Are you wondering how to revamp the exterior of your house without removing all the old paint? If yes, then you’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will take you through a step-by-step process on how to correctly paint over old exterior surfaces.

Exterior painting is more than just a cosmetic upgrade; it’s a powerful line of defense against weather, insects, and damage. However, the key to a successful and long-lasting paint job is not only the quality of the paint used but also how well the surface is prepared before painting.

The Importance of Properly Painting Over Old Exterior Surfaces

Properly painting over old exterior surfaces plays an integral role in enhancing the beauty of your home and protecting it from harmful elements. Moreover, it helps in increasing the lifespan of your walls and saving you money in the long run. However, the process of painting over old exterior paint requires careful preparation and application to ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer.

I want to Paint Over Old Exterior, can I?

The short answer is yes, you can paint over old exterior surfaces. But it’s important to note that this does not apply to all situations. If the old paint is peeling or flaking, it’s advisable to remove all the paint because the new paint will not adhere well to a surface that isn’t sound. Also, if the old paint has a high gloss or semi-gloss finish, it’s best to remove it to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint. Finally, if the old paint is lead-based, it must be removed due to health hazards.

Challenges you might face

Painting over old exterior surfaces can pose a few challenges. For instance, ensuring that the new paint adheres properly to the old paint can be tricky. Peeling or flaking old paint can lead to an uneven surface, making it difficult for the new paint to stick. Additionally, moisture content in the wood, oil seeping through siding, and temperature changes can all affect the quality of your paint job. But with the right preparation and techniques, these challenges can be effectively managed.

Tools Required

You’ll need a range of tools for this painting project. These include a pressure washer for cleaning the surface, a scraper and sandpaper for removing loose paint and smoothing the surface, paintbrushes or a paint sprayer for applying the paint, and drop cloths to protect the ground and nearby objects. You may also need a ladder for reaching higher surfaces, painter’s tape for masking off areas you don’t want to paint, and a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the wood.

Preparation for Painting

Preparing the surface is a crucial part of the painting process. It involves several steps, including washing, scraping, sanding, and priming. Let’s look at each of these in detail.

Gathering the Necessary Materials and Tools

Before you start, gather all the materials and tools you’ll need for the job. This includes paint, primer, brushes or rollers, a paint sprayer, a scraper, sandpaper, a power washer, painter’s tape, drop cloths, a ladder, and a moisture meter. Having everything on hand will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Washing, Scrubbing and Rinsing the Walls

The first step in preparing the surface is to wash it thoroughly. Using a pressure washer, wash down the exterior with a soap solution followed by clean water. This removes any dirt, mildew, or loose paint that could prevent the new paint from adhering properly. A mixture of gallon water with a cup of chlorine bleach and 1 cup of phosphate-free cleaner can be used to scrub and rinse down the walls. Remember to allow the surface to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Filling Cracks, Gaps, and Holes

Next, inspect the surface for any minor cracks, gaps, dents, or holes. Fill these in with fillers, and replace any rotting pieces. This ensures a smooth and even surface for the new paint to adhere to.

Sanding and Priming

After filling in the cracks and gaps, use 50- or 80-grit sandpaper to smooth the boundary between the bare wood and the paint. Then, prime the surface. While a general-purpose exterior primer works fine in most cases, for troubled spots where oils are seeping through siding, a high-bonding exterior primer like Sherwin-Williams™ Extreme Bond Primer, KILZ® General Purpose Primer, or Glidden™ Gripper Primer is recommended. For bare wood, especially cedar or redwood, use oil-based coatings to lock in the extractives. Once the primer is dry, caulk the small joints in the trim and siding.

Read: Prepare for exterior painting

Applying the Paint

Now that the surface is prepped, it’s time to apply the paint. But before you dive in, there are a few things to consider.

Choosing the Right Paint

The type of paint you choose can greatly affect the outcome of your paint job. When painting over old exterior paint, you can paint over oil or Alkyd paint using latex or water-borne paint, which drys much quicker and is less caustic. However, you should avoid painting over latex using oil, as this can lead to problems such as lifting or peeling.

Primer Application: When and Where

Priming the surface is an important step in the painting process. However, primer is only needed in certain situations. If the old paint is in good condition and adhering well to the surface, you can skip priming. Otherwise, apply primer to problem areas such as bare wood or rust-stained surfaces. Also, use a metal primer over exposed nail heads to prevent rusting.

Using Different Painting Mediums: Brush, Sprayer, or Roller

The medium of painting you choose depends on the surface you’re painting and your personal preference. Brushes allow for precision and are ideal for smaller areas and details. Rollers cover large areas quickly and leave a smooth finish.Sprayers are great for covering large areas quickly and evenly, but they require more prep work to protect surrounding areas from overspray. Use a brush for old wood, then go over with a roller for a more even and smooth finish.

Tips for an Even Paint Application

For an even paint application, start painting at the top and work your way down. This helps prevent drips and gives you a better view of your progress. Depending on the intensity of the color and the condition of the surface, you may want to apply one or two coats. Always allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.

After Painting

Once you’ve finished painting, your job isn’t quite done. There are a few more steps to take to ensure your paint job lasts as long as possible.

How to Maintain Your Newly Painted Exterior

Maintaining your newly painted exterior involves regular cleaning and inspection. Rinse the painted surfaces regularly to remove dust and dirt. Inspect the paint job once or twice a year for signs of wear and tear such as chipping, fading, or peeling. Promptly address any issues you find to prevent further damage.

Dealing with Potential Issues like Moisture and Temperature Changes

Moisture and temperature changes can affect the lifespan of your paint job. Check the moisture content of the wood before painting and wait for it to dry out properly. Also, avoid painting in extreme temperatures as this can cause the paint to dry too quickly or not adhere properly. Painting in mild weather will give you the best results.

Costs Involved

The cost of painting an old house varies depending on several factors such as the size of the house, the condition of the surface, and the type of paint used. For instance, painting a single-story 1,000 sq ft house can cost between $1,000 – $3,000 for the exterior and $1,500 – $3,000 for the interior. A larger house, say 2,500 sq ft, might cost between $3,000 – $5,000 for the exterior and $3,750 – $7,500 for the interior. Remember, these costs are estimates and actual costs may vary.


Painting over old exterior surfaces can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation, tools, and techniques, you can achieve a beautiful and long-lasting finish. Remember, the key to a successful paint job is not only in the quality of the paint used but also how well the surface is prepared before painting. So, take your time, do your prep work, choose the right paint, and enjoy the transformation of your home’s exterior!

Looking to transform the exterior of your home with a professional paint job? Look no further! Painters Halifax is here to help. Our experienced team specializes in exterior painting, ensuring a beautiful and long-lasting finish for your home. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us revamp the look of your house. Trust Painters Halifax for all your exterior painting needs!