(Wood Siding)

Good condition of the siding to be painted will be the most dominant factor to insure a lasting paint job. In the case of wood siding that is in good condition for painting:

 Any surface glazing (Mill Glaze) which is often present on the planed side of new cedar clapboard should be sanded with course 60-80 grit sand paper prior to painting.

Common Types Of Wood Siding

Plywood T111 usually manufactured siding such, as T111 is sold ready to paint or stain

Pine Boards often sold kiln dried and have been stored under cover and can be painted or stained shortly after installation.

Pine clapboards may be available seasoned and ready to paint or stain but are sometimes sold unseasoned. If clapboards are installed unseasoned (green), they will require time to weather in order to adequately dry prior to painting, at which point they may benefit from sanding with course paper to remove any UV effected surfaces

Cedar Clapboards may be available seasoned, but are often sold unseasoned. A characteristic of cedar clapboards is that they often tend to develop a type of glazed over surface during the milling process. This glazed surface will affect the ability of the paint bond to the wood Sanding is recommend to remove the surface glaze prior painting or staining. If the clapboards are installed rough side out they will not need to be sanded to remove surface glaze.If cedar clapboards have not been seasoned prior to installing and probably have high moisture content, allowing them to weather for 4 months should season the clapboards and it may also dull the surface glaze. However it will still improve the adhesion of the primer if the surface wood is sanded prior to painting, this will thoroughly removing any residual surface glaze and hopefully cut through the ultraviolet affected surface of the wood, if done adequately.

Cedar Shingles may be purchased already seasoned from the lumber company and can be primed or stained as soon as possible, but they are sometimes delivered with a high moisture content and will need time to dry before they can be primed or stained.

Note: when painting materials like cedar, which may produce a tannin bleed, be sure to us a  primer product that is recommended for this situation. 

 Before starting the work, consider any near by power lines in the area you will be working. Call the utility company to have them place protective covers over the lines. This is a free service in many communities .

For More Safety Tips See Ladder Safety

Applying The Paint

Brush, Spray or Roll?

You’ll find a vast array of paint applicators at the home centers today, but for most wood siding, we recommend using a paintbrush, at least for the prime coat. Brushing will tend to work the primer into the surface of the wood more so than a spray would.

If you want to try spraying we advise you to think twice. As the largest drawback with spray painting is generally the emission of overspray, which can travel hundreds of feet through the air before touching down on something like YOUR NEIGHBORS NEW CAR!

Most exterior wood siding does not provide the best type of surface to make using a roller very practical. But some times a 4-inch roller along with a brush can save a little time on certain surfaces.

Basic supplies: Primer, thinner (If using oil/alkyd) latex caulk, wood filler, course and medium grit sand paper, rags, a small container of pigmented shellac may be necessary if you chose to seal any knots that may be present

Basic equipment: Ladders, step ladders, ladder mitts, shim-boards for ladders, planks, rope, drop cloths, masking tape & masking paper, paint brushes, dust brush paint buckets, pot hooks, paint-can opener, stir-sticks, hammer, nail set, pliers, screwdrivers.
 Personal items: hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and first aid kit.


Once your satisfied your siding is in good enough condition to prime and you have chosen your primer. (See Choosing The Right Paint) or note: a common practice today, is to use an oil/alkyd exterior primer followed by latex finish coats). It always saves time to have most of your basic supplies and equipment on hand when you start work.
Using a quality primer is also a very important factor; after all it's the primer that bonds to the siding, not the finish paint. Knots will have to be sealed with a pigmented shellac to avoid bleeding, however pigmented shellac is not generally to be used for overall exterior prime jobs.

Starting at the top

Generally paint your house working from the top down, but following the run of the boards. Prime the overhangs and fascia boards first.
Horizontal siding
At the eaves; start at a corner, paint the overhang all the way across before starting the siding. From this point you can move onto the siding.  On horizontal siding take a strip of 4 to 6 boards clapboards or 18 to 24 inches wide, and paint your way across the side of the building, working over the top of your ladder. This method will require you to move your ladder laterally each time you paint the part of a strip within your reach. The reasoning of using this method is to avoid lap marks. You can leave off for a break whenever you get to the end of a strip or a casing board.
Avoiding lap marks is not that crucial for the primer coat, but for finish coats especially gloss paints, it is necessary to use these methods for a satisfactory finish. The idea to avoid lap marks is to keep wet edge of paint until you complete a strip. If paint begins to set up on an unfinished strip, then you overlap the partially dried paint; it will most likely leave a lap mark at that point.
 As a strip of clapboards is finished across, you can lower your ladder and take the next strip across heading back toward the other corner. (Remember a good time to leave off for a break is at the end of a strip).

 At the gable ends; start at an upper wall corner, paint the overhang working your way up toward the peak up, then work from the peak down to the other upper wall corner.
Next you can move on to the siding. Set your ladder so that he top of it is about 2 feet below the peak. Paint the top clapboards that you can reach end to end from this position. Lower you ladder when necessary. Eventually when you get down to the point that you cannot reach the entire length of the clapboards from one position of the ladder. Move you ladder to one side and take a strip of clapboards across. Lower your ladder and repeat with another strip across.
As you prime the siding you may want to prime corner boards or similar trim as you go. Window casings can sometimes be reach entirely from having the ladder set on or under the windowsill of shorter windows, however tall window casings will have to be painted with your ladder to the side of the casing.

Applying Finish Paint

The methods for applying the finish coats are basically the same as we have given for applying the primer. During most of the painting season you will want to avoid painting on the sunny side of a building, so rotating to a different side before one side is finished is usually necessary. Some paints are ready to use directly from the paint can, while others perform better for us if we thin them slightly. While painting, you may find it necessary to thin paint, as it sometimes tends to thicken up in you "paint-pot" (Bucket You Work From) during the day. Be careful not to over thin.

Drying Time

Read paint can labels for recommended times between recoat.
Not to soon: Latex paint may have a recommended recoat time of less that 2 to up to 24 hours, however cool damp or humid conditions can slow drying time significantly. Oil/Alkyd paints usually recommend at least an overnight dry between recoats, however we have found that with some finish coats; it is better to allow the paint an extra day dry time. If oil/alkyd paint is recoated to soon, it could possibly wrinkle, and this is a situation you defiantly want to avoid.
Not to late. Some products are known to produce a soap like film in time thus, possibly affecting the adhesion of following coats. In this case you will probably be advised to recoat before two weeks. Glossy finish paints tend to harden over time, and this could create a surface to hard and slick for the following coat to develop a good bond with.
Letting the paint dry for longer than two weeks before recoating; will often, not create a serious bonding problem. But if you ever see a house, that has a problem of paint peeling from paint, it could have been cause by to much time between recoats, if not something else.

Multi Colors

 If you are using more than one color, let the first color paint dry before cutting in with the next. Paint overhangs first. Other trims colors can be applied before or after the siding is painted. If the edges of casing boards are to be painted along with the siding paint/color, and the face of the casing boards are to be painted with a different paint/color; than it will be easier to paint the trim after the siding is finished.
It is usually best to finish the doors after the siding is painted.
If window sash is to be painted, it can painted before or after the siding is finished. By getting the window sash done before the siding is finished it prevents you from placing a ladder on your freshly painted surfaces.

 For Vertical Board Siding & T111 Plywood: See Vertical Siding

For Shingles: See Painting Shingles

Building New? See New Construction