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Exterior Painting Q's & A's

Cedar Siding | Aluminum Siding | Vinyl Siding | Iron
Effervescence | Tips | Concrete | Sheds | Brick | Sprayers | Lead Paint | Whitewash | Floors | Washing | Gutters | Door | Wires
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Cedar Siding

Restain Cedar Siding

Is there a way to get a previously stained color out of cedar siding, so it could be stained another color?, or lighten up a dark stain?

No... Bleaching the wood can lighten a stain, but I would never try it on a house. You can stain OVER another, but you will be left with a dark mixture of a color. If the new color you are looking for is dark, and the intial light, it may work. But I would try it in a small out of the way place or piece of spare siding.

The stain soaks INTO the wood.. filling the pores. The wood, therefore resists having those same pores filled with another stain. Painting or a solid color stain (which is close) covers the outside of the wood and in the case of paint, adds a layer.. and can cover wood that has been stained.

Aluminum Siding

Repainting aluminum siding

We are thinking about painting our 20 year old aluminum siding. What is the best procedure to use? We don't want to have to redo the job. Should the siding be primed first? What type of primer should we use? What is the liklihood of the paint chipping if we don't prime first? How long should the paint job last? Any tips/ideas would be appreciated.

You should use primer. And you HAVE to make sure the siding is very clean first.

The paint you buy should be premium quality from a good brand name. You know them... Benjamin Moore, Cabots.. etc. When you buy it from them, tell them what you are painting and that you want premium quality paint. (it will cost you over 20 a gallon... don't flinch, it will last longer) They will give you the right primer and top coat for your job.

As for how long it lasts, that is dependant on what you paint it with. The glossier the finish the longer it lasts. (But you may not want to live in that shiny house) Also some colors resist fading and the effects of the sun more that others. I believe white lasts longest.


Painting Siding

I plan on painting my 20 year old aluminum siding. Is it better or does it make a difference to brush paint it or spray paint it?

Doesn't make any difference really whether you brush or spray quality wise, except that spraying is about 50 times faster.

Scratches in aluminum siding

I have white siding on my house that has scratches down to the bare aluminum. I don't want to repaint the whole house. How do I match it up?

Take a piece of your siding or chip of your paint (reasonable size if possible) to a paint dealer with a color matching machine ,(most large outlets have them). You should get a proper color match for repair paint. In addition, YES you can paint over vinyl and aluminum siding (although some manufactures say you can't). I've done to both with SEARS Weatherbeater paints.

Repainting aluminum siding

We are planning to repaint our aluminum sided house - approximately. 18 yrs. old. I would appreciate your advice on the following How do we need to clean and prep the existing siding? What is the best paint to use and also do you recommend spraying or brushing? What time of day is the best to paint and what type of day (cool vs. warm)? What type of brush should we use if we brush paint it?

Most manufacturers of paint make latex for aluminum siding. Though most will tell you to pressure wash the siding first, I hand painted mine with no washing or treatment whatsover and brush painted and it lasted 9 years until I resided with vinyl. Spraying is cheaper and less time consuming. The rule for exterior painting is to 'follow the sun', i.e. paint in shaded areas only. A Brush made for latex is what you need.


Vinyl Siding

Painting vinyl siding

Can vinyl siding be painted, and if so, what is the best way to prepare the surface and which type of paint is the best to use?

Sure thing it can. Of course... it won't be final any more (you know.. vinyl is final???) Any way.. Go with a HIGH quality (meaning expensive, yes) paint. I will give you some ideas in Benjamin Moore because they are my favorite. but they are not the only brand you can use. Use a primer Fresh Start 100% Acrylic Latex Primer and a top coat like MorGlo Soft Gloss Latex House and Trim Paint.
Follow the directions for application, but make sure the house is super clean first. Wash it with TSP and/or a pressure washer.

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Painting Wrought Iron Railings

The wrought iron railings on my front steps need painting. There are some rust spots on them. I am told I should sand the rusted spots but do I need to prime afterward and then paint?

Yes, sand it the rusty spots with fine sand paper. Then prime the bare metal with a bare metal primer. Rustoleum sells a good bare metal prime. Then finish with 2-3 coats of your top coat. Light coats work best allowing the proper drying time (see the paint can) between coats.


Effervescence and peeling paint

Wrought iron repair

I have a wrought iron fence around my patio that is beginning to rust. What is the best way to strip and repaint?

