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Common Exterior Painting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Painting the exterior of your home can breathe new life into its appearance and protect it from the elements. It’s a cost-effective way to enhance curb appeal and increase the value of your property. However, exterior painting can be a daunting task, especially for inexperienced individuals. To ensure a successful outcome, it’s essential to avoid common painting mistakes that can compromise the final result. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most common exterior painting mistakes and provide practical tips on how to avoid them.

Insufficient Surface Preparation:

Insufficient surface preparation is a common mistake that can have significant consequences for the longevity and appearance of your exterior paint job. Rushing through this crucial step may result in paint failure, requiring costly repairs and repainting in the future. To ensure a successful and long-lasting paint job, it is essential to prioritize thorough surface preparation. Let’s delve deeper into the importance of each aspect of surface preparation and how to execute them effectively.

Cleaning the Surfaces:

Removing Loose or Flaking Paint:

Repairing Damaged Areas:

Sanding the Surfaces:


Skipping Primer:

Skipping the primer step when painting the exterior of your home is a common mistake that can negatively impact the overall quality and longevity of the paint job. While it may seem like an unnecessary extra step, using a primer is crucial for achieving a professional-looking finish and ensuring the best possible adhesion of the paint to the surface. Let’s explore the importance of primer in more detail and understand why it should never be skipped.

1. Enhanced Adhesion:

One of the primary functions of primer is to create a strong bond between the surface and the paint. Different surfaces, such as wood, metal, or masonry, have varying levels of porosity and texture. Applying primer helps to create a uniform and consistent surface that allows the paint to adhere better. Primer acts as a foundation, providing a surface that the paint can grip onto, preventing it from peeling or flaking over time. Without primer, the paint may not adhere properly to the surface, leading to a less durable and less attractive finish.

2. Improved Color Coverage:

Primer can significantly enhance the color coverage of the paint. It acts as a base layer that evens out the surface, hiding any underlying stains, discoloration, or variations in the substrate. Applying primer before the topcoat helps the paint color appear more vibrant and true to its intended shade. This is particularly important when transitioning from a darker color to a lighter one or when covering surfaces that have a different color underneath. By using a primer, you ensure that the final paint color will look consistent and achieve the desired visual impact.

3. Stain and Tannin Blocking:

Certain surfaces, such as wood, can contain natural oils, resins, or tannins that may bleed through the paint and cause discoloration. Applying primer creates a barrier that effectively blocks these substances from reaching the topcoat. This is especially important when painting exterior surfaces that are prone to tannin bleed, such as cedar or redwood. By using a primer specifically designed for stain-blocking, you prevent unsightly stains from surfacing on the painted surface and maintain a clean, even appearance.

4. Sealing Porous Surfaces:

Primer is particularly beneficial for porous surfaces like bare wood or masonry. These surfaces tend to absorb more paint, leading to uneven coverage and a dull finish. Primer acts as a sealer, penetrating the surface and filling in the pores, thus reducing the amount of paint absorption. This ensures that the paint is distributed evenly, resulting in a more consistent appearance. Additionally, sealing porous surfaces with primer helps to prevent moisture infiltration, which can lead to paint failure and deterioration over time.

5. Longevity and Durability:

By applying a primer, you significantly enhance the durability and longevity of your paint job. Primer helps to create a solid foundation that protects the underlying surface from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors. It acts as a barrier, preventing these elements from penetrating the substrate and causing damage to the paint. A properly primed surface resists chipping, cracking, and peeling, ensuring that your exterior paint job stays intact and attractive for years to come.

When choosing a primer, ensure that it is specifically formulated for the surface you are painting. Different surfaces have unique requirements, and using the appropriate primer will optimize adhesion and performance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application techniques, drying times, and compatibility with the paint you plan to use.

Using Low-Quality Paint:

Using low-quality paint may initially seem like a cost-saving measure, but it can lead to a range of problems and ultimately cost you more time and money in the long run. Investing in high-quality paint like paint available from Dunn-Edwards is essential for achieving a professional and long-lasting exterior paint job. Let’s explore the reasons why using top-quality paint is crucial and how it can save you from potential headaches.

