To every thing there is a season, and as March comes to a close, we’re entering the first stage of the exterior painting season.
Depending upon where you live, it may or may not be warm enough to apply paint, but there’s a lot you can do to get ready. Early spring is an ideal time to plan ahead and do some of the all-important prep work that’s essential to a quality paint job.
Start by thoroughly scoping out your home exterior. Do a slow walk-around, see what kind of work may be necessary, and take careful notes – literally – using a pad and pencil. The list you create will serve as your painting season “marching orders”.
What to look for? Obviously, any sign of trouble on the siding or trim in the form of paint that is peeling or flaking, but also spots where unsightly mildew or mold has taken hold.
Carefully inspect areas where different materials come into contact with one another and note if the caulk or sealant is missing or pulled away from the surface. Gaps in the exterior not only detract from the appearance of a home, they can create drafts, allow costly heat or air conditioning to escape, and invite water damage.
If there’s any painted metal on your home’s exterior, check to see if the coating has been compromised. Are there signs of rust on iron railings and decorative features? Is there efflorescence (powdery white residue) on aluminum soffit, trim or siding? If so, jot that down.
Note anything else that is amiss with your paint or coatings. Almost any deficiency can detract from the appearance of your home and/or lessen its protection. And correcting these problems promptly may help prevent bigger issues down the road.
Some projects can be done in almost any weather; other tasks are weather-dependent. For example, you can remove mildew on any dry day without regard for the temperature. Just scrub the surface with a bleach solution, allow it to sit for a few minutes, then wash away the offensive growth.
Most caulk can be applied as long as the air temperature is north of 50 degrees F, but be sure to take into account the previous overnight lows, which could leave surface materials below the threshold. Simply clean the adjacent surfaces thoroughly, apply a bead of caulk, and “tool” it with a moist finger to produce a tight, protective seal.
Likewise, 50 degrees is the magic number for latex exterior paint (again, take overnight temperature into account). If you’re doing touch-ups, scrape away any of the coating that is loose or peeling, prime bare wood with quality acrylic latex primer, allow it to dry thoroughly per the instructions on the can, then apply one or two coats of paint as needed. Note: If you’re using a “paint and primer” product, you can skip the prime coat.
Your home is unlikely to suffer any harm if you leave bare or primed wood exposed to the elements for a short while. But nothing could be further from the truth with metal, especially iron.
Once you scrape or sand away rust and expose bare metal, it must be primed immediately and painted as soon as possible afterward; otherwise, the rust could reappear in as little as a day or two. So, don’t start this project unless the weather is warm enough to take things to completion.
As you can see, you can make great progress on your spring painting by inspecting your exterior, planning the work, buying your paint and sundries, and even tackling some of the work right now. That’s the way to get a great jump on your outdoor painting!