How to paint exterior walls

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting exterior walls is a process of steps that must be followed to experience the best possible results. For those who love the work involved in the upkeep of property, painting exterior walls is just another fun day at home. All the scraping, sanding and preparation becomes the prelude to an exhilarating experience of climbing ladders and mixing paint.

Scrape the exterior walls where the old paint is chipping to remove peeling paint. Seal cracks and crevices with painter’s caulk or spackling compound. Next, sand the exterior walls with 100-grit sandpaper until the wood is smooth.

Wash the house with mild soap and water. A pressure sprayer can be used, but be careful to not dig grooves into the wood. Rinse the soap off and let the wood dry completely.

Apply as many coats of primer as needed with a wide brush. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Apply paint to the house from the top down beginning at the fascia boards and the eaves. Paint the entire perimeter of the fascia and eaves before starting on the walls.

Start painting the first area of a wall from the top using long horizontal strokes of the brush. Start in an area that has no new paint on it and paint toward the newly painted area. Repeat this process until the first coat has been applied. Follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions on second or third coats.


Always wear safety glasses. Wear lung protection when sanding the exterior walls. Allow the painter’s caulk or spackling compound to dry completely before sanding. Paint around window and door trim first when approaching them, then blend the wall paint into them. This will assure a good covering around the trim. After pouring a small amount of paint in the bucket, be certain the lid on the paint can is tightly sealed. Driving a 6d finish nail to makes holes around the rim of a paint can will ensure the lid will seat properly, preserving the paint.


Do not continue stroking until the brush is out of paint as this will cause uneven coats. Do not thin paint with water or paint thinner as this will cause the paint to loose its integrity. Do not paint overhead without eye protection. Do not use a paint sprayer on a windy day.

Things You'll Need

  • Exterior primer
  • Exterior paint
  • Painter’s caulk
  • Vibrating sander
  • Heavy-duty extension cord
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Stepladder or scaffold
  • Paint scraper
  • Paint bucket
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dust Sheets
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About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.