Use a wire brush and a wide-blade putty knife to remove small areas of defective paint. Scrub under the laps of clapboard siding as well as on downspouts and gutters. For speedier work on metal, a wire brush attachment on an electric drill will remove rust and paint with less effort. For more extensive paint removal, invest in a sharp pull scraper -- a tool with a replaceable blade that's capable of stripping old paint all the way down to bare wood with a single scrape. Hold the scraper so the blade is perpendicular to the wood, apply moderate to firm pressure, and drag it along the surface. Keep the blade flat against the wood so it doesn't gouge the surface.
The house bath may reveal nails that have popped out of the siding or rusting nail heads that have left streaks of rust on exterior walls. If so, use sandpaper or steel wool to clean the nail heads. On clapboard siding, use a nail set to recess the nail head about ⅛ inch below the surface of the wood. Dab on a coat of rust-inhibiting primer (unless the nail is aluminum or nonrusting galvanized steel), and let it dry. Then fill the nail hole with spackle or putty. When the filler is dry, give it a coat of primer. For flathead nails, which cannot be recessed, sand the heads until they're shiny, and coat with primer.
A number of factors help determine when you should paint your home’s exterior. These include your local climate and weather conditions, the age of your home, and the type of siding used. A high-quality finish in ideal conditions could last 10 years. But if your home takes a beating from the elements, you may need to repaint as often as every three years. Most homes can be on a 5-8 year interval. If you’re not sure if your house is due for a refresher, watch out for signs of deteriorating paint, such as fading and chipping.