• In this video This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and painting contractor Rich O'Neil show how to properly prepare a house for paint.

    Steps:

    1. Set up scaffolding for easy access to the house wall.
    2. Staple a plastic tarp to the lowest course of siding to catch paint chips.
    3. Don dust mask and safety glasses, then use a pull-style paint scraper to scrape loose paint from the siding. Tungsten-carbide-blade scrapers stay sharper longer, but steel-blade scrapers are cheaper and can easily be re-sharpened with a file.
    4. Always scrape in the direction of the wood grain to prevent damaging the siding.
    5. Remember to scrape paint from the lower lip (butt edge) of the siding, too.
    6. Remove any remaining paint with an electric random-orbit sander fitted with 24-grit disk. Connect the sander to a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
    7. Keep the sander moving at all times to avoid sanding a depression into the siding.
    8. Feather-sand the edges of sound, well-adhered paint down to bare wood.
    9. Sand rust from nail heads, then set and caulk the nail holes.
    10. Use a molding scraper to remove paint from convex shapes.
    11. Chemical strippers can be used to loosen paint from intricate moldings.
    12. An electric infrared paint stripper uses heat to release the paint's adhesion to the siding.
    13. Hold the infrared stripper in place for one minute, then immediately scrape off the softened paint.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Proper paint prep is a tedious undertaking, even on small homes
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      Tools List

      • scaffolding
        Scaffolding
      • staple gun
        Staple gun
      • dust mask
        Dust mask
      • safety glasses
        Safety glasses
      • paint scraper
        Pull-style paint scrapers
      • molding scraper
        Molding scrapers
      • random orbit sander
        Random-orbit sander and vacuum
      • hammer with nailset
        Hammer and nail set
      • caulk gun
        Caulking gun
      • infrared paint stripper
        Electric infrared paint stripper

      Shopping List

      24-grit sanding disk for use with
      random-orbit sander

      Plastic tarpChemical paint stripper used to remove paint from intricate moldings

      Paintable caulk for use with caulking gun