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Exterior paints 101: an overview

If you are planning on painting the exterior of your home, let this exterior paints 101 guide help you make the task easier.

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Exterior paints 101 by Sunfrog1 on FlickrIf you are planning on painting the exterior of your home, let this exterior paints 101 guide help you make the task easier.

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Painting the outside of your home is one of the most effective things you can do to instantly improve its appearance. A brand new paint color or even a re-application of an existing color can give a home a refreshed look and added defense against the elements.

Understanding the materials you will need while painting the exterior of a home before you begin will save you a lot on costs down the road.

No. 1: Survey fixed features

Before you choose your paint colors, the first exterior paints 101 rule that you should follow is to make sure that you take into account the fixed features of your home. These include the items that you may not be changing, like the roof color and the stonework surrounding the home.

The texture and tone of these features should be considered when choosing your exterior paint color because all of the colors need to work together to achieve the maximum desired effect.

Wherever you live, try and take into account neighboring homes before making a color choice too. You want your home to stand out in a good way.

No. 2: Select paint basis

Decide if you're going to go with acrylic latex or oil-based paints. There are pros and cons to each. Acrylic latex paint is water based, and is available in tons of color and finish options. It's an extremely popular choice with both homeowners and professional painters alike because it's easy to use, cleans up easily, and can cover many different materials.

The downside is that latex paint tends to be smelly due to high VOC levels. It also doesn’t bond well to oil-based paints. If your home was originally painted with oil-based paint, this could be an issue.

Oil-based paints are prized for their staying power since they get really hard as they dry. The downside is that they have a tendency to become brittle and crack over time.

No. 3: Consider premium paints

Make sure to choose the best-quality paint you can afford. Cheap paints may seem like a bargain, but you may end up needing additional coats of a cheap paint in order to get the desired coverage. Premium paint may cost more upfront, but it will also last a lot longer.

Regular premium paint will run you anywhere from $35 to $45 per gallon. If you kick it up a notch and go for "green" premium paint, you're looking at paint prices anywhere from $45 to $55 and up per gallon.

Don't forget to figure in primer when tallying up your costs. Most exterior paint jobs require two topcoats and one coat of primer.

No. 4: low-VOC vs zero-VOC

Try and go with low-VOC or zero-VOC paint choices. VOCs are "volatile organic compounds." They're toxic chemicals that are released into the air from regular paints. These chemicals can pose both health and environmental risks, so choosing a paint with low or zero amounts of these chemicals is better for you and your family's health and for the Earth.

Seek out a contractor so that you can get an estimate on what it will cost to redo your home's exterior finish. Check out Reply! for even more information on painting. The right exterior paint color can be so effective that once all is said and done, you may feel like you went out and bought a brand new house.

Get your 4 free painting estimates!

Photo credit: Sunfrog1 via Compfight CC.