According to the EPA, professional painters must check for lead -- especially if a home was built before 1978. Many DIY painters forget to test for lead paint. Testing kits are available in home improvement stores for less than $40. You can also hire a lead testing and removal professional to do this work quickly and efficiently on your behalf. Lead paint can be dangerous; it's far better to find it before you put time and effort into painting your home than after the fact.
For particularly heavy deposits of paint, heat may be more effective than muscle. One way to apply heat is with an electric paint remover, which is a device with a platelike heating element that "cooks" the paint and has a built-in scraper to pull it off. Wearing heavy gloves, hold the heating element against the surface until the paint sizzles. Pull the remover firmly over the surface. The attached scraper will pull off the cooked paint as you go.
Depending on just how dirty the outside of your house is and on the house's size, there are two ways to approach this job. If you live in an average-size house, use a garden hose with a carwash brush attachment to bathe the big areas. For caked-on dirt, use a scrub brush or a sponge and a pail of warm water with a good, strong household detergent in it. Work from the top down, and rinse all areas where you scrubbed with water.
Painting the exterior of your home is an essential maintenance task that can be challenging, time-consuming and extremely messy. The fastest and safest way to get the job done right is to hire a professional exterior painting contractor. A pro will have the right tools, equipment, and experience for the job, will be able to recommend the most effective paints for your particular project, and can handle the necessary prep work to ensure a lasting finish. They will also select the best time to paint your home to keep the project within your timeline and budget.