promptly to prevent them from becoming serious problems.
  • Proper caulking and sealing – Ensure all joints, seams, and gaps are well-sealed to prevent water intrusion. 

Sanding and scraping

Why Remove Acoustic Ceilings

Techniques for removing paint and smoothing surfaces

Removing old paint and smoothing surfaces is crucial in many renovation and painting projects. Here’s a comprehensive list of techniques for effectively removing old paint and ensuring surfaces are smooth for a fresh coat:

Chemical paint removers

  • Liquid paint strippers dissolve the bond between paint and surface.
  • Gel paint strippers are thicker than liquid strippers. They cling to vertical surfaces and reduce dripping.
  • Paste paint removers are usually applied thickly to surfaces. They are ideal for removing multiple layers of paint.

Heat-based techniques

  • Heat guns produce hot air to soften paint, making it easier to scrape off.
  • Infrared paint removers heat the paint without blowing hot air, reducing the risk of igniting paint fumes.

Mechanical methods

  • Manual sanding with sandpaper or using power sanders for more expansive areas; effective for smoothing surfaces.
  • Scraping involves using a handheld scraper to peel off loosened paint. It is best after softening paint with heat or chemicals.
  • Wire brushes are effective for removing paint from rough surfaces and crevices. 

Power tools

  • Electric paint removers have rotating brushes or discs to strip paint.
  • Sanders and sandblasters are ideal for heavy-duty removal and smoothing, especially on large, flat surfaces. 

Eco-friendly options

  • Soy-based gel removers are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. They work slowly to break down paint bonds.
  • Citrus-based removers use the natural acids from citrus fruits to soften paint for easier removal. 

Surface smoothing techniques

After removing old paint, smoothing the surface is essential for a polished finish:

  • Fine sanding – Using fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface.
  • Filling and caulking – Apply wood filler or caulk to fix holes or cracks, then sand it smooth once dry.
  • Priming — Applying a primer coat to ensure an even, smooth surface for painting.

Safety measures when sanding and scraping

When using removal, sanding, and scraping techniques, including chemical and heat-based methods, it’s crucial to wear protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and respirators, to protect against harmful fumes and dust. 

Each technique has pros and cons, and the best method often depends on the type of surface, the condition of the existing paint, and the desired finish. It’s always a good idea to test a small area first to ensure the chosen method is effective and doesn’t damage the surface. 

Priming your home

The benefits of applying a primer

The benefits of applying a primer

Priming exterior surfaces before painting offers several key benefits that ensure the paint job’s durability, appearance, and longevity. Here’s a breakdown of the main advantages: 

  • Improved adhesion – Primer provides a suitable surface for the paint to adhere to, enhancing the bond between the paint and the surface. This factor is crucial for exterior surfaces exposed to weather elements.
  • Protection – Primer serves as an extra layer of protection for the painted material. It can help protect against moisture penetration, reducing the risk of mold, mildew, and damage to the substrate.
  • Enhanced durability – A primed surface can significantly extend the paint job’s life. It helps prevent peeling, blistering, and cracking, ensuring the paint remains intact and looks fantastic for longer.
  • Uniform appearance – Priming ensures a uniform, smooth surface that minimizes imperfections. It results in a more consistent paint finish in color and texture.
  • Better coverage – Primer improves the coverage of the paint, potentially reducing the number of paint coats needed. This factor can be particularly beneficial when painting over a darker color with a lighter one.
  • Stain blocking – Certain primers are designed to block stains, preventing them from bleeding through the paint. It is crucial for exterior surfaces that may have been exposed to substances like rust, tannin, or sap.
  • Corrosion resistance – Priming is essential in preventing rust and corrosion for metal surfaces. Specialized metal primers contain rust inhibitors that protect the metal underneath the paint layer.
  • Cost efficiency – While it might seem like an additional expense, priming can save money in the long run. By enhancing the durability and appearance of the paint job, you reduce the need for frequent touch-ups and repaints. 

Selection criteria for the correct primer

Let’s face it: there’s not one “perfect” type of primer. Many primers are on the market, so you must consider some factors before purchasing one. 

