Like the rest of your home’s exterior, you should start from the top down when painting exterior trim. If your window sills look particularly weather-beaten, you might want to give them a second or third coat of paint. When painting doors, paint the panels first, then the rails and stiles, and finally the edges. For more details, read up on trim painting guidelines.

Painters will agree that you should always aim to paint in the part of the year when it’s least likely to rain, has low humidity, and when the temperatures are above 50 F. Rain can wash wet latex paint off a wall, and temps that are too low can affect the way the paint sticks to the walls. Some painters will add additives to the paint if working in very high temperatures to slow down the drying time.


A more user-friendly option is a water-based “latex” paint, which blends acrylic pigments with a thin base for easy application with a brush or paint sprayer. Although many water-based interior paints are promoted as one-coat wonders, there can still be a need for an initial primer coat followed by one or two coats of latex paint. Water-based paints are very low in VOCs, which means minimal odors during the drying period. Most spills can be wiped away without the need for chemical cleaners, and clothing containing latex paint can be laundered in water and detergent. Water-based paint is a good choice for first-time DIYers and their younger assistants.
Most house painting professionals will agree that two coats of paint are needed on a home. Using one coat of paint may look sufficient, but will not hold up over time. Two coats of paint, on the other hand, provide protection, washability, and help retain the true color of the paint. If you are still toying with the idea of hiring a professional painter, ask if two coats of paint are included in the pricing estimate.
On average, expect to pay $0.60–$1.60 per square foot for exterior painting. The average for painting labor across the country is $30–$40 per hour before you pay for paint, painting supplies, location costs, and equipment. To get a very general estimate, though, painting contractors will take into account the square footage of your home and the number of stories and also factor in normal prep work.

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Most of a projects price is the cost of labor at $25 to $75 per hour. However, most contractors bid out based on the entire project which includes all work hours. Hourly rates are only useful if your pro asks to do the job as “time and materials.” However, be wary of this pricing structure, it usually shows the contractor is uncertain how long the project will take.
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