red painted siding building with white trim

If you have wood siding, you know how great it looks when it's well-maintained. You may have also noticed how worn it looks when time and the elements have gotten the upper hand.

A new paint job will increase your home's beauty while protecting the exterior and saving you the high cost of extensive repairs down the road.

Step 1: Evaluate

Examine the entire surface of your house, looking for problems such as peeling paint, open joints or seams, wet or rotted wood and mildew. You must identify, repair and resolve these problems before you pick up a paintbrush.

Flaking paint occurs when moisture collects under the painted surface. The moisture enters the wood siding from the unpainted side, gets absorbed and then dries. This causes repeated swelling and shrinking of the wood, which makes the paint pull away from the wood surface, leaving it cracked and peeling. Locate sources of moisture by checking the area for leakage from the gutters or eaves of the house. If the flaking paint is near a bathroom or kitchen, the pipes may be sweating or leaking or excess heat may be causing condensation.

You may need to use a ladder to get a close look at some areas. Or consider using binoculars to examine your siding's condition from the ground; either of these methods will better help you identify potential problems.

Safety Alerts!

Familiarize yourself with basic ladder safety procedures. Be wary of bee and wasp nests, especially when you are on a ladder.

Be very careful around overhead electrical wires, especially when moving ladders around or painting near service lines attached to the house.

Follow directions and heed safety warnings on paints, chemicals and cleaners.

Step 2: Remove Loose Paint

Cover the ground with drop cloths to catch paint chips. Remove all peeling or flaking paint using a paint scraper. Next, sand the surface. You can rent or buy a disc sander with 60-, 80- and 120-grit sanding discs. For very limited areas, you can use a random-orbit sander, a hand sander or a disc sander drill attachment. Begin sanding with a coarse abrasive and finish with a fine one. Pay particular attention to smoothing the edges between painted and scraped areas. This is called feathering. Painting will accentuate, not hide, any ridges and edges you leave.

Safety Alert!

If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic. Exposure to lead dust can cause serious illness, especially in children. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself by contacting the National Lead Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop.

Helpful Tips

Sharpen and/or replace your paint scraper blades often. A dull blade not only makes your task more difficult, it increases the likelihood you will damage the wood. A dull blade requires you to use more pressure, and you have less control.

When using the disc sander, keep it moving constantly. This will prevent heat caused by friction, which will soften the paint and gum up the paper.

Always wear eye protection and a tight-fitting dust mask when scraping or sanding painted wood.

Step 3: Prepare and Prime the Wood

Fix any small issues with an exterior spackling compound. For larger problem areas, use a two-part polyester resin filler to repair any holes or damaged wood. Mix the filler as directed and apply it with a plastic squeegee. Sand the cured filler with a hand sander to make it smooth and level with the surrounding wood.

Paint tends to peel or flake near joints between dissimilar materials — think siding and trim, window frames and glass, etc. This is where water seeps into cracks and soaks into the wood, causing the paint to peel. Use an old screwdriver or similar tool to scrape out any failed caulk from joints and cracks. Then use a stiff brush to clean the joint. Allow any moisture to dry completely before applying exterior paintable caulk with a caulking gun.

Helpful Tip

A power washer can also be very helpful in removing loose paint. If you use it for early prep stages, however, you'll still need to wash off the sanding dust at this stage.

Clean and wash the surface before painting. Rent or buy a pressure washer to thoroughly clean your home's exterior. If mildew is present (black or gray spots), you'll need to remove it by washing the surface with a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach and a stiff brush. You should wash from the bottom to the top; this method avoids staining. Allow the surface to dry for at least two to three days before painting.

Safety Alert!

TSP is highly corrosive. Take care when working with it, follow manufacturer's instructions carefully and wear protective clothing.

Remove light fixtures and other hardware with a screwdriver to avoid having to paint around them. If you can't remove a fixture, you can cover it with plastic sheeting and masking tape. Remove the shutters so you can paint behind them — you can save the chore of painting shutters for a rainy day in the garage. Also, cover shrubs, the ground and walkways with drop cloths. Slide window screens up behind storm windows or remove them.

Helpful Tip

Don't mask until the last minute, and remove masking tape shortly after you complete painting an area.

Paint will not bond well to wood exposed by sanding. Apply True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Primer/Sealer with a brush, roller or spray applicator to all bare wood. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Paint

Apply EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint with a brush, roller or spray applicator. Start at the top and work down, doing the house walls first and then the trim. Follow the manufacturer's instructions relating to weather, temperature and damp surfaces. If possible, try not to paint in direct sunlight.

Given that rough surfaces absorb more paint than smooth ones, make sure you're applying it evenly. Apply paint so it roughly covers the area described on the paint container's label (typically one gallon for 350 to 400-sq.-ft.). Measure the area you covered by one quart of paint — if it's not between 90 and 100-sq.-ft., adjust your application rate as needed.

To avoid "lap marks" on exterior siding, paint each section so it dries evenly. On higher sections you'll often need to move the ladder several times to reach everything. As soon as you get the ladder set for the next section, work on the boards you've already started, re-coating the old edge before moving on to unpainted sections.

Helpful Tip

As you paint, keep sandpaper, a scraper, spackling compound, a putty knife and caulk with you; this way you can clean and patch any defects you may have missed during the earlier steps.

Step 5: Finish Up

Check your work carefully, looking for any missed spots, spills and drips.

Clean your brush with a brush comb to separate bristles that stick together near the heel of the brush. Rinse the brush out in water. When it clears, put the brush in a spinner if you have one, or thoroughly shake out the excess liquid. Put the brush back in its protective sleeve or hang it on a nail or hook. Store leftover paint in its can or some other well-sealed container, or dispose of it properly.

Once the paint is dry, reinstall your light fixtures, hardware and shutters.

Congratulations! Your home's wood siding now looks sharp and inviting and will be protected from the elements for several more years.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.