How to Prepare Your House for Paint

How to Prepare Your House for Paint

21 Prep Steps you will want to take beforehand.

Important NOTE: These steps are El Gato Painting “Best Practice” for most traditional wood and stucco homes.

Step 1. Pressure Washing & Cleaning.
Pressure Washing & Cleaning
Power wash the walls first with clean water.

Be Careful! Too much pressure can damage your exterior
Power washers have different nozzle tips for different applications, so be sure to use correct spray tip (a FAN TIP  40 degree or Low Pressure is best) because it cleans a wider area and reduces the chances of shredding the wood (as a ZERO degree tip).
Power Washing

Read these links below to get it right.
Home Depot: 
Pressure Washing Your Home

Generac Power Products Chart:
Using the correct Nozzle

Pressure Washers Direct:
How to Clean Brick and Mortar Walls

Adjust pressure according to instructions from your rental outlet or your owner’s manual.

If water doesn’t clean it – Consider a Cleaning Agent.
man with a Cleaning Agent

Commonly used is a pump sprayer. Apply to siding and allow to set 10-20 minutes before power washing again.

Some professionals will mix and apply with their power washing equipment as well. Your choice.

A: You can mix your own Bleach Solution Mix 8 ounces per 1 Gallon water
B: Or use JOMAX mold and mildew cleaner Be sure to read the label for proper mixtures and water temperatures before using.

Step 2. Remove any mold and mildew. Clean all surfaces.
removing of mold and mildew

Always remember to wear protective hood and gear when spraying cleaning agents.

You may want to use a stronger cleaning agent:
Most homes have a small amount of mold and mildew depending on the region you live in. You will have to remove this before or during your pressure washing process.

Watch This Video:
RUST-OLEUM: JOMAX Cleaner & Mildew Killer


For wood and stucco exterior –Traditional wood siding will usually be an easy clean with little scrubbing and scraping.

Notice the Wide-Spread Fan Tip.

Mix in your cleaning agentThen spray and soak the entire wall – let sit for 5-30 minutes. This gives the cleaning agent time to soak the surface and dissolve any dirt, grime and mold.

IMPORTANT: Read label for proper pre-soaking times because times differ between products.

Spray thoroughly. If necessary – scrub tough stains with a bit more elbow grease to remove.

Rinse cleaning agent off well and allow to dry. Look over your job to see if there are any spots you missed – then clean as necessary.

Once dried, you are ready to move forward with the rest of your preparation process.

Remember to wear protective gear before applying.

Step 3. Survey your entire job. fix & repair as necessary.

Grab your pen and paper, it’s time to “walk the property “

It’s time to look over the job. Here you will determine exactly what must be done and how it will be done. Surveying and organizing at the beginning of the project assures that you can perform in the most efficient manner. Repairs and Verifying colors, etc.

You are checking for anything which needs to be mended, or repaired to determine exactly what must be done, who will do it and how it will be done.

What you are looking for: Cracked or peeling paint, broken/cracked siding, wood rot, areas needing new caulking and sealing like around doors and windows.

Correcting these issues at the beginning assures your home will be ready to go on paint day.

Step 4. Cover plants & shrubs. Move outdoor furniture away from work area.

Move any items that are against or near the house a safe distance away and/or cover. This includes cars, boats, lawn furniture, potted plants, etc.Cover plants & shrubs

Step 5. Perform minor pruning.

The purpose of minor pruning is to create a workable distance between the house and your shrubs.Performing minor pruning

This gives us the room to place drop cloths protecting your shrubs and plants.

El Gato Painting will gladly perform this step if hired to paint your home, but it should be understood that some plants may have to be cut-back substantially to facilitate painting.

Step 6. Paint? Verify what type was used previously.

What primers and paint were used previously, will determine what you use for your current project to assure best adhesion and coverage.

It is rare – but with older homes – if painted with oil-based paint – it may require a specialty primer.
Be sure to discuss this with your paint retailer.

You will want to sand and spot prime any surfaces requiring attention.

Step 7. Gutters (older galvanized)

Scrape gutters and downspouts. Remove loose paint and spot prime bare metal with the appropriate primer. Some homes with galvanized metal gutters may have a small amount of peeling.

Should your home have quite a lot of peeling on this type of gutter, you may have to strip the gutters back to bare metal. This can be a huge project…

Gutters (older galvanized)

…Be sure to consult with your paint dealer for the proper strippers, primers and paint for galvanized gutters and allow additional time for this.
If you are unsure and do not want to take on the task, call El Gato Painting and we will take on the job for you.

Step 8. Gutters (baked enamel)

Mask completely if no painting is required. If no painting is required, then just clean and mask them off.

Should a color change be desired: Sand completely – prime – and then paint.

Step 9. Remove any hooks, staples and nails.
Removing of any hooks, staples and nails

Your home may have a collection of hooks, nails and fasteners under eaves, fascia, or siding (not including roofing nails)
Look carefully and remove. Then fill holes accordingly or leave for paint to fill.

Step 10. Fascia – Remove loose or flaking paint.

Scrape off all loose, peeling, chipping and flaking paint from fascia.
Fully sand, even where not peeling, and spot prime bare wood.
Removing of loose or flaking paint

Step 11. Wood siding & eaves – Sand where needed.

