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Paint House With a Brush?

Painting House Exterior By Hand and Other Not-So-Lunatic Thoughts

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Man Paintng House
(c) Lee Wallender; Licensed to About.com
When you're done reading this, you might be convinced to paint your house exterior with a brush. Or, if that's too much of a conversion, at least you might understand why painters and homeowners alike spend considerable time outside applying brush to house.

In the light of today's painting technology, why even buy a paintbrush in the first place? We've got pro-level paint sprayers powered by compressors, consumer-level DC and cordless sprayers, electric pressure-fed paint rollers. Why even monkey with a centuries-old technology involving little more than wood and animal hair (or synthetic) bristles?

6 Reasons For Painting House With a Brush

  1. Gives Extra Attention to Prep Work: One of the best things about painting your house exterior has nothing to do with the finish coat itself. House painting gives you the opportunity--no, it forces you--to get up-close and personal with your house's skin. Many homeowners will not undertake repairs to the house's siding and trim if it were not part of this larger painting project. When painting by hand, you will first do prep work (patching, sealing, etc.) on the house. But after taking up the brush, you will be astounded by how much you missed on the first go-around.
  2. Helps You Pinpoint Problems Areas Better: When dealing with small, complex areas, the paint sprayer isn't much help. However, the paintbrush is perfect for those knots or cracks where you need an extra daub of paint.
  3. Rewards Your Need For Instant Gratification: Paint-spraying is all about preparation. For the house, you need masking and tarps. For you, you need to get properly suited and masked up. But when painting a house by hand, you only need to put on your old pair of jeans and shirt, pop open the can, and start painting--ten minutes, tops. If you're the type who likes to get started ASAP, this method is for you.
  4. Lets You Jump In Frequently: Do you like to clean your house in one big effort on a Saturday? Or do you do a little bit here and there? Paint-spraying is not a here-and-there project. But when you paint by hand, you can do 30 minutes here, 40 minutes there. Your only obstacle is cleaning up the brush.
  5. Cleaner: Paint-spraying requires maximum tarping, not just directly below the surface but well beyond. Every single thing that will not be painted must be covered. With manual brushing, very little needs to be covered: the area below; critical areas like trim or windows which your brush might accidentally hit; and yourself.
  6. Conserves Paint: One gallon of exterior acrylic-latex on a clean, painted surface will easily hit or exceed the manufacturer's estimates (1 gallon = 400 sq. feet).
See Video: How to Paint a Large Space with a Small Brush - Jennifer D'Amore makes a good case for painting an interior space by brush.

Real-World Alternatives to Painting the Entire House By Hand

In theory, it's a great idea. In practice, it can only benefit you to incorporate other painting methods. The question, of course, is how much time should you dole out to brushwork vs. spraying vs. rolling? If the structure is small, then painting by brush is not only feasible but a time-saver. But as the size of the structure increases, time saved by brushwork rapidly decreases.

You might want to put on the first coat entirely by hand, then spray on the second coat. You get the best of both worlds: the detail work of the first coat, the speed of the second coat.

Even if you don't brush the whole house, you'll want to brush-paint smaller areas that need extra attention (eaves, near drainpipes and vents, etc.).

4 Tips For Manually Painting Large Exterior Areas

  • Break up the project into smaller sections that you can tackle with ease. In a tip-sheet about exterior house-painting, I recommend thinking of your house as four separate projects (or however many exterior walls you have) instead of one big project. Mentally segregate each "wall-project" into even smaller sections that you can finish in the course of two hours.
  • Learn how to clean paintbrushes. By treating your brushes better, you extend their lifespan. The most important part: it allows you to buy higher-quality brushes, which in turn makes your painting go smoother.
  • Buy a 4" brush. It just makes sense that if you're going to be painting broad expanses, you need a broader brush.
  • Using flat or matte finish paint helps you pick up again on your painting without worrying about overlapping seams. Flat hides overlaps better.

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