If you have the itch to get out there and do some house painting on your own, you’d better make sure you know what you’re doing! And it all starts with the prep work. A fair metaphor for painting prep work: A strong prep job for painting is what a strong education is to a successful career.

Like any project, if you prepare properly you set yourself up for success. Paint won’t hide cracks and other defects in the surfaces, so stop right there if you’re trying to cut corners. Here’s a very brief guide to getting started.

Exterior Prep

The hardest, but most important part of painting– The outside can be a little trickier than the inside so follow these instructions:

  • Grab some scraping tools; you’re going to need them. The reason most paint jobs fail is because the paint can’t adhere to the surface, therefore your house should be free of dirt, grease and flaking or peeling paint.
  • Power wash every area that will be painted. But allow for drying time before painting (1-2 days depending upon climate)
  • Start on the front, do all the prep and masking. Moving in one direction (right to left or left to right) keep the same motion.
  • If you are lucky enough to have a crew (or a few buddies), have someone follow the prep guys with a sprayer.
  • Using canvas drop cloths cover the exterior appliances, bushes and other things close to the house. Don’t use plastic tarps since they do not breathe.
  • Remove light fixtures, mailbox, shutters, decorations, etc.
  • Patch, repair and paint shutters and any other items. You’ll replace these once the painting of the house body is complete.

Interior Prep- Protecting Your Home

  • Move and/or cover furniture. Not only so they don’t get paint on them but also to allow plenty of room to work.
  • Wash walls with an all purpose household cleaner. This eliminates dirt, dust, etc. from allowing the paint to adhere to the wall. You’ll also want to wash from the top down to avoid streaks.
  • Patch any holes or abnormalities on the wall. Drywall compound can fill a hole. For cracks you need to get a little more in depth. use fiberglass mesh to prevent the crack from returning, then put a few thin layers of drywall compound over it. You’ll then have to sand it down until the wall is smooth and even. Caulk/Spackle (for interior or exterior) – Use 45 years or greater caulk and fill all seems, gaps, cracks, holes where moisture can penetrate.
  • Remove all electrical switch plates, cable outlets and phone jack covers.
  • Masking tape can be used to cover electricity outlets and things of that nature.
  • Trim needs to be sanded to remove sheen. Remove any flaking paint and smooth with the sand paper.

You’re now ready to go! Start with the ceiling, then the walls and finish with the woodwork… Good luck!