How to Paint the Exterior of Your Home

April 10, 2020

In case you didn’t know, we’re in the slow process of renovating our North Carolina home. We started with Harper’s bedroom, and have done some smaller projects in the interior, like our built-in bookshelves around the fireplace, but the next step was painting the exterior of the house!

Our house has gorgeous cedar shake siding on it, but the previous owner had painted or stained it a really warm-toned brown, which totally destroyed the natural look of the cedar. Plus, they had paired it with yellowy trim. The whole exterior of the house looked dingy and dated. If you know me, you know that I love BRIGHT colors and white, so I definitely wanted to update this exterior look. Since we couldn’t remove the stain/paint from the cedar siding, we decided to paint over it. But we had no clue how expensive it would be; the quote we got for painting the exterior of our house was $11,000!

This spring, Erik had a week off of work, which rarely happens, so we decided we would tackle this exterior paint project by ourselves! Painting the exterior of your home can be intimidating, and if you’re anything like us, you may not know where to start. After doing lots of research, some trial and error, and now having completed at least the front sides of our house, I’m sharing my best tips and tricks for painting the exterior of your home.

Painting the Exterior of Your Home

Step 1: Choose your Paint Colors

A little while ago, I saw these pictures on Pinterest of a Chicago home that had been painted white with blue trim, and I fell in love! I’ve always adored the look of a classic pop of blue against white, and painting the trim is an easy way to accomplish it. When it came to choosing the paint colors, it was definitely a little bit overwhelming. You may think all white paint is the same, but I promise you, you’re not prepared for exactly how many different shades of white paint there is. I even did a whole blog post about white interior paint colors!

We love Sherwin Williams for exterior house paint, so I was choosing between a few of those, but settled on Sherwin Williams Bohemian Lace. It’s a true white with a bit of warmth, which paired nicely with the blue we chose. I also really liked Benjamin Moore Oxford White, but it was a bit too stark and cool-toned for the blue trim and door. The color we used for the trim is Sherwin Williams Honest Blue. I think it’s the perfect shade of blue for what we were doing – not too dark, not too light, not too in-your-face bright. With our colors picked out, it’s time to get down to the real business of painting the exterior of our house!

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

There are several tools we used while painting our home’s exterior that were essential in getting the job done right. You’ll need:

We used the Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus airless paint sprayer and it made the whole process go by much faster. It sprays the paint evenly and covers enough space without being too difficult to control. We were able to use it for both the siding and the trim. It was definitely an investment, at around $250 depending on where you buy it, but it seriously changes the game. It was so worth it!

To protect the trim, windows, and other fixtures on the outside of our house, we used FrogTape. I’m going to tell y’all now, don’t even waste your time on the blue painter’s tape! We started off using the blue tape, and the paint bled through the lines! The green FrogTape kept our lines crisp. We even used it to cover the windowpanes when we were painting the trims blue. We probably could’ve used paper and taped around it, but I didn’t want to take a chance with having to scrape paint off my windows, so FrogTape it was!

Step 3: Prepare

It’s really important that before you start painting the exterior of your house, you get it nice and clean. A pressure washer will get all the dirt, dust, and especially pollen that accumulates in every nook and cranny. Plus you can use the pressure washer for more than just your exterior painting project. It’s a multi-purpose tool, and so satisfying to use! Clean siding will make sure that the new paint you put on will go on smoothly and you won’t have any dirt layered under the paint.

Tape off any trim you don’t want to be painted, and cover up your window panes. If you have porch lights, you can protect those with plastic sheeting secured with tape. Make sure to tape off any exterior outlets, hose connections, and door handles, too!

Step 4: Prime and Paint

Now that the exterior of your house is all clean and protected, you can start by loading your primer into the paint sprayer. Just like painting the walls in your house, it’s always best to prime before you paint! This is especially true if you’re going from a darker color to a lighter one. The primer will set a good base for your final paint color, and make sure you don’t have to use a crazy amount of coats. We applied two coats of primer, and the house was already looking better.

With both priming and painting, paint from top to bottom, and move the paint sprayer horizontally. When we were painting the top sections of our house that adjoin with the roof, we used the paint guide to avoid getting paint on the roof shingles.

After priming, we let the primer dry and then came back to do the top coat of our Bohemian Lace color. We applied two coats of paint, which was all we needed! If you’re painting the exterior of your home, less is definitely more when it comes to painting. Too much paint and too many layers could make the paint job more susceptible to chipping and flaking off.

Step 5: Paint the Trim

After painting our cedar shake siding white, we moved on to transforming the dingy yellow trim into a bright pop of blue. At first, it was the plan that I would do the trim painting with a paintbrush, but with careful taping, Erik was able to use the paint sprayer to get the job done quickly! Again, we relied heavily on FrogTape and the paint guard to avoid messing up the windows or the exterior paint we’d already completed. The specific type of paint we used was Valspar High Gloss Enamel Interior and Exterior Paint + Primer.

Painting the exterior of our home took the better part of a week, and we haven’t even finished the back yet, but it already looks so much better, and we were able to do it ourselves for much cheaper than what we were quoted. The exterior is far from done though. We went ahead and painted our existing door the Honest Blue color we used for the trim, but we have plans to replace it in the future with a blue Dutch door. With window panes in the top half of the door, it’ll let so much more light into our front entryway, and I just love the charm of Dutch doors!

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