Easiest and Fastest Way to Paint a House

Minimize Work, Mess, Commitment

Painting a House Exterior
Painting a House Exterior. Joseph Devenney / Getty Images

With any home task, there's the right way, and then there's the easy way.  Never shall the twain meet.  This applies to exterior house painting, a task I abhor.  I have written a few pieces about the right way to paint a house, and it is all good advice and still the best way to do this.

But I have also run into personal log-jams with painting where I have cut corners, felt a little guilty at the time, then got over it pretty quickly.  

None of the advice below will win awards from...MORE professional house painters.  It's quick and dirty and has flaws (which I mention at the end).  But it serves a purpose and will get your house painted.

  • 01 of 08

    Paint Same Color or Go Darker

    High Angle View Of Green Paint Can At Home
    Alyssa Stasiukonis/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Summary:  Same color or darker makes it easier to lay down just one coat.

    You create more work for yourself when you choose to change your exterior house color, and it significantly increases the amount of work when you go lighter.  

    With one-coat-painting, old color will still show through in some areas.  When you paint the same color, though, those thin areas blend in.

    • Don't know the present color?  Find peeling paint, pull it off, and take it to a paint store.  They can match it.  Dedicated...MORE paint stores like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore tend to do a better job of this than home improvement stores.
    • Want to change your color?  Then make the next color darker than the present color.
  • 02 of 08

    Wash House Quickly and Painlessly

    Summary:  Clean house, but don't labor endlessly over this.

    It's hard to imagine a house that does not need to be washed down prior to painting.  Just run a white t-shirt across the side of your house and witness years or even decades worth of accumulated gray soot and dust.  Even in the most desperate of painting projects, I still recommend washing down the house.

    Washing down your house by hand is the most work intensive end of the spectrum.  But what's the least you can get by with?...MORE  If you own a pressure washer, give it a twice-over on a warm day:  once with the cleaning solution and then a rinse with clean water.  No pressure washer?  Hose it down.  Even that's better than no cleaning.  Your two main goals:

    1. Knock off the big, visible junk (spiderwebs, wasp's nests, leaves).
    2. Wash away that thin soot and dust.
  • 03 of 08

    Prime Only Problem Areas, Not Whole House

    Summary:  Hit unpainted and unprimed areas with primer, not the whole house.

    While the entire house could benefit a full coat of primer, prime only the problem areas, meaning things like raw wood and dried wood filler.  

    If you just have bare spots (instead of entire bare sections), a quart of primer will be enough.  Brush it on, and you're done.

  • 04 of 08

    Shrink Your Prep Time

    Summary:  Prep time can be a killer.  Keep it to a minimum.

    Prep work can equal the amount of time spent painting.  Taping and covering will quash the enthusiasm of even the most patient homeowner.  Doing a fastidious job on a house with many features can suck up an entire day's work and more.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Scrape Only Bare Minimum

    Summary:  Scrape until you reach a relatively solid edge.

    Scraping paint isn't such a time-waster on its own.  The problem, though, is that it's like opening a Pandora's Box.  You scrape that little dime-sized flake of paint, and it leads to more and more and more...

    If the edges of the paint will stay down, leave it alone.  The new paint will seal the edges and keep it down.  It's not a perfect seal--never will be--but it will hold for awhile.

  • 06 of 08

    Roll Anything Flat

    Summary:  If you're lucky enough to have flat siding, use a roller and pole.

    Rolling is the best of both worlds.  You can cover the expanses of siding quickly, and the paint goes down thick.  It doesn't require an entire day's commitment.  You can visit your project for 45 minutes, toss the roller cover, and be back at more important tasks, like surfing the Internet, watching TV, or playing with the kids.

    The downside is that many types of siding don't lend themselves to rolling.  

  • 07 of 08

    Spray Large Featureless Areas

    Summary:  Large expanses of your house with few or no features--doors, windows, lights, downspouts, cable boxes, etc.--can be time effectively painted with the sprayer.

    For example, spraying would appear to be the clear winner.  Yet spraying requires a huge amount of preparation.  An even single square inch of the non-paintable surface within 20 feet should be covered.  But once you get going, spraying is incredibly fast.  Besides the prep time, another downside of spraying is that you can only...MORE lay down a thin coat.  

    If this side of the house has grass instead of pavement, so much the better.  Spray without laying down a dropcloth.  Yes, the grass will get overspray, but the next couple of mowings will eliminate it.

  • 08 of 08

    Minimize or Eliminate Washing of Brushes, Covers

    • Buy inexpensive roller covers and toss them at the end of each painting session.  Better quality covers are recommended for interior painting, where critical eyes will be viewing the handiwork.  Exterior painting is more forgiving.
    • For little dabs, smears, and touch-ups, you can get by with foam brushes or cheap $0.99 nylon brushes.  Toss when finished.
    • Clean your good brushes with a paint brush comb and water.  Combs cut brush clean-up time at least by half; highly recommended.