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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."
Painting your house is one of those maintenance projects that most homeowners undertake at some point, whether it's the outside or the inside. With the exception of hardened DIY-types (you know who you are!), just about all homeowners will hire painters at some point—whether to prepare their home for moving in, or for a sale, or perhaps to kick off a remodel with a new color scheme.
Deciding which paint to use has gotten much easier now that acrylic latexes have pushed oil-based paints almost to extinction. The acrylics offer superior performance (they don't harden with age, the way oils do, so they move and breathe without blistering), they don't mildew as readily, and they emit fewer VOCs, so they comply with new air-quality regulations. They also work over both oil- and water-based primers.
If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance that lead paint was used in its construction. Scraping, sanding, or removing old paint can release toxic lead dust which can cause serious illness in children and pregnant women. Special handling is required when working with lead-based paints. If lead paint is present in your home, you will need to hire a lead-certified painting contractor or lead abatement contractor. Before getting started with your exterior painting project, consult your local building authority or visit www.epa.gov for more information.