How to paint over old exterior?

Revitalizing the exterior of your home can be a rewarding project, and one of the key steps is painting over the old exterior paint. Whether you want to update the color, protect the surface, or simply give your home a fresh new look, knowing how to paint over old exterior paint is crucial. In this blog post, we will explore the essential steps and techniques involved in this process. From proper surface preparation to choosing the right paint and application methods, we’ll guide you through the journey of transforming your home’s exterior. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets to achieving a beautiful and long-lasting paint job that will breathe new life into your property.

Can I Paint Over Old Exterior?

Yes, you can paint over old exterior paint. However, it is important to properly prepare the surface by cleaning, scraping, and sanding it before applying new paint. Additionally, using a primer can help improve adhesion and ensure better results. Choosing the right type of exterior paint and following proper application techniques will also contribute to a successful paint job.

Challenges you might face

Challenges you might face when painting over old exterior paint:

Adhesion Issues:

It is common to encounter adhesion problems when painting over old exterior paint. The new paint may not properly adhere to the surface if it is dirty, peeling, or has a glossy finish.

To troubleshoot this ensure that surface is clean and free from any loose or flaking paint. Consider using a degreaser or TSP (trisodium phosphate) solution to remove any dirt, grime, or grease. Sanding the surface lightly can also help improve adhesion.

Uneven Texture:

Another challenge you might face is achieving an even texture when painting over old exterior paint. The existing paint might have imperfections, such as brush strokes or roller marks, which can affect the smoothness of the new paint.

To troubleshoot this issue, consider using a high-quality primer before applying the new paint. Priming can help create a uniform surface and fill in any uneven areas. Applying multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat can also help achieve a smoother finish.

Color Bleeding:

Color bleeding occurs when the old paint color seeps through the new paint, resulting in an uneven or discolored appearance.

To troubleshoot this issue, it is important to choose a high-quality paint that provides good coverage. Consider using a stain-blocking primer before applying the new paint to prevent color bleed. If necessary, apply additional coats of paint until the desired color is achieved.

Peeling or Cracking:

If the old exterior paint is already peeling or cracking, it can pose a challenge when trying to achieve a smooth and long-lasting finish.

To troubleshoot this issue, it is crucial to remove any loose or peeling paint by scraping or sanding the surface. Repair any cracks or damaged areas with an appropriate filler or patching compound. Applying a primer specifically designed for problem surfaces can help improve adhesion and prevent further peeling or cracking.

Remember, each painting project is unique, and you may encounter specific challenges based on the condition of the old exterior paint and the surface you’re working with. However, by addressing these common issues and following proper preparation and painting techniques, you can overcome these challenges and achieve a successful painting result.

Tools and technique

Tools required for painting over old exterior:

  1. Paint Scraper: A paint scraper is essential for removing any loose or peeling paint from the surface. It helps create a smooth and clean base for the new paint.
  2. Sandpaper or Sanding Block: Sandpaper or a sanding block is used to smooth out rough areas and create a more even surface. It helps in preparing the old exterior paint for better adhesion of the new paint.
  3. Power Washer or Hose: A power washer or a hose with a high-pressure nozzle is useful for cleaning the exterior surface before painting. It helps remove dirt, grime, and loose debris that can affect the paint’s adhesion.
  4. Paint Brushes: Different sizes and types of paint brushes are needed for cutting in and painting smaller areas where a roller may not reach. Choose brushes with synthetic bristles for latex-based paints and natural bristles for oil-based paints.
  5. Paint Roller: A paint roller is used for applying paint to larger areas quickly and efficiently. It is recommended to use a roller with a medium nap length suitable for the texture of the surface.
  6. Extension Pole: An extension pole is helpful for reaching higher areas, such as the eaves or upper portions of the walls. It attaches to the paint roller, allowing you to paint without the need for a ladder.
  7. Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheets: Drop cloths or plastic sheets are used to protect surfaces that you don’t want to be painted, such as windows, doors, and landscaping. They help catch any paint drips or spills.
  8. Paint Trays and Liners: Paint trays provide a convenient container for pouring and loading paint onto the roller. Using disposable plastic tray liners makes cleanup easier.
  9. Painter’s Tape: Painter’s tape is used to mask off areas that you want to keep paint-free, such as trim, windows, and door frames. It creates clean edges and prevents unintentional paint smudges or drips.
  10. Safety Equipment: Don’t forget to prioritize safety! Safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask are essential to protect yourself from any potential hazards, such as dust, fumes, or splatters.

Remember to choose high-quality tools that are appropriate for the type of paint you’ll be using and the specific needs of your painting project. Having the right tools will help you achieve better results and make the painting process smoother and more enjoyable.

Steps for Painting Over Old Exterior Paint:

I. Assessing the Existing Paint

Before starting your painting project, it’s important to assess the condition of the existing paint. Look for signs of peeling, cracking, or flaking. Determine whether the old paint is oil-based or latex-based, as this will impact your choice of new paint.

