How to Paint Old Wood Siding and Make Your Home Look Like New

If you’re looking for a classic and durable option to protect your home’s exterior, cedar siding is a great choice. And if you already have old cedar siding, don’t worry! There’s no need to replace it or cover it up with other materials. In fact, cedar can withstand the test of time. Paint Old Wood Siding easily.

Some cedar stumps can still support the foundation of a house even after a hundred years. So, instead of replacing it, why not learn how to paint your old cedar siding and give it a fresh new look?

Paint Old Wood Siding

Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also enhance your home’s curb appeal.

To achieve a flawless finish without any visible ridges from scraped paint, sanding the siding is necessary after scraping.

If you accidentally bore into the wood while pressure washing, you may want to sand the frayed wood or apply an exterior spackling compound like DAP Platinum Patch, let it dry, and sand it smooth. While this method produces excellent results, it can be time-consuming and requires patience. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide if you want to do it everywhere or only in certain areas.

What tools do I need to paint old wood siding?

You will need a pressure washer, scraper, sandpaper, primer, paint, brushes, rollers, and a sprayer (optional).

How to Paint Old Wood Siding

Step 1: Carefully pressure wash the dirt off the siding

To prevent the wood from fraying, it’s recommended to use a lower-pressure washer with a maximum PSI of around 1600. The Stanley model works well for this purpose. When pressure washing painted wood siding, it’s important to use a flat stream spray instead of a pinpoint spray. This will diffuse the pressure and reduce the risk of damaging the wood. If a pinpoint spray is used, it can cause gouges in the cedar siding, as I learned from my own mistake.

While pressure washing can help clean off dirt, grime, mildew, and spiderwebs from your siding, it won’t replace the scraping step entirely. Start by spraying from the top of the siding and working your way down to avoid washing dirty water onto areas you’ve already cleaned.

Be careful not to spray water directly onto soffit vents, as this can force water into your attic space. This is not recommended.

Step 2: Thoroughly scrape off the peeling paint

The most crucial step in preparing for a new paint job is scraping off peeling paint, but it can be time-consuming, depending on the condition of your siding. Skipping this step will result in the new paint job peeling off quickly. It’s essential to invest time in proper prep work, especially if you’re using premium paints.

To scrape off peeling paint, you can use a painter’s multitool, a stiff scraper attached to an extension pole, or a carbide scraper for more challenging jobs. I used a window glazing tool since my siding was thin, and I didn’t want to buy a new tool. Whatever you choose, make sure the blade is sharp and wide enough to fit the width of your siding.

Break down your siding into sections and use a ladder to reach high areas. I used the Werner 20-ft extension ladder and a ladder stabilizer, which made the process feel safer and allowed me to reach more areas to scrape. I started at the top of each section and worked my way down, then moved the ladder to the next section and worked from the bottom up. It’s important to have a system that works for you to ensure you don’t miss any areas.

This process can take a long time, so it’s a good idea to listen to an audiobook or something engaging to make the time fly by. Some of my favorites while scraping were Daisy Jones & The Six and The Silent Patient.

Step 3: Prime the bare wood with an oil-based primer

The crucial aspect is the oil-based formula. To effectively safeguard and seal the exposed raw wood after scraping off the peeling paint, oil-based is the way to go. The odor is potent, and it’s not recommended to inhale it in an enclosed space, but it’s manageable for outdoor use.

However, it will leave a mess on your tools unless you’re ready to purchase mineral spirits to clean them. So, I suggest using paint brushes or rollers that you can dispose of once you’re finished priming. always use the best primer for exterior wood siding.

Pro Tip: To keep your brush or roller usable for up to a week or two between priming sessions, wrap it in plastic and store it in the fridge. This will keep the primer wet and save you a lot of hassle. If you use this technique every few days, the same tools will last you the entire project. I prefer using Zinsser Cover Stain primer for this stage, which is what my carpenter always uses for exterior bare wood, and I trust his expertise.

