Refresh Your Home’s Exterior

Refresh Your Home’s Exterior

Level: Experienced

Over time, exposure to the elements can cause the exterior of your home to look worn and outdated. However, by adding a fresh coat of paint and refinishing your deck, you can give your home a striking new makeover.

Not only will painting and refinishing make your home and deck look like new, but you’ll also protect your investment for years to come.

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Project Steps
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  • Paint the Exterior

    There are many stressors on your home’s exterior surfaces. Sunlight and ultra-violet radiation degrade pigments and binders in paint, resulting in chalking, erosion and color loss. Weather and moisture are always trying to penetrate the paint, while humidity from inside the house pushes outward, causing the paint to “push off” the surface. In addition, temperature fluctuations make the paint expand and contract, which causes it to peel and flake. All of these factors can make your home’s exterior look shabby. Follow the steps below to get your house looking great again.

    • Step 1: Choose the Right Paint for the Job
      True Value WeatherAll® Ultra Premium Aluminum/Vinyl Siding paint has a wide variety of tools for you to choose the right paint color for your home. The outside surface of your home will determine what kind of paint and primer to use. It is recommended that you use latex paints, rather than oil-based paints, because of their higher durability on exterior surfaces. Latex paint provides better fade- and mildew-resistance, flexibility, chalk resistance and adhesion.

      If your home is older, it may already have many layers of oil-based paint on its surface. If this is the case, use oil-based paint as your base coat, and then apply exterior latex paint over it.

      When painting aluminum or vinyl siding, use True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint in Satin Finish. If you will be painting masonry — such as brick, concrete or stucco — paint with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Masonry/Stucco Paint. If you have wood siding on your home, use True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint, in your desired sheen.

      Flat and satin sheens are good for exterior siding because they have little reflection. Semi-gloss sheens are typically used for shutters and trim. Vinyl or aluminum siding that is slightly dented or worn looks best when repainted with a flat sheen because it camouflages imperfections better; a satin finish is a better choice only when the siding is in good condition. In addition, semi-gloss finishes are durable, easier to clean and resistant to mildew and chalking.

    • Step 2: Buy the Right Amount of Paint
      exterior of house

      Once you’ve decided what colors to paint, you’ll need to know how much to buy. When estimating, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the length of each surface by its height and add ano ther 30 percent for good measure. Typically, one gallon of paint will cover 200 to 350 square feet. Buy more than you think you need, you can always use the extra for touch-ups.

      Helpful Tip

      Use the True Value® Paint Calculator to estimate how much paint you need.

    • Step 3: Prepare for Painting

      Before painting, take precautions that will prevent paint getting places you don’t want it, including your neighbors’ property. Use drop cloths to cover cars, patio furniture, shrubs and anything else you don’t want spattered. Although you’re painting outside, it’s still a good idea to cover the ground so you don’t get paint on walkways and the yard. Remove all screens, light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers, shutters and address numbers/placards or cover them with painter’s tape, before you begin.

      Remove peeling or flaking paint by scraping and sanding it off. First use a large scraper to scrape off paint, then rent or buy an orbital or straight-line sander. Begin sanding with a coarse abrasive and then finish with a fine one. It’s particularly important to smooth the edges between the painted and scraped areas, as painting will accentuate any ridges and edges left behind.

      Safety Alerts!

      If your home was built before 1978, test the exterior with a lead testing kit to determine whether it contains any lead-based paint. Lead poses a serious health hazard, especially to children and pregnant women. To protect yourself and your family, avoid scraping or sanding lead-based paint.

      When using a ladder to reach high areas, invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer that attaches to the ladder and braces against the roof.

      Remove any dirt and eliminate mildew by washing surfaces with a long-handled brush and a mixture of water, trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach. Then thoroughly spray surfaces with a pressure washer loaded with a mild detergent. Let everything dry completely before you start painting. When cleaning stucco homes, or if the surface is chalky or crumbly after cleaning, also apply a masonry surface conditioner.

      Safety Alert!

      Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective goggles, clothing and rubber gloves.

      Use an exterior spackling compound to repair any holes or damaged areas. With wood, it’s also important to caulk joints and cracks in areas such as trim and window frames using paintable caulk. Use an old screwdriver to scrape out any old caulk and clean the joint using a small brush. Apply paintable caulk with a caulking tool.

      Helpful Tip

      For more great ideas on repairing trim or window washing, see Exterior Trim Repairs and Window Cleaning Tips.

    • Step 4: Prime and Paint

      A paint roller is a great home exterior painting and priming tool, especially for stucco and brick, which can be difficult to paint over. Just be sure to use a roller cover with a thick nap and keep a brush handy to fill in any cracks or crevices not covered with the roller. Make sure to use a high-quality paint primer, such as True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Primer/Sealer, before you paint. This seals porous surface material so the topcoat won't soak in and dry unevenly, and helps prevent peeling, rusting and bleed-through (especially on wood and concrete). 

