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Prepare the Surface

Preparing the Surface

Cleaning and washing down the surface outside must be done before painting. Proper precautions also must be taken so a mess of paint is not left on the ground after you have finished. Eye protection and personal safety measures should be thought of and prepared for in the manner of goggles and gloves.

Step 1: All exterior surfaces need to be washed down (with a brush) using a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach to remove dirt and kill mildew. And, even though this may not seem logical, you should wash from the bottom to the top--this method avoids staining.

  •  Tip:  Work in the opposite direction of sun travel so that you and the house are in the shade as much possible. Always keep an eye on the weather. Lightning will head for an aluminum ladder but fiberglass ladders are nonconductive.

Step 2: Drape drop cloths over shrubs and delicate plants to protect the landscape. When you're finished, remove the cloths immediately. We don't want the plants to suffocate in the hot sun. Protect patios, decks, railings, light fixtures, too. Cover (do not remove) door handles.

Step 3: Protect your eyes with goggles and always wear gloves. Rinse your arms and legs often to help prevent bleach burn. When you're finished, hose down the house with a garden hose or water compressor. Let the house dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Step 4: If you have sanded anything down to the bare wood, you'll need to apply a primer before you paint. Primer gives the paint something to adhere to, do not use primer as a finishing coat.

Step 5: Countersink nails and fill up the holes with exterior wood filler.

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