We’re back with more tips for refreshing the exterior areas of your home! If you missed the previous articles in this series, check out info on painting your home’s exterior brick, tips for a timely and effective spring power washing session, and refreshing your landscape.

Spring is an excellent time to take a close look at the exterior elements of your home, including the trim, shutters and garage doors. Updates to any of these can have a big effect without breaking the bank!

exterior paint colors

An important first step

While fiber cement-based siding is nearly impervious to water, that is not the case for traditional wood siding or wood trim. If your trim, shutters (or even garage doors) are constructed out of wood, we recommend that you investigate these items for wood rot prior to painting. And, though this article focuses on trim, shutters and garage doors, be sure to check your deck and fencing for rotting areas as well!

Here are just a few reasons you should never paint over rotting wood:

  • Moisture in the wood may indicate a leak that requires fixing to prevent further wood rot down the line.
  • Painting only masks the wood rot – it doesn’t fix it. Rotting wood will continue to get worse, and can also indicate deeper issues, like mold or pest infestations.
  • Paint won’t adhere well to wet and damaged wood surfaces; the paint eventually cracks, bubbles, and fades.
  • Painting does nothing to treat a termite infestation. The best way to deal with termites is to replace the rotten wood before painting.
  • Both dry and wet rot are ideal for mold growth, and not replacing the damaged or rotted wood before painting will allow the mold to continue to grow.
rotted trim


Painting your shutters

Wooden window shutters typically need to be repainted every three to five years to keep the wood protected from the elements. If your shutters are faded and showing signs of wear, it’s time to paint them. Unlike vinyl shutters, wooden shutters aren’t water-resistant; the wood can rot in a short amount of time when old paint breaks down, exposing the bare surface to moisture.

All six sides of wooden shutters, including the reverse side, should be painted to keep the wood sealed and protected. If the backside isn’t painted, moisture can get trapped behind the shutter — and rot the wood.

Homeowners can repaint vinyl shutters as well.

Look online for guidance on how to repaint your shutters. Typically, the steps include:

  • Checking behind shutters for hornets nests or other pests and spraying if needed
  • Unbolting and removing shutters from the house
  • Prepping the shutters by removing peeling paint, sanding and cleaning them
  • Priming
  • Painting with a brush, a sprayer (or a combination of the two)
  • Reattaching the shutters to the house after they are completed dry
shutter paint colors


Painting your garage doors

Your garage doors are a fashionable and functional feature of your house exterior and, like most areas of your home, they require proper maintenance and care. If you’ve never painted a garage door before, keep in mind that you can find detailed blogs and videos online to help you paint these doors like a pro. Here are some general tips for this project:

  • Clear out anything inside or outside the garage doors that might get hit with overspray – especially your cars!
  • Clean your doors – inside and out – and allow them to dry. It’s recommended that you not use a power washer for this task unless you are familiar with the correct settings to avoid damaging your doors.
  • Inspect your garage door trim for rot damage and repair if needed
  • Tape off the area and lay down some drop cloths.
  • Most pros recommend spraying garage doors to get to all of the angles. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully to avoid overspray and don’t forget protective items like a face mask and goggles.
  • Most pros recommend brushing the trim to get a more precise edge.
  • To speed up the drying process and protect the wet paint from insects, carefully open your garage doors. (Of course, if your garage ceiling is very dusty or dirty, you might want to keep your doors down instead.)
  • After the doors have dried, you’ll still need to paint the gaps between each section of the doors. You can access these gaps by partially lifting your doors so the seam is open; do each section this way and definitely allow the paint to dry between sections.
freshly painted garage doors


Painting your trim

Other than a few easily accessible areas like the trim around your garage doors, your home’s trim will take far more time and effort to paint; we recommend that you hire a professional painter for this task.

If you do decide on a DIY trim painting project, however, please keep a few things in mind:

  • As always, anything with rotted wood must be repaired before being repainted for all of the important reasons listed above.
  • Remove flaking paint, sand rough areas, and caulk all cracks.
  • Wash before beginning; paint doesn’t work well on dirty exterior surfaces.
  • Check your local weather; painting in direct sunlight can cause unsightly brush marks. Wind can blow dirt onto your wet paint.
  • Did you have to make any repairs? Remember that bare wood requires primer.
  • Choose the right paint; most pros recommend water-based acrylic latex for exterior trim. Choose a paint that applies easily, dries quickly and cleans up with soap and water. We recommend Sherwin Willams.
  • Work from top to bottom; start with the gables, dormers, eaves, and gutters before painting doors and windows. Then move on to the porch rails and other remaining trim.
  • Please observe all ladder safety rules.
prime exterior wood trim

Look for more home exterior articles coming in the next several weeks, and please let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover and share!