A coat of paint is one of the most simple, speedy makeovers you can give your home, improving both its appearance and value almost overnight.
Rushing into painting never ends well. Approach the job just as a pro would by determining the size and scope of the project. The type of surface – the substrate – you are painting may determine the type of paint you use. Some exterior paints can be used across a range of surfaces while others are very specific in their uses. Make a note of the different surfaces and, if in doubt, take a photo to show a paint professional in-store.
Ultimately, the paint job will only be as good as your prep. At the very least, wash surfaces with soapy water, hose down and allow to dry. Dulux product manager Steph Brodie warns, if repainting window frames and trims, you'll likely be painting over older gloss paint. “For best results, sand your surfaces thoroughly and dust off before painting,” she says.
Flaking paintwork may need to be scraped right back, but it's not always easy to tell if the paint is sound. Matt Browell, category development manager at Taubmans, has this handy test: “To check the adhesion of the old paint, use a sharp blade to cut an X about 5cm in size through the old paint. Put some painter's masking tape over the cut and push on it firmly. Quickly pull the tape off. If the edges of the cut area have lifted, you'll need to scrape and sand back.” Fill any dents or holes in the surface with an exterior-grade filler. “Use acrylic sealants for cracks or gaps in areas where there may be movement such as near doors and windows,” says Matt. “Be sure to use paintable sealants, not silicone, on areas you wish to paint.” Unpainted surfaces may require sanding, cleaning and undercoating before painting.
Only use paints designed for exteriors and stick with acrylic-based paints – such as British Paints 4 Seasons or Dulux Weathershield – as they are easier to work with and clean up. Some surfaces, such as metal or plastic downpipes, may require pre-painting with special undercoats or primers.
The paint label will provide coverage information (square metres per litre) and you can assume all surfaces will require at least two coats.
The best way to make the painting process run smoothly is to ensure you have a clear run. Move outdoor furniture and prune or tie back any branches in your way.
Use painters tape to mask off areas that need protection. If using spray equipment, tape plastic sheeting over windows to protect them. Consider your height access. Ladders will generally suffice for single-storey homes, or you can use trestles and planks. For higher areas, portable scaffold towers are quite simple to set up, use and move.
Look at the forecast before painting – and not just in case of rain – as you shouldn't paint hot surfaces. “The wall temperature can vary from the weather temperature and must be above 10°C and below 35°C throughout the process,” says Steph Brodie of Dulux. Ideally switch the areas you are working on as the sun moves so you remain in a shaded area.
Paint from the top down, starting with the gutters, then the fascia (the board under the gutter) and eaves (between the fascia and the wall). “Next, move onto the walls,” says Matt. “The equipment required here is dependent on the nature of the surface you're painting. Weatherboards will need to be painted with a small roller, brush or spray, while brick and render can be painted with sprays or extra-long nap rollers.” Tackle the trims and windows last, making sure the windows are open so they don't get glued shut.
It's important to leave enough drying time between coats. Use the information on the paint tin as a guide.
Once the job's done, it's time to clean up. Don't rinse waste paint or gear so the wastewater runs down drains or the street gutter. Do it over the lawn or a garden area, then water it well afterwards.
Use a brush to work as much paint as possible from the trays or pots back into the tin, then use newspaper or absorbent kitchen towel to wipe out the bulk of the residual paint. Finally, rinse with clean water, wiping out as you do so.
Pop the brush into a bucket of clean water. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before agitating and using the bucket lip to remove excess paint. Repeat until clean. Rollers are most easily cleaned with a roller cover cleaner – attach it to the hose and run to clean.
Prior to 1970, many paints contained lead. This means older homes may have lead-based paints present and care needs to be taken when sanding or stripping.
Any homes built prior to 1990 with fibre-cement cladding will likely contain asbestos. Asbestos fibres may be present in weatherboard or sheets on walls, eaves, fascia, gable ends and the like. Avoid sanding, scraping or damaging these materials.
Pro tip: Alternate between a pair of brushes, leaving one in a bucket of water, to keep you on track. If you need to leave your painting for a lunch break, or even overnight, you can seal brushes and smaller rollers in larger-sized zip-lock bags. Just squeeze out any excess air before you seal them.
Look for a scheme that plays to your home's era and features with a few suggested combinations.
Harking back to the heritage homes of yesteryear, traditional colours are warm and earthy; look to creams and milky taupes pairing neatly with sandstone.
Think Hamptons-style elegance – the classic colour scheme of greys, bright whites and accents of black or navy works beautifully on homes of any age.
Designed to highlight hero architectural features, a contemporary colour scheme is all about high-contrast hues and the occasional pop of bold and brash colour.
Tip: Look locally, draw inspiration from neighbouring homes and check out colour schemes of houses similar to yours.
Photo credit: Taubmans; GAP Interiors/Anna and Tam/ Julien Fernandez; Getty Images/Johnny, Bertrand; GAP Photos/Juliette Wade.