Owning a home

Painting the exterior of your house

4 min read

If you’ve got the time and you want to save a bit of coin, then go for it when it comes to painting the exterior of your home yourself.

The task of painting the exterior of a house is not one to take on without a bit of assistance though. My first tip - get some mates to help. The mates I’d choose would be professional painters, and I’d get them to quote the job and then pay them when they’re finished. Joking aside - depending on the cladding, the state of the paint, and the difficulty factor, you could be looking at a pretty hefty job, so it might pay to have a professional helping hand. 

Here are a few tips and thoughts on painting your home exterior – using a weatherboard house with timber joinery as an example.

Preparation is the key

The most important part of painting a weatherboard home is the preparation. Hours, even days, can be spent stripping back peeling paint. Scraping and sanding are important to ensure that the new paint keys into the existing.

Many paint jobs look great for a month or two, then blisters appear where newly applied acrylic paint hasn’t adhered to existing, unprepped oil-based paint. 

Another pitfall is the type of timber the weatherboards are made from. If your house is old and clad with Rimu weatherboards, then any exposed timber from your preparation needs to be sealed and primed with an oil-based primer. Acrylic/water based sealers may not stick, so it’s not worth taking the risk.

Painting the exterior of your house image2Choosing a colour

Traditionally, weatherboards were painted in whites and cream colours - but trends have seen all the colours of the rainbow introduced to home exteriors.

Trending now are dark grays and blacks, which may look great but can cause all sorts of trouble.

L.R.V. stands for Light Reflective Value, and these darker paints do not reflect light or heat as well as lighter colours. Painting a white house a dark colour can cause warping, twisting and nail popping to weatherboards that might have been fine for the 30 years that the house was white.

Advances in paint technology are pushing the L.R.V. of darker paints lower, but check this with your supplier first.

Paint types

No matter what your cladding - weatherboards, plaster, plywood - the best and recommended paint to use for exteriors is acrylic. These paints are formulated to have a high elasticity, preventing breakdown due to movement in the cladding. 

Timber joinery should be painted with enamel/acrylic, which is a mixed paint that offers the flexibility of an acrylic, but is harder and more suited to constant opening and shutting of the windows.

Painting process

A tip a painter gave me was to start by painting the back of the house, and then finish with the front. That way, your painting will improve over time, so the most-seen part of your home will look the best. Plus, passers-by will think you were really quick.

Safety regulations, and in particular working heights, have gone through many changes - and anyone can be prosecuted for breaking the rules. Any scaffold over 3m is required to be erected by a certified scaffolder. So any intentions you have of nailing a few 4x2s together to get you to the apex of your 2 storey villa should be left under the pillow you dreamed them up on. If your house requires scaffold, you could pay anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000 for erection and hireage. A good idea is to do one wall or one area at a time, using mobile scaffolding.


With modern paints the years between recoating have extended, and you should have up to 10 years relaxing before repainting is required. By washing your house down twice a year, the grime that eats into the paint and breaks it down is removed, and the paint will last longer. Specially formulated products can be sprayed on and washed off, leaving the paint looking as good as new. 


The variables - including conditions of paint, type of cladding, and ease of access - make it impossible to give a price guide to painting a house. So the only way to get an idea of cost is a quote from a professional. Choose at least two companies to quote, and pick from friend recommendations, or ask your paint supplier for their advice on who to use. If you choose to go with a professional, sign a contract and make sure you’re getting what you’ve been quoted. Stories of ‘one coat wonders’ and ‘Slap and Dash’ were common some years back, and you don’t want to be left having to redo what you’ve paid to be done. 

So should you go DIY, or hire the professionals? At the end of the day, it’s completely up to you. But whatever you go with, always remember the three Ps – preparation, preparation, preparation.

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