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Painting Exterior Doors, Shutters and Trim
What you'll need:
Here's everything you'll need to get it right the first time.
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute
  • Appropriate chemical resistant gloves
  • A painter"s hat, goggles, dust masks
  • Cloth or plastic drop cloths
  • Painter's tape (narrow and wide)
  • Plastic bags (large and small)
  • Newspapers
  • Paintbrushes, at least one of each of the following: 1", —3", 4 —5"
  • Rollers and roller covers in widths and fabrics for the surface and finish you choose
  • Paint trays and liners
  • Extension poles and/or a stepladder
  • Stir sticks
You may also want:
  • Paintable caulk
  • Putty knife
  • Wide-blade scraper
  • Edge pads
  • Sponge mop
  • Sandpaper, medium and fine grit
  • Sand-sponge for trim and molding

 
The exterior of your home is visible to the outside world —your neighbors and passers-by —and can be viewed as a statement of who you are. Updating your doorway, shutters or trim with paint can instantly enhance the curb appeal, whether your home is aluminum or vinyl siding, brick, stucco or stone.

Are you repainting an existing color scheme? Looking for new color ideas? We offer a variety of tips and online tools to help you make the right decisions.

Note: If you are painting aluminum windows, plastic shutters or metal doors, you'll need to be aware of additional considerations for these unusual substrates. Shutters may be made of plastic and, therefore, may require an exterior plastic spray paint.
 
 
Step 1 —Select Your Color Palette

When choosing color options for doors, trim or shutters, first consider the color of the rest of the house. Are you looking to create contrast, or definition? Do you want the door or entrance way to "pop?" When you have identified a few color choices for each, take the color chips and move them —or better yet, create a large sample board with paint samples of each option and move it around the house and yard to see which colors work best. If the sample board is large enough, walk to the curb for another perspective.

You'll want to think about how many different colors you want on the house. A cohesive color palette is important; too many colors can fragment the overall look of your home.

View the options with these considerations in mind:

  • Landscaping, such as stone borders and surrounding greenery, contribute color to the look from the street or backyard.
  • House colors throughout your neighborhood can offer ideas you may not have imagined. Using similar color intensities unifies the community.
  • Building materials used on your home are a big part of your overall color story. Your roof is a prominent color. If you have brick walls, choose colors that will look good in the same view.
  • Your home —architectural style can also help define your color choices. Our experts suggest color palettes based on the style of the house. If your home is a landmark, national and local historical societies will influence or limit your choice of colors. Even if you don't have a famous house, you may like the colors from an historic time period. A good place to get expert advice on period colors is the National Trust for Historic Preservation® colors.
  • The size of your home and property can influence the intensity of the color you might choose. For instance, a bold color on the siding of a large home, that is situated on a small property, says "Look at me!"
  • Try our Virtual Painter Your home is unique, and sometimes it is difficult to imagine what paint colors and changes will work best. We help make it easy for you. Simply upload a digital photograph of your home onto our Web site and, utilizing our siding and trim painting tool, try out a combination of colors until it feels just right. It's free!


 
Step 2 —Choose a Paint Finish
Satin or semi-gloss finishes are ideal for windows and doors, especially horizontal surfaces like —ledges or sashes — that tend to collect more dirt.
 
Step 3 —Planning

Determine what your paint and primer needs will be and what they will cost. You can estimate how much paint you'll need with our Paint Calculator. If you purchase more than one container of a paint color, mix them together before you start painting, to keep the color consistent throughout your project. You can also plan the painting to end each container at a wall facing a different direction.

Realistically estimate the time it will take to get the job done; however long you think it will take to prepare and paint the surface, unless you are an experienced painter, you should double it. Plan for and secure any equipment you will need. How tall is the tallest point of the siding? Do you have a ladder that high and the experience to use it safely? Do you need a scaffold or a lift? Choose the right painting clothes. Expect to get paint on your clothes and shoes. Ripped jeans, an old t-shirt and shoes are always a good bet.
Consider ordering a pizza that can be delivered, so you can take a break without changing your shoes.

 
Helpful Information
Factoring in the Weather
Factoring in the Weather

Stay flexible in your planning because outside weather conditions can mess with your painting schedule. Both surface and air temperatures, along with humidity, will affect the overall speed and process of evaporation. Latex acrylic paints dry and cure through this evaporative process of water and other components, leaving the film layer you know as paint. If the temperature is too cold, evaporation slows and the resin components within the coating become less flexible. The result is a coating that does not dry and cure properly and does not flow and level, leading to appearance and adhesion problems.

