Painting external walls

Is your property looking tired on the outside? Perhaps it's time to brighten the exterior of your home or repair any winter damage? You may even be ready for a change of style or colour to give a fresh new look to your home this Spring.

Exterior masonry paint comes in a wide range of colours and is developed to help protect against weathering. From neutral to bold, find the colour for your home.

  • Part 1: How to prepare an external wall for painting

    What you'll need

    • Protective clothing & dustsheets
    • Medium/stiff bristled hand brush
    • Masking tape & newspaper
    • Medium grade sandpaper
    • Ladders
    • Exterior filler & filling knife
    • Paint kettle
    • Selection of masonry paint brushes - 1", 2", 3"
    • A large masonry paint brush or an extendable 9" medium or long pile roller and a paint tray
    • Masonry primer
    • Masonry paint
    • Brush cleaner or solvent

    Safety first

    Cleaning solutions and paint products may contain harmful chemicals. In addition, cleaning painted surfaces can create a lot of dust, so be sure to wear protective clothing including goggles, gloves, and a face mask at all times.

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  • Step 1: Clean the area

    Use a medium to stiff bristled hand brush to remove any surface dirt and loose paint. Use a scraper to remove any loose masonry.

    If the wall is very dirty wash the wall with household detergent and rinse well with water. Problem areas affected by mould, algae or climbers should be thoroughly cleaned and treated by a fungicidal wash. Always read the instructions of the product prior to use.

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  • Step 2: Repair damage

    To fill small cracks and holes, firstly make sure the damaged area is free from loose materials. Then apply the exterior filler or mortar using a knife and smooth off with a wet filling knife.

    If the crack or damage is deeper than 10mm, you may have to build up the filler in layers, leaving each layer to dry before applications.

    Rub down with medium grade sandpaper when dry.

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    Top tip

    Lightly dampen the area to be filled, ideally using a spray bottle. This will help the filler stick.

  • Step 3: Seal and prime

    Seal and prime porous or powdery surfaces with a masonry primer using a small paint brush for edges and hard to reach areas. Use a medium or long pile roller for larger areas. This will create a stable surface for painting and make it easier to apply paint and make it go further.

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  • Choosing masonry paints

    Textured paints: These are great for a hardworking finish. It will also help mask imperfections in the masonry.

    Smooth paint: This gives a nice even finish. It can disguise minor blemishes and is easy to apply.

    Choosing colours Pick up some tester pots and paint on to cardboard or plasterboard. This will give you an idea of how it will look. Don't forget - the colour will look different depending on the time of day and which way the wall is facing.

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    Work out how much paint your project requires Use our paint calculator
  • Part 2: How to paint an external wall

    Step 1: Protect from splashes or spills

    Protect any paving, decking and plants using dust sheets, ensure you wear protective clothing throughout the job.

    Mask off windows and pipes with masking tape and old newspapers to stop them getting covered in paint.

    A large tin of paint may be more economical, but it is more cumbersome to work with. If your using a ladder to reach high up areas, use a kettle to store the paint and hang it on the ladder, freeing up your hands to paint in a controlled and safe manner.

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    Top tip

    It takes a lot of white spirit to clean oil-based paint from a kettle, so it is a good idea to use a throwaway lining of aluminium foil. Mould the foil into the kettle and if necessary use more than one layer to make sure it is leak proof.

  • Step 2: Apply the masonry paint

    Apply with a large masonry brush (these are more substantial and hardwearing) or a long pile roller using short horizontal and vertical stokes. If your painting a textured wall, use a masonry brush, hold at a 90 degrees and dab the surface. Use a smaller brush for edges and those hard to reach areas.

    Always start at the top of the house and work down. Use a ladder to reach high up areas or use sturdy extension handles if working from the ground. To avoid runs don't overload the brush or roller with paint. Take your time and work the paint in well.

    Aim to complete walls in one go to avoid noticeable lines on the paintwork - or finish painting at pipes or windows.

    Follow the instructions on the tin for the number of coats required. Leave each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.

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  • Last step: Finishing up

    Remaining paints, stains and oils should be stored or disposed of according to their individual instructions. Do not empty down drains.

    Remove as much of the product from the brushes, rollers or paint pads before cleaning.

    If you have used water-based paints, simply wash with water. Work a little soap into them, rinse them clean and leave them to dry.

    If you have used oil or solvent-based paints or stains, simply clean with a solvent such as white spirit.

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    Top tip

    Resting brushes in a jar for any length of time is certain to ruin them, so suspend the brush, or use a specifcally designed cleaning tub.

  • Download: How to paint an exterior wall pdf guide (393KB)