Selecting the correct primer for your exterior painting project depends on several factors, including the surface material you’re painting, the environmental conditions it will be exposed to, and the type of paint you’ll use over the primer. Here are some selection criteria: 

  • Surface material – Different primers are formulated for specific surface materials such as wood, metal, concrete, or masonry. For instance, wood surfaces benefit from primers penetrating and sealing the surface, offering protection against moisture and enhancing paint adhesion. Metal surfaces require primers that prevent rust, while masonry surfaces need primers that can resist alkalinity.
  • Condition of the surface – The primer you choose should be appropriate for the surface condition. For new surfaces, a general-purpose exterior primer is often sufficient. A high-build or bonding primer may be necessary for damaged or previously painted surfaces to smooth out imperfections or ensure adhesion to old paint layers.
  • Paint type compatibility – Ensure the primer is compatible with the type of paint you plan to use. Oil-based primers are versatile and can be used under oil-based and latex paints, but they take longer to dry and have a stronger odor. Latex primers are quicker to dry and have less odor, making them a good choice for many exterior projects, especially when using latex paint.
  • Environmental conditions – Consider the climate and environmental conditions the surface will be exposed to. Areas with high humidity, extreme temperatures, or salt air require primers with specific protective qualities, such as mold and mildew resistance or UV protection.
  • Color – Some primers are tinted to the color close to the final paint color. Tinted primers can improve the coverage and appearance of the topcoat, especially when making dramatic color changes.
  • Special requirements – If you’re painting over a surface with stains or concerned about odors (from smoke or pets), look for primers designed to block stains and odors. 

Considering these factors can help you select an exterior primer that ensures the best adhesion, durability, and overall performance of your paint job. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

Masking and covering areas

Preparing your home for exterior painting involves several steps to protect doors, windows, and landscaping. Here are some strategies to ensure these areas remain unscathed during painting: 

Doors and windows

1) Cleaning – Before starting, clean doors and windows to remove dirt, dust, and cobwebs. This step ensures that the masking tape sticks properly.

2) Masking tape and plastic sheeting – Use high-quality painter’s tape to outline doors and windows, ensuring sharp and clean edges. Cover the glass parts of doors and windows with plastic sheeting or painter’s tape. Consider using masking film or drop cloths for larger windows or glass doors.

3) Remove hardware – Remove all door handles, locks, and window latches if possible. Doing so makes painting easier and prevents paint from getting on these items. If removal isn’t possible, cover them carefully with painter’s tape.

4) Door and window trims – Apply tape around the edges of the door and window trims. If you plan to paint the trim differently, paint them first and tape them off when painting the walls.

5) Weatherstripping – Protect weatherstripping and door seals by taping or covering them with plastic. It prevents them from getting painted or damaged. 


1) Trimming – Trim bushes, trees, and plants close to your house. Not only does it protect your landscaping from paint drips, but it also makes it easier to access all parts of the house.

2) Covering – Use drop cloths or tarps to cover plants, flowers, and shrubs near the painting area. Secure them with stones or bricks to prevent wind from blowing them away.

3) Watering – Water your plants thoroughly before covering them. Doing so will keep the plants hydrated under the cover and weigh them down, making them less likely to be disturbed by the drop cloths.

4) Lawns and pathways – Cover grass and pathways close to your house with drop cloths to protect them from paint spills and splatters.

5) Moveable items – Relocate potted plants, outdoor furniture, and any movable decorations away from the painting area.

6) Monitoring and adjusting – Keep an eye on your protective measures throughout the painting process. Adjust coverings to ensure continued protection against spills, splatters, and overspray. 

Recommended masking materials

Choosing the correct masking materials for exterior painting projects is crucial to ensure clean lines, protect surfaces not meant to be painted, and minimize cleanup. Here’s a list of recommended materials: 

  • Painter’s tape – This may be the most essential masking material. It’s designed to stick well but remove cleanly without leaving residue or damaging surfaces. Look for tapes specifically labeled for exterior use, as they’re made to withstand UV light and temperature changes.
  • Masking film and plastic sheeting – Thin plastic or masking film is excellent for covering large areas like windows, doors, and landscaping. Some products come with a tape edge for easy application. Choose a durable product that can resist tearing in the wind.
  • Drop cloths – Heavy-duty canvas or plastic drop cloths protect floors, walkways, and vegetation. Canvas is breathable and less slippery than plastic, making it safer for covering floors or walkways, but plastic might be preferable for moisture resistance.
  • Masking paper – Masking paper can be very effective for smaller areas or to protect fixtures like outdoor lights and door handles. It’s usually available in rolls of varying widths and easily taped in place.
  • Specialty tapes – For rough surfaces like brick or stucco, consider specialty tapes designed for strong adhesion. These can handle the texture without peeling away prematurely.
  • Masking liquid – A liquid masking solution can be brushed or sprayed onto surfaces like windows. Once it dries, you can paint over it and then peel it off easily. It’s useful for protecting glass.
  • Foam board or cardboard – These can quickly block off large sections or shield specific areas like light fixtures or mailboxes. They’re easy to move around and position as needed.
  • Protective sealants – For edges or areas where you want an extra-tight seal against paint bleeding, consider using a clear sealant over the edge of the painter’s tape. It can help create a barrier that paint can’t penetrate. 