II. Surface Preparation Techniques

  1. Make the surface clean: Start by thoroughly cleaning the exterior surface. Use a power washer or hose with a high-pressure nozzle to remove dirt, dust, and grime. If necessary, use a mild detergent for tougher stains.
  2. Inspect the surface: Carefully examine the surface for any cracks, holes, or other damages. Repair these areas using suitable fillers or patching compounds. Smooth out uneven surfaces with sandpaper or a sanding block.
  3. Tape off areas: Before you begin painting, protect areas that you don’t want to paint by using painter’s tape. This includes windows, doors, trim, and other fixtures.

III. Priming

The Foundation for Success: Priming is an important step in painting over old exterior paint. Consider the following:

When to prime: If the existing paint is in good condition and you’re using a similar type of paint (latex over latex or oil-based over oil-based), you may not need to prime. However, if there are significant repairs, color changes, or you’re switching from oil-based to latex (or vice versa), priming is recommended.

When not to prime: If the existing paint is in good condition, clean, and has a flat finish, you may be able to skip the primer. However, always refer to the paint manufacturer’s guidelines for specific recommendations.

IV. Selecting High-Quality Paint

Choose a high-quality exterior paint that is appropriate for your specific project. Consider factors such as durability, weather resistance, and ease of application. Look for paints labeled as suitable for exterior use and designed to adhere well to various surfaces.

V. Choosing a Color Scheme

Select a color scheme that suits your personal preference and complements your home’s architectural style. Consider the surrounding environment and any homeowner association guidelines or restrictions. Test paint samples on a small area of the surface to see how they appear under different lighting conditions.

VI. Application Techniques for a Professional Finish

  • Start by cutting in: Use a brush to carefully cut in around edges, corners, and other detailed areas such as windows, doors, and trim.
  • Use a roller: Apply paint to larger areas using a roller. Choose a roller with a medium nap length that suits the texture of your surface.
  • Apply multiple coats: Apply multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

VII. Troubleshooting Common Issues

Be prepared to troubleshoot common issues that may arise during the painting process. Examples include poor adhesion, uneven texture, color bleeding, or peeling/cracking. Refer to specific troubleshooting techniques based on the issue at hand.

VIII. Final Touches and Cleanup

Once you have completed painting, remove any painter’s tape carefully before the paint is fully dry to avoid peeling or chipping. Inspect the painted surface for any touch-ups or areas that may require additional coats of paint. Finally, clean up your tools and dispose of any paint waste properly.

What Type of Paint and Primer Should I Use for an Old Exterior?

Choosing the right paints

When painting an old exterior, it is important to choose paints that are specifically formulated for exterior surfaces. Consider the following factors:

  1. Paint Type: Opt for high-quality 100% acrylic latex paint. It offers excellent durability, flexibility, and resistance to cracking and peeling. Avoid using oil-based paints as they tend to yellow over time.
  2. Sheen Level: For most exterior surfaces, a satin or semi-gloss sheen is recommended. These finishes provide good durability and are easier to clean.
  3. Weather Resistance: Ensure that the paint you choose is designed to withstand your local climate conditions. Look for paints that offer UV protection, resistance to fading, and protection against mildew growth.

Choosing the right primer

Using a primer is essential when painting an old exterior. It helps improve adhesion, promotes better coverage, and enhances the longevity of the paint job. Consider the following:

  1. Type of Primer: Select a primer that is compatible with both the existing paint and the new paint you plan to apply. If the old paint is oil-based, use an oil-based primer. For latex-based paints, choose a latex-based primer.
  2. Problem-Solving Primers: If the old exterior has stains, tannin bleed, or water damage, consider using a stain-blocking primer specifically designed to address these issues.
  3. Bonding Primers: In cases where the existing paint is in poor condition or has a glossy finish, using a bonding primer can help enhance adhesion to ensure better paint coverage and longevity.

How to Achieve Long-Lasting Results when Painting an Old Exterior?

To achieve long-lasting results when painting an old exterior, consider the following tips:

  1. Quality Paints: Invest in high-quality paints that are designed for exterior use. These paints offer better resistance to weather conditions, fading, and cracking, ensuring a longer-lasting finish.
  2. Multiple Thin Coats: Apply multiple thin coats of paint instead of one thick coat. This helps achieve better coverage, reduces the risk of drips or sags, and improves the overall durability of the paint job.
  3. Proper Application Techniques: Follow proper application techniques, such as using brushes and rollers correctly, ensuring even coverage, and allowing sufficient drying time between coats.
  4. Regular Maintenance: To extend the life of your newly painted exterior, perform regular maintenance such as cleaning the surface, inspecting for any damages or touch-ups needed, and addressing any issues promptly..

