3 Steps to take to Prepare for Your Exterior Trim Repair

exterior trim repair
You can give your home a new look by providing your exterior trim moldings with a little TLC.

What better way to give your exterior a crisp accent than with new lines and fresh colors? You can make painting your exterior house trim go smoothly with a few helpful tips. With them, you can avoid messy mistakes and focus on making your home look great.

To learn three steps to take to prepare your house for exterior trim repair, read on.

Before You Begin Your Exterior Trim Repair

When you’re painting indoors, any time of day or year is a good time for the job. When you’re painting outside, however, you have fewer options.

To begin with, stay flexible. If you get set up to do the job and it rains, you’ll have to reschedule.

You’ll also want to avoid painting on a windy day. No matter how carefully you paint, the wind will cause the paint to splatter. Also, you’ll have to worry about debris landing on your fresh paint job if it’s windy outside.

More importantly, choose a date for the project when the temperatures are between 50° and 80°. If it’s hotter than 80° out, the paint will dry too fast. When the paint dries too quickly, the result is a poor finish.

The key to a fantastic paint job is planning. You should know what you’re going to do before you touch the first paintbrush.

You must also figure out how to prepare the surface of the area that you’re going to paint. Preparing a paint job pays off big time. Furthermore, the job will look better and cost less while taking less time.

Take a Breath – You Can Do It

You may not know where to begin planning. No worries. That’s why you’re here.

With this guide, you’ll complete your project successfully. Begin by figuring out what parts of the paint job you can break into smaller projects.

You’ll also need to figure out what parts of the job you need to do together. As you develop your plan, also try to figure out the challenging parts of the project.

Now is also the time to consider safety concerns. To begin with, you’ll need to figure out if you’re working with old paint with lead.

If home builders erected your house before 1979, it’s a strong possibility that there’s lead in the paint. As you prepare your trim for the job, you need to sand or scrape existing paint. For this reason, it’s important to know if your home’s exterior paint contains lead.

Getting Things Ready for the Big Day

If you have furry friends, you also need to think about how their presence will impact the project. As you work through painting the trim of your home, you’ll need to move supplies around and carry things.

You must also remain mindful of things that may fall and hurt your pet while you’re in the middle of the job. Also, pets like to chew strange things that fall in front of them. With these points in mind, you may want to think about what you’re going to do with your pet on the day of the project.

You must also think about green friends around your home. Cleaning paint out of the bushes is hard work.

It’s a good idea to cover bushes and flower beds with tarps. However, don’t forget to remove them at the end of the day. If you deprive your foliage of light and oxygen, you risk killing them.

Also, make a note of the location of delicate plants and flowers. You don’t want to step on your prized begonias because you forgot they were there under a tarp.

If it's at all possible, avoid working around delicate flowers. You may need to relocate them until you finish painting the trim of your home.

Also, protect water features such as outdoor waterfalls and Koi ponds. Thinking about these challenges in advance can save you from headaches down the road.

Plan to use painter’s tape to protect exterior light and water fixtures and outlets. In some instances, it may prove wiser to remove these items until you’ve finished the job.

Now that you have a plan, you’re ready to begin.

Step One: Inspecting Your Outdoor Trim

Most weekend warriors would prefer to dive right into painting when the idea comes to mind to touch up their trim. Painting is the fun part. However, the result of a paint job is only as good as your preparation.

Before you start the paint, prepare the surface of your trim. This preparation will enable it to bond securely with the new paint. You’ll also create a better finish.

Know Your Trim Materials

You also need to know the makeup of your outdoor trim so that you can choose the right paint. Manufacturers make exterior trim using various materials, such as aluminum, steel, wood, and vinyl. There’s no single paint that works well on all surfaces.

If you don’t choose the right paint for the surface of your trim, you may find that all your hard work was for naught. The wrong paint can flake or fall off in less than a year.

For this reason, you must choose a paint that’s compatible with the material used to make your trim. The right paint will yield results that last.

Home Builders often use wood for exterior trim moldings. If this is so with your home, you’d want to choose a premium gloss acrylic or oil paint.

Alternatively, the homebuilder may have used a medium-density fiberboard for your trim. If so, you can use high-quality latex gloss paint.

Sometimes, homebuilders use vinyl for exterior trim. In this case, you’ll need exterior gloss paint made for vinyl.

Home Builders also use metal at times for exterior residential trim. Therefore, you’ll need gloss paint for metal if they used this material for your trim. Metal paints contain rust-resistant chemicals that will protect your trim from deteriorating.

