6 Reasons You Should Consider Painting Your House Exterior with a Brush

Man Painting House Exterior 519515491
Man Painting House Exterior. This Guy Is No Procrastinator!. Getty / Hill Street Studios

By the time you're done reading this, you might be convinced to paint your house exterior with a brush. At least some parts of it. Is that too crazy to consider?

No, it's not. Having painted plenty of exterior areas by brush, I see solid benefits to doing this. While I wouldn't make this my preferred process if I were a painting contractor, it's entirely doable and in some ways beneficial if you are a homeowner. Here's why:

1.  Painting exterior with a brush conserves paint in a huge way.

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. The opposite way to look at it:  spraying your exterior wastes an incredible amount of paint, because much of it drifts away.

2.  You can jump in or out of the project faster.

Do you like to clean your house in one big effort on a Saturday? Or do you do a little bit here and there? Paint-spraying is not a here-and-there project. But when you paint by hand, you can do 30 minutes here, 40 minutes there. Your only obstacle is cleaning up the brush. But as long as the paint is water-soluble latex and you've got running water and that great brush-cleaning secret, the paint-brush comb, it takes only a couple of minutes.

3.  Almost zero prep work required.

Hate masking? Masking is required if painting a house with a sprayer. There is no such thing as "cutting in" with a sprayer.  But if you have a steady hand, you can hand-paint around windows without masking them off.  As for the ground, 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 would do with spraying.  Paint-spraying requires maximum tarping, not just directly below the surface but well beyond. Every single thing that will not be painted must be covered. 

4.  It lets you better see problem areas rather than ignoring them.

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–no, it forces you–to get up-close and personal with your house's skin. Many homeowners will not undertake repairs to the house's siding and trim if it were not part of this larger painting project. When painting by hand, you will first do prep work (patching, sealing, etc.) on the house. But after taking up the brush, you will be astounded by how much you missed on the first go-around.

5.  You can pinpoint those problem areas better

When dealing with small, complex areas, the paint sprayer isn't much help. However, the paintbrush is perfect for those knots or cracks where you need an extra daub of paint.

6.  Brush-work is pure instant gratification.

Paint-spraying is all about preparation. For the house, you need masking and tarps. For you, 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--ten minutes, tops. If you're the type who likes to get started ASAP, this method is for you.

Making the work go faster and easier...

  1. Work in Sections.  Break up the project into smaller sections that you can tackle with ease. In a tip-sheet about exterior house-painting, I recommend thinking of your house as four separate projects (or however many exterior walls you have) instead of one big project. Mentally segregate each "wall-project" into even smaller sections that you can finish in the course of two hours.
  2. Hand-Paint Only 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.
  3. Better Cleaning.  Learn how to clean paintbrushes. By treating your brushes better, you extend their lifespan. The most important part: it allows you to buy higher-quality brushes, which in turn makes your painting go smoother.
  4. Bigger Brushes.  Buy a 4" brush. It just makes sense that if you're going to be painting broad expanses, you need a broader brush.
  5. Paint Sheen.  Using flat or matte finish paint helps you pick up again on your painting without worrying about overlapping seams. Flat hides overlaps better.  One negative to this approach, though, is that satin and semi-gloss make stains easier to clean.