Exterior Decorating Tips
Although the weather has been typically unpredictable of late, this is the time of year that homeowners attend to their weather-worn windows and facades. Have you noticed more scaffolding going up in your area?
For many, when it comes to painting the the outside walls of your house, they don’t always know what questions to ask their decorator. It is something we get asked about a lot. So, happy always to share our expertise, we thought we’d draw a list of all the things to think about when decorating an exterior.
Summer is a typically busy period for decorators with perfect drying conditions and here at Paint the Town Green, the summer months are particularly busy. However, it is equally not ideal to paint in direct sunlight as this can cause the paint to dry more quickly on the brush and can make the application trickier. Springtime, when the weather tends to be a bit more balanced (famous last words!) is more ideal, not that we have yet perfected the art of predicting our lovely UK climate.
Assuming fine weather, most paints will appear to dry fairly quickly. However, they will not fully harden for a number of days, and generally weeks. Therefore we do advise opening and close windows as often as possible over the weeks immediately after painting to prevent potential long-term “sticking” issues.
Decide early on if you need scaffolding. It is safer than ladders and also means the job can progress more quickly. It can however add to the overall cost so make sure you have factored this in and always use a reputable, fully insured company. As with decorators, not all scaffolders are the same, some are better than others.
GOOD QUALITY PAINT
We are of the belief that good quality paint is worth investing in when it comes to painting the exterior of your house. Good quality paint will protect the surfaces: wood, masonry and metal from the elements. We don’t do exterior paints (yet!) but we are able to recommend what we believe to be the better brands – from our many years of decorating.
As well, if you are working to a budget, be realistic when estimating your paint quantities. A 2.5L tin of paint for your woodwork goes a long way but a 5L tub of masonry paint doesn’t, especially on new render. So, remembering that the first coat will always use more paint than then second, do get your decorator to give as best estimates as he can, taking into account all the variables like the number of windows and current condition of your home.
Masonry paint comes in all sorts of colours. If your property is attached, it might be worth discussing colour with your neighbour to ensure harmony of colour over the two properties. Although many choose white for exterior decorating, it is worth bearing in mind that white can be unforgiving as it can show every speck of dirt. There are other top colours for exterior decorating – cream may be another option to consider. If you live in a listed building, or if your property is in a Conservation Area, you may need to get permission to alter the exterior, so make sure you check this also before you give your decorator the green light.
IT’S AlL IN THE PREP
Given the amount of times, we say this, this should be the Paint the Town Green’s official mantra but it’s true! The preparation process should be as follows:
Clear the area: Remove any garden furniture, pot plants, hose pipes etc. that may be in the way as they will hinder any scaffolding being erected as well as any ladders that need moving and will at best be annoying, at worst a hazard. Also trim or tie back any foliage that is in the vicinity or areas to be painted. This may sound obvious but it’s so easy to start work and then, with paint and filler of your hands, start trying to move tables and chairs out of the way. Or you can paint around a wisteria only to finish the work and realise half it’s leaves are now gardenia!
Clean the area: Remove any surface dirt, cobwebs and loose paint as well as any loose or flaking paint or masonry. A wire brush can be useful for cleaning up masonry, or even better a jet washer. For timber window frames a more gentle approach is advisable, removing any loose or flaking paint but taking great care not to scratch the glass. If you discover any rotten timber at this stage it must be removed and scrapped back to something solid before you start to repair it.
Seal and prime: Seal and prime surfaces that are porous or powdery with an appropriate primer (stabilising primer for masonry, wood hardener for timber) reaching every edge and surface to create a stable surface for preparation and painting.
Repair damage: Depending on the extent of repair work required after the cleaning off you may need to use a sand and cement mixture to patch up the render, or a wood care resin solution, or even some new pieces of timber to repair the windows and frames. Any small cracks and holes can be filled with appropriate fillers (two part wood filler for timber, good quality powder masonry filler for masonry) and then the repaired areas rubbed down with sandpaper when dry to create a smooth surface.
Prepare the work-space: Protect pipes, windows or any other surface that is not being painted with paper around or tape to stop any splashing.
Not meaning to bang our drum, preparation really is the most important part of the job and it is what takes the time. A surface must be adequately prepared to ensure that the paint will adhere. Walls must to be clean and dry before paint is applied.
A GOOD WORKMAN PRAISES HIS TOOLS
Our guys use good tools always. It’s not uncommon to find a decorator waxing lyrical about his brushes! For exterior decorating however, especially on rendered properties, you can have a large amount of wall surface to paint and a roller will be more effective. A small brush for example is what we use to get into the hard-to-reach areas like behind down-pipes. It’s about knowing what tool is needed for the job in hand.
If some of your windows are sticking, or have been painted shut and you would like this rectified, this will need to be addressed before the re-decoration starts. Sometimes windows are painted shut intentionally, (i.e. if the sash chords are broken and the previous owner has decided they want the windows permanently fixed shut). Other times it’s just slightly shoddy workmanship from previous decorators who haven’t moved the sashes when painting. Either way, it’s a good idea to consider which ones open, which ones don’t and whether you’d like this changed before the painting work starts. We often recommend an extra coat of paint on the window sills for additional protection, not forgetting the underside.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
Cleaning the windows should always be included in the job. Spots of paint or putty smears should always be cleaned. All it takes is a window scraper and a window cleaner. Be sure to ask your decorator that this final clean up is included within his costs.
With the correct approach, exterior decorating will last. This is probably the most common complaint we get from customers – that they went for the cheapest quote and it didn’t last. So, follow this guide which hopefully will tell you all you need to know so that you can have the right and proper conversations with your decorator before you make any decisions. A well painted exterior will make you feel all that much more happy with your home so for anyone intending to spruce up their home in the near future, good luck!