When selecting masking materials, consider the surface type, weather conditions (some materials may degrade in direct sunlight or wet conditions), and the project’s duration (some adhesives may bond more strongly over time). Always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the material doesn’t damage the surface or leave residue. 

Choosing the right paint

Painter with paintroller

Factors for selecting the right paint

Choosing the right exterior paint involves considering several important factors to ensure durability, aesthetic appeal, and protection for your home. Here are the factors to consider: 

  • Climate – The local environment plays a significant role in paint selection. Areas with high humidity require mildew-resistant paints, while homes in sunny areas might need paint with UV protection to prevent fading.
  • Surface material – The type of surface you paint (wood, stucco, vinyl, brick, etc.) will determine the paint you need. Some paints adhere better to certain materials and may offer additional benefits like weatherproofing or flexibility.
  • Paint quality – High-quality paints contain better pigments, resins, and additives, contributing to their durability, coverage, and finish. They might be more expensive upfront but can last longer and look better over time, reducing the need for frequent repaints.
  • Color – The color of your paint not only affects your home’s aesthetic but can also influence its heat absorption and reflectivity. Lighter colors reflect more sunlight and can help keep your home cooler in hot climates, while darker colors absorb heat, which might benefit cooler climates.
  • Finish – The paint finish (matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss) affects the appearance and durability of the exterior. Glossy finishes are more durable and easier to clean but will highlight surface imperfections. Matte finishes conceal imperfections but are less durable.
  • Environmental regulations – Some areas have regulations on the types of paints allowed due to their ecological impact, particularly concerning volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Low-VOC or VOC-free paints are better for the environment and your health.
  • Cost – While saving money on paint is tempting, investing in higher-quality paint can be more cost-effective in the long run due to its durability and the protection it offers your home.
  • Warranty – Some paints have warranties that guarantee their performance for several years. These warranties can offer peace of mind and protect your investment.
  • Prep work required – The condition of the exterior surface will also influence your paint choice. Some paints require less prep work or are more forgiving on imperfect surfaces.
  • Maintenance and cleaning – Consider how easy it will be to clean and maintain the painted surfaces. Some finishes are easier to clean and more resistant to staining, which is important for high-traffic areas or homes where dirt and grime buildup are common. 

Considering these factors, you can choose an exterior paint that looks great, protects your home, and lasts for years. 

Paint types and their respective advantages

Paint types can be broadly categorized based on their base—water-based or oil-based—and their finishes. Each type and finish has advantages, tailored to specific applications, durability, aesthetic outcomes, and ease of use. Here’s a breakdown: 

Water-based paints (latex)


  • Quick drying
  • Easy cleanup with soap and water
  • Low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), therefore emitting less fumes
  • Flexible finish
  • Color retention 

Oil-based paints (alkyd)


  • Durability
  • Smooth application
  • Excellent adhesion and surface penetration
  • Longer drying time – While this might seem like a disadvantage, the longer drying time allows for a smoother finish, as the paint has more time to level out. 

Specialized paint types

  • Enamel paint offers a hard, durable finish, often glossy, ideal for surfaces that require frequent cleaning.
  • Chalk paint provides a matte finish, requiring minimal surface prep, and is popular for furniture refurbishment.
  • Milk paint is an eco-friendly, non-toxic paint with a rustic finish, ideal for antique looks. 

Types of paint finishes

  • Matte has a non-reflective finish, making it great for hiding imperfections but less durable.
  • Eggshell has a low sheen and is more durable than matte. It is good for living, dining, and bedroom walls.
  • Satin has a medium sheen and is easier to clean, making it suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and high-traffic areas.
  • Semi-gloss has a high sheen and is very durable and washable, making it ideal for trim, cabinets, and wet areas.
  • The gloss has a very high sheen and is extremely durable, making it best for surfaces that must withstand a lot of abuse or require frequent scrubbing. 

