Exterior Painting



We spent this last weekend doing something we have been very anxious to do ever since we closed on our house: we painted the shutters and doors. To refresh your memory, here is what the house looked like back in March:

We wanted to amp up the curb appeal and bring out the darker bricks to give it a warmer look. Our first thought was to paint the shutters black, but then we realized the roof was brown and we didn’t want the two to clash. So we opted for a rich black/brown instead. After going through what seemed thousands of paint swatches, we finally decided on Valspar‘s Posh Red (1011-4) for the front door and Fired Earth (6011-1) for the shutters (which we will also be using on the back doors as well). Here is what the house looks like now:

Now that the painting is done, we have some more exterior projects up our sleeves. The game plan includes some much needed landscaping (our poor little bushes need CPR), giving the brick a good power washing, some eye candy for the porch (planters, maybe?), and a new lamp post. Wouldn’t that be cool if John Gidding was hiding in the bushes to surprise us with a Curb Appeal makeover?! That would be epic. Then again… he couldn’t hide in the bushes. Our bushes are too wimpy. Unfortunate.

And no, we didn’t get a new roof. The lighting on this particular day as well as the season change simply makes the roof appear darker. One change that isn’t an optical illusion is the tree missing from the front yard. This particular tree was leaning toward the house and blocking the view of the front porch. So we opted to have it removed. And we are so glad we did!

The price tag for Phase One of our curb appeal make over?
1 Gallon of Oil Based Primer: $22.37
1 Quart of Valspar Posh Red: $12.48
1 Gallon of Valspar Fired Earth: $25.47
Tree Removal: $175

The Grand Total: $235.32*

* We already had the rollers and brushes, so we couldn’t really figure it into the cost.

Since this was our first experience with painting shutters and doors, we thought we would share some pointers for anyone who might be thinking about tackling a similar project. Keep in mind that we are not professionals by any means. We are merely passing a long some information that we found helpful along the way. So here we go:

Clean Up. To get your painting project started on the right foot, make sure you clean the surface of everything you will be painting. For the door, we used warm soapy water and a scrub brush. When it came to the shutters, we used a dry paint brush between the slats and then wiped each shutter down with a damp cloth. By cleaning everything prior to painting, the paint will last longer and give it a much cleaner finish to the final product.

Prime time. The “paint guy” at our local Lowe’s suggested that we use a tinted primer since we would be using dark colors. The only downside to using tinted primer is for 24+ grueling hours, our front door and shutters were a horrible light gray. I was so worried that our new neighbors would think that we had totally lost our minds.

After what seemed like forever, it was finally time to put on the first coat of Posh Red on the front door. The agonizing wait was well worth it! We were really glad we listened to the oh so awesome”paint guy”. Using tinted primer along with the Valspar paint (which has amazing coverage by the way) proved to be the right thing to do. Here is the door after only one coat of paint!

It’s time for liftoff. Let me preface this next tidbit by letting you know that painting shutters while they are attached to your house is hard work. Well, it’s more tedious than hard.  See, our shutters are all wood, and they’re attached to the house with concrete nails.  That meant we couldn’t take them off unless we wanted to destroy them and risk damaging the brick.  So, if you have the luxury of taking yours off, we highly recommend it!

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’. We found the best way to get the job done (and not take hours upon hours) is to roll the fronts of the shutters first then go back with a brush to get the tedious nooks and crannies. Unfortunately, this didn’t dawn on us until after the first few shutters. But once we got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing. We did the same thing on the front door. We rolled the nasty gray primer coat as well as the first coat of Posh Red. Then did the second coat of paint with a brush.

Patience is a virtue. After I painted the first coat on the front door, I got a little overanxious to see our new, pretty front door. So what did I do?  I decided to put a second coat on while the first was still tacky. Bad idea. With each stroke, the wet paint started to take off the tacky paint. I then stopped, let it dry completely, lightly sanded down my mistake and continued with the second coat. Lesson learned!

Don’t be hasty. This may seem really obvious, but while you may be really anxious to get the job over with (like we were!), try not to put too much paint on the brush. Using too much paint will cause drip marks on the finished product. Even if you’re not dripping all over the place, putting too much paint on a surface at once can lead to the final finish being wavy or showing brush strokes. If you do this, guess what you get to do? You get to sand, scrape, and repaint the whole thing all over again. Put multiple thin coats on your doors and shutters. This will give you a beautifully clean final product. Yes, unfortunately, we learned this the hard way.

So there you have it, our “two cents worth” about painting doors and shutters. We hope it helps those of you thinking about tackling an exterior painting project for the first time as well. Do any of you out there have any painting tips to share? We would love to hear them!

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  • Reply
    Chris Fisher
    September 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    just wanted to advise that you should really try to paint with as much paint in the brush as possible. the dryer the brush the more brush marks i would also suggest that when you use a roller on surfaces such as a door you may want to back brush to remove the roller texture. also if your house was built before 78 you may want to test to be sure that there is not lead paint present. Lead paint can be very dangerous for children. the lead can remain present in the soil, carpets, flooring of all types and can even be drawn into hvac duct and become air-borne everytime you run your hvac system. you can purchase test kits from HD or Lowes and if lead is present you should take care to hepa vac to ensure lead is removed. EPA even requires that contractors to be certified to ensure that certain proceedures are applied whenever lead is present with fines of $32,000 per day per event.
    Also to prevent the paint from peeling on 2nd coat if not totally dry you may want to try duron products I have had much success with them. although they may not have the big warranty they will last just as long as your big-box homeimprovement store paints do and are used by more professionals because of there quality. If you guys have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me 804-909-4997

    • Reply
      September 28, 2010 at 11:05 am

      Thanks for the good advice! We had the paint tested during the house inspection and luckily everything was lead free. Wouldn’t want any of those astronomical fines! Yikes!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    WOW! That is a BIG difference! Looking forward to Phase 2!

    • Reply
      September 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      Thank you! We are too!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I can’t get over the difference just a little paint can do! It almost looks like a different house. Nice work!!!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I also just chose Posh Red for my front door. Did you use a matte type finish or more shiny? (Eggshell, satin, etc.)

    • Reply
      May 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Yay! We used satin finish. Hope you enjoy your red door!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    What color did you do your trim in?

    • Reply
      September 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      The trim is the same color as when we bought the house, so we don’t have any information on that.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Such a random question… but I love either your handwriting or the font you use to write over your photos. Example – the “sold!” in the first photo in this post. Could you explain how you do that? Thanks!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      I use a pen and tablet hooked up to my computer to write that in. I’m hoping to have a font available for download soon!

  • Reply
    Jason Roland
    June 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Sometimes just doing something like changing the color combo makes such a difference. Great job!!!

  • Reply
    Kim Bohnenkamp
    July 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Love all your changes!!! Regarding the front door area: Did you re-paint the area around the door white or did you leave it the color it was. It is hard to tell from the pictures.

    • Reply
      July 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks! Nope, it’s the same color. The lighting just might make it a tad different in different photos.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    We just bought a house that looks very similar to your “before” pictures and love the new colors you chose for your door and shutters! Would you mind sharing the color of your outside light fixtures too? Thanks!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2014 at 10:31 am

      The outside light fixtures are just black – they were here when we bought the house. I definitely recommend black or dark oil rubbed bronze to tie in with the shutters and pull out the dark tones in the brick. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Hi, I love this transformation, awesome work! I see you said you did the front door in satin. Did you do the shutters in the same finish?


    • Reply
      August 25, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Thanks! Yes, we did the shutters in the same finish.

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