Essential Tools for Painting Your Homes Exterior

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Home renovation can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to painting the exterior of your house. Painting requires more tools than you may think, but having the right ones can save you time and deliver a more professional result. Exterior painting is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to give your home a new look and increase its value. Here are ten tools that will help you achieve success with your next painting project.

10: A Multipurpose Tool

A multipurpose painter’s tool, also known as a 5-in-1 tool, is an essential item for preparing your home’s exterior before painting. This tool can do the job of five tools and fits easily in your pocket. It can clean rollers, pull nails, scrape loose paint, fill cracks, open paint cans, and squeeze extra paint out of rollers. You can find versions with additional features like 7-in-1 or 17-in-1 tools, but most of the time, a 5-in-1 tool is sufficient.

9: Ladder

If you want to paint higher than the six-foot mark, you will need a ladder. Stepladders, extension ladders, and straight ladders are the most useful types of ladders for exterior painting. Stepladders are nonadjustable and range up to 20 feet in height. They have a hinged design that opens two self-supporting sides, with one side having flat steps for climbing. Most stepladders have a horizontal platform near the top to hold paint cans or tools.

A few years ago, my family and I gathered at my parents’ early 1900s farmhouse to paint the exterior, and we completed the job in one day. The younger members of the family painted the trim with brushes, while the older members and nephews used a paint sprayer. However, my toddler wandered away with a paintbrush and used it to create a masterpiece on the porch’s concrete steps. Luckily, my parents found it adorable.

Painting the exterior of a house can be a challenging task, but with the right tools, you can achieve professional results. These ten tools are a great starting point for any painting project, and they will help you complete it efficiently and effectively.

Straight ladders can be used to reach up to 30 feet (9 meters) and should be propped at a 75-degree angle against a stable structure. If you are planning to paint the roof eaves, make sure that the ladder extends 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 centimeters) above the roof. Extension ladders are similar to straight ladders but consist of two sections that can be extended, and can reach up to 60 feet (18 meters) in height. (A three-section ladder can go up to 72 feet, or 21 meters.) You can purchase or make a paint shelf as an accessory [source: American Ladder Institute].

8: Drop Cloths

Drop cloths are essential outside to protect your garden.
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When preparing your home for a new coat of paint, the chemicals from the walls could make your landscaping look dull and lifeless. However, you can protect your plants by using drop cloths.

Before scraping any excess paint or using a pressure washer, cover trees, plants, grass and shrubs with plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Some professional painters recommend using drop cloths because they allow water to run through while still catching paint chips. They are also less likely to rip. Using only water during a high-pressure wash is a good idea because chemicals can kill plants and grass. Avoid hitting trees, plants or shrubs with the high-pressure stream because it can damage them.

Use landscaping staples or 2×4 boards to hold the plastic sheeting or drop cloths in place. Keep them there until the painting job is complete because they can catch paint drips, something that’s especially prone to happen when using a paint roller [source: Johnson].

7: Surface-Prep Tools

Use a putty knife to remove loose or peeling paint from your surface.
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To create a work of art on your home’s exterior, you need to prepare the surface properly. Begin by cleaning the surface of exterior walls. You can use a power sprayer to blow debris off siding, but a pressure washer is not the best option for wood, as it can damage the surface.

For other materials, like painted siding or masonry, the washer can work just fine and even help to remove old peeling paint. Once the surface is dry, use a stiff wire brush or putty knife to remove any loose paint. A handheld sander can be helpful for stripping paint quickly on wood surfaces [source: House Painting Guide].

Approximately 75% of homes built before 1978 were painted with lead-based paint. Even if your older home has been repainted several times since then, one of those early layers is still likely to be lead-based. In such cases, it is best to call in professionals. However, if you decide to do it yourself, take precautions. Wear a commercial-grade respirator mask and eye protection, and seal all windows, window air conditioning units, and dryer exhaust vents to prevent lead particles from entering your home [source: Minnesota Department of Health].

6: Choosing the Right Caulk Gun

When preparing your walls for painting, caulking up holes is an essential step. However, it’s crucial to choose the right caulk gun for the job. There are three main types available: manual, battery-powered, and pneumatic. Manual caulking guns require you to push a plunger and pull a trigger, but they can be messy and difficult to control. To avoid this, look for a manual gun with a smooth rod, which offers more control than the ratcheted version, and comes with a built-in cutter to smoothly open the tip of the caulking tube. Battery-powered caulking guns range from $35 to hundreds of dollars, but a low-end battery-powered model that holds 10 ounces (283 grams) of caulk should suffice. Pneumatic caulking guns are the most expensive and require an air compressor, making them easier to control and activate, but unless you’re a professional contractor, a manual or battery-powered gun will do the job just fine. Whichever type you choose, it will take some practice to get a consistent amount of caulk, so aim for a thin bead around windows, doors, and chimneys before you cover surfaces with primer or paint.

