Exterior paintwork may not sound as exciting as decorating a room, but it'll give your house a new lease of life. And until the neighbours join the bandwagon you'll be the proud owner of the smartest house on the street.
Summer time is the right time to get the work done - the job won't get rained off and your painters won't be miserable and shivering. Straight afterwards you can fill some window boxes and really show off your home's fantastic new facade.
Exterior paintwork isn't just about slapping on some new paint. Your painter will first need to prepare the surfaces. Window frames may well need sanding down and treating to give added protection against attack from weather and pests. Other surfaces such as window ledges may also be suffering from peeling paint, exposing the fabric of the building. Front and back doors will also be showing wear and tear and will need attention.
With all decorating projects - both inside and out - preparation is key to ensuring a paint job that lasts. So the first thing to assess is the current quality of the paintwork - any peeling, flaking or chipping paint will need to be dealt with by sanding and smoothing. Exposed timber will also need preparation and any water damage rectified. If you have any rotting timbers these should be replaced - leaving rot to fester is a false economy and will do your home no favours.
Once the surfaces have been prepared your painter will need to paint window frames, doors, walls and ledges. Window frames and doors in particular need careful attention. Good painting is their defence against water damage from weather and leaks. It will also protect woodwork from damage from insects and rot so it's important not just aesthetically but for good home maintenance. A good paint job on the exterior of a house can last up to 20 years. A poor job will see you going through the process all over again after 3 or 4 years.
Of course the fun part of this project, like any decorating work is choosing colours. But watch out, some local authorities have restrictions, so you can't go too wild! In certain parts of London, such as Belgravia, there are streets of white or cream houses with black doors, and anything else will be rejected. On Portabello Road in Notting Hill there are houses of every imaginable colour. In some Cornwall streets each house is a different pastel colour, allowing more creativity. So first find out what is acceptable in your area - by looking around and by contacting the planning authorities.
If you are going for a colour, like with a room it's best to test first. A square inch on a colour card is very different to great expanses of wall colour so find out with a square metre or so of tester paint if the colour is right for you. You may also want to try out door colours and how they complement the wall colour. Painting a house is a big project so it pays to get things right at the beginning. Bear in mind that pale colours will show dirt more easily, but if you're prepared to touch up yourself every couple of years where mud has splashed against a wall, then white or cream can be a very smart choice.
The exterior of your home is just as important as the interior. It's your face to the outside world and is the side of the house that's exposed to the elements, so it needs to both look good and protect the fabric of your home. It's well worth getting an experienced painter in to do a good job, then sit back and enjoy your neighbours' compliments.