One easy method is to use a wire brush to remove loose paint and surface rust. Then get a RUST
CONVERTOR product from a paint supplier. You simply paint the rust convertor onto the rusted areas and let it dry.It 'converts the rust to a plastic like neutral material. Then simply repaint.

Removing paint from wrought iron

Is there any simpler way to remove paint from wrought iron railings than paint strippers or scraping?

You could try a wire brush wheel mounted in an electric drill.

Rusted back yard furniture

What do I need to do to clean up, rust free, and repaint wrought iron backyard furniture?

A wire brush to clean off any loose paint and rust. I like the little wire brush wheels you can mount in your electric drill. They make short work of the job. Prime the bare metal areas. There is rusty metal primer and bare metal primer.. use the rusty stuff.

You can also find products now that neutralize the rust... I have used them.. but I don't have enough experience with them to know if they are as good as a good primer. Then top coat the furniture with a good exterior paint.


The house we live in was built in 1830; it's military quarter's. The paint on the basement (ground floor)walls is all peeling off and I believe it's effervescence that's growing on some walls near the flooring. The basement is very humid in the summer, so we have a dehumidifier down there in the summer. It's a situation that if we want something done, we'll have to do it ourselves.

Question 1) What needs to be done to get rid of the effervescence?

2) It appears that when the basement was painted previously a primer wasn't used. We're thinking we need to scrape off the old paint, apply a primer, then repaint with something best for humidity. Is this correct?

If moisture is coming through the walls, most paints will eventually peel. My favorite fix for moisture is a portland cement based product called Thurough-Seal. (I should get a commission I recommend it so often) But it works.

You mix it up, sort of like cement and paint it on the walls with a big brush. It seals the wall so moisture doesn't come through. Then if you want you can paint it. (it comes in grey or white I believe) Check the bag to determine how much of the old paint has to be removed. I am afraid most or all will have to be.

For painting the walls, use a high quality primer and paint, like Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start Primer and their Silicone acrylic top coat.


Painting the outside of my home

We are about to paint our house (outside) and I want some tips such as, brush type, size, renting a sprayer, patching of the facia board ect. Do we need to sand any rusty areas that are on our deck?? We've painted inside, we just don't know how to do the outside. Should we use a primer coat?

Scrape what is peeling, sand what is rusty. Prime what is bare.

Use good quality paint. You really get what you pay for. Go to someone that sell Benjamin Moore or Pittsburgh Paints etc and talk to them about paints. In general Latex is easier, but the alkyd (oil base) is better as a primer, so I go with and alkyd primer and latex top coat. The shinier the finish, (glossier) the longer it will last. You just may not want that look for your house though.

Generally if you are painting bare wood, a brush is best. Again don't scrimp on cost, a good brush is worth it. (and yes they are expensive) Use the brush so you can work the paint into the wood.

Spraying is fine for top coats or metal, it can really save time for large areas, but the prep work, masking and covering for overspray will take a long time.

As for any patch work, caulking etc, do it BEFORE you paint.. Replace any rotting boards, etc.. Then start the painting. Work from the top down. Do the big base color first and finish with the trim.


Paint peeling

In a bedroom under the window sill the paint has continued to peel off after time. It has been painted twice with the same results. I don't know if the wall is getting moisture or what the case is. ??I was wondering if you had a suggestion of how to prepare this wall to avoid this peeling?

Yes, it sounds like moisture. When it was last painted, what primer was used? Clean off all the peeling paint. Wash the wall and let dry. Apply a quality primer from kilz, zinsser (B-I-N), or Benjamin Moore. Now paint with a quality paint.

Painting Eves above lower roof

What do painters use to walk and stand on roofs to paint eves above?
I can't walk or stand on the steeper parts of my asphalt shingle roof. I'm not afraid of heights, but I don't feel secure or have good traction. A couple flatter sections are no problem.

You can use what are called rood jacks. These are metal brackets that are secured with a nail through the roof (under the tab of a shingle) and a plank is laid across a pair of these. They are used when roofing steep roofs and can be used when painting as well. Sounds like the ticket. I'll check into those, or hire a pro!

Removing paint exterior and interior

There is 50 years of paint accumulated over window frames,walls, and outdoor wood panels. It looks like the walls are plaster, although I can't be sure since there are so many layers. A lot of it is starting to peel. I want to remove as much of it as I can, as cheaply and quickly as humanly possible. Sanding? Turpentine fights with the wife? Need some good advice!

