Painting the exterior of your home the right way can boost the value of your home, add a positive new color scheme or slather on a protective coat of loving care.
Paint wrong and, well, the opposite is true -- your home value could suffer, neighbors could scream at the sight and you may have to repaint sooner than planned (then, of course, neighbors would rejoice).
But how do you choose and use paint when you want to refinish your home's exterior?
Consumer Reports' recent "torture test" of dozens of paints provides some guidance. The trusted, independent, non-profit rating service recently tested dozens of exterior paints for dirt and mildew build up over time, the color-changing effects of sunlight and cracking to determine the best paints.
The smaller California brand's 2010 line and Kelly-Moore came out on top, but the recommended findings aren't all you'll have to consider for the best job.
You'll also have to choose the right paint for the job.
- Consider regional differences. If you live in a cool, damp or shady climate you want paint with mildew resistance. In urban and industrial areas you want paint that resists dirt. For sunny locales, colorfast paint is best.
- Know what your house painter is using. The painter's choice may not jibe with what Consumer Reports found to be tops. Your contract should designate the brand, line and cost of the paint used, how many coats will be applied. One coat of primer and two coats of paint are recommended.
- Look for cost savings. For example, two five-gallon containers of paint instead of 10 one gallon cans and save you 50 percent or more, Consumer Reports says. Ask the paint retailer for volume discounts if you, rather than the painter, will make the buy.
Once you have the best paint at the best cost, here's how to make sure the job gets done right.
- Finesse spot repairs. Along with priming, complete spot repairs so surface difference don't show through the coating. Two coats help accomplish this.
- Never paint over mildew and dirt. Treat and remove mildew with a bleach (one part) and water (three parts) solution. Leave the solution on for 20 minutes, then rinse. Use detergent for remaining mildew and bleach and expect to wait a week for drying.
- Replace cracked siding boards. Cracked or split boards should be replaced rather than repaired. Otherwise water intrusion can ensue, expanding, contracting or blistering the board and cracking the paint.
- Paint a test patch. If you paint a sample board or area with each color you can see how each looks before you complete the job and perhaps regret your color choice.
- Check the forecast. Paint on windless days when temperatures range from 60 to 85 degrees. Don't paint in direct sunlight or when it's raining.
- Store and dispose paint properly. Transfer extra paint into a labeled glass jar with a tight seal. Keep low-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) out of the cold. Check with your local sanitation/recycle department for proper disposal. In areas where you can dispose of dried latex paint with your trash, add unused cat litter to help dry the paint.
- Also see "Painting Your House", information from the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute and Jackie Craven, About.com's resident architect.