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When it comes to creating a beautiful appearance for a home’s exterior, few things make as much of a difference as a fresh coat of paint or stain. But how can you ensure that the job will turn out well before you even start, and what can you do to ensure the finished appearance will continue to look good for years to come? Here are some tips and hints to help you get the most out of your exterior painting or staining project.

To start, you’ll always want to paint on a clean, dry surface. If the surface has been painted before or has mold or mildew on it, you’ll want to scrape the old paint or fungi off of the surface, then sand it to remove any protrusions and fill any holes that have developed with wood filler or a similar product. Wipe down the surface with a cloth, then mask off or cover any areas you don’t want to get paint on. Check the forecast and make sure you’ll have dry weather while the paint or stain is curing.

What kind of paint or stain will work best for your project? In general, a paint coats the surface of the material, while a stain sinks into the surface and changes the color, typically on wood. Typically, paint is available in oil- and latex-based varieties.

Oil-Based Paints

Exterior House PaintingOil-based paint tends to be a bit more difficult to use, but provides strong, long-lasting, durable results. If the surface you’re painting has an oil-based paint already on it, you’ll need to use oil-based paint on it now unless you strip off all the old paint down to the wood. This type of paint requires a roller or brush specifically designated for oil-based paint, and you’ll need to stir the paint frequently as it will separate more quickly than other paint types. You’ll need to use solvents to clean up this type of paint.

Latex-Based Paint

Latex-based paints have been developed to provide many of the benefits of oil-based paints, including life spans up to the same length of time. They’re more commonly used because they’re more forgiving in application and maintenance, including being very easy to clean up with soap and water. That being said, they don’t necessarily have the same level of durability as oil-based paints just yet. Make sure you get an exterior-grade latex and for real performance, consider an acrylic latex paint.


Exterior StainingStains are often used for decks and some window trim. Because they are available in a range of transparencies, they provide a great opportunity to let the wood’s natural beauty shine through. They are available in clear, tinted transparent and semi-transparent varieties. There are some new deck sealants available that both fill voids in the wood and cover the surface, but these materials tend to act more like paint than stain.

Stain is typically much thinner than paint and can be quickly brushed or sprayed on to achieve coverage. It may or may not require a protective layer to be applied on top of the stain. There are also some types of stain available for concrete, allowing you to cover grey concrete with a more attractive color.

In general, maintenance involves occasional power washing of the surface and repair of any problem areas by scraping and sanding that area, then applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to that location. By following these simple tips and steps to preparing and maintaining your exterior paint or stain, you or your client will be able to enjoy the beautiful appearance for years to come. We supply paint and stains from Ace Hardware, Valspar, Vermont Natural Coatings, CabotStains, Clark +Kensingtons and Sikkens. If you have additional questions about the right paint or stain for your project or need assistance selecting the right material, please feel free to contact the professionals at Poulin Lumber today for more information. At Poulin Lumber, our job is keeping your project rolling forward.

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