A high-quality painting job can increase the value of your house and extend the life of the trim and siding. Realistically, a top-quality exterior paint job requires a sharp eye, a steady hand, and the desire to learn the basics of painting and preparation.

Can I paint a house myself?

The short answer is yes; you can paint a house yourself. Painting is a relatively simple process. But, you have to be realistic about painting a house yourself. No other home improvement project will have a more significant impact on your home than a fresh coat of paint. Painting your house yourself beautifies, revives,  and protects a house as quickly, effectively, and inexpensively as exterior painting.

A new coat of paint is sure to transform the look of your home. But painting a house is a big job. It is a project that can easily take a week or two. If you hire a professional, expect to pay at least $5,000 or more. The cost of repainting a house depends on the condition, finish, and size of your home. By making it a do-it-yourself project, homeowners can save on labor, which generally accounts for more than half of the total project cost. But understand that painting your house is a big project, and to complete it will take some serious effort.

What is the right way to paint a house?

As with more projects, there is a hard way and an easier way. The easier method involves hiring a professional painter. The hard way is the do-it-yourself way of house painting. If you decide to paint your own house instead of hiring a professional to do the job, you can take a lot more pride in the project. Regardless of who does the job, the right way to paint a house includes planning, research, and attention to detail.

Whether you hire a professional painter or do it yourself, you’ll want this project to go right, so you don’t have to repeat it in a year. With this in mind, here are the most critical house painting rules:

Use Good Quality Materials

Pay for good quality paint. You don’t need to invest in the most expensive primer, caulking, and paint, but you shouldn’t skimp on materials. Good quality paint will last longer, and it is a better long term value. Look for paint with a lifetime warranty.

With house paint, just like anything else, you get what you pay for. High-quality ingredients cost more money to manufacture, which makes them more expensive. Acrylic paint is the best option for house painting projects. For siding, use flat finishes because they are great for hiding irregularities and defects. Semi-gloss enamels are easier to wash and are more durable, which makes it great for painting trims.

What type of paint is best for exterior walls?

Latex-based paints are popular for exterior walls. It is a popular choice for outdoor painting because it dries quickly. Latex paint contracts and expands well with seasonal changes.

How to select the appropriate paint, colors, and quantities?

The selection of paint, colors, and quantities is a critical part of painting a house. The colors should complement the architectural details of your home and fit the character of the neighborhood. Visit a local paint store and work with the staff to determine paint colors and quantities.

Before you commit to a color scheme, buy a quart of each color you like and paint the complete color scheme on a small area of your house. If you don’t like the results, you can still experiment with other color options. With this method, you can decide on the right color. Once you know you have the right paint colors, you can buy all the paint you need to complete the project.

How to calculate how much paint I need to buy?

Before you start painting your house, it is critical to estimate the amount of paint you will use. To calculate how much paint you need to buy, you should know that one gallon of paint covers about 350 square feet. You might need slightly more paint for unpainted surfaces.

Estimates require accurate calculations for every surface you paint. To calculate how much paint you need in order to cover each exterior wall of the house, multiply wall height by wall width. The number you get is the square footage. To factor doors and windows into your calculations, remember that a window is about 15 square feet and a standard door is approximately 20 square feet.

You also have to consider how many coats you’ll paint. If you are painting walls that are heavily repaired, unfinished, or dark in color, expect to need two coats of paint. If you are painting a dark color, it makes sense to add a color tint to the white primer. Tints are available at all paint stores. It is best to use a tint that is closest to the top coat color.

Here is an example of calculating the paint color.

Use the following formula to estimate the amount of exterior wall paint you need. Double the result if you want to apply two coats of paint.

Step 1. Add together the length of each exterior wall.

15 + 20 + 15 + 20 = 70 feet

Step 2. Multiply the sum by the wall height to calculate the total exterior wall area.

70 x 8 = 560 square feet

Step 3. Subtract 15 square feet for every window (15 x 2 = 30) and 20 square feet for every door (20 x 2 = 40) to calculate the actual amount of wall you are painting.

560 – 70 = 490 square feet

Step 4. Divide this number by the paint coverage (350 square feet per gallon), and the result is the number of gallons of paint you need to buy.

490 ÷ 350 = 1.4

For this example, if you purchase one gallon and two quarts of paint, you should be fine. Keep in mind that this is the amount for a single coat. You need to double the amount of paint if you want to apply two coats.

Prepare for Your House Paint Project

A clean surface is the lifeblood of a successful house paint project. Applying paint to a surface that is peeling and flaking will result in a poor paint job. Before you paint, prepare the surface with sanding and scraping. You can start by washing the surfaces by hand, using a hose and scrub. Wash the surface with water and detergent.