In some instances, you may find unfinished trim. If so, you can help paint adhere to these services by coating it with primer before you paint.

Step Two: Making Repairs

Once you’ve identified the trim material, you can get to work preparing the work area. Do a good job of going over the trim with a paint scraper to remove any loose paint.

There are many paint scrapers available. Any scraper will do.

This step is important because old, loose paint will cause the new paint to peel. Accordingly, you want to get rid of as much old, loose paint as possible.

The only exception is if you’re painting unfinished or new trim. Then, you can skip this step.

Also, you only need to remove old paint if it’s peeling.

Re-Caulking Before Painting

Next, you should remove any aging caulk. On older windows, for instance, there is a semirigid sealant that goes between the surface and the trim. In time, this sealant gets brittle and will pull away easily.

You can use the edge of your scraper for this job, or a metal putty knife. There are, however, some specialty tools that will make the job a little easier. You can find them at your local big-box home improvement store.

Using a caulk removal tool, use the beveled blade to remove old caulk quickly. This type of tool also usually has a sharp point to help you get into stubborn corners.

Now that you’ve removed all the old paint, wipe down the entire work area. You must make sure that the whole work area is free of dust that will make it hard for the new coat to adhere to the trim.

For this job, you’ll need a solvent. You’ll also want to consider the material of your trim when choosing one.

If, for instance, the homebuilder used medium-density fiberboard or vinyl for your trim, you can use a standard household degreaser. However, if your trim is wood, use a cleaner that kills mildew. This kind of cleaner will prevent mildew growth that stems from humidity and precipitation.

Getting Close to the Payoff: The Final Sanding

Now you’re almost to the fun part – painting, but not quite yet. Before you can get to the main part of the job, you need to sand down the trim.

Use 150 grit sandpaper to smooth the rough edges between leftover paint and bare trim. Once you remove the rough edges, use 220 grit sandpaper to get the surface nice and smooth. If you’re painting unfinished trim, you can simply use the 220 grit sandpaper to scuff the surface some so that the paint will adhere.

Step Three: Restoring Beauty to Your Trim

There’s one more step before you can paint. You must apply a smooth caulk where needed. Seal all seams and close any gaps between the trim and the exterior of your home.

To apply the caulk, run a bead that’s approximately 1/8 of an inch thick. Then, use a caulk seam tool to smooth out the bead. You could use your finger to do it, but a caulk seam tool makes the job so much easier.

To smooth the bead, grab your caulk seam tool and start smoothing at one edge of the new bead with light pressure. If caulk builds up under the tool, stop, wipe it clean, and continue.

Whew! Now you’re ready to paint. Remember to coat any unfinished surfaces with primer if needed.

If, however, the trim already has paint on it, you can start with the first coat of paint. Use a narrow brush for the best results. Ideally, you want a one and a half to two and a half-inch brush.

Now, let the first coat dry and then add another coat. Make sure you find out the manufacturer’s recommended drying time for optimal results.

Once the second coat dries, look over the entire project. Remove any splatters to make the job look extra nice.

Good job, you’re finished. Now, you can let Fido and Fluffy out to play.

Sometimes, You Have to Start Fresh: Outdoor Window Trim Ideas

In some instances, you may find the trim that is damaged beyond repair. In that case, you may find that a few exterior window trim ideas are helpful.

As you’re searching for new trim, try to find an option that highlights the style of your home. For example, a straightforward trim works well for Cape Cod-style homes. Alternatively, if you have a Colonial style home, you may want a house trim that is formal and tasteful.

You may also want a wider or narrower trim style. Wider trim adds a touch of sophistication to simple, functional lines. Meanwhile, narrow trim adds sleekness and quaint charm.

You may also want to update some of the other exterior features of your home. For instance, the lighting fixtures around your home should match the trim. When you’re looking for new light fixtures, for example, look for sleek fixtures for a modern home, or ornamental, rustic fixtures for a Colonial home.

Give Yourself a Break, Hire a Pro

As you can see, painting the trim of your home is a lot of work. Instead of painting your trim on the weekend, why not leave the job to a pro and spend time with your family or friends doing things that you love to do? A professional painter will have your trim looking brand-new in no time and will deliver phenomenal results.

You can trust Mr. Handyman of Arlington and Northwest Mansfield to do the job right the first time. Our contractors across the nation are local owner-operators. They understand the values of your community and will treat your home improvement project as if it were for their own home.

Contact us today for worry-free exterior trim repair and a fresh, new look for your home.