Proper Exterior Painting Surface Preparation Expectations

Proper Exterior Painting Surface Preparation Expectations


Perhaps one of the diciest questions for exterior residential painting Contractors to navigate (when asked by a potential exterior painting Client) is….

What do you do for surface preparation prior to painting?








This can be such a daunting question to answer for the Contractor because there are so many different possibilities in terms of the exact approach and most well-meaning Contractors want to make sure they are on the same page as the Client when it comes to surface preparation expectations.

I believe pretty much everyone can come into an agreement that the way you prepare the surface prior to finish coating is going to dictate both….


How long the exterior painting job will last?

How good it will look cosmetically?




Over the years, I believe that I have narrowed the approach down to (3) different categories (in my mind at least…):


1) The ‘Fluff & Buff’ approach.

This is where the surface is scraped as best as it possibly can be wherever there are peeling areas. This approach tends to be the most cost effective but yielding the least amount of paint job longevity & the least cosmetically appealing of the approaches.

2) The ‘Super Solid’ approach.

This is where all the peeling areas are scraped and all blemishes/highs-&-lows are sanded as best as possible with the proper equipment. Although, you may not entirely achieve the look of a brand new painted surface, this option should provide you the next best thing. Approaching things this way will allow your exterior paint job to last eons longer than the ‘Fluff & Buff’ while letting your home look as good as your home can possibly look without completely stripping off its coatings in their entirety.

3) The ‘All-In’ approach.

This is where ALL the paint is entirely stripped off of whatever surface that is being painted. This approach is always QUITE the investment and although will last the longest in the end and definitely look the nicest (as you are essentially starting with new surfaces at this point), it is hardly ever the route chosen because of the tremendous expense always associated with it.

There are, of course, much more technical terms for the methodologies I listed as well as several varying degrees of each.



Paint purists will probably roll their eyes at how simple I present something as important as surface prep here but this is truly the most simple way I feel that I can break such a vital part of the painting process down.




If you do have any questions as to the nuances between the ways surfaces can be prepared for painting, please feel reach out to our office and they can set up a conversation as I LOVE delving into these types of discussions!

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