Improved Coverage:

Enhanced Durability:

Protection and Longevity:

Ease of Application:

Color Retention:

Ignoring the Weather Forecast:

Weather conditions play a significant role in the success of an exterior painting project. Painting during unsuitable weather can lead to poor adhesion, streaking, or uneven drying. Avoid painting on extremely hot or humid days, as the paint may dry too quickly or not adhere properly. Similarly, painting in cold or damp conditions can prevent the paint from curing properly. Check the weather forecast before starting your project and choose a time when the conditions are optimal for painting. Ideally, aim for temperatures between 50°F and 90°F and low humidity levels.


Inadequate Protection:

Protecting areas that you don’t want to paint is crucial to achieving a professional-looking finish. Neglecting to properly protect windows, doors, trim, and other surfaces can result in accidental paint splatters and unsightly drips. Use painter’s tape to cover edges, trims, and hardware. Additionally, use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect plants, furniture, and other objects near the painting area. Taking the time to protect these areas will save you from potential damage and the need for time-consuming touch-ups later on.

Using a brush, our painter adds the finishing touches to a front door here in Gilbert, AZ.

Incorrect Painting Technique:

Using the correct painting technique is essential for achieving a flawless and professional finish on your exterior surfaces. Improper technique can result in visible brushstrokes, lap marks, or an uneven appearance. By following the right approach, you can ensure that your paint job looks seamless and polished. Let’s delve deeper into the correct painting techniques and how to execute them effectively.

  • Brush Painting Technique:
  • When using a brush to apply paint, it’s crucial to use long, even strokes in the direction of the surface. Start by dipping the brush into the paint, tapping off any excess on the side of the can. Apply the paint using smooth, steady strokes, using enough pressure to transfer the paint but not so much that it drips. Avoid pressing too hard on the brush, as it can create visible brush marks or streaks.

    To prevent visible lines or uneven patches, it’s important to blend the paint as you go. This means working the brush back into the previously painted area and lightly feathering the edges to create a seamless transition. This technique helps to eliminate any noticeable lines or demarcation between strokes.

  • Roller Painting Technique:
    Using a roller is a popular method for covering large exterior surfaces quickly and efficiently. To achieve an even finish, start by selecting a high-quality roller cover suitable for the type of paint and surface you are working with. A thicker nap is ideal for rough or textured surfaces, while a smoother nap works well for flat surfaces.

    When using the roller, apply the paint in a “W” or “M” pattern on the surface. This technique ensures that the paint is evenly distributed and minimizes the chance of visible roller marks. Once you have applied the paint in the pattern, fill in the open areas with vertical or horizontal strokes. Working in small sections at a time allows you to maintain control and prevent the paint from drying too quickly, which can lead to lap marks.

    To achieve a smooth and consistent finish, avoid pressing too hard on the roller, as it can create excessive texture or result in uneven coverage. Apply a light and even pressure, allowing the roller to glide smoothly over the surface.

  • Practice and Test Areas:
    Before starting the main painting project, it’s always a good idea to practice the painting technique on a test area. This allows you to become familiar with the tools and the paint’s consistency, ensuring that you achieve the desired results. Use a scrap piece of wood or an inconspicuous area of the exterior surface to practice your brush or roller technique. This way, you can make any necessary adjustments or improvements before tackling the main project.

    Remember to work in manageable sections, especially when using brushes or rollers, as it allows you to maintain control and ensures that the paint is still wet enough to blend and create a seamless finish. If you’re working with multiple painters, it’s important to maintain a wet edge and work in harmony to prevent visible seams or color discrepancies.

    By practicing the correct painting technique, you can achieve a professional-looking finish on your exterior surfaces, free from brushstrokes, lap marks, or an uneven appearance. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the tools, practice on test areas, and work methodically in small sections. These steps will contribute to a flawless and visually appealing paint job.

Using the correct painting technique is crucial for achieving a smooth and professional finish on your exterior surfaces. Whether you’re using a brush or a roller, applying long, even strokes, blending the paint as you go, and working in small sections will help you achieve an even, seamless appearance. Practice on test areas and be mindful of maintaining a wet edge to avoid visible brushstrokes, lap marks, or an uneven finish. With the right technique and attention to detail, you can achieve a paint job that enhances the beauty of your home’s exterior.


Exterior painting is a rewarding project that can transform the look of your home. By avoiding common painting mistakes, you can ensure a successful outcome that will enhance the beauty and protect the exterior surfaces for years to come. Remember to invest time in surface preparation, use a suitable primer, choose high-quality paint, consider the weather conditions, protect adjacent surfaces, and apply paint using the correct technique. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a professional-looking paint job that will make your home the envy of the neighborhood. Happy painting!