In wet or humid conditions moisture slows the process even further, creating other appearance and film coat problems.

Primer tends to dry faster than paint, but the same temperature and humidity concerns should be followed for all exterior paint coatings —whether they are oil based or latex. Ideally, 72 hours without rain after an application will ensure optimal results; a minimum of 24 hours is required to avoid additional problems, as the coating will still be water sensitive during the first day after application.


 
 
Step 4 —Repair
It's important to fix and prep problem areas before you begin to paint:
  • Look around the house for any soft or rotting wood, especially around windows and doors. You will need to replace it with new wood prior to painting.
  • There are several common problems that tend to arise when painting exteriors, which will need to be corrected before you apply more paint.
  • Fill cracks and holes. Paintable caulk can be your best friend on exterior painting projects, but you don't want to overuse it. For instance, caulk is not suitable for repairing large holes; rather, it is best used for sealing the spaces between window frames and siding. Follow all manufacturer directions.

 
Step 5 —Protect

Cover the ground completely with drop cloths along the perimeter of your home or painting area. Drips or spills on porous concrete are difficult to remove. You don't need to tape the drop cloths, but you should weigh them down with rocks or bricks. A big gust of wind, and your drop cloth could end up sticking to your wet paint, getting tangled in your feet or dumping over your paint tray. When it comes to drop cloths, cloth is king. Paint drips or spills on plastic don't get absorbed and can create a slippery mess. If you are painting shutters, we recommend you remove them from the house and place them in a separate painting area. Use a drop cloth. Tape around the edges of door and window frames using quality painter's tape with at least a 2" width (look for products that contain specific properties to handle your unique job or surface).

Tip: We recommend painter's tape because masking tape dries out too quickly and becomes difficult to remove. Once you have applied the painter's tape to the baseboard, pass over it with a putty knife, or a credit card, to smooth out any bubbles and ensure adhesion. This will keep any paint from getting underneath the tape. Remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

Keep in mind that tightly taping a newly painted wall could cause you to remove layers of paint; therefore, avoid sealing tape tightly against new paint. Good surface prep and a two-week cure will reduce the odds of pulling your new paint off with the tape.


 
Helpful Information
Using a Ladder
Using a Ladder

Always remember: Safety first.

Falling off a ladder can result in serious injury. Do not lean over or reach too far from your ladder’s current position. Instead, get down and move the ladder. Also, never ascend to the top rung; the ladder won’t be stable with your weight at the very top. If you are on the ladder and something falls, such as the paintbrush, let it drop to the ground. Trying to catch it while you are still on the ladder could cause you to fall.


 
 
Step 6 —Remove Old Paint and Prep the Surfaces

Use a scraper to remove any flaking paint and make sure to wear goggles to avoid falling paint chips from getting into your eyes. Using a sponge mop, wash all surfaces with a solution of TSP (or a substitute) and water (according to the manufacturer's instructions). Rinse with water and let dry thoroughly.

Tip: TSP is typically found in the paint department near the solvents. We recommend TSP because it is a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner that can be used on practically any type of surface. It is also a concentrate, which makes it a bit stronger than most ordinary cleansers. So protect your eyes and skin from splashes and keep it away from your prized flowers, bushes and even grass in concentrations. (Please note: Due to regulations, TSP may not be available in all areas.)

Bare woodwork: Use a latex or oil-based specialty primer that is formulated to block stains. Glossy painted surfaces: Prime your glossy surfaces to promote adhesion of the top coat. There are three ways to prime a glossy surface:

  1. Use a latex or oil-based primer formulated for glossy surface adhesion.
  2. Scuff the surface with 180-grit sand paper. The scuffing will help the new paint adhere better.
  3. Before painting, wash the surface with TSP (or a substitute) according to the manufacturer's instructions; rinse with water and let dry.


 
Step 7 —Clear Away Debris

Get rid of dirt and dust. Wash all the surfaces. Hand washing is best for cleaning corners and eaves.

Keep your pets locked up during the painting process and make sure someone can supervise the children while you work.


 
Step 8 —Clean and Dry Surfaces

Using a sponge mop, wash all surfaces with a solution of TSP and water (according to the manufacturer's instructions). Rinse with water and let dry thoroughly.

Tip: TSP is typically found in the paint department near the solvents. We recommend TSP because it is a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner that can be used on practically any type of surface. It is also a concentrate, which makes it a bit stronger than most ordinary cleansers. (Please note: Due to regulations, TSP may not be available in all areas.)
Be sure to wear work clothes and protect your eyes and skin from splashes; also, keep it away from your flowerbeds, bushes and other greenery.

