When the primer is dry, caulk all small joints (less than ¼-inch-wide) in the siding and trim. Most pros use siliconized acrylics—paint won't stick to straight silicones—but Guertin and O'Neil like the new, more expensive urethane acrylics for their greater flexibility and longevity. O'Neil stresses that it's shortsighted to skimp on caulk. "If the joint fails, you're back to square one." Guertin uses the lifetime rating as his quality guide. "I don't expect 35-year caulk will last 35 years, but it should last longer than a 15-year caulk."
O'Neil patches shallow holes and divots with Ready Patch because it dries fast, sands smooth, and stays flexible. Deep cracks and rotten spots are best repaired with two-step epoxies, such as those made by Advanced Repair Technology. (For a step-by-step instructions, see Repairing Rot with Epoxy.) The days of using polyester auto-body fillers on wood are over. "They cure too hard," says Portland, Oregon–based painting contractor Kathleen George. "They look good at first, but then they peel away."
A fresh coat of paint makes everything it touches seem brand new. But such new beginnings cost real money. Professional painters charge around $4,000 for labor and materials to paint the exterior of a 2,500-square-foot, two-story home and roughly $5,500 for the interior. Painters’ rates may range from $20 to $60 an hour, but around $40 is typical in urban areas.
If your home was built before 1979, the paint might contain lead, which is extremely hazardous to children age 6 and younger. Call your local public health department for information on how to check for lead and handle lead paint safely. For a free booklet on dealing with lead paint, contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/lead.
The cost to paint the exterior of your home will vary depending on the size of your home, the condition of your siding, type of paint used and other factors. The average cost for labor and supplies ranges between $1,800-$3,800 and it may cost $6,500 or more for a large, custom project. In addition, you may need to pay more if there is damage to your siding or other challenging aspects of your job.