Fighting with the wife will not do it. But I had some kids who's scream took the paint off our walls.
For exterior, I would try a high pressure washer. Don't get too close at high pressure or you could damage the wood, but the paint will come off.... On trim etc., a heat gun works well, but slow.
Interior walls? Scrape everything that is loose and cover it again. Don't try to go to bare plaster.

Exterior house painting

I need to have all the white exterior wood trim at my house repainted. I have a bunch of questions.
What is the best method to hire the job out to a reputable painter and where can I Check credentials and lodge complaints. 2) What is the best solution to have the trim pressure washed with prior to painting? 3) There are several nail heads which have rusted through the layer of flat latex paint. How should these be treated? 4) Should all the wood be primed? 5) Latex or oil paint?

TSP works very well as a cleaner for your house. You only need to prime the bare wood.
My experience shows oil is best for priming, latex for top coats. If you counter sink the nail heads and cover the holes with exterior wood putty, they will never rust through.


Repainting concrete front steps

The paint I applied to our concrete front steps a few years ago is now peeling and flaking. I'd like to repaint and possibly stencil on it. I figure a wire brush should get up most of the loose stuff and a good washing would be enough to prepare the site? Are there any good paints meant for use on concrete only?

Benjamin Moore, my favorite paint has a very good web site, I looked there for some answers and here is what they say (I figure concrete floors and steps are similar enough)

CAUSE Concrete floors present numerous potential adhesion problems for coatings. Concrete is a highly alkaline material which reacts chemically with oil or alkyd based finishes to weaken their adhesive bond. Concrete also transmits moisture bringing soluble salts, to the surface (efflorescence). This will gradually generate a sandy or dust-like condition at the surface. Grade level or sub-surface floors are continually subjected to moisture penetration. All concrete should be cast over a vapor barrier. Sub-surface concrete should also be cast over a generous level of gravel with further means to remove water when conditions are severe. Moisture is the primary cause for adhesion failure. Other possible causes include hard-troweled concrete which presents a physical barrier to adhesion by not permitting penetration of coatings. Older concrete can become crumbly, and accumulations of grease or oil create a barrier limiting adhesion.

SOLUTION Remove paint by scraping and sanding. Clean floor by scrubbing with hot water and a strong detergent solution. Avoid mild dishwashing detergents. These contain skin softening ingredients which interfere with paint adhesion. It may be necessary to use chemical stripper, if the above procedure fails to remove the paint. Follow the directions carefully. Floors that have been subjected to long term oil and grease must be aggressively scrubbed with a grease dissolving compound, such as Benjamin Moore M83 Industrial Maintenance Oil and Grease Emulsifier. Follow the label directions carefully. In all cases, rinse the floor thoroughly. Allow the surface to dry for several days. The next step, called etching, requires protective goggles, boots and rubber gloves to be worn during the process. Mop on 10% solution of muriatic acid and water on clean floor.

ALWAYS MIX ACID INTO THE WATER, NEVER MIX WATER INTO ACID. Allow solution to remain on surface until bubbling ceases (10 to 15 minutes). Flush surface with water and dry completely. When floor is properly etched, it should resemble texture of fine sandpaper. Etching neutralizes the alkaline surface and provides a better bond. It also helps remove salt deposits (called laitance) that can occur on concrete surfaces. Sand off any crumbly areas of loose concrete. The floor should now be ready to paint.

Their site is at http// if you have other questions.



Painting storage shed

I am about to paint a new storage shed and need help in deciding which is best to use, solid color stain or paint. The company we are buying the shed suggested solid color stain. However, I have been told that paint will last and protect better.

The solid color stains from Flood Co. should last 15 years. A top quality exterior paint will last 10-15 years. The paint will require priming first, then two coats.

Go with whatever color appeals to you and matches you house best. Paints protect the wood better generally, but a solid color stain has almost as much pigment and UV protection as a paint, so go with your taste.



Painting exterior brick

How do you recommend painting exterior brick?

Our brick is very smooth. Is there any preparation we should do? We live in the south and our winters don't get very cold, average about 35 to 40 degrees and summers are about 85 to 95 degrees.(We do have an occasionaly difference.) I don't know if weather has anything to do with it or not, but thought it might.

