Before painting, take precautions so that you don’t get paint or prep debris on places that you don’t want it, including your neighbors’ property.
Use drop cloths to cover cars, patio furniture, shrubs and anything else you don’t want spattered. Although you’re painting outside, it’s a good idea to cover the ground so you don’t get paint on walkways or the yard. Remove all screens, light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers, shutters and address numbers/placards or cover them with painter’s tape before you begin.
Remove peeling or flaking paint by scraping and sanding it off. First use a large scraper to scrape off paint, then rent or buy a disc sander. Begin sanding with a coarse abrasive and then finish with a fine one. It’s particularly important to smooth the edges between the painted and scraped areas, as painting will accentuate any ridges and edges left behind.
Scraping, sanding and removing old paint may release lead dust, which is toxic. Exposure to lead dust can cause serious illness, especially in children. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself by contacting the National Lead Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator when scraping or sanding lead paint to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop or sponge.
Always wear safety goggles and a tight-fitting dust mask when scraping or sanding painted wood.
When using a ladder to reach high areas, invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer that attaches to the ladder and braces onto the roof.
Remove any dirt and eliminate mildew by washing surfaces with a mixture of water, trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach with a long-handled brush. Then thoroughly spray surfaces with a pressure washer loaded with a mild detergent. Let everything dry completely before you start painting. When cleaning stucco homes, or if the surface is chalky or crumbly after cleaning, also apply a masonry surface conditioner.
Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective goggles, clothing and rubber gloves.
Use an exterior spackling compound to repair any holes or damaged areas. With wood, it’s also important to caulk joints and cracks in areas such as trim and window frames using paintable caulk. Use an old screwdriver to scrape out any old caulk and clean the joint using a small brush. Apply paintable caulk with a caulking gun.
For brick or stucco, remove dirt, debris and mildew with water from a garden hose or by pressure washing with water and a mild detergent. Using a pressure washer is the most effective method of cleaning because of its ability to blow dirt and debris out of the tiny crevices and pores in brick and other rough surfaces. For stubborn mildew, use a bleach-and-water solution when washing the wall. Let everything dry completely before moving on.
Use muriatic acid to get rid of efflorescence (salt deposits that can form on brick and stucco surfaces). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to prepare the acid-and-water solution. Wet the wall with water from a garden hose before applying the muriatic acid to the wall and scrubbing with a stiff brush. Allow the acid to work into the brick for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse the surface with water and let it dry before painting.
Use a paintable acrylic latex caulk rated for outdoor use to fill significant cracks in your brick. Let the caulk set and dry before painting.