Fixing the Peeling Paint on Our Exterior
Our house is almost 100 years old. It was built in 1921, so I’m thinking next year we need to have a big hundred-year party to celebrate! Anyway, an old house comes with lots of old and odd problems. We knew what we were getting into when we bought this place, and we’ve done a really good job fixing a lot of those quirks on the inside of the house. The outside? Not so much.
After building our new window box, the front of our house was looking great! However, there was one thing that was driving me bonkers…
The peeling paint on the concrete parts of our home’s exterior was making me crazy. This paint job kept getting worse and worse and every time I watered the flowers I vowed that I was going to fix the peeling paint and give it a fresh coat of white. I finally got around to doing it a couple of weeks ago and I’m here to share the scoop.
Why Was My Paint Peeling?
That’s a great question and I’m not 100% sure. Layers of old paint? A poor paint job? Water-based paint over latex paint? Moisture in the concrete? Honestly, it was probably a combo of all of the above! I’m no expert when it comes to painting, masonry, or the structures of one hundred-year-old homes. When in doubt, I always consult the professionals I know and try my best to follow their tips. I also read everything I can find on the internet about whatever DIY dilemma I have and do my best to figure out the best steps and supplies for the project.
For this particular conundrum, I headed to my local Benjamin Moore store. It’s literally right down the street from my house and I always ask the guys that work there for advice when it comes to painting. I brought pictures of the peeling paint areas and they showed me which supplies to get and walked me through the process. I’ve actually never painted the outside of a home before (besides doors), so it was all new to me!
- Exterior Primer & Sealer
- Exterior Paint (I used low-lustre white)
- Wire Brush & Scraper
- Paint Brush
- Handy Paint Pail
The primer and paint are really key here. You definitely want to use the right products that are designed specifically for outdoor use. The primer seals porous surfaces (like masonry) and is meant to block out moisture. That’s exactly what you need when you’re dealing with an area that will constantly face the elements.
Scrape off the Peeling Paint
I set up my ladder and climbed on up ready to get to work. With my handy little scraper, I started scraping the peeling paint off. Whoa, it came off in sheets and started raining down on me like snow. Yuck. I quickly climbed down the ladder, put sunglasses and a mask on, and climbed back up. I didn’t want to get all of that gross old paint in my eyes or breathe it in!
On the far left column, the paint came off super easily. I just scraped away and it came off. On the other columns near the porch, there wasn’t as much loose paint to get off. I did my best to get any thick spots off and also used the wire brush to get in the nooks and crannies to get them really clean. You could also use a power washer to get even more paint off. Honestly, I could have done that but it seemed like a lot of work to lug the machine out. Plus, I didn’t want to get my windows all wet. Ha, true story.
After giving every area a good scrape down, I went back over everything with a microfiber rag to remove any fine particles and debris before whipping out the paint. There was still paint left on the concrete areas because I wasn’t able to get it all off completely.
Use a Sealing Primer
I poured my primer into my handy paint pail. This is one of my favorite tools for painting because you can easily bring the paint with you while you’re up high on a ladder. Plus, it has a magnet to hold the paint brush! Be sure to buy the plastic liners that fit the cup so you don’t have to wash it every single time.
The primer went on very easily with a brush. The hardest part was going up and down on the ladder and moving the ladder around to get to a new spot. I let the primer dry for about an hour before moving onto the next step.
With the primer dry, I grabbed my paint and went over every area with a light coat. The last thing I wanted to do was slop it on there like it was before (the thick spots of paint were the easiest to scrape up, so I wanted to avoid doing that again!). Once my paint was dry, I gave it a second coat of paint to ensure even coverage everywhere.
I knew that the concrete areas were not going to be smooth and perfect, so I opted for a satin sheen. Something that is more matte (like flat) shows a lot of imperfections, whereas a semi-gloss is the most forgiving. I figured a satin (which is kind of in the middle) was my best bet. I just used the white color that it came in (no tinting).
Before & After
The outside of our house is no longer giving me anxiety! I’m telling ya, that peeling paint drove me bonkers! It looks 100 times better now. It’s definitely not perfect, but it looks fresh, clean, and makes it look like these homeowners aren’t neglecting their home!
My guess is today’s project is a quick short-term fix for the peeling paint issue. Will my paint job last forever? Probably not, but I’m happy it’s looking better. We have long-term plans to rework the outside of the house, so hopefully, we’ll remedy the situation during that phase!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.