Trim and shutters: Clean trim, windowsills and shutters with sponges or rags before you paint.
 
Step 9 —Prime the Walls
Primer is essential to achieving professional-looking results. Bare wood, drywall, patching compound and plaster require primer to seal the surface. With proper priming, you will use less topcoat and the final color will lay rich on the top layer.
Tip: If you are repainting walls or woodwork in excellent condition, and/or you are not making dramatic color changes, priming is usually not needed. Need to prime? Not sure which type to use? Contact our Valspar technical support team, or call 1-888-313-5569 in the United States. They can help you determine if you need a primer as well as what type of primer you should choose.
 
Helpful Information
Loading a Brush
Loading Brushes
Loading a Brush
Moisten the brush with water (for latex paint), then squeeze out any excess fluid.
 
Dip the brush in the paint carefully, placing no more than 2/3 of the bristles into the paint, then move the brush around a bit the first time to saturate the brush with paint.
 
Pull the brush up and let the excess paint drip off —overloading leads to drips, runs and spatter. You can also remove some excess paint by pulling the bristles against the edge of the paint can.
 
Loading a Roller
Loading Rollers
Loading a Roller
First, get the roller a little damp. Use a thinner for alkyd-based paint and plain water for latex.
 
Roll off any excess. Fill the roller well (about halfway) and lower the roller into the middle.
 
Roll up and down the slope of the pan to saturate the roller and roll off any excess.
 
Spot Priming
Spot Priming

If you've sanded down to a bare surface, you'll need to prime those spots. For some stains, spot priming is the best way to save time and lock in the stain and prevent it from migrating to the top coat. Don't forget to feather-sand edges so that the top coat applies evenly.


 
Priming Glossy Surfaces
Priming Glossy Surfaces

Prime glossy surfaces to promote adhesion of the top coat.

There are three ways to prime a glossy surface:

  1. Use a latex or oil-based primer formulated for glossy surface adhesion.
  2. Use a liquid deglosser, such as Prepaint, following all label instructions.
  3. Go over the surface with 180-grit sandpaper. The scuffing will help the new paint adhere. Before painting, wash the surface with TSP and water according to the manufacturer’s instructions; rinse with water and let dry.

Learn more about multipurpose primers.


 
Dramatic Color Changes
Dramatic Color Changes

You can achieve a professional result with dramatic color changes when you use the right primer. Use an "all-purpose" primer if you want to paint a light color over a dark color. Choose Valspar All-Purpose Primer


 
 
Step 10 —Paint the Shutters, Trim and Doorway
After removing the shutters from the house (recommended) and cleaning away any dirt or debris, prime and/or paint them and set aside to dry.
Spray painting is also an option, but the shutters will need to be removed from the house. Learn more about spray paints. If the shutters are plastic, you can prime with plastic primer and top coat with a quality spray paint. Paint your house trim. Use a 2" angled tip/sash brush and paint around the exterior in one direction so that you do not miss any areas. Next, paint the window and door trim, and the door. Remove tape before the paint dries. Hang the shutters after the entire project is completed.
Need a refresher on loading a brush?
 
Step 11 —Finishing Touches
Look around your newly painted exterior and see if there are any small items you could paint, such as lighting fixtures, address numbers, clay pots, lawn furniture or mailboxes, to bring your color scheme to the next level.


 
Step 12 —Clean and Be Green
More painting to do tomorrow with the same color? You don't have to clean brushes and rollers when you take a break. Wrap them in sealed plastic to stay moist until you are ready to paint again.

Tip: If paint has hardened on the handle or along the edge of the bristles, soften it with warm water so that you can remove it before you begin to paint. Make sure you dry the brush before you dip it.
Project finished? Don't throw away the rollers and brushes. With proper cleaning and storage, good painting tools can be reused many times. Reusing them saves you time and money and also helps the environment, because you're generating less waste.
 
Helpful Information
Cleaning Rollers
Cleaning Rollers
Latex Paint

To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you are removing latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth. You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, add detergent to remove partially dried material. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and then place it in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).


 
Oil-Based Paint (Alkyd)

To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Next, wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and then place it in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).


 
Cleaning Brushes
Cleaning Brushes
Latex Paint
If you used latex paint, remove the excess paint in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water —if necessary, use a brush comb to remove it. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.
 
If you're going to use the brush again within a day, suspend the brush in a coffee can full of water, making sure the bristles don't touch the bottom of the can. You don't want a brush with bent bristles. For long-term storage, hang brushes from a hook.
 
Alkyd / Oil-Based Paint
Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse the brush until the water runs clear.