Challenges often experienced when painting an exterior

Challenges often experienced when painting an exterior

Painting a home’s exterior involves several challenges that can impact the finished project’s quality, durability, and appearance. Here are some common challenges homeowners and professionals often face: 

  • Taller homes that need scaffolding – Reaching high or hard-to-access areas in taller homes requires ladders, scaffolding, or even lifts. It adds complexity and risk to the painting process.
  • Dark-colored walls – When exposed to direct sunlight and higher temperatures, dark colors absorb heat and suffer from moisture issues than lighter shades. And because dark colors fade faster, they’re more difficult to touch up. In contrast, lighter shades fade less and last longer on exterior walls.
  • Peeling, flaking, cracking, or blistering paint – If the previous paint job lacked proper surface preparation, used low-quality paints, or applied paints too thinly, these problems can occur on exterior surfaces.
  • Mold and mildew – Homes located in damp and humid regions or parts of a siding that lack exposure to sunlight are susceptible to mold and mildew.
  • Chalking paint – This exterior paint failure occurs when the paint has a chemical breakdown. Poor priming or overly thinned-out paint could be the cause of this problem.
  • Weather conditions – Painting outdoors requires planning around the weather. Temperature fluctuations, high humidity, rain, and direct sunlight can affect paint drying times and adhesion.
  • Safety concerns – Working at heights, handling chemicals, and exposure to weather elements pose safety risks. Proper equipment, techniques, and precautions are necessary to prevent accidents.
  • Regulatory compliance – Some regions have regulations regarding the types of paints allowed due to environmental concerns. Homeowners may need to choose low-VOC paints or adhere to historic district guidelines. 

Planning your painting project:

Timing and sequencing your exterior paint job properly is crucial for achieving the best results and ensuring the longevity of your paintwork. Here are some best practices to consider: 


  1. Consider the weather before deciding to go out and paint.
  2. Avoid painting during a rainy day.
  3. Be wary of painting when there are significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, as this can cause the paint to dry unevenly.
  4. While painting, try to avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the paint to dry too quickly, leading to cracks and other imperfections. 


  1. Prepare the surface first before painting
  2. Apply a high-quality primer to the walls.
  3. Start painting from the top and work your way down.
  4. Paint in sections to maintain a wet edge. It ensures a more uniform application and reduces the chances of streaks or lap marks.
  5. After painting, follow the manufacturer’s recommended drying time between coats.
  6. inspect your work and apply touch-ups as needed once the paint has dried. Look for any missed spots, drips, or uneven areas.
  7. Properly dispose of debris and hazardous materials, and clean your tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

How long does it take to prepare a home’s exterior before painting?

The average time range is 16 to 24 hours, depending on the repair needed. 

How long does it take to paint a home’s exterior?

The usual answers will be

  • 1,000 to 1,400 square feet for 2 to 3 days.
  • 1,800 to 2,100 square feet for 4 to 6 days. 

Custom Painting, Inc. has painted a 5,600-square feet home. Our crew tackled the project in sections so as not to disturb the family for a long period.

Considerations for weather and time of the year

The best time to paint the exterior of a house is in mild weather, typically in late spring, summer, or early fall, depending on your location. Aim for temperatures between 50°F and 90°F. High humidity and extreme temperatures can affect the drying process.

In California, the best time of year to do exterior painting largely depends on your specific climate zone, given the state’s diverse weather patterns. However, for most of California, the ideal times are during the late spring, summer, and early fall. These periods generally offer the most favorable weather conditions for painting, with minimal rain and moderate temperatures.


Proper preparation of surfaces is crucial for a successful exterior paint job. It assures the durability, resilience, and vibrancy of your finished paint. Cleaning, repairing, sanding, and priming prepare the surfaces as an ideal base for the paint colors and finishes you prefer.

Preparing the surfaces may take much time and effort, but the results will be worth it. If you do not thoroughly clean and prepare surfaces before painting, the paint may stick to the dirt and grime, leading to surface problems like peeling, cracking, and blistering. Therefore, surface preparation should not be skipped – it is crucial in ensuring a long-lasting paint job.

Addressing the common challenges in exterior painting, such as weather conditions and safety concerns, requires careful planning, patience, and attention to detail. Professional painters often have the experience and tools to manage these issues effectively, making them a valuable resource for homeowners wanting a high-quality finish.

Custom Painting, Inc. has serviced clients in the Bay Area for over 40 years with top-notch residential and commercial painting services. Our quality and professionalism will exceed your expectations when you need residential or commercial painting in Bay Area cities like Danville, Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, Livermore, Pleasant Hill, Concord, etc. To learn about paint, carpentry, and custom installation services, call Custom Painting at 925-294-8062 or fill out the online form to request a free estimate.


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Fremont, Hayward Area
(510) 795-0903
Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton Area
(925) 294-8062
San Ramon, Danville, Alamo Area
(925) 866-9610
Walnut Creek, Concord Clayton,
Pleasant Hill Lafayette, Orinda Area
(925) 686-0903