How to Prep a House for Painting: 7 Steps to Take


Few things in life beat a fresh coat of paint. It can transform a living room or a bedroom, and provide a major boost to any home's curb appeal. Suddenly, the old becomes new, and rooms and homes take on a whole new meaning. 

Today, we're going to talk about exterior paint preparation because it's a bit multi-faceted. You can't just take out a spray gun and go to town. Steps must be taken to turn your home into everything you've been dreaming about. 

Below, we've detailed seven house painting tips that will provide you with a clear list of instructions, as well as the necessary supplies. If you've been wondering how to paint your house - or where to even begin - we have all the answers right here for you. Let's get started.

1. Prepare the Surrounding Area

Before we get to the details surrounding the house itself, be sure to sort out the surrounding area. If there are limbs and leaves that are encroaching on the house, then trim them back so they're not constantly getting in your way. 

On painting day, you'll want to cover the bushes and trees around the house with tarps or drop cloths so they're not damaged in the process. That's the first thing to add to your shopping list. 

Then, there's one more bit of painting preparation that doesn't need to be tended to until right before the job begins. 

That is, turn off the HVAC unit, cover it with plastic, and securely tape the plastic into place. That's an expensive piece of equipment that doesn't need to succumb to fallen cans of paint. 

2. Check the Siding for Damage

Next up, if there are any shutters or ornamental pieces that need to be removed, now's the time. (Try not to cringe at the stark contrast in color!)

Take a good, hard look at your siding and trim. Do you see any visible damage? This is when you'll fill in any holes or cracks with wood filler. When you're done, sand it down, and get ready for the main event. 

3. Inspect the Integrity of Your Windows

While you're checking the overall canvas of the house, you also want to inspect your windows. Don't be afraid to reglaze them if the old putty appears to be dried out, cracked, or shrunken. 

The first thing you'll want to do is scrape off the dried up, old putty. Use a chisel or a strong putty knife that won't bend under the strain of the task.

Of course, while doing so, you have to be very careful that you don't scratch or chip the glass. Boy, would that defeat the purpose. 

Once the old is removed, you can apply the new glazing compound wherever needed. Pull out that sturdy putty knife again and press the compound firmly into place. 

Now, glazing putty needs a few days to dry. So, keep that in mind as you're building out your timeline. 

4. Pressure Wash the House

When you rent a pressure washer, you will have some options for various chemicals. The goal here is to remove any and all grime that would prevent the new paint from applying smoothly and adhering properly. 

Be mindful of the work you just completed. The wood filler should be good and tight without any problem. But, the window glazing is a bit more sensitive. Be careful that you don't disrupt the work you just put into the new windows. 

Lead-Based Paint

You can also attempt to scrape off any existing paint that's flaking off. If you have a real fixer-upper on your hands and your suspect the last time the house was painted before 1978, you may have to consider the fact that you're dealing with lead-based paint. 

In which case, you'll need much more than a spray down with a hefty pressure washer. Unfortunately, all that paint will need to be stripped off. This is where a power sander or clapboard sander enters the scene. These tools are fast, efficient, and they leave no residue on the surface. 

The trouble is, they're going to generate all kinds of lead-based dust. So, another option is a chemical stripper or heated paint remover. Of course, chemical strippers are made of some pretty nasty stuff. You don't really want to be breathing those in, either.  

And heated pain removal options run the risk of fire. Let's just cross our fingers and hope you don't have this task set before you. If you do, however, this would be a prime opportunity to lean more towards hiring professionals than going it alone. 

5. Give It a Final Rinse

Okay. Once all your paint has been washed, scraped, or sanded, it's time to give it one final hose-down. You can use your regular garden hose for this. Just rinse the entirety of the house until the runoff water is clear. 

If you used a chemical-treated solution in your pressure washer, don't be afraid to linger on this step a little while longer. Give the whole house two rounds of rinsing because you want to make sure the solution is totally gone.  

Then, let all the siding and trim dry to completion. We recommend letting it stand for two days before diving into the real task at hand. 

6. Apply Primer

It would seem that selecting the right primer would be an easy task. But, there are a couple of points for consideration here. 

First, there's the color. White, gray, or even tinted primers tend to provide a nice, even base for topcoats to adhere to. No matter what, you need to ensure you have a clean, even canvas to paint on. 

Latex vs. Oil-Based

Then, there's latex primer vs. oil-based primer. Latex primer can be used if you're painting over sanded-down wood or existing latex paint. However, if you're painting over oil-based paint, then you'll have to go with an oil-based primer. 


As you apply the primer, residual cracks in the joints will start to appear. If you missed any spots with your wood filler or missed a section where a horizontal piece meets a vertical piece, then you can still circle back with your caulk gun and fill them in. 

7. Select Your Paint & Top Coat

When possible, we're fans of water-based acrylic latex paint. It applies smoothly, dries quickly, and cleans up with soap and water easily. But, don't let this discourage you. 

If you're in a situation where you must use oil-based primer and paint, take hope. Oil-based paint tends to be more durable than latex paint, so the effort will be worth it in the long run. 

Then, you have your sheen to consider. As a rule of thumb, paint with a high sheen will do quite well to deflect damaging rays from the sun.

High-gloss paint also comes in handy for areas with high traffic, such as porches, door frames, and window frames. Aside from that, satin paint is also a consideration. This works nicely on shingles and clapboards.  

Finally, with the top coat, the best thing we can tell people is the ol' cliché, "Less is more." The less you use, the more the paint can bond to the layers beneath. This can prevent premature chipping and flaking. 

That said, if you're making a drastic change (i.e., a light color to a dark color and vice versa), then you may need to apply two coats. 

How to Prep a House for Painting

And there you have it! That's how to prep a house for painting. As long as you're not afraid of a little elbow grease, it's something you can tackle over the course of time. 

If, however, you don't have a lot of free time on your hands and you'd like to hand it over to the experts, then we invite you to contact us today. If you live in or around Venice, Florida, we're prepared to roll up our sleeves and offer you the best service you've ever experienced. 

While we specialize in residential repaints (indoors and out), we also do pressure washing, pool cage painting, driveways, garage floors, and drywall repair. Something we hear a lot from our customers is that they're glad they were able to hire one company to do it all. 

Come take a look at some of our latest projects. You'll quickly see we're meticulous, clean experts that treat all our customers' homes with the care it deserves. We look forward to giving new life to your house, too!