5: Using Buckets and Cans

To avoid a messy disaster, it’s best not to carry a full can of paint around. Instead, pour a small amount of paint into a clean, empty can or bucket and take it to your painting spot. This approach is much easier to handle when you need to climb a ladder, and it prevents you from wasting paint. If something does go wrong, a spill from a small can is less ruinous than from a full one. Don’t forget to cover the can with plastic wrap and replace the lid when you’re done for the day. This will keep the paint fresh overnight.

4: Using a Roller Screen and Tray

A roller screen is a metal grate that fits vertically into your paint bucket and helps get rid of excess paint on your roller. After dipping the roller into the paint, run it across the surface of the screen until the paint evenly covers the roller. This will prevent excess paint from dripping, making the process cleaner and more efficient.

A roller tray is a useful tool, particularly if you are working on a stepladder. It is a sloped and ribbed tray that is used to load paint onto a roller. At one end, there is a shallow well that holds paint – you should have about a half-inch (1.3 centimeters) of paint there. The tray can be positioned on the stepladder to prevent you from having to climb down each time you need more paint [source: McMillan].

To apply paint to the exterior of your home, you need the right paintbrush. There are two main types: natural bristle and synthetic bristle. Natural bristle brushes are often made of animal hair, including black or white hog hair, and have a soft texture for fine finishes. They can hold a lot of oil-based paint without absorbing it. However, a natural bristle brush is not the best choice for latex (water-based) paint because it will absorb up to 40 percent of its own weight in water, making the brush too soft to paint properly [source: Wooster Brush].

For latex paint, you should use a synthetic brush made of nylon and polyester. These bristles do not wear out easily or absorb water from the paint. Look for a 4-inch (10-centimeter) straight-bristled brush and a 1.5-inch (4 centimeter) angled brush. The former will be used to cover large areas, while the latter will work well in small spaces, such as corners and near the trim [source: The Family Handyman].

In addition to the right paintbrush, you also need the right paint roller. Rollers allow you to work faster than with brushes alone. For large areas of shingles, stucco, or brick, opt for a 9-inch (23-centimeter) roller with a half-inch nap. For narrow spaces or for applying to large areas of siding, a 7-inch (18-centimeter) roller will be a better fit [source: The Family Handyman]. Dampen the roller before dipping it into the paint to limit wastage. If you’re working with latex paint, wet the roller with water. For oil-based paint, skim the roller through paint thinner and use a 5-in-1 tool to remove the excess [source: McMillan].

Finally, most high-volume paint pros use sprayers to apply exterior paint. The method is up to 10 times faster than brushing and four times faster than rolling. Plus, paint sprayers can offer a consistent finish, even in tight areas. Practice using the sprayer on a piece of wood before trying it out on your house.

If you are planning to use a paint sprayer for exterior painting, there are a few things to consider. Ensure that you rent a sprayer designed for outdoor use, with a large sprayer tip suitable for thick exterior paint. The sprayer should also have a higher PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure and more horsepower. Practice using the sprayer with water before applying paint, and plan for two coats as sprayers tend to use more paint than brushes or rollers. Renting a sprayer can cost between $70 to $100 a day, and it is important to have ear and eye protection as well as a respirator mask. The article includes additional information on exterior painting tools, related articles, and sources.


1. What are the necessary tools for painting the exterior of a house?

To paint the exterior of your house, you will need a variety of tools, including a paintbrush, a roller, a paint tray, a ladder, paint scraper, sandpaper, caulk, and a power washer. These tools will help you prep the surface, apply paint, and ensure a smooth finish.

2. Do I need to use a primer before painting the exterior of my home?

Yes, it is recommended to use a primer before painting the exterior of your home. Primer helps the paint adhere better to the surface, and it also helps to seal any imperfections, such as cracks or small holes.

3. What type of paint should I use for the exterior of my house?

The type of paint you choose will depend on the surface you are painting. For most exterior surfaces, a high-quality acrylic latex paint is recommended. It is durable, waterproof, and resistant to fading and cracking.

4. How do I prepare the surface before painting?

Before painting, you will need to clean the surface thoroughly using a power washer or a garden hose. Next, scrape away any loose paint with a paint scraper, and sand down any rough areas or imperfections. Finally, fill any cracks or holes with caulk.

5. Should I use a brush or a roller to paint the exterior of my home?

It is recommended to use both a brush and a roller. Use a brush to paint the edges and corners, and a roller to cover larger areas. This will ensure a smooth, even finish.

6. How many coats of paint should I apply?

For best results, it is recommended to apply two coats of paint. This will ensure that the surface is fully covered and the color is even.

7. What should I do if it rains during the painting process?

If it starts to rain during the painting process, stop immediately and cover the surface with a tarp. Wait until the surface is completely dry before continuing.

8. How long should I wait between coats of paint?

It is recommended to wait 24 hours between coats of paint. This will ensure that the first coat has fully dried before applying the second coat.

9. What should I do with leftover paint?

Store leftover paint in a cool, dry place. Make sure to seal the lid tightly to prevent air from getting in. You can also add a small amount of water to the paint to extend its life.

10. How often should I paint the exterior of my home?

The frequency of painting will depend on a variety of factors, such as the climate, the quality of the paint, and the condition of the surface. However, most experts recommend painting the exterior of your home every 5-10 years to keep it looking its best.

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