View this Home Depot Link: How to Paint a House Exterior
All wood siding and eaves will be thoroughly sanded where needed, cleaned and spot primed prior to painting.

Allow additional timeIf the existing paint is peeling excessively and requires
extra-ordinary scraping, sanding and priming.

Step 12. Evaluate your entrance doors.
Evaluate entrance doors

If you are painting your entrance doors, be sure to fully sand them, fill all holes and prime any bare wood before you paint.
View El Gato Blog: How To Paint or Varnish Your Entry door

Step 13. Garage doors. Painted wood, or metal with baked enamel.

You will need to fully sand any bare wood and spot prime. These steps are similar to painting your Entry Doors in Step 12.
Garage doors
Many homes have baked enamel garage doors. If no painting is required, then just clean and mask them off.

If you need to paint Baked Enamel: Be sure to consult with your paint dealer for the proper primer.
If you are unsure and do not want to take on the task, call El Gato Painting and we will take on the job for you.

Step 14. Foundation trenching & prep – if your foundation goes below the dirt level.
Foundation trenching & prep

You will want to trench the dirt away several inches and any remaining dirt will be wire brushed off the stucco or block. This enables you to paint below the dirt line. This is especially helpful if there is going to be a color change.

Step 15. Filling cracks & holes.

Fill all significant cracks or holes in the stucco or block with a suitable patching compound.
Read on El Gato Blog: How to Repair Stucco

Step 16. Check for rust – Sand, remove and prime.
Check for rust

Check for rust, in places like older steel utility doors or nail heads in siding. It is always best to sand off the rust and expose the bare metal before painting.
Sand off rust – spot prime with rust-inhibitive primer – brush or spray on.

When more than just a few spots becomes a larger task – Check out these links:

Red Label Abrasives:
How to Remove rust From Metal

Master Seal Doors and Windows:
4 Ways to Remove Rust from Metal Doors

Step 17. Water marks or damage.
Water marks or damage

Check for Water Damage or Leakage and seal the stains.
You will first want to clean the area the best you can.

Start by mixing a solution of equal parts regular, or white vinegar and water. Then either fill spray bottle and spray on or dampen a clean cloth with the mixture and gently rub the watermark in a circular motion.

Let sit for approximately 10-15 minutes – then scrub the area using a soft brush or clean rag. Rinse thoroughly before applying sealer.

Consult with your paint retailer for the best option of Stain/Spot Sealer, such as Zinsser Bin pigmented shellac.

Then apply to prevent stains bleeding through the finish coat of paint.

Step 18. Caulk where needed.

It is important to Caulk around Casings, Windows and Doors.

Caulking seals and creates a barrier that prevents moisture, air leaks, and drafts from entering your home. This can help prevent water damage, wood rot, and paint peeling. Caulking can also keep insects out and insulate your home from extreme temperatures.

For windows  – To prevent gravity drainage of moisture – Best practice is to caulk the top and sides, leaving under the window free for any moisture/drainage.

Do not caulk under lap siding, as this is the area where moisture drains. It also comes loose with constant expansion and contraction and looks terrible.

Improves the paint job.

Caulking also improves the painting application. It can create a smoother, more uniform surface for painting, and help the paint adhere to the wall. It can also improve the appearance of the paint job by eliminating visible cracks and holes.

Step 19. Mask or remove all fixtures before painting.

All vents, light fixtures, doorknobs, house numbers, mailboxes etc.

You can mask around these items and fixtures and wrap larger items like exterior entry/garage lights with brown paper or plastic.

IMPORTANT: Do not turn on these fixtures while wrapped with paper, as this can start fires. It is best to remove light bulbs until fixtures are unwrapped.

Professional painters will sometimes remove them completely to allow for an easier and organized paint application.

Masking of all fixtures before painting

Step 20. Mask all windows & doors.

All window and door openings and concrete to avoid overspray and paint splatters.

Step 21. Cover plants & shrubs.

Cloth sheets are preferred over plastic because plastic can allow sun exposure to overheat and damage plant leaves.
Cover plants & shrubs

Proper Preparation Promotes a Professional Looking Paint Job!

At El Gato Painting – These are the standard preparation steps we provide for most homes. There may be extra or additional charges for any work considered extraordinary, due to weathering, lack of maintenance, water damage, improper previous work, etc.


El Gato Painting has the knowledge, track record, and reputation to do your project right. The first time.

Topics we will discuss with you before you hire us.

  1. We’ll furnish you with our complete list of satisfied customers.
  2. Verify we are licensed and insured.
  3. Agree with you in writing on price and responsibilities.
  4. Be sure you get our best warranty for the work.
  5. Make sure we use high-quality materials and paints.
  6. We’ll carefully go over our 21 steps of preparation and application.
  7. Welcome your questions and concerns.
  8. Look forward to your final inspection of our crew’s excellent work.

Please visit our Certification pages:
Google Page
for our long list of 5 Star Ratings.
El Gato Painting Services From our website here
Reviews for the company Customer testimonials from our website here

This will give you the peace of mind that you have hired trustworthy and reliable professionals.

Contact El Gato Painting Services
today and get a free quotation!

The El Gato Difference brochure

Click on Cat to PRINT
The El Gato Difference brochure


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