Painting a home's exterior is a big, time-consuming job, which means that most people look for ways to make the work go quicker. Painting contractors, for whom time is money, almost always do this work using power sprayers. DIY homeowners often rent or buy spray equipment for the work.
So it may surprise you to learn that there are several advantages to painting your home's exterior the old-fashioned, time-consuming way: using a paintbrush. Here are six major benefits.
1. Using a Paintbrush Conserves Paint
One gallon of exterior acrylic-latex on a clean, painted surface will easily hit or exceed the manufacturer's estimates of one gallon per 400 square feet of painted space if it is applied using a paintbrush. Spraying, on the other hand, wastes an incredible amount of paint because much of it drifts away into the air. With top-quality house paints now selling for as much as $50 per gallon, conserving paint can be a decided advantage.
2. You Can Start and Stop When You Want
Painting by sprayer usually is done in one massive start-to-finish project entailing long days of work. Preparing spray equipment and cleaning it up at the end of each session is a big job, so long, continuous working sessions are the norm. But with a paintbrush, you can start and stop at your leisure, breaking the big job of painting a house into as many 1-hour or 2-hour segments as you want. If you're using water-soluble latex paint, the simple job of cleaning a paintbrush doesn't add much time to the overall work.
3. Brushing Requires Little Prep Work
Hate masking? Careful masking of windows and doors is mandatory if you are painting with a sprayer. There is no such thing as "cutting in" when using a sprayer. But if you have a steady hand, you can hand-paint around windows without even masking them off. As for preparing the landscape, all you need to do is lay a canvas drop cloth on the ground just below your work area. No draping bushes and outdoor furniture with plastic, as you must do with spraying. Paint-spraying requires maximum tarping, not just directly below the surface but well beyond.
4. Siding Problems Are Spotted and Fixed
One of the best things about painting your house exterior has nothing to do with the finish coat itself. House painting gives you the opportunity—actually, it forces you—to get up-close and personal with your house's skin. Many homeowners would never undertake repairs to the house's siding and trim if they didn't spot these problems during the painting project. Painting by hand requires careful examination and preparation of the surfaces in a way that is often overlooked when spraying. House exteriors that are painted by brush tend to get more tender loving care.
5. Problem Areas Receive Better Paint Coverage
When dealing with small, complex areas of a house exterior, the paint sprayer isn't much help. These areas often get very thin coats of paint, and show-through is common. But a paintbrush is perfect for those knots or cracks where you need an extra daub of paint.
6. Brush-Work Is Gratifying
Paint spraying is all about preparation. The house needs masking and tarps, and you need to get properly suited and masked up. But when painting a house by hand, you only need to put on your old pair of jeans and shirt, pop open the can, and start painting—preparation requires ten minutes, tops. If you're the type who likes to get started ASAP, this method is for you. Paint coverage is better when brushing by hand, and most people find that they are more pleased with the final results.
Tips for Making the Work Faster and Easier
- Work in sections. Break up the project into smaller sections that you can tackle with ease. Some homeowners find it helpful to think of each large wall surface as an individual project. You can even each large wall surface in a separate season—tackling one face of the house each summer, for example. You can also mentally divide each "wall project" into smaller sections that can be completed in the course of two hours.
- Hand-paint only the special sections. Some areas need more attention and a thicker coat of paint than others. Exterior corners and drain pipes are areas that tend to get battered by the weather and can benefit from hand-painting. If painting the entire house by hand seems more than you can tackle, at least address the special areas with the special attention that comes along with hand brushing.
- Clean brushes carefully. Learn how to properly clean paintbrushes. A quality paintbrush is a fine tool; by treating your brushes better, you extend their lifespan. This allows you to buy higher-quality brushes, which in turn makes your painting go smoother.
- Use bigger brushes. Buy at least one 4-inch brush. It just makes sense that if you're going to be painting broad expanses, you need a broader brush.
- Choose proper paint sheens. Using flat or matte paint finishes helps you pick up again on your painting without worrying about visible lap marks. Flat paint hides overlap marks better. However, be aware that surfaces coated with satin or semi-gloss paints will be easier to clean.