Chipped, flaking paint can make your house look older than its years. But we’re not going to lie: DIY exterior painting isn’t quite as easy as DIY interior painting. It is certainly doable, however, and it can save you big bucks, considering that an average 2-story, 1,500 to 3,000-square-foot house can cost up to $4,500 if you’re hiring painters.

Want to save all that cash?  Read on for a crash course in the art of house painting.

Choose your paint wisely

First start with the color. Did you know that the right color can actually increase your home’s value? Today’s buyers prefer “greige,” as well as a “pop of color” on a bright front door.

Then choose your formula. Acrylics are used most often these days because they last longer and are less apt to mildew or release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which aren’t good for the environment or your health.

Wondering how much paint to buy? Nearly every paint manufacturer offers a calculator to help you decide. So once you select your paint, check with the manufacturer’s measurements to find out exactly how much you’ll need.

Prepare your surface

In the case of DIY exterior painting, preparation is more than half the battle. Begin by inspecting the house to make sure there’s no mildew. If there is, you’ll want to blast it with a chlorine bleach solution in a sprayer. Mix up a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water and spray it on. Let it sit for 10 or 20 minutes and rinse it off.

Then, wash the rest of the home’s exterior to remove the dirt that inevitably builds up. While you might be tempted to use a pressure washer, a better bet is a hose, pump sprayer, and scrub brush since a pressure washer can destroy glass and wood if you’re not a pro.

Check out:  5 Cheap Ways to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

Next, prime the surface, which will create a nice surface for the new paint to cling to. Acrylic primers can be used on most surfaces, except cedar or redwoods, which need an oil-based coating. Pro tip: While you might be tempted to use a primer that’s close to the paint color, using a contrasting color will help you see if you’ve missed any spots or if you need an extra coat. It’s also smart to spray nail heads with a metal primer to help inhibit rust.

Then get caulking. Surprisingly, it’s best to caulk the cracks after you prime because the primer protects the wood when the caulk starts to deteriorate over time. Seal all cracks and joints, such as window and door frames.

Ready, set, paint

Finally, right? Though you might be tempted to make the job go faster by using a sprayer, you might want to put the sprayer down if you’re not a pro. That’s because a sprayer can leave drips on your house and a fine mist that can hit everything from your trim and windows to your landscaping, and potentially even your car.

A brush can be a better bet for several reasons. You can do smaller sections at a time and you won’t have to spend massive amounts of time masking or putting up all those tarps to protect your walkways from overspray. And that should leave you with plenty of time to do the recommended 2 coats.

Want more than just a pretty update on your house? Make sure your home is in the best shape possible with homeowners insurance. Get a free quote today.

DIY hacks | Home and garden

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.