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Exterior house painting

There is no doubt that exterior house painting can dramatically improve the appearance of your house. However, it is worth checking to see if replacement is more economical than painting.

For example, plastic rainwater down-pipes are time consuming and difficult to paint - you have to prepare the surface, then apply both an undercoat and a top coat of paint. It can often be cheaper and easier to replace the down pipe - check your local supplier to see what colours are available.

Similarly, wood can be covered with PVC profiling, which means you don't need to repaint it on a regular basis. If the wood is sound you simply clad over it, but if it is rotten you will need to replace it.

If you are planning on doing any exterior house painting it pays to check the weather forecast - attempting to paint wet wood will lead to a botched job that needs repeating as it will soon blister and peel.

Not all exterior surfaces benefit from painting. Brick walls look better if they are cleaned and treated with a good quality waterproofing solution. This involves cleaning the wall with a stiff brush - always wear goggles and a dust mask when undertaking a job like this.

For a small wall, you can use a pressure washer and some specialist brick cleaning/patio cleaning solution, but never attempt to use a pressure washer while standing on a ladder.

Mould will need to be removed with a scraper and treated with a fungicide, and if any pointing becomes loose or drops out you will need to re-point that area.

If your wall has been rendered and has cracks, you will need to fill these before you paint - if you apply some PVA bonding to the cracks it will help the filler to stick.

For small cracks (2mm or less) special exterior filler works fine, but for large cracks use mortar. Chalky or powdery surfaces will need sealing first with a stabilising solution.

Once you are ready to paint, it's time to visit your DIY shop. You'll find lots of choices of exterior paint, at various price ranges. While you can easily save ?50 or even ?100 by choosing cheap paint, it is not a good investment.

Firstly, good quality one-coats will actually cover a wall with one coat, whereas the cheaper brands will often need 2 or 3 coats. Secondly, the better brands will last far longer - so ask yourself, do you want to do the whole job again in just a couple of years because you saved ?50 on paint?

Exterior work can be messy - you'll be using a big brush, typically a 4 inch or 6 inch masonry brush - so if you know you are a messy worker, mask surrounding areas and use dust sheets on the ground.

If you are using rough masonry paint, you will need a special brush. Start at the top of the wall and work downwards, applying a good even coat. Be sure to brush the paint out in all directions so you don't get lines in the paint. It's also worth using a paint kettle - it's much easier to hold than a 5-litre tin.

Exterior woodwork will also need repainting - if the paint is still intact you can give it a light sanding then wipe off the dust with white spirit. If, however, the paint has bubbled, you will need to remove it. The easiest way to do this is with an electric hot air gun and a scraper - however, use this with care - if you get the glass too hot it will break.

To get a good quality finish on exterior gloss, 2 coats of undercoat and one coat of gloss are recommended. One coat of each will not give a good enough finish for outside.

If you encounter rotten wood you will need to remove all of the rotten wood and replace it using a wood repair kit. Missing putty around the windows will need to be replaced, and if there are large gaps between the window and walls you can cut and fit some PVC cloaking profile and hold it in place with silicone.



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