Paint Over Old Exterior

Painting the exterior of your home can often be a daunting task. Not only is it expensive, time consuming and labor intensive, but it can also be difficult to determine when and how to go about it. Painting over old exterior paint can be especially tricky as the existing paint may have started to show signs of age or wear, making it difficult to ensure a smooth finish. If you’re getting ready to tackle this job yourself, it’s important to understand the steps and techniques necessary to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome. This article will provide an in-depth guide on how to paint over old exterior surfaces, outlining the materials and tools needed, the preparation process, and the tips and tricks to help you achieve a professional end result.

Steps for Painting Over Old Exterior Paint

Clean the surface: Use a power washer or a hose with a high-pressure nozzle to remove any dirt, dust, and loose paint. If there are any mildew or mold stains, use a solution of bleach and water to clean them off.

Scrape and sand: Use a scraper or putty knife to remove any loose or peeling paint. Sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out rough areas and create a better surface for the new paint to adhere to. Be sure to wear a mask and protective goggles while sanding.

Patch and repair: Fill any holes or cracks in the surface with a quality exterior epoxy patching compound. Smooth out the compound with a putty knife and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prime the surface: Apply a coat of primer to the entire surface. This will help the new paint adhere better and ensure a more durable finish. Choose a primer that is specifically designed for exteriors and compatible with the type of paint you will be using.

Choose the right paint: Select a high-quality exterior paint that is suitable for the type of surface you are painting (such as wood, metal, or masonry). Consider factors like weather resistance, durability, and the desired finish (such as matte, satin, or glossy).

Paint: Start by cutting in the edges with a brush, and then use a roller or sprayer to apply the paint to the larger areas. Apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat for better coverage and longer-lasting results. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying and recoat times.

Clean up: Properly clean and store your painting tools and equipment according to the instructions on the paint cans. Dispose of any leftover paint or empty cans responsibly.

Maintain and touch up: Regularly inspect the painted surface and touch up any areas of damage or wear. This will help prolong the life of the paint and keep your exterior looking fresh.

Common Challenges when Painting Over Old Exterior Paint

There are several common challenges when painting over old exterior paint. These challenges can include:

Peeling or flaking paint: If the old paint is peeling or flaking, it will need to be removed before applying a new coat. This can be time-consuming and may require scraping or sanding the surface.

Fading or discoloration: Over time, exterior paint can fade or become discolored due to exposure to sunlight and weather elements. Painting over old faded paint can result in an uneven or dull appearance if not properly addressed.

Mold or mildew: If the old paint has mold or mildew growth, it will need to be cleaned and treated before applying a new coat. Using a bleach solution or specialized cleaning products can help remove the growth and prevent it from reoccurring.

Cracking or chalking: Exterior paint can develop cracks or become chalky over time, especially if the surface was not properly prepared or if low-quality paint was used. These issues should be addressed by thoroughly cleaning and priming the surface before applying new paint.

Uneven texture: If the old paint has a rough or uneven texture, it may be necessary to sand or skim coat the surface to create a smooth base for the new paint. This extra preparation can add time and effort to the painting process.

Adhesion issues: For the new paint to adhere properly, the old paint surface needs to be clean and free of contaminants. This may require washing or using a paint stripper to remove any dirt, grease, or loose particles.
Overall, properly preparing the surface and addressing any existing issues are crucial for achieving a long-lasting and visually appealing paint job when painting over old exterior paint.

How to Prepare an Old House for Exterior Painting?

Preparing an old house for exterior painting involves a few key steps to ensure a successful paint job. Here’s what you need to do:

Inspecting the Surface for Peeling and Damage

Before starting the painting process, thoroughly inspect the surface of your old house for peeling or blistering paint. Use a scraper or putty knife to remove any loose paint. If you notice any cracks or holes, fill them with a suitable filler or caulk. This will help create a smooth and even surface for painting.

Removing Loose Paint and Cleaning the Surface

Once you have identified the areas with loose paint, carefully scrape off the old paint using a scraper or putty knife. It’s important to remove all loose paint to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint. After removing the loose paint, clean the surface with a mild detergent mixed with water. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge to remove any dirt or grease.