      When you’re ready, pour True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint into a paint tray and coat your roller. To get the most even coverage, follow the “top-down” rule — work from the top of your house to the bottom and finish with the trim. Go over the paint surface with a roller when you’re done, to balance coverage. Use paintbrushes for windows, trim, cracks and crevices. Use two coats for optimal results.

      Helpful Tips

      Use ladder mitts to prevent paint from scraping off. Another useful product is a pot hook, which allows you to hang the paint bucket from your ladder for easy access.

      Avoid ridges and lap marks on a flat surface by always stroking into the wet paint, never away from it. As you finish painting one area and move on to the next, blend each new stroke of the brush toward the wet paint previously applied so the layers blend evenly.

    • Step 5: Don't Forget the Front Door

      The outside of your front door is an opportunity to add contrast to the rest of your paint job. A new coat of glossy paint in a bold, cheerful color adds style and will make your home look attractive and unique. First, remove the door from the frame and remove the doorknob. Protect any hardware with painter’s tape. Prime all door surfaces completely, including the front, back and all four outside edges. Paint over the primer with an angled sash paintbrush, painting the corners of the raised panels first. Work from top to bottom and use at least two coats. Reinstall the door when you’re finished.

      Helpful Tip

      For step-by-step instructions on front door repair and replacement, see Update Your Entryway.

    • Step 6: Clean Up

      Thoroughly rinse roller covers and brushes in water (or paint thinner, if you’re using oil-based products) until it runs clear. Squeeze them out to remove excess liquid and store in plastic bags. Remove the drop cloths and pull off the painter’s tape at a 45-degree angle, to avoid removing any paint.

      Safety Alert!

      If you use paint thinner, make sure you find out where and how to dispose of paint thinner properly. Some states have laws that do not allow you to pour paint thinner down the drain.

    Stain Your Deck

    Staining your deck regularly gives it a layer of protection that will make it last longer. Check to see if it’s time to refinish it by applying a few drops of water. If the water beads up, there’s no need to add stain now. If the drops soak in, you need to refinish.

    Before you start, use drop cloths to cover anything you want to protect from accidental spatter or drips of stain.

    • Step 1: Clean the Surface and Remove Existing Finish

      Clean the surface using a power washer to remove dirt, debris and as much of the old stain as possible. Note: Avoid using pressure exceeding 1000 to 1200 psi, as to prevent surface damage. In addition, the nozzle should not be placed too close to the wood (no closer than 12” from the wood), as this also can damage the surface. Pressure washing does not necessarily remove the decaying wood fiber; it only raises and loosens it.

      After cleaning the surface, remove all remaining stain using Woodsman® Premium Wood Stripper. Apply with a large paintbrush. Be sure to follow all label directions. Rinse the surface thoroughly after application.

      Safety Alert!

      The deck surface will be very slippery after it’s been stripped and rinsed. Take care to avoid falls.

      Use Woodsman® Premium Wood Brightener to neutralize the remaining stripper imbedded in the wood pores. This will also make the wood look like new. Follow all label instructions. Apply with a large paintbrush.

    • Step 2: Sand

      Sand the entire surface, using an orbital or deck sander with a 40- to 60-grit sanding pad, to remove the remaining dead wood fiber. This also will give the new stain a more adhesive surface to stick to. Be careful not to over sand the surface. This can polish the surface and make it difficult for the stain to soak in. Afterwards, use Woodsman® Premium Wood Cleaner to ensure that all of the stripper, brightener and any sanding dust have been removed from the surface. Then be sure to rinse the surface thoroughly and let it dry completely.

      Safety Alert!

      Strippers, cleaners and brighteners contain strong chemicals, such as bleaching agents. Wear protective clothing, safety goggles and rubber gloves.

    • Step 3: Apply Stain
      Woodsman® stain

      Choose a quality stain in a clear, natural, semi-transparent or solid-color finish from the Woodsman® line of products. Using a paintbrush, smoothly apply the stain to two or three boards at a time, along the entire length of the boards. Avoid lap marks by keeping a leading wet edge. Brush wet stain into stain. Do not allow the stain to dry while applying, as lap marks will appear. More stain is not better — apply only as much stain as the wood can absorb. If you over-apply, a film can form that is no longer breathable, leaving your deck with a finish that will probably peel over time.

      Helpful Tips

      If working with more than one gallon of stain, all gallons should be intermixed to assure uniform color.

      Stain should be applied when air and surface temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees.

      Do not apply stain in direct sunlight.

      Use a small paintbrush to cover corners and other difficult areas such as steps, railings, board ends and cracks. Allow stain to dry completely before replacing furniture and potted plants. Wait a couple of days before using the deck.

    • Step 4: Clean Up

      Rinse your brushes and other equipment with water or paint thinner, until the water or solvent runs clear. Allow applicators to dry thoroughly and store in plastic bags or hang on nails or hooks. Pick up drop cloths.

    • Step 5: Maintain It

      Do the water test every year and remember that the best time to refinish your deck is in the fall or spring. Periodically cleaning your deck will keep it looking great and will maximize the life of the stain.

      Congratulations, you’re finished!

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

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

    Paint the Exterior

    Stain Your Deck

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