Five exterior decorating tips from Emperor Paint

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When the warmer weather comes around, many of us turn our attention and our paint brushes to our outdoor spaces.

But do we know how to get the best results? What’s the best time to paint? How do you get the colour you want? And can the weather affect the finish?

All these are questions that will run through your head as you look outside at your deteriorating walls or fences. Luckily paint authority Emperor Paint is on hand and going to give you some of exterior decorating top tips to help you achieve long-lasting, beautiful results.

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Preparation is key!

As with any decorating project, preparation is the single most important aspect of exterior decorating. While it can be tempting to rush this step and get on with the painting, putting time into your preparation is the best way to ensure a perfect finish that lasts.

Make sure you thoroughly clean down the surface before painting, as they can easily accumulate dirt over time. If left on the surface, this dirt can impact the ability for the paint to stick to the surface. Wash off any dirt with hot soapy water or even better a pressure-washer.

If there is any organic growth such as lichens, apply a fungicidal wash which will kill the growth. Any loose paint from previous decorating must be removed before you can paint the surface. Use a filling knife to remove the paint back to a firm edge, where no more paint can be removed.

It is also important to fill any surfaces that have been damaged before you start painting. Any cracks or holes can allow moisture to get behind the paint film, so filling is a sure-fire way to watertight the surface.

Don’t forget the primer!

Not all surfaces are ready to paint straight away once cleaned and filled. Sometimes it is necessarily to apply a primer. But when do you need a primer I hear you ask?

A primer is generally only required on surfaces that have not been previously painted. The primer helps to prevent the paint from absorbing into the surface and helps provide added adhesion. If the surface you are painting has been painted before, you usually do not need to apply a primer. To be sure, it is always a good idea to check the instructions of the paint you are using.

Weather protection

When it comes to exterior decorating, the main factor that is different to interior decorating is the elements. Exterior surfaces have to endure a wide range of conditions, especially here in the UK. Whether it is UV rays in the height of summer, or constant exposure to moisture in winter, ensuring you use a paint with appropriate weather protection is crucially important.

Most exterior paints will be described as ‘weatherproof’ or ‘weather resistant’ this usually means the paint offers some level of weather protection, but not complete waterproof protection. For a paint to be waterproof it must be water repellent.

Whether you are painting exterior wood or masonry, opting for a water repellent paint will ensure water cannot get underneath the paint film and cause it to start peeling and flaking. Not only this, but the waterproof protection that some exterior paints provide can also protect the surface underneath the paint, helping to prevent rot, damage & decay.

Check the forecast

You can paint interior surfaces all year round without a care in the world, but when it comes to painting outside it’s a different story! If it rains before your paint is dry, your hard work will go to waste.

You need to leave yourself enough time to do the prep work, apply a primer (if required) and apply two coats of paint while it is dry. Bearing this in mind, it is worth waiting for a dry weekend where you can split the work across two full days.

The temperature will also have a say in when you can paint. If you are using a water-based paint, temperatures must be above 5°C as temperatures below this will prevent the paint from drying. Having said this, this shouldn’t be a problem in summer!

Top tip: Do not paint in direct sunlight as it can cause certain areas to dry quicker than others leaving you with a patchy finish.

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Finding the right colour

Selecting the best colour for a project can be a real headache, but don’t worry as there are a few things that can help you whittle down your options.

A big thing to consider is the amount of light the surface will get. Low levels of light can dull a colour, while direct sunlight can cause the hue in the colour to really intensify. If the surface gets a lot of natural light, it is recommended to opt for a shade darker in order to counterbalance this.

When it comes to painting exterior colours such as white, off-white, cream & light grey are by far the most popular options, especially if you want a clean, modern look.

On more traditional properties with a rural, woodsy setting, neutrals such as magnolia, beige & other earthy tones help create a beautiful harmony between the colour palette of your house and the surrounding area.

Top tip: Ordering a sample pot of paint and applying it to the surface is recommended to get the most accurate representation of the colour before you buy.

We hope this guide has helped give you a few pointers to get you started on you exterior decorating projects. Remember, take your time and take all necessary steps as it more than pays in the long-run!

With over 35 years’ experience in the specialist paint and coatings industry, Emperor Paint is a leading paint provider, passionate about delivering the most advanced protective exterior coating products available.