Painting the exterior of your house is part art form, part science. Because your house might have many different surfaces, you will have to be familiar with a wide variety of preparations as well as a number of paint products and application techniques. In addition to that, you'll need to consider upcoming weather and organize your work based off of local forecasts. Also, you should consider the path of the sun through the workday. Since the exterior of your house is probably the largest surface you will ever work on, you'll need to do much of the work from work platforms or ladders. All of this requires a level of planning, preparation, and patience.
Preparation of the surfaces that you are going to paint is essential to your eternal success. In fact, preparation can consume a major of the total time you devote to the project. In the long run, this preparation will most certainly pay off. If done correctly, this extra care taken before you paint can help a surface to last for decades.
Preparing the exterior of a building for painting begins with the site itself. The whole idea is to cover up or remove anything that you do not want paint on. Also, it is important to move objects that might get in the way during the painting process. Take a tour of your yard and move items far enough away that they will not get any paint on them from spatter or overspray. Next, go around and remove any items fastened to the house like light fixtures, electrical outlets, address numbers, flagpole holder, doorknobs, hooks, brackets, etc. Finally, tape or mask anything that you do not want or can not remove. With the careful application of masking tape, you can easily mask door hardware and other smaller objects. Remember to tape down all tarps and plastic sheets as well. This will keep them secured permanent movement and weather. If you are planning on painting all the way down to ground level, dig a small trench around your house, exposing the entire surface of the siding.
No matter what kind of siding you have on your home, you should always perform a general inspection before preparing it for painting. Check it for damage, rotting, mildew, or mold. After you've inspected the siding, preparation follows a general order: remove mildew and mold, wash away dirt, replace or repair damaged siding, remove excess or loose paint, and spot-prime the affected area. On glossy surfaces, scuff sand to get the best finish.
In the end, water is the chief enemy of both wood and paint. Because of this, it is very important to caulk any gaps. Apply a top-quality all-acrylic caulk to the inside and outside corners, joints, seams, and other gaps where water could possibly see in. Most caulks will adhere to a range of materials, even when they are wet.
When painting the exterior of your house, take ample time to plan and prepare the job. The most common mistake that people make when taking on a project of this caliber, is to jump right in without prior thought. You can plan for most problems and avoid them in the future with the right amount of preparation.