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Painting Your Home Exterior

A home improvement blog focusing on exterior house painting.

When it’s time to have the wood siding of your home repainted there are a few things you want to do up front to make sure that you get the best result possible.


Before you hire your painting contractor you want to do a tour of the outside of your home looking for damaged trim boards, siding panels or wood shingles.  You want to take this tour in with an indelible magic marker in hand.


As you walk around pay specific attention to door moldings and window sills that may be experiencing rot or cracking due to the elements.  Molding rot shows up in many places but one of the more likely places is at the end of boards or places where two boards meet. It can also permeate across the entire board.  You want to mark these places so that you can point them out to your painter for replacement before painting.

If you have whole window screens you will want to remove them before performing this inspection.  Very often their presence causes moisture to become trapped which can cause rotting wood.


You want to mark the suspicious or rotting boards so that you can review them with your painting contractor so that these areas will be prepared properly for painting.  You want to make sure that you and your painter have a written agreement documenting which wood needs replacement and how it will be done.  An example of this documentation would read:  “Left side of dwelling.  Remove/replace 2 window trim boards 5’ each and replace with pre-painted wood stock to match existing design.  Caulk trim boards at seams & along clapboard/shingles to seal properly.)


You want to use the same type of description for each contractor who is bidding to do work on your home.  It is specific and detailed and means that you will be getting bids that are comparing apples to apples.  A verbal review of what needs to be done is not sufficient; there is too much potential for error under these circumstances.  This is a “fair bid” process.  When you do this you also want to be specific regarding scraping or sanding, spraying the siding or brushing it, and other details such as the type of paint to be used and number of coats.


Scraping or Sanding:  If the siding on your home is shingles with vertical lines on the shingles you cannot sand these without removing the lines which makes the surface smooth and will alter the exterior design of your home.


Spraying or Brushing:
Will the painter be brushing the paint on or using a sprayer.

Preparation:  Most of the labor cost involved in painting your home is involved in the preparation.  That is why it is critical to fully describe in detail the scope of work to be bid on.  Be up front with your contractor, if you’re on a budget, tell them and they can describe to you what can be done within that budget.


If after scraping the home, bare wood is revealed, it is my practice to use an oil-based primer on these areas.  The oil-based chemicals allow for penetration into the wood therefore improving the bonding of the next coat of paint.  Latex paint does not penetrate, it coats, and it isn’t as good a primer option as oil.

Latex vs. Oil-Based Paints:  If your home has been previously painted with a latex-based paint, you cannot repaint it with an oil-based paint.  On the other hand you can paint over an oil-based stain or paint with a latex paint.


Changing Your Home Color:  Depending upon the pigment color you have selected you will want to have the primer coat tinted to that color.  The primer will improve the bonding of the paint and will help prevent bleed-through of the previous color.  The more difficult pigments to work with are red, dark blue, yellow.


Lead Paint:  Two years ago Massachusetts strengthened state regulations regarding working with existing lead paint if your home was built before 1979 it could be affected by these regulations.

In brief the law requires the use of drop-cloths on the ground at the area being prepared or sanded.  Workers must use protective facial masks and suits and use HEPA filters and vacuum any residue.  The law also requires the proper disposal of debris that has come in contact with lead paint surfaces and the paperwork of proper lead procedures must be on-site.


This Remodel Renovate Procedure (RRP) is required by law and should be part of your written contract.  The painter (in their company or individual name) needs to be certified in MA RRP procedures.  A certified contractor should be able to produce their diploma of certification.  The person holding the certification must be on site during the entire time the lead surface is being prepared.


The RRP is policed by the EPA Environmental Protection Agency who periodically police neighborhoods to verify adherence to the law.


Finishing the Job:  Once the job is finished a ‘walk thru’ with your painting contractor is essential.  What you want to look for includes:

    --All Surfaces covered uniformly

    --Rotted wood replaced as noted

    --The trim color is correct

    --The property has been cleaned thoroughly

    --You keep all leftover paint for future touch-ups

Reminders Regarding Hiring a Painting Contractor:  Please see my previous blog article “Selecting a Home Improvement Contractor” at


Always remember that your comfort level with your contractor is essential.  You must trust the contractor and feel comfortable expressing yourself either positively or negatively.  If an issue comes up, discussion needs to occur and acceptable solutions need to be found.  IF you do not feel comfortable hiring a
contractor—Don’t.  Trust your instincts, there are plenty of reputable contractors available who are honest, easy to work with and do a good job.


Since 1996, George Lonergan, has been President of Lonergan Construction, Inc., a full-service, fully licensed and insured general contracting firm serving eastern and central Massachusetts. He can be reached 508-875-0052 or



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation.

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