Brick is a porous surface. Us a masonary primer, paint or stain. Assuming there is no previous paint on it, Preperation use a (rentals are availible) pressure washer rated at a minimum of 1000psi and spray the brick area. Be careful of loose debri "use eye protection" chipping away. Also be causious not to concentrate the spray into the grout lines, a pressure washer will erode the morter rapidly. Allow to dry thoughly before applying primer, paint or stain. The simplest way to apply the paint is to use an air-less paint sprayer also available for rental. NOTE A professional grade air-less paint sprayer can deliver to much to fast and may not be for the beginning painter".



Paint sprayers

Upper level of my house has painted wood shingles. Do the paint sprayers like "Wagner do a good job?  Never used one before, how would it work on the clapboard siding on the lower portion of the house?

Sprayers work best when the paint does NOT need to be worked into the wood. If the wood is bare or rough and needs the paint brushed in, a brush of course works best. Under these conditions you may need to brush it after spraying it.

But if the surface is smooth or already painted pretty well covered, then the sprayer will save tons of time.


Lead Paint

Lead paint exterior

I bought a home a few weeks back that has lead paint on the exterior. I am contemplating putting up vinyl siding over it. Is there any problems associated with this? Is it safe to have it covered like that? What are my other alternative? I don't want to spend a fortune to remove the wood siding and then put a new one.

I believe siding right over it will not cause any problem and will sufficiently cover the paint. You can check with you local building inspector to be sure if this is an acceptable abatement method. Vinyl is typically installed directly over your existing siding and I don't think your case would be different.
Another alternative you can also ask him about is painting over it (there are paints approved for covering lead paint). But vinyl is final.


Whitewash ?

I need to know how to make whitewash and I need the exact quantities of the materials used, can you find out for me quickly ??

There is a commercial whitewash product called "Sunny Dry" that comes in a powdered form...Just add water. Comes in colors too...Used to be sold at K Mart...


Painting garage floor

I'd like to paint my garage floor with a tuff epoxy type paint. Do they make good water based paints now that are easy to apply and that are tuff? Can you recommend a brand to use?

I believe there are several out there .Benjamin Moore (my favorite paint co.) offers a few options, ask your local dealer.


Pressure Washing before Painting House Exterior

How long should I allow the wood to dry after pressure washing before painting?

Just until the wood is dry.


Prep for painting gutters

Can anyone tell me the proper way to prepare new galvanized guttering for priming and painting? I have heard vinegar mentioned.... Any ideas?

If you wash them down with lemon juice and wash down with vinegar, you won't have to go up as often. The lemon juice is an acid and the vinegar will neutralize the acid and let the paint adhere.


Re-staining exterior wood door

I have a ten-yr. old exterior wood door (mahogany) that is very weathered (gray & gummy) on the outside. I'd like to restore it to it's original luster, but don't know where to begin. What kind of product do I need to remove old stain & what kind of new stain & protection should I consider as well?

Your best bet is to sand the old door to its original wood surface, (if you don't have an electric sander you can rent them). Then visit your local paint/home center for colors and sealers advice for your climate.

I would recommend, (and I recently did this) that you replace your wood exterior door with a metal/insulated door. I live in a northern climate and wood makes a poor insulator compared to the newer products. It is also better for security reasons. The other approach you could do, if you want to keep your old door, is to install a storm/screen door to protect your old door. This will reduce the weathering.


Painting around electrical wires

I need to paint around the main electrical wires coming into my house above ground. Any recommendations and/or precautions ?

Use a wooden ladder.
DON'T touch two wires at the same time with anything.

Exterior Paint

I am planning on painting the exterior of my house, which is mostly stucco with some wood. How can I calculate the amount of paint I will need? Is it necessary to prime the entire house or only unpainted wood?

The BEST method for recoating a stucco home is with NEW STUCCO. Even the best masonry paints are sure to fail with time leaving you with not only flaked paint, but also a surface, which cannot be finished in any way. You are better off hiring someone to add a new lie finish and splash coat of colored stucco than to paint it at any time. Though refinishing and resplashing will cost more initially, it will cost less in the end. Please don't paint your stucco.

This is stated right on the can of paint...but absorption and amount of coats all determine on how much paint you will need. Primer is always good if the stucco is going to be absorbent so old or you are changing colors. Therefore, take your house width x height divide by 400 x coats = gallons of paint.

Click here for our Painting Tips Article
Click here for our Moisture In The Home Article
Click here for our Solving Your Drainage And Runoff Problems Article

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