It is a lot easier to quickly wash your house if you have a pressure washer. Be careful, if you use a pressure washer, not to drive water too deeply into the joints between siding. Be careful not to erode the surface of the wood with the pressure washer. The primary goal is to knock off visible dirt, leaves, spiderwebs, and wasp’s nests and to wash away soot and dust.

Use a scraper to remove flaking and lose paint. A power sander is an effective tool for removing tougher paint and smoothing the surface. It’s best to start with 60-grit sandpaper and follow up with 100-grit sandpaper. The goal isn’t to remove 100 percent of the paint, just to remove loose paint and smooth the surface. With a putty knife and wood filler, you can inspect and carefully fill holes and cracks. You can easily remove the old putty with a putty knife or a chisel. Be careful not to break the glass.

After the filler dries, you should go back and sand these areas once more. If the old putty is cracked or damaged, reglaze windows. Clean off the dust with a brush. Caulk the joints, and allow time for the caulk to dry before you apply the primer.

What materials are required to paint a house?

  • Exterior paint – flat, eggshell or semi-gloss
  • Pressure washer
  • Ladder
  • Primer
  • Paint scraper
  • Airless paint sprayer
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloth
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter’s tape
  • Epoxy filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Power sander
  • Spackle knife
  • Caulk gun

How many coats of paint does my house need?

Is one coat of exterior paint enough? In some cases, one coat of paint may be enough, but there is a general agreement among professionals that two coats of paint is typically sufficient. If you are painting a light color over a darker, you may need more than two coats of paint.

Protect Everything Else

Protect shrubs, decks, walkways, and patios before you start your house painting project. Use plastic sheeting and drop cloths to protect the environment from paint splatters and spills. Tie back, trim, and cover bushes and tree limbs with tarps or drop cloths. Covering the surrounding areas will save you from big cleanup issues at the end of your project.

Cover windows, doors, and lighting fixtures using painter’s tape and plastic sheeting. Covering things up is especially important when using an airless sprayer. Turn off your A/C unit and cover it with plastic sheeting and tape as needed.

Avoid Lead Paint

Lead is toxic, and exposure can cause severe illness. House paints in the United States no longer contain lead. If your house was painted before 1978, the paint you are removing could contain lead. Home improvement projects involving lead paint could be hazardous to the health of children and adults. The EPA recommends working with a lead-safe certified renovation professional. You can find them on the EPA’s website.

Apply More Than One Coat of Paint

If you are painting over metal or bare wood, start your house painting project with a quality alkyd primer for your base coat. Apply the first finish coat after the primer. Once the finish coat becomes tacky, apply a second topcoat.

Get the Right Tools

Buy a high-quality roller and brush. If you need an airless sprayer, you can rent one at home improvement stores and professional equipment rentals businesses. The most efficient way to apply primer and paint to textured surfaces is to spray it on. The tool for the job is an airless sprayer after spraying back-roll it by hand with a roller to guarantee adhesion.

If you don’t have any experience with an airless sprayer, you might want to watch a Youtube video or two. The store clerk might also provide some basic operating instructions for you. Work from a 5-gallon paint bucket, and to prevent clogging, use a paint strainer.

Educate Yourself About Painting Techniques

If you don’t have any painting experience, you need to do your homework. You can read articles, books, or watch tutorial videos about house painting. If you are willing to invest your time and learn, there is tons of information online.

Don’t start the house painting project until you know what you need to do from preparation to cleanup. You don’t want to start the project and stop because you are unsure how to go on to the next step.

Respect the Scope of the Project

Understand the time commitment to painting a house. This is not the type of project if you don’t have the time, skills, and stamina to complete the work. The size, height, and age of your house could make it a challenging project.

Don’t paint your house in extreme weather.

It helps if you plan ahead before you start a painting project. The season is critical. Hot or cold days are not ideal for house painting projects. Direct sun and hot weather dry the paint too fast. Freezing temperatures may prevent the paint from adhering to the surface properly. Wind and rain can also complicate the project because dampness can bubble surfaces. Paint needs time to dry, and it’s best to select a dry time of the year. The best temperature for painting projects is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Get Multiple Bids

There is no shame in hiring a professional painter. To paint a house is a big project. You may not have the time or expertise to complete it on your own. In that case, you need to hire a professional painter. Don’t hire the first company that gives you a bid. Get at least two bids, and three is even better. Make sure the painter provides you with a detailed bid. Understand what is and isn’t included in their fee. Ask for references to make sure that you hire a reliable company.