Repairing and Patching Old Wood and Siding

If your old house has wood or siding that needs repair, it’s important to address those issues before painting. Replace any rotten or damaged wood and secure loose boards or siding. Sand the repaired areas to create a smooth surface for painting.

What Type of Paint and Primer Should I Use for an Old Exterior?

Choosing the right paint and primer for an old exterior is crucial for a successful paint job. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Choosing the Right Paint for an Old Exterior

When selecting paint for an old exterior, consider the specific requirements of your project. Choose a paint that is formulated for exterior use and suitable for the surface you are painting, such as wood or masonry. Additionally, consider the climate conditions in your area and choose a paint that is suitable for your region’s weather.

Using the Right Primer for an Old Exterior

Using a primer is essential when painting an old exterior. A primer promotes adhesion and helps the paint bond to the surface more effectively. Choose a primer that is specifically designed for the type of surface you are painting, such as wood or masonry.

Considerations for Using Oil-Based or Latex Paint

When painting an old exterior, you have the option of using oil-based or latex paint. Oil-based paint provides a durable and long-lasting finish, but it can take longer to dry and has a strong odor. Latex paint is more flexible and resistant to cracking, and it dries quickly. Consider the specific needs of your project when deciding between oil-based and latex paint.

What Tools and Techniques Should I Use for Painting an Old Exterior?

Using the right tools and techniques is essential when painting an old exterior. Here are some tips to help you achieve a professional-looking finish:

Using a Roller or Sprayer for Painting an Old Exterior

When painting an old exterior, you can use a roller or sprayer to apply the paint. A roller is ideal for large, flat areas, while a sprayer is best for reaching tight or hard-to-reach areas. Use a roller with a long handle for easier application, and choose a sprayer that is suitable for the type of paint you are using.

Using Drop Cloths and Masking Tape for Protection

Protecting the surrounding areas is crucial when painting an old exterior. Use drop cloths to cover the ground and any nearby plants or furniture. Use masking tape to protect windows, doors, and other surfaces that you don’t want to paint.

Dealing with Peeling and Blistering Paint

If you encounter peeling or blistering paint while painting an old exterior, it’s important to address those issues before proceeding. Scrape off the loose paint, sand the surface, and apply a primer before painting. This will help ensure a smooth and even finish.

How to Achieve Long-Lasting Results when Painting an Old Exterior?

Achieving long-lasting results when painting an old exterior requires proper preparation and technique. Here are some tips to help you achieve a durable and beautiful paint job:

Proper Surface Preparation for Better Adhesion

Before painting an old exterior, make sure to thoroughly clean and prepare the surface. Remove any loose or peeling paint, repair any damaged areas, and clean the surface to remove dirt and grease. This will help the new paint adhere better and ensure a longer-lasting finish.

Ensuring a Good Paint Bond with the Old Wood

If you are painting an old exterior with wood siding, it’s important to ensure a good paint bond. Make sure the surface is dry and free from any dirt or dust. Apply a coat of primer before painting to promote adhesion and ensure the paint adheres properly to the wood.

Applying the Paint in Thin and Even Coats

To achieve a professional-looking finish, apply the paint in thin and even coats. Avoid applying too much paint at once, as it can lead to drips and uneven coverage. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.


In conclusion, painting over old exterior paint requires proper preparation and technique to achieve a successful and long-lasting paint job. By following the steps outlined in the article, such as cleaning the surface, scraping and sanding, patching and repairing, priming, choosing the right paint and tools, and maintaining the painted surface, you can ensure a professional-looking finish. Addressing common challenges like peeling or flaking paint, fading or discoloration, mold or mildew, cracking or chalking, uneven texture, and adhesion issues is also crucial for a successful paint job. By taking the time to properly prepare an old house for exterior painting and using the right products and techniques, you can transform the look of your home and protect it from the elements for years to come.

For Burlington homeowners: learn more about Burlington Exterior Painting page.

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