Painting the exterior of a home can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition. But if you are budget-minded — and who isn’t these days — don’t despair.
“A little ingenuity can go a long way towards giving your home a beautiful facelift, without breaking the bank,” says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert with the Paint Quality Institute.
According to Zimmer, most of the time and cost of repainting is spent on the walls. Yet, on most homes, the walls are basically a canvas against which the more interesting architectural elements are showcased: the doors, shutters, accents, and trim. That is where the eye goes when looking at a home. It also is where you may want to invest your precious remodeling dollars. . . assuming that your whole house isn’t screaming for a paint job.
To make the most of your efforts, take time to think through your home beautification project. Zimmer suggests that you walk around your neighborhood, see which color combinations you like on homes similar to yours, and note how others have used color to highlight their home’s best features.
“Then, look at your own home from the curb or across the street. Identify the elements that are most interesting — maybe you have an unusual front door or entryway, or maybe some of the ‘fretwork’ or trim is especially ornate. Painting those areas will provide the most bang for your buck in terms of aesthetics,” says Zimmer.
Next, says Zimmer, make a visit to your local paint retailer or decorating center and select color cards that resemble the hues you liked on your neighbors’ homes, or that you find especially appealing. When you get the cards home, envision those paint colors on your home’s special features.
To draw more attention to certain architectural elements, you might want to paint them in a bold color or one that contrasts with your walls. On the other hand, painting your doors, accents and trim in a tint or shade that is muted or complementary to your walls may give your home a more subtle, dignified look. Either way, a fresh coat of paint on just a few areas will add plenty of style for a modest investment.
Even if you are painting only a few of your home’s exterior features, you should still follow four basic rules to get the best results, according to Zimmer:
Rule #1: Take Time to Properly Prepare the Surface. Before doing any painting, make sure it is free of dirt and “chalk”. Since you won’t be painting the whole house, you can simply scrub the surfaces by hand using plain soap and water, then rinse thoroughly. Next, remove any loose, flaking or peeling paint by scraping, sanding or wire-brushing. Finally, brush off the dust and get ready to paint.
Rule #2: Use Top Quality Exterior Paint. If there is one rule that you don’t want to violate, this is it, says Zimmer. For almost all exterior paint projects, the best paint to use is a top quality 100% acrylic latex paint. It may cost a little more, but this type of paint has superior adhesion, so it will grip onto the surface tenaciously — that, in turn, will help prevent blistering, flaking, and peeling in the future. And since 100% acrylic latex paint is also flexible, it will help prevent paint failures in a second way — by expanding and contracting with the surface below when outside temperatures rise and fall.
Rule #3: Use High Quality Brushes and Tools. According to Zimmer, painting with high quality tools will make it easier to apply a thicker, more uniform coat of paint to produce a better-looking paint job. Brushes should be springy and well-balanced. When working with latex paints, be sure that your brushes and rollers are made of synthetic materials, says Zimmer; these will tend to hold their shape regardless of the amount of water they are exposed to.
Rule #4: Paint in the Right Weather Conditions. Doing your painting in moderate conditions will help the paint form a tough, protective film that will keep your architectural elements looking freshly painted for years to come. Ideally, you should paint on a day that is not too windy, when the temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees. It is also best to avoid painting surfaces when the sun is beating down on them: surface temperatures can be up to 20 degrees hotter than air temps, and that could adversely affect the paint’s film formation.
Today’s challenging economy demands that homeowners be smart and resourceful when it comes to remodeling. If you want to give your home a fresh new look without blowing your budget, think about doing selective painting of your home’s special features. It’s a great way to go.