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Painting 101

Exterior Paint Selection

Painting the exterior of your house may be a job for professionals, but with some basic knowledge and motivation, doing it yourself could save you a lot of cash.

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Latex exterior paints

Painting the exterior of your house may seem like a job for professionals, but if you've got the motivation and some basic knowledge of paints, it's a job you may want to tackle yourself. It could save you a lot of cash. Latex exterior paints have undergone improvements, and some can be as durable as oil-based.

Below are some tips on selecting exterior paint, from home-improvement specialist James Young. There are two basic types of exterior paint to choose from: oil-based and the more commonly used latex.

  • Oil-based paints are very durable and water-resistant. They result in hard finish and are often used by professional painters. Use an oil-based if the surface you are painting has already been painted with oil-based paint.

  • Stir oil-based paint frequently, as the oil in these types of paint tend to separate quickly.

  • If using oil-based paint, be sure to use a brush or roller specifically designed for use with oil-based paint.

  • Latex exterior paints have undergone many improvements, and some can be as durable as oil-based. They are also considerably easier to work with. Be sure, however, that you select an exterior latex for use on the outside of your home, not the same latex used on interior walls.

Tip: Here's how to determine whether you have acrylic or oil-based paint on your home now. Peel off a large paint-chip. If the chip bends slightly before cracking, it's probably latex. Oil-paint chips tend to snap easily. If this test doesn't work for you, take a paint-chip sample to your local paint store or home center and have them test it.

  • Latex is easy to apply, dries quickly, is durable and is resistant to the effects of direct sunlight. Cleanup is easy, and just requires water.

  • Acrylic latex is the highest-quality latex paint. It will cover just about any building material including masonry and properly primed metal.

  • Important: Never put a new coat of latex over an old coat of oil-based paint. It will almost certainly peel.

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