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Once you have removed all the loose paint, you should apply an appropriate primer to some of the distressed areas, especially if your paint-removal system has exposed raw wood or bare metal. The kind of primer you use depends on the kind of paint you'll be using later. For latex paint, use latex primers; for solvent-thinned paints, use solvent-base primers; and for metals, use metal primers. Not only do these coatings provide extra protection against the elements, they also form a firm foundation for finishing paints. Also, priming is always required when you're working on new wood.
As you scrape, you may find that the wood has turned gray or black in some areas. Check for rot by probing these areas with a nail. Spots that are discolored but firm are simply weathered. Weathered wood doesn’t hold paint very well, so sand away the gray surface. If you find soft areas, you’ve got rot. Small, shallow soft spots can be dug out and repaired with a two-part filler such as Minwax High Performance Wood Filler. But when rot is deep and widespread, it’s best to replace the entire piece of wood.
Paint will be your next-biggest cost, at anywhere from $20 to $70 or more per gallon, depending on the sheen, the grade you’ve chosen and any special features. Some paints, for instance, are mold resistant. Others suppress smells or require fewer coats. Some have a lifetime warranty. Paints with warranties, however, may not be worth a higher price. In Consumer Reports tests approximating nine years of wear, only a few exterior paints and stains with lifetime warranties held up well. But “you’ll grow tired of the color long before a good-quality paint wears out,” Bancroft says.
For smoothing the edges of scraped spots here and there, you can wrap a piece of sandpaper around a wood block. For larger areas, it's less tiring and more effective to use an electric orbital sander. Move it up and down or back and forth across the surface to remove old paint and smooth rough edges at the same time. Don't use an electric disc sander or a belt sander. Both can leave swirls or dips in the wood that will show through a new coat of paint.
A professional painter will help you select an exterior paint designed for long-lasting results, superior protection, and ample coverage. Higher quality paint requires fewer coats and lasts far longer, saving you money down the road. Oil or latex paints in a flat/matte or satin finish make excellent choices for the exterior of your home. These paints will endure extreme weather conditions, can be customized to your specific climate, and are ideal for painting siding.