Keep alkyd paint containers closed when not in use. Do not transfer contents to other containers for storage or disposal. In case of spillage, absorb with an inert material such as sand or kitty litter. Dispose of contaminated absorbent, container and/or unused contents in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.


 
 
DANGER: A spontaneous combustion hazard exists when cleaning up after using products that contain drying oils, such as linseed oil or tung oil. Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.
 
Storing Paint
Disposal, Storage and Recycling
 

Use It Up

If usable latex paint is left over after your project is finished, you can:

  • Use it for touching up your work, or store it away for future fixes.
  • Mix small amounts of paint together and use it as an undercoat for future jobs.
  • Donate paint to charities (for example, Habitat for Humanity, church groups, community groups, theater groups, schools or your neighbor.
  • Contact your local recycling center to see if the cans and lids can be recycled.

Never place liquid paint in the trash or pour it down the drain.


 

Storing Paint

Prepare the paint for storage: Label the paint can lid with the color and the location where the paint was used.

To properly store your paint, make sure you tightly seal the can. First, wipe away any excess paint from the rim. Then cover the can opening with plastic wrap. Put the lid securely in place and tap it down with a mallet. Store the can upside down. If the can is leaking, place it in a leak-proof container.

Store paint where temperatures are moderate. Temperature extremes can negatively affect paint and make it unusable. Never allow paint to freeze.

Quick-reference your stored cans by brushing a small amount of paint onto the outside surface (body of can or lid) and writing the color name and number in permanent ink. You can also identify the room or wall that was painted with that color.

You may also want to create and save a file on your computer of the paints you have placed in storage; that way, if someone tosses it by mistake you still have the information at your fingertips.

Keep paint in a safe location, away from children and pets.


 
 

Paint Disposal

Proper paint disposal contributes to a more efficient use of our landfills and, ultimately, safer groundwater and soil. We recommend the following tips:

  • Check local ordinances and waste hauler regulations.
  • Read paint can instructions for proper disposal.
  • Place properly dried latex in your regular household trash; however, follow these steps prior to disposal:
    • Cans with leftover paint should be left open so that the paint dries before disposal.
    • Make sure you place the drying cans in a well ventilated area. Cans with less than a quarter of the paint remaining will require a few days of drying time; cans with larger amounts will take longer, about a week.
    • You can also add shredded newspaper, sand, sawdust, cat litter or paint solidifier to the paint, which will absorb the excess paint. These materials also work well in stopping paint spills from spreading on most surfaces.
    • Another solution is to punch holes in the top of the can and then place it in a dry area for a couple of weeks.
  • When the cans are ready to be thrown out, make sure the lids have been removed to let waste haulers know the paint is dry.


NOTE: Oil-based paints, varnish or paint thinners are generally considered hazardous waste. Check with your municipality about any local ordinances and read label instructions before disposal —another good reason why you never want to spill paint on the back of your paint can label. Only dispose through your locally designated household hazardous waste program.


 
 

Recycling

The Valspar Corporation takes environmental sustainability and responsibility seriously. Our architectural paints meet or exceed national, state and local ordinances for low VOC in consumer products. In addition, we have saved over a million gallons of water usage in our latex plant operations through optimization and reuse programs.

Recycling metal and plastic paint cans should always be considered to reduce landfill usage. Paint cans should be thoroughly clean and dry. Metal cans are recyclable. Plastic cans may be recyclable if your waste hauler accepts them. Check your local ordinances or your waste hauler to see what is allowed.


 

Tool Tips

Good painting tools can be reused many times —saving you money and time spent shopping for new tools as well as helping the environment by generating less waste.

Rollers:

  • To reuse a roller the next day, place it in a plastic bag for storage to prevent it from drying out.
  • With latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth. You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, use detergent with the water to remove difficult paint. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry.
  • For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Then wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.
  • Spin out the excess moisture and place rollers into clean plastic bags, such as food storage bags.

Brushes:

  • With latex paint, remove most of the excess in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.
  • Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse once more.
  • Moist paintbrushes can be wrapped in wax paper and sealed with a rubber band or aluminum foil to retain their shape. Hang the brush upside down to maintain its shape.

DANGER: A spontaneous combustion hazard exists when cleaning up after using products that contain drying oils, such as linseed oil or tung oil. Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.

Other Tools:

  • Follow the directions on the paint label for tools used.
  • Applying the excess paint to cardboard or newspaper, or carefully scraping the tool, should remove excess paint.

 
 
Step 13 —Celebrate
Congratulations! You have successfully transformed your home. Order in, take out, put your feet up and bask in the glory of a job well done.
 
 
 
 
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