A day outdoors with paint and a brush can truly rejuvenate your exterior. Whether you are freshening up your front door, staining a deck or rethinking your garden walls, follow our experts’ advice on how to get it right first time.
Clean up your act
Powerwashing walls and sills, decks and furniture will dislodge dirt and flaking paint, helping your job last longer. Use a stiff bristle brush or scaper to remove any lingering flakes. Shaded walls and garden furniture that has been left outside can be prone to growths. Clean the affected areas with a specialised wash and allow it to dry for two or three days. Rinse with a power washer and allow to dry completely. If you are repainting wooden furniture, consider it is likely to have been painted with an oil-based paint. Cuprinol wood expert Melissa Lyras recommends wiping the piece down with a soft cloth and using white spirits to remove any lingering grease.
The weather can impact how your paint dries. While it may seem obvious to stay indoors on cold or wet days, avoid hot days too. High temperatures make it difficult for paint to penetrate surfaces; it won’t adhere properly and can lead to flaking and peeling later on. If the surface is warm to the touch of your hand, it’s probably too warm to paint it. “If it’s a good day to dry wet jeans on the line outside: sunny, dry and breezy, then it’s a good day to paint,” advises Liam Holland of Colourtrend.
Time to fill
Use a flexible exterior grade filler rather than caulk, when it comes to pits and cracks in walls or window ledges, then sand smooth. Apply a primer to sills and wall cappings, doors and window frames to ensure the paint holds fast. Remember to “mask off your windows with plastic film or you will be forever scraping off mist spots after the job is done,” says Holland.
All in the prep
Have all your tools to hand before you begin, including ladders or scaffolding. Keep a stash of drop cloths close by for any spatter on paths or windows. Use a short nap wool blend type roller sleeve on smooth surfaces, says David Mottershead of Little Greene paints, and increase the nap length for textured surfaces to ensure even coverage. Keep final strokes all in the same direction, maintaining a wet edge throughout. Don’t be tempted to go over drying paint, as this will lead to lap marking (where wet and dry layers overlap) and flashing (uneven patches).
Use high quality synthetic bristle brushes. New brushes should be washed in clean water and left to dry thoroughly. Avoid dipping the brush too far into the paint to prevent paint from entering the ferrule (metal band), apply the paint in even strokes in the same direction, and never go over paint that has already begun to dry. Opt for quality paint and apply two coats. It will resist dirt pick-up and stand up to washing too. Slight variations can occur between batches, so where you are painting a large area, look for tins from the same batch or mix batches before use.
The 6 rules to choosing outdoor colour
1. Consider the shades and tones of surrounding houses. Light reflected from a strongly-coloured house can change how your colour choice may look. If you’re living in an area with lots of greenery, know that neutral colours can appear pinker or warmer than on the colour card.
2. Wait until your outdoor walls and quoins (masonry blocks at the corner of a wall) are completely dry before painting, as the quoin colour can change the look of the main colour.
3. Don’t be afraid of bolder colours, they can appear significantly lighter when used outdoors. Try a tester pot in a shade or two darker than you think you want.
4. Pick a contrast colour for doors, sills, plinths and frames that pops against your main colour – if it’s too close, you won’t see any difference, especially on a sunny day.
5. When painting extensions, paint the adjoining wall, as it can often hide any colour variation in the paint.
6. Fencing in dark shades can provide a dramatic background to lush greens. For furniture, sheds and summerhouses, colour pops add interest to your garden scheme.