I advise using the same process for priming as you did previously. Move your ladder around the house as you prime different areas. I used an inexpensive angled paintbrush so I could apply a lot of products. A roller won’t provide the same immediate coverage without a lot of dripping. Once again, audiobooks will make this stage more manageable.

In theory, you could use an airless sprayer to apply the primer, but I’m hesitant to do this in case the mineral spirits fail to clean my equipment thoroughly, causing it to become permanently damaged. However, if you’ve used this technique before and are confident with the cleaning process, it can save you a significant amount of time.

Step 4: Paint the siding with an all-in-one exterior paint and primer.

The level of sheen is up to your preference, but typically, the shinier the paint, the easier it is to clean. However, with premium paints like Aura, even the Matte/Flat finish should be easy to clean.

The flatter the sheen, the less noticeable any flaws in the surface will be. Since I skipped the step of sanding my siding to make it uniform, I chose Low Lustre, which is similar to an eggshell finish. I paired this with Satin for the trim, which also helped hide imperfections better than Semi-Gloss (or as Benjamin Moore calls it, Soft Gloss). However, I did use Soft Gloss for my black accent paint to make it stand out more with extra shine.

To begin the painting process, I started by preparing the area by masking off the windows. This can be done by using painter’s plastic and tape or investing in a hand masker, a tool used by professionals that can make the masking process much quicker. Since I knew I would be hand-painting the window trim after spraying the siding, I didn’t feel the need to use more expensive Frog Tape and opted for Scotch blue tape instead.

During the spraying process, I used a paint shield to block off any areas of trim or corners where I anticipated there would be an excess of overspray. Alternatively, you can use a sturdy piece of cardboard that can be carried around and disposed of at the end of the job.

To start with, I prepared for the painting process by first masking off my windows with painter’s plastic and Scotch blue tape. For extra coverage, I used a paint shield or a stiff piece of cardboard to block off trim areas or corners where overspray was likely to occur.

For spraying the siding, I used my Graco Magnum X5 airless sprayer, which worked well for large paint jobs. While using the sprayer, I angled the spray tip up from below to reach the underside of the siding, ensuring complete coverage. I also did two coats, waiting for the paint to dry to the touch between coats to avoid sagging or dripping.

To avoid the hassle of an extension ladder, I used my 10-ft A-frame ladder to maneuver around the house. Additionally, I purchased a 20-inch extension for my spray tip to reach higher parts of the siding. When spraying, I overlapped my previous line by 50%, moved quickly to avoid lap marks, and always painted in the shade to prevent the paint from drying too quickly. I also made sure to check the recommended temperature and humidity levels for application as specified on the paint can.

Painting Trim and Accents

If you’re using an airless sprayer to paint the siding, it will be the quickest part of the job. However, I would recommend using a roller or brush to paint most of the trim and accents, as overspray can easily land on the freshly painted siding, resulting in extra time and effort spent on touch-ups. I only used the sprayer on trim that was far away from the siding or where I could use a paint shield to protect it, and even then, there was still some overspray. When I realized that using the sprayer wasn’t working well, I switched to a brush and roller, which also helped me improve my cutting-in skills.

You can do this!

The bottom line is that this is a project that you can absolutely do yourself. There were many times during the process when I felt overwhelmed and doubted my ability to complete it on my own, but I persevered and ended up loving the final result. Renovations can present many challenges, but pushing through and completing them can make you a better, more confident homeowner. So, don’t let negative self-talk hold you back, and go for it!

How do I prepare old wood siding for painting?

First, clean the siding with a pressure washer. Then, scrape off peeling paint, sand rough spots, and prime any bare wood.

Can I use an airless sprayer to paint old wood siding?

Yes, an airless sprayer can be used, but it’s important to mask off windows and use a paint shield to prevent overspray.

What type of paint should I use for old wood siding?

Use an exterior paint and primer in one that is specifically formulated for wood siding.

Can I paint old wood siding myself, or do I need to hire a professional?

With the right tools and preparation, painting old wood siding can be a DIY project. However, if you’re not comfortable with the process, hiring a professional is always an option.