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Painting the Exterior of Your House

By: Alan Cole - Updated: 6 Dec 2016 | comments*Discuss
Exterior House Painting Exterior House

Painting the exterior of your home as a DIYer can be a daunting task especially if you are tackling a large surface. But don’t worry if you follow our guidelines below you can achieve excellent results.

Advice on Buying Paint

  • Consider carefully the type of paint you need for every part of your exterior. You may require, for example, special masonry paint, wood or metal primers or bitumen paint for gutters. If in doubt, obtain some advice at your local hardware store.
  • Always buy enough paint to finish the job in hand in one go. This will ensure an even finish.
  • Try to estimate accurately how much you will need. Measure and multiply the height and width of each surface to work out the area to be covered. Remember, paint is sold in square metres, so ensure you have metric not imperial measurements when visiting your DIY shop. A little more is better than a little less so it’s a good idea to work out the square area of walls without subtracting the space for the windows. This allows you a margin for error.
  • It’s usually cheaper to buy a large can rather than several smaller ones. This may leave you some for touching up spots later.
  • Never mix paints by different manufacturers. The results can be poor.
  • Buy paint from a recognisable manufacturer. Cheaper brands will usually provide cheaper results.
  • Always consider the colour combinations in advance and take your time to work out your colour scheme. It could be terrible if you are left with something you do not really like after all that hard work.

Preparation Advice

The most important part of any exterior painting work is the preparation. Painting is physical work, time consuming and requires patience, care and consideration to achieve the best results. Here are a few pointers to help achieve good results:

  • Always check the weather forecast and plan your work for a fine day. Rain, fog and frost can all have disastrous results on your paintwork. As well as interrupting your work and encouraging patchwork effects, bad weather will affect the final finish of your paint. Never paint surfaces when they are wet, especially wood, as the new paint will become flaky.
  • Always allow enough time for painting carefully. Painting is never a quick job to do in your lunch-break. Plan and timetable your work realistically and do it in sensible stages - a surface at a time - a window frame, a wall, etc.
  • For big exterior surfaces you will require scaffolding or a mobile tower. You can hire these from a local firm.
  • With doors always remove handles, keyhole plates, knockers and any other furniture and store these in a safe place.
  • Like doors, paint any openable windows early in the day to allow them plenty of time to dry before they need to be closed.
  • Always start at the top and work down!

Preparing Exterior Walls

  • If your exterior walls have been previously painted they will be need to be washed with a detergent to remove any dirt.
  • Rinse with clean water and allow to dry.
  • Scrape and rub down any damaged areas. A wire brush is useful but be careful not to damage brickwork
  • Treat mould areas with a fungicidal product.
  • Repair cracks with a sealant or filler.
  • New or sound bare surfaces should be sealed with a masonry paint primer which lets the walls breathe.
  • Powdery surfaces require a stabilising primer.


As a general rule it is worth nothing that many professionals will advise against painting brickwork because it reduces the ability of the brick to breathe. Some bricks, such as common bricks, are especially unsuitable for painting. If in doubt always seek professional advice before you proceed with a major paintjob on the exterior brickwork of your home. A professional blast cleaner is always an option if you need to remove a large area of brickwork paint.

Preparing Exterior Plastic, Metal and Wood Surfaces

  • Metal gutters, especially on the inside of the gutter, should be painted with a heavy bitumen paint to prevent damp. The outsides of gutters, brackets and downpipes can be painted with an undercoat and gloss although you must choose a weatherproof exterior version. Bare areas of metal must always be treated with a metal primer.
  • Plastic gutters and pipes do not require primers. A couple of coats of gloss should do it.
  • Never strip existing paint on external wood unless it is flaking. Just smooth down and clean and paint it, ideally with hard wearing gloss paint.

Guide to Exterior Primers and Topcoats

Doors, Window Frames

  • Pre-paint with primer and undercoat
  • Top coat with gloss or egg shell paint
Exterior Wood

  • Pre paint with primer and undercoat
  • Several top coats of gloss

  • Primer (If metal is clean surface)
  • Undercoat
  • Top coat of gloss

Regular Maintainence

Once painted, the exterior of your home must be maintained on a regular basis. If you do paint, for example, your exterior walls - think carefully about any expense involved later.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
@Jeep - a dry day is always best. Even on a frosty, clear day such as the ones we have been having, frost turns to water also. Check the surface to be painted and if it feels wet, don't make a start. Plan ahead, and wait until you are confident there is no chance of rain. Pete.
PTT67** - 6-Dec-16 @ 1:59 PM
I'm in the middle of painting the exterior with Santex masonry Smooth, foggy day today, will the foggy conditions affect the finish, should I hold off and wait for a clear day? Thanks.
Jeep - 6-Dec-16 @ 8:19 AM
Smit - Your Question:
It's November and I have a wooden window frame in need of painting. However, the paint has flaked and wood is damp. No chance of fine weather to dry it out. What to do as a temporary fix?

Our Response:
I suggest a thorough clean with warm, soapy water and a soft brush or cloth first. Do it on a sunny day so you can let it dry completely, then when properly dry apply a wood preserver.
DIYBasics - 7-Nov-16 @ 11:35 AM
It's November and I have a wooden window frame in need of painting. However, the paint has flaked and wood is damp. No chance of fine weather to dry it out. What to do as a temporary fix?
Smit - 6-Nov-16 @ 4:45 PM
@Ann - after, I would leave the exterior woodwork until last as if you do it before you may get drips and splashes on the woodwork from the masonry paint.
Tim - 27-May-15 @ 12:21 PM
Should I paint (wooden) window frames and sills before or after doing masonry?
Ann - 24-May-15 @ 7:02 PM
@Jim - you might have to sand it down and start again, especially if they are bubbling. Any one else have any ideas?
JohnJ - 27-Feb-15 @ 11:10 AM
The bricks on my pond have been glossed then had masonry paint applied on top of thatwich has now started to bubble how can I put this right and repaint with masonry paint
Jim - 25-Feb-15 @ 12:48 PM
@Mike - Yes. With the glorious weather we have been having recently you should be quite safe to gloss. But you'll need to plan. Firstly, you need to make sure all the window frames are dry, which means don't paint them after a period of rain. Painting wet or damp frames can mean the paint will not apply well and blister and flake. With the ability to access pretty accurate five and even seven day forecasts you can decide when to do your job in advance. Wait for a good run of sunny warm weather and make sure it's not going to be damp, foggy or frosty. It might also be worth talking to your paint supplier as they may be able to recommend a product that will speed up the drying process.
JohnL - 3-Nov-14 @ 12:17 PM
Is it ok to paint windows with gloss paint in November
Mike - 1-Nov-14 @ 2:03 PM
Can you please advisehow Ipaint an exterior wall without getting paint on the adjoining pathway?
Rich - 2-Oct-12 @ 9:30 AM
Take time over the preparation as it can save you a great deal more time and expense later on. If any of the woodwork is beginning to rot then replace it before doing anything else, and always clean all surfaces very thoroughly - you have to make sure all the dirt and grease has gone before painting. Two coats of primer give a good surface for the paint to bond onto.
Pete - 7-Jun-12 @ 2:38 PM
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