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5 House Painting Rules You Should Never Break


One of the most significant changes you can make to freshen up the feel of your home and increase value is to repaint. Repainting a house, whether you're tackling the exterior, interior or both, isn't the easiest job but the end result is well worth the time and money, if it's done right.

If you think your home could use a fresh coat of paint, here are 5 rules you need to follow.

  • Always Prep and Prime Properly

Repainting your exterior will not only beautify your house, but also protect the it against the elements. The most important step in repainting is to always prep and prime properly before you even touch it with paint. Many people rush this step and the end result is peeling paint, unsightly edges and feathering, or complete failure of the paint job.

Whether your home exterior has a wood house siding or fiber cement siding installed, you must first evaluate where problems spots may be or if there is any damage to the walls. Remove old, flaking paint properly using techniques such as scraping with a flexible putty knife and/or using a pressure washer. Fill in any cracks or holes in the walls with exterior-grade filler. Finally, never skip on sanding as this step will smooth out ridges which will be more noticeable under paint. Also, prior to removing paint you should check whether the old paint is lead-based, as these older paints can be dangerous to remove yourself. If the paint is from 1978 or earlier you should consult a professional.

  • Use the 60-30-10 Color Rule

A rule of modern home design that should be kept in mind when planning on paint color choice is the 60-30-10 rule. This rule breaks down color selection to a basic principle that 60% of the room should be the dominant color, 30% a secondary contrast color and the final 10% an accent color. When applied to house painting you will want 60% of your color choice to be the walls and floor, 30% to be furniture color or an accent wall, and the final 10% to be smaller piece of furniture and decor.

Though the typical 60-30-10 rule is used for interior design to ensure a balance of color, it can also apply to exterior painting. You may use the 60% for the exterior walls and wood decking materials, the 30% for outdoor furniture, and the final 10% for decor like throw pillows on the furniture or planters. Using this ratio will help you maintain an attractive color palette without overdoing it.

  • Never Skip on Paint Primer

While this is unlikely a mistake to happen if you work with a professional, it is one step that some homeowners are tempted to skimp on. Never, ever use a cheap primer or, even worse, skip primer entirely. Regardless of how expensive your paint may be, it will not look good or last if you try to weasel out of a proper priming job.

Purchase a high-quality primer designed for the area of the house you're painting (interior or exterior) and follow the instructions to a T. Don't paint layers too thin nor too thick, as too much primer will have the opposite effect. Also be sure your primer is complementary to your paint as some ingredients will not mix well once it comes time to paint over your primed walls. If you're not sure which primer to purchase you can often get a recommendation from the manufacturer or store you are purchasing your paint from. 

  • Don't Rush and Only Use Tried-and-True Painting Techniques

If you decide to tackle the drop of painting on your own you must first educate yourself on proper painting technique. The worst thing you can do is put in the effort to properly prepare your walls, cover your surroundings and apply your primer coats just to slap paint on haphazardly. The beautiful paint jobs you see in magazines or on websites dedicated to modern home design ideas were painted methodically.

Read up on painting techniques and watch videos on the internet. Always paint from top to bottom, with overlapping paint to prevent lines or drips. Use good quality painter's tape religiously. If you're painting the exterior be sure to do the walls first and then the trim. It's also a good idea for your first wall to be one that is less inconspicuous than a main wall. This is especially true if you are using a professional type of paint sprayer on the exterior.

  • Be Realistic When Considering DIY 

Painting is often considered to be an easy DIY project, but this is a bit deceiving. Sure, you can repaint a bedroom fairly easily with little skill, but if you're tackling a complete house paint job and exterior repainting you should really weigh the pros and cons.

Too many homeowners get overambitious and realize halfway through that they took on too much, either in terms of unplanned expenses, mistakes and time. First off, if you have no previous experience painting walls it is safe to say that a large job like the exterior should be left to a pro. Secondly, the time put into repainting a whole house is extensive and laborious.

Add up how much your paint supplies will be, be generous as mistakes can happen, along with estimated time costs and you just might find that hiring a professional isn't very much more expensive. With a professional also delivering a higher quality paint job the wisest choice is pretty clear.

Repainting is less expensive and time-intensive that other remodeling techniques, yet yields impressive visual results, making it one of the most common projects for homeowners. Whether you go the D.I.Y route or decide to hire a professional, making sure these 5 rules are being followed will help ensure you are happy with the end results.

Note: this is a partnered post and consideration was received for its publication. CC-licensed image by Myxi.