Considerations for painting over old exterior:

Weather Considerations:

  • Choose a time to paint when the weather is mild, with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Extreme heat or cold can affect the paint’s application and drying process.
  • Avoid painting during rainy or windy conditions, as it can lead to poor adhesion and streaking.

Safety Precautions:

  • Wear appropriate safety gear such as safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask to protect yourself from dust, fumes, and potential hazards.
  • Use ladders and scaffolding properly, ensuring they are stable and secure. Take necessary precautions to prevent falls or accidents.

Budgeting and Cost Considerations:

  • Determine your budget for the project, considering the cost of paint, primer, tools, and any professional assistance if needed.
  • Research and compare prices of different paint brands and types to find a balance between quality and affordability.

Environmental Considerations:

  • Consider the environmental impact of your paint choices. Look for low or zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints that are eco-friendly and have minimal impact on indoor and outdoor air quality.
  • Properly dispose of paint waste and cleaning materials according to local regulations to minimize environmental harm.

Best Practices and Expert Advice:

  1. Test Colors: Before committing to a color, test paint samples on a small area of the surface. This allows you to see how the color looks in different lighting conditions and helps you make an informed decision.
  2. Follow Proper Application Techniques: Use brushes and rollers correctly, ensuring even coverage and avoiding drips or streaks. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times between coats.
  3. Multiple Thin Coats: Apply multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. This allows for better coverage and helps prevent problems like drips or uneven sheen.
  4. Maintain Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation during the painting process to prevent the buildup of fumes. Open windows or use fans to improve air circulation.
  5. Keep a Wet Edge: When painting larger areas, maintain a wet edge by working in small sections at a time. This helps prevent visible brush or roller marks and ensures a seamless finish.
  6. Regular Maintenance: Once the painting is complete, perform regular maintenance to keep the exterior looking its best. This may include cleaning the surface periodically and addressing any touch-ups or repairs as needed.
  7. Seek Expert Advice: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the painting process or encounter specific challenges, don’t hesitate to seek advice from professionals or reliable sources. They can provide guidance based on their expertise and experience.

Hiring Professionals vs. DIY:

Hiring Professionals:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Professional painters have the knowledge, skills, and experience to handle painting projects effectively. They are familiar with the best practices, techniques, and products to achieve high-quality results.
  2. Time and Efficiency: Professionals can complete the painting project in a more efficient manner, saving you time and effort. They have the necessary tools, equipment, and manpower to work quickly without sacrificing quality.
  3. Professional Finish: Hiring experts ensures a professional-looking finish with smooth and even paint application. They have the expertise to handle challenging surfaces or address any issues that may arise during the project.
  4. Warranty or Guarantee: Many professional painting companies offer warranties or guarantees on their workmanship, giving you peace of mind knowing that they stand behind their services.
  5. Less Stress and Hassle: Hiring professionals relieves you of the stress and physical demands of the project. They handle all aspects, including surface preparation, priming, painting, and cleanup.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself):

  1. Cost Savings: Taking on the painting project yourself can save money on labor costs. However, it’s important to consider the cost of materials, tools, and your own time when calculating the overall budget.
  2. Personal Satisfaction: Completing a painting project on your own can be personally rewarding. It allows you to take pride in your work and have a sense of accomplishment.
  3. Flexibility and Control: DIY gives you full control over color choices, techniques, and timelines. You can work at your own pace and make adjustments as needed.
  4. Learning Opportunity: Painting your own exterior provides an opportunity to learn new skills and gain hands-on experience. It can be a fulfilling and educational experience for future projects.

When deciding between hiring professionals or tackling the painting project yourself, consider factors such as your skill level, time availability, complexity of the project, desired quality of the outcome, and budget constraints. If you’re unsure or have concerns about your ability to achieve the desired results, it may be worth investing in professional services to ensure a well-executed and long-lasting paint job.


Painting over an old exterior requires careful consideration and planning to achieve the best results. Assessing the existing paint, properly preparing the surface, and selecting the right paint and primer are crucial steps in the process. Weather conditions, safety precautions, budgeting, and environmental considerations should also be taken into account.

Following best practices, seeking expert advice when needed, and deciding between hiring professionals or taking a DIY approach are important considerations to ensure a successful painting project. Whether you choose to hire professionals or tackle the project yourself, the ultimate goal is to achieve a long-lasting and visually pleasing finish that enhances the beauty and durability of your home’s exterior.

By following these considerations and implementing the recommended steps, you can embark on your painting journey with confidence, knowing that you have taken into account important factors to achieve a successful outcome. Happy painting!

Transform the look of your home’s exterior with a professional paint job from Calgary Painters! Our experienced team is ready to revitalize your property and create a fresh new look that will stand the test of time. From proper surface preparation to expert application techniques, we have the knowledge and skills to ensure a beautiful and long-lasting finish. Don’t wait any longer, contact us today for a free estimate and let us bring new life to your home’s exterior! Check our Calgary Exterior Painting for more info.

By Painting Contractors Calgary