The Corner Cottage Journal: DIY Exterior Painting
Welcome Guest Blogger: Nila D.
We’re proud to present guest blogger, Nila D. She’s a talented homemaker, DIY enthusiast and nurse living in Tacoma, Wash. In the Corner Cottage Journal, Nila takes us along as she remodels and remakes the 1940 city cottage she owns with her husband. Nila has a wonderful eye for detail and the fine, finishing touches that elevate even simple home projects. We hope you enjoy her posts!
Hey y’all! Welcome to my second guest blog, The Corner Cottage Journal, a how-to guide on doing it yourself. My husband, Henryk, and I purchased our 1940s cottage nearly four years ago. Last summer we repainted the exterior—a big D-I-Y job. Here’s how we did it—and how you can, too!
It was nearly four years ago when we first spotted our home from the backyard of another house we were viewing. When I saw a for-sale sign in its yard, I knew instantly I had to have this house. I made an offer that day! Within a month, we moved in and suddenly were living the reality that we purchased a very old house needing lots of TLC.
Our home’s country-blue exterior paint was caked on and falling off in large chips. Even though there was a ton of work that needed to be done, all I could see was a blue dollhouse full of charm! The yard was large and mature for being a home in the city. The roofline was so cozy-cottage sweet!
Last summer, we decided to finally tackle the outside of the cottage. We couldn’t keep putting it off—wood eventually rots without protection from rain. The cost of dealing with extensive rot is far more pricy than painting.
June, July and August are ideal months for exterior painting. If you’re doing it yourself, our advice is to start early in the summer, as you may want to take it slow and not overwork yourself.
This is how we prepared: First we bought a lead test kit. The directions were simple and the process of testing was quick.
Our house was old and dirty, so we pressure-washed it and give it a full 48 hours to dry out. Where paint was uneven and cracking, we sanded to even out its edges.
After that, we applied caulking around all windows and in any gaps to prevent water and other elements from getting in.
Once we had the wood prepped, we then decided to choose a paint color. For the color palette, I found inspiration at Houzz, Pinterest and home-improvement magazines, and also considered all our gray-sky days.
We’d tried many brands of paint during our three years of interior DIY renovations. There are so many paint brands and a wide range of price points.
For our home’s exterior paint, we went with Benjamin Moore’s Aura line, a middle-of-the-line paint with a limited-lifetime warranty against product flaws, such as blistering, peeling and wear. Of course they won't re-pay you for your hard labor!
You’ll want to select three or four colors for your home’s exterior: The body, trim, accents (like our shutters) and the door.
I decided to go with a white exterior. However, stark white against a gray sky was a little too cold and haunted-house like for me. Also, white could show more dirt, mildew and moss common in the Pacific NW.
I decided to go with an almost-white house and selected Lancaster Whitewash, which made me remember warmer days and sunrises back home in Florida. The hue’s gorgeous, sunny glow mimics sunshine hitting a white house.
For our home’s shutters, I chose Paris Rain, a soft mossy grey, to contrast the whitewash and blend well with the grey skies. For the trim, I chose Simply White, a very bright white to complement the trim. Bright whites give super-clean lines and definition.
For the front door, I went with Wythe Blue—it’s a Pinterest favorite for front doors. A soft green-blue, the color really captures giant Douglas fir trees as well as the Puget Sound’s foamy blue waters.
We were so pleased with how everything turned out!
But the front of the house looked a bit flat.
I told Henryk to pull out the two big bushes on each side of the door, go down to McLendon’s and buy lumber supplies to make stair railings. In one weekend, Henryk had it built! It was painted the next. It really changes the entire look of house!
For our home’s finished look, I was inspired by décor seen in Coastal Living Magazine, as well as the farmhouse/restored cottage trend made popular by HGTV's Fixer Upper.
I call our home’s style a “coastal cottage vibe,” and it’s just my version of the two mashed up! Like a hamburger and fries, which by themselves are great but together they’re YUMMO! The color is still bright, cheerful and inviting. It’s now my favorite house on the street. (Don’t tell my neighbors!)
- A throw cloth to cover your bushes as you work above them
- Window Caulking
- Wood Filler
- Painter’s tape
- Paint Brush 1” and 3”
- Paint Rollers
- Paint Sprayer for body (Optional, we didn’t use one)
- and don’t forget … PAINT!
Q&A with Nila
Did you test for lead paint?
Did you have paint anxiety?
Absolutely! I was actually really torn between a few choices. I chose some samples out at the store, and brought them home. They were so tiny though, so it made it really difficult to see.
I knew I could buy small amounts and paint it onto the house in different areas but I was terrified the project would get delayed and I would have a polka dot house!
I decided to go to Benjamin Moore’s website and used the Personal Color Viewer, which allowed me to pick a house style closest to mine. Then I entered my favorite Benjamin Moore paint chip colors to “paint” the virtual house. Once I was down to the final three choices, I gathered more opinions from Henryk, family and friends. It was one of the hardest decisions we have made!
Did you have a favorite paint brush?
Yes! We have tried all kinds of brushes during our painting projects and decided on using Wooster Premium Brushes because the bristles stay in the brush while painting and cleaning.
How much time did it take to paint the house?
Three days for prep work, four days for painting. Once the prep work was done we were able to get moving rather quickly. We did all the trim work first with the brushes. Then we primed over the blue, since we were painting the house a lighter shade. You don’t have to prime if you’re keeping the same shade or going darker.
How much paint?
Benjamin Moore's paint calculator does the job for you! It takes the guess work out of choosing how much paint you'll need.
This will vary a great deal. We found some woodwork around our windows was rotted, which we had to replace and hadn’t accounted for in our original budget.
Cost also depends on paint brand and line, as well as sundries—rollers, drop clothes, brushes, etc. For example, a Purdy brush would cost less than a Wooster brush of the same size. It all comes down to preference and what you can afford.
Some things, like previously used brushes, ladders, old sheets for throw clothes could save you money by using what you have. In our case, we needed rollers, brushes, primer and paint.
There are so many paint brands and a wide range of price points. Even Benjamin Moore has several to choose from in that brand alone. We chose to go with Aura, which is a middle-of-the-line product with a limited-lifetime warranty against product flaws, such as blistering, peeling and wear. Of course they won't re-pay you for your hard labor!
Advice for others
My advice for others wanting to paint their home is to make sure they are able to block a weather pattern that will allow them to get a good two solid weeks for the project.
Proper prep work is the key to great results. Don't rush—you have all the time in the day to get it done and do it correctly. Always use proper equipment to get the job done safely and be cautious as you climb up ladders and reach with your brush. If you are ever in doubt, ask a professional for help.
Keep the good times rollin’! Sign up for emails and get advanced notice on sales, in-store deals, events and more. Plus, catch up on the latest blog posts!