It’s something we have said many times in our articles, but it’s worth saying again: a large part of the success of any house painting project depends on proper preparation. Often, we focus on the surface preparation or the areas where the exterior paint will be applied, but it is also important to discuss how to prepare the items you aren’t painting. Specifically, how do you make sure no paint ends up where you don’t want it?
To tackle this question, let’s take a look at each kind of item on or around a house that you want to protect, and we’ll discuss how best to keep them safe.
Small Items and Removable Features
When you are painting the exterior of a house, what do you do with doorknobs and shutters? What about address placards and flag holders? Exterior spigots? Wall-mounted decorations? Christmas lights you never took down?
If you can, it is usually easiest to remove these kinds of items. It is the surest way of protecting them from accidental painting, and the process of painting is much quicker without those obstacles. Doorknobs and shutters are usually only held on by a couple of screws, as are many other exterior features mentioned above.
For items you can’t remove, such as exterior spigots or a fancy doorknob, you can wrap them with painter’s tape. Get a wide roll, and apply the tape carefully so there is a sharp edge where the tape meets the paintable surface. You can even use a utility knife to trim the edge of the tape after application, making sure it follows exactly the line you need.
Exterior Light Fixtures
For homeowners who are comfortable removing a light fixture, it can be a quick and simple process in many cases (just make sure you turn off the appropriate breaker). Otherwise, use one length of tape to create a border between the fixture and the wall, then use more tape to adhere painter’s plastic over the whole fixture, protecting it thoroughly.
If you are going to paint a wood or metal window frame, there are three approaches to protecting window glass. Because latex/acrylic paints can be scraped off most windows with little trouble, some people don’t do anything to protect the glass. Once the paint is dry, they just use a razor blade to make a cut where the wood or metal meets the glass, and then use a putty knife to scrape off the excess paint. (This is is the approach you see in the photo at the top of the page).
Other people prefer to use tape to protect the edges of the window glass before painting the frames, creating a clean border and avoiding the work of cutting and scraping later.
Some professional house painters use a special window coating that they spray on the glass before they begin, then they can peel it off in one sheet after the painting is done. This method is typically used when the painter is going to use a spraying method for the paint application.
In a situation where your window frames do not need painting, then the whole window, frame, glass and all, can be covered at once. Again, use wide painter’s tape to create a clean edge where the frame meets the siding. This can be tricky because the siding surface is rarely straight and smooth. Brick and other types of masonry have irregularities in the surface, and many wood and vinyl siding types have angled, overlapping boards or rows.
Here are a few tips for taping window frames:
- Use short strips of tape
- Press the tape firmly against the surface, so there are no places where it is bubbled up or folded over.
- Use a utility knife or razor blade to help you get that straight edge.
- Don’t be skimpy with tape. It is cheap, and it’s worth using more to make sure your window frames are well-protected.
Once you have taped the edge of the frame, you may want to use painter’s plastic or a sheet of brown craft paper to cover the rest of the frame and the glass. Craft paper is easier to cut to the correct shape and affix to a window.
Door Frames and Doors
To paint a door frame, use the same taping precautions you would for a window frame. One tip that speeds things up in many situations: open the door so it’s not directly touching the frame, and then you can paint the frame without worrying about the door. Just don’t close the door until the paint is dry! If you are not painting the door frame or the door, you can use tape and plastic or tape and paper to cover the whole thing.
It can be difficult to paint your wooden fascia if there is a gutter on it. You want to get paint at least part way up behind the gutter, since you can see some of that space when you look straight up. However, you don’t want to get paint on the gutter itself. Removing the gutters would make the painting easy, but it’s probably not worth it; gutters are not a simple thing to take down and put back up!
The best solution is to use a wide roll of painter’s tape to protect the back side and bottom of the gutters, so that you can get a paint brush up there without getting paint on the gutter. You could use craft paper again, cut into longish strips, to reduce the amount of tape you would need to protect the gutter.
Shrubbery and Plants
Painter’s plastic is inexpensive and lightweight, making it a good option for draping over shrubbery and garden areas during exterior painting. Plastic or canvas tarps are a reusable option for doing this, though these are heavier and may crush more delicate flowers
Walkways and Patios
Canvas tarps are good for protecting floors and other horizontal surfaces, but you don’t want to let a big spill sit on them too long, as the paint may seep through to the surface beneath. Plastic tarps are a more durable and seep-proof option. Painter’s plastic tends to be thin and easily torn, so it might not be ideal for protecting a surface that has foot traffic and ladders on it.
Can’t Someone Else Do It?
If looking in detail at what it takes to protect your home for exterior painting seems daunting, you may want to consider hiring a professional. A house painting company already has all the necessary materials for protecting your home, plus the expertise to apply it efficiently and effectively. In addition, a professional house painter has the skills and knowledge necessary to paint all the exterior surfaces for beautiful, long-lasting results.
A.G. Williams has been painting home exteriors in New York and Connecticut since 1906. We take great care to complete our work carefully and excellently, treating your family and your home with the utmost respect. For a free estimate, give us a call or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!