Choosing the right exterior paint can be complicated because of the wide range of surfaces that your home may have. Possible surfaces include clapboard and aluminum siding, wood shingles, tar shingles, cedar shakes, brick, concrete block, stucco, and old paint. On many older homes, you’ll find a combination of these surfaces. An experienced painter knows there is an exterior paint for every type of surface, and there are certain exterior paints that will work better on certain surfaces.

Exterior painting projects are more difficult than interior projects because peeling, blistering, chalking, and rust, mildew, cracks and chipping are commonly found on the exterior of homes. These issues must be dealt with prior to painting to assure the job is done correctly.

Like interior paints, exterior paints are available in either water-thinned or solvent-thinned formulas and in flat, semi gloss, or gloss. Exterior paints are more expensive and they also contain more resin and more pigment. As with interior paints, latex works best over latex and alkyd works best over alkyd. If you can’t tell or are unsure about what type of paint is on the house, use an alkyd-base paint.

Latex exterior paints are easier to apply, dry quickly, and can help minimize moisture problems because they “breathe.” Cleaning up is a matter of soap and water. These paints do not adhere as well to oil base or alkyd-base paints or to poorly prepared surfaces, however. Alkyds, on the other hand, are extremely durable, but they are more difficult to work with and they dry slowly. Also, solvents must be used with alkyds to clean brushes, rollers, paint trays, and drips.

Here is an example of how a painting professional, Ron Jones, from Sharper Impressions Painting used his knowledge to get the job done right.

A cedar house in a wooded location was covered in an oil-based, semi-transparent stain. Due to age and the wooded location, the stain was faded and mildewed, requiring thorough power washing. “We repeated the power wash a second day for a total of 16 hours,” recalls Hancock. “We needed to prepare the best possible surfaces before we began the exterior painting.” Although an average of 4-5 hours is usually spent power washing a home of this size, the Sharper Impressions team saw that more was needed to get this job done right.

After the aggressive power wash, the home required extensive caulking. “I wasn’t home the day they caulked,” recalls the homeowner, “and I was amazed to see the final result that evening. I was so impressed with the coverage.” Sharper Impressions used cases and cases of white caulking; every gap and joint on the home was seamless and well protected from weathering.

Jones advised an oil based paint with a top coat of Latex-based, low VOC paint for the house. Nearly all products used by Sharper Impressions Painting have little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which release toxins and are harmful to the environment.

Knowing that solid paint products can peel easily on horizontal surfaces, Jones also suggested a special product for the 3,000 square foot deck. The railing received a water-based solid stain, tinted to match the floor color. The doors were painted with the third color in a long-lasting Acrylic Latex Based house paint. Each product was carefully selected to guarantee a high-quality, long-lasting paint job that will look great for 8-10 years.

Knowing the best exterior paint, preparing it properly before painting and focusing on quality will always result in a successful exterior painting project.

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