Preparing to Paint

Painting Supplies

The most important and time-consuming part of any exterior painting project is the preparation.  To prevent premature paint failure and to ensure a beautiful finish, all exterior surfaces must be in good condition, clean, dry, dull, and properly primed prior to painting.


The first step of any exterior painting project is to ensure that the surface is properly cleaned. In most situations, using a pressure washer with a concentrated cleaner designed for exterior use will be the easiest and fastest way to remove dirt, grime, and other surface contaminants. Use a spray nozzle with a 15-25 degree fan pattern and a pressure washer set at 1800-2200 psi to clean the entire surface. The aim is to remove as many surface contaminants as possible without damaging the substrate or any existing paint finishes. If a pressure washer is unavailable, the surface can be soaked and rinsed with a water hose or pump sprayer and scrubbed clean with a nylon bristle scrub brush.

For removing mildew, apply a ready-made mildew remover (following manufacturer’s suggestions), or a homemade solution of 1 part household bleach mixed with 3 parts water, and allow to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. When using this type of solution, protect yourself with goggles and gloves and avoid skin contact.

Thoroughly rinse all surfaces with water to remove any residue from the cleaner and allow to completely dry before proceeding with further preparations. Porous surfaces like bare wood and brick may require several days to fully dry.

Inspect and Repair:

After the entire surface has been thoroughly washed, rinsed, and fully dried, all severely damaged or rotten wood should be replaced and any loose boards should be nailed back in place. An exterior spackling product can be used to fill any nail holes or minor surface imperfections. All damaged brick, concrete, or stucco to be painted should also be repaired or patched at this time.

Scrape and Sand:

When repainting previously coated surfaces, all loose or damaged paint should be removed by scraping or sanding. To promote adhesion, smooth and/or glossy surfaces such as doors and gutters, should also be lightly sanded to a dull finish and dusted prior to painting.


Caulk any remaining gaps, joints, cracks, seams, or voids with a paintable and high-quality siliconized acrylic or elastomeric caulk. Any loose or peeling caulk should be cut out and removed prior to re-caulking. Remember to check around all windows and doors and consider using a colored caulk when caulking against unpainted wood and brick surfaces.  Follow the caulk manufacturer’s recommended dry times prior to priming or painting.


Prior to priming and painting each section of your exterior, it is important to prepare the area by removing any thing you wouldn’t want to get paint on like patio furniture and BBQ grills. Remove all window screens and use tape and plastic to cover windows and light fixtures. Cover and tie back any shrubs or foliage that are next to surfaces being painted and cover sidewalks, driveways, and porch floors with heavy drop cloths.


See the Technical Data Sheet (TDS) for the Kelly-Moore paint you will be using for specific primer recommendations. Some exterior substrates like tannin rich woods or high pH level masonry surfaces may require a special primer prior to painting to maximize topcoat beauty and performance. Using a high-quality primer makes it easier to achieve a uniform color and sheen from your paint finish while also allowing the paint to spread farther and cover in fewer coats.  Allow any primer used to fully dry before painting.