Avoid Common Building Painting Mistakes

Painting Mistakes 101

Exterior house painting is a wonderful way to maintain, enhance and beautify the wood siding on your home. But it is very important to do things correctly. By making exterior painting mistakes on your home, you'll likely suffer some financial consequences.

Experts representing paint manufacturers see many field failures of painted surfaces. They most often arise from a common cause, which quite honestly usually is the result of cutting corners or trying to save some expense up front. 

Photo HGTV - inspired shiplap walls for a rustic home look.

There are some paint failures that are due to construction errors, building ventilation or vapor barrier errors, building leaks, or improper maintenance. Before repainting a building or home, it is important to understand what caused the failure in order to not repeat the expense of a new paint job again, and again. 

Most Common Painting Mistakes

Homeowners are usually on a budget when remodeling their home. Having multiple rooms professionally painted can certainly put a dent in your overall spend. But, unless your past life is being a painter or handyman of some sort, you may be much better off long-term calling in your local professional painting crew. Here are a few of the most common painting mistakes made, and they are usually because the homeowner doesn't have the time or decides to cut some costs.

Not preparing weathered wood properly

Painting on bare wood that has been exposed to the open elements, even if for only a few weeks can lead to cracking and peeling after only a year or two. The wood may be new but it has soaked up some moisture, dirt and other elements at this point. Unfortunately, you'll have to thoroughly sand the weathered wood and prime it before painting in order to avoid this most common painting mistake. 

Avoid common painting mistakes

Not smoothing rough edges on old paint

Preparing the surface properly is vitally important. This is the number one spot where painting mistakes begin to happen. After scraping away loose, flaking or peeling paint, the old coat that remains usually has rough edges. If these edges aren’t sanded down properly, the new paint will flow over them in a very thin coat. This creates areas that are vulnerable to failure.

Avoid Common Building Painting Mistakes

Failing to use a primer

ANY exterior paint job will benefit from a coat of primer. It’s especially important, however, to prime wood that has not been previously painted. Also, any unpainted wood that may exist due to flaking or peeling, or from scraping or sanding during surface preparation needs to have a coat of primer.

This is second most common painting mistake made by homeowners. Primer covers flaws in the surface and gives you a smooth, long-lasting finish. It’s also fine to use paint-and-primer-in-one mixes if the old surface was previously painted, is in good shape, and has a flat (non-glossy) finish. But if you’re painting over a more difficult surface you should use a stand-alone primer or a premium all-in-one mix specifically designed to cover unpainted surfaces.

Painting on wet surfaces

Painting on wet surfaces is also a very common painting mistake that ends up costing homeowners thousands of unexpected dollars very quickly after their job has been finished. This error happens in many ways including painting too early in the morning with dew, power washing the exterior of the house and not letting it dry or painting too late into the evening or after a light rain. 

A more not-so-obvious issue is moisture seepage from behind the surface you're painting. Moisture seeping from behind can result in blistering and peeling. You'll want to check open seams at corner joints and anywhere windows and doors abut the walls. You can caulk these carefully for an easy fix. Splits or cracks within the siding should also be sealed with paintable siliconized acrylic caulk. Make sure your caulk is paintable, as this is the next most common painting mistake. Painting over caulk that is not paintable causes the same issue as above - thin layers and failed paint jobs due to fast erosion.  

Applying paint too quickly

In a rush? Most homeowners are, as painting the exterior of your home is usually a need vs. a want. Paints perform best when applied at the recommended spread rate. Believe it or not, many people will either apply paint in too thin of a coat or thin the paint out in order to stretch further. This will most certainly cause early failures like peeling or cracking. You may also invite mildew infestation by adopting this practice, thus causing more financial burden and potential health risks for your family. 

Avoid common building painting mistakes

Skimping on brushes and tools

One other area that many homeowners run into trouble is when they purchase their tools to get the job done. You can purchase the highest quality paint known to man and it simply won't perform if you go cheap on the applicators. Good brushes and roller covers give better coverage and save you on the cost of paint in the long run. Good brushes will also last for years if you take care of them, just like anything else. 

The same can be said for painters tape. The professionals spend good money for high-quality tape, and you should, too. Using masking tape as an alternative almost always fails during the paint job and if left on long enough, can cause the glue to cause damage to wood trim and other surfaces you may have stuck it to. (Imagine starting a painting project with some of these scenarios and having to leave it mid-stream until the following weekend. This will increase your costs and efforts).

Using the wrong type/quality of exterior paint

Do not paint your exterior surface with interior paint. It happens... This is the very thing to make sure you've got right, but homeowners do make this painting mistake. Quality is also a factor when it comes to painting. Top quality 100% acrylic latex provides the best overall performance, and the best protection against premature failure when applied to properly prepared wood surfaces. You may pay just a bit more than a run-of-the-mill exterior paint, but they will last a lot longer and require fewer coats to finish the job. This makes them a lot less expensive in the long run. 

Lastly, there are other items to consider. They are not less important but perhaps worthy of a topic of their own down road. You'll want to also consider these common sense items:

  • Using flat paints in high traffic areas
  • Painting over high-gloss paint without sanding
  • Plunging your brush too far into the paint
  • Painting over wallpaper (you can do it, but it needs to be done right)
  • Painting aimlessly without a pattern
  • Skipping the clean up (causing a long-term cost of tools).

If you'd like a quote to see what it may cost to have your building's exterior prepared and painted professionally for long-term performance, then just fill out our form to get a free quote.