You could buy the highest quality of paint in the market with the best lifetime-warranty and apply 3 coats, but if the surface is not well prepared, the stage is already set for an inferior paint job. The amount of effort you put towards surface preparation before exterior painting will determine how long the paint lasts.

A majority of paint failures result from inadequate surface preparation. Some people skimp on prep work because, understandably, it’s hard, and time consuming. Other do so because either they don’t understand how important it is, or how to do it. In this article, we will go through some of the main steps of surface prep before exterior painting to help you understand the processes and their importance.
So here we go;

1. Cleaning

Your siding collects fine dirt and debris over time. If you paint over this contaminants, the paint will be sticking to the dirt particles and not to the surface of the siding. This causes the paint to peel off the surface sooner than you can expect. To tell if the surface was not well prepared, experts look at the back of the peeling paint chip –if it has dirt and contaminants, it means the surface was not well cleaned.

So clean the surface thoroughly either by hand scrubbing or using a pressure washer. You will find pressure washing to be more convenient, faster and effective in dislodging dirt and grim from difficult areas such as surface cracks and crevices. If you’ve already scheduled painting, be sure to pressure wash 2-3 days in advance to allow for sufficient drying time.

2. Scrapping 

Most homeowners decide to repaint their house after seeing signs of paint peeling and flaking. If this is your case as well, you need to scrape off all the loose paint from your siding until all that is left are areas of bare surfaces and well-adhered paint. Leaving any flaking or peeling edges will definitely lead to failure of your paint job.

You can choose from different types of scrappers from your local home improvement store. Most people prefer long-handled pull scrapers because they work faster and have replaceable blades for when they because dull. Try not to be too aggressive with it otherwise it can gouge into the siding and leave undesirable dings.

3. Repair Damages

Cleaning and scrapping your siding also provides a good opportunity to inspect your siding for damages. If your siding has any damaged or rotted sections, this is the best time to have them repaired. Replace rotted or missing sections and treat any sections that have mold and mildew with a water/household bleach mixture at a ratio of 3:1. If there’re any protruding nail heads, set them just slightly below the surface using a hummer.

4. Sanding

Sanding is the next important step that will help you achieve a smooth surface. Sand down any rough exposed wood as well as feather-sanding the edge of the remaining paint that’s still on the siding. Doing so reduces the appearance of the transition from the existing coating to bare surface when you finally paint over everything.

While sanding manually using a sandpaper is an option, this is going to take ages and it’s quite laborious. Consider buying or renting an electric sander, preferably a random orbital sander. Start with a medium grit if your surface rough, or go straight to the fine grit if your surface is fairly even.

5. Priming

If you’re in a hurry to change the color of your exterior, you might be tempted to head straight to applying the paint without priming. Skipping the primer during exterior painting is only justifiable in very few cases, but you almost always have to prime before applying the paint. Priming creates a suitable surface for the paint to adhere to. It also blocks the previous paint and any other stubborn stains from bleeding through the new coat of paint.

Make sure to use a good quality primer that’s suitable to being used on the surface you’re applying it to. If you’re transitioning from a dark to a lighter paint color, consider tinting your primer with a bit of the paint that you’re going to apply. You might also want to replace caulking that has been damaged before finally painting.

Final thoughts

Once the above steps are completed, your exterior is ready for painting. The color and choice of the paint are entirely up to your preference, but we always recommend using high quality paint products for the best results.

If you’re located in Eugene, Oregon and would like some professional assistance with your exterior painting project please give us call on 541-600-2025 or send us an email at and we would be more than happy to help.