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How to Properly Repair and Paint Exterior Wood Siding

Exterior wooden siding on a home.  Prepping a home with exterior wood siding is a meticulous process but can be accomplished by anyone with the right tools and patience.

If you're the proud owner of a beautiful home with wood siding, you know the charm and warmth it brings to the presentation of your house. However, maintaining the exterior of a wooden house can be a challenge. It requires regular upkeep, including repairing any damage and repainting to protect the wood from the elements.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the steps of how to properly repair and paint your exterior wood siding. This information will equip any determined DIY enthusiast with the knowledge to undertake this task themselves.

Inspection and Preparation

One of the most critical stages of exterior wood siding maintenance begins well before the first brush stroke of paint is applied or the first plank is replaced. This crucial phase is the inspection and preparation of your home's exterior.

There are 4 main issues that you need to look for when inspecting your wood siding: Rot, Cracking, Warping, and Peeling Paint.

A thorough inspection involves more than a cursory glance at your home's exterior. You'll need to be meticulous, carefully examining each section of your wood siding for potential issues. Here's what you need to look out for:


Rot is often caused by persistent moisture and is a common issue in wood siding. It weakens the wood's structure and, if left untreated, can cause significant damage. Look for areas where the wood has become soft or crumbly. Pay special attention to parts of the house that are shaded most of the day as these areas are more likely to retain moisture.


Small cracks in your siding may seem insignificant, but they can allow water to seep in, causing more severe problems down the line. They're also an invitation for pests like ants and termites. Don't overlook these - every crack needs to be noted for repair.


This often indicates prolonged exposure to harsh weather elements. Warping not only impacts the aesthetic appeal of your home but can also indicate deeper structural damage.

Peeling Paint

Paint acts as a protective barrier for your wood siding. When it starts to peel, the wood underneath becomes exposed to the elements, which can lead to damage. Moreover, peeling paint can signal that the previous paint job wasn't done correctly, with insufficient cleaning or priming.

Repairing Damages

Transitioning from inspection, you now face one of the most hands-on parts of the process – repairing the damages. Depending on the severity of the issues identified during your inspection, your repair approach may vary. However, regardless of the scale, all repairs are critical for the longevity of your wood siding and, ultimately, the integrity of your home.

Repairing Minor Cracks and Holes

The first set of damages we'll tackle are minor cracks and holes. Although they may seem insignificant, even the smallest gaps can invite water and pests, leading to more severe problems down the line. So, attending to these is crucial.

To address minor cracks and holes, a high-quality exterior wood filler is your go-to solution. It is designed to withstand the outdoor elements and provide a surface that paint can adhere to. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Prepare the Area

Before applying the wood filler, make sure the area is clean and free from loose wood or paint. You can use a small brush or even a can of compressed air to clean out the crack or hole.

Apply the Wood Filler

Using a putty knife, apply the filler to the crack or hole. Make sure to press the filler into the void so it bonds with the surrounding wood.

Let It Dry

Allow the filler to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drying time may vary based on the product and the size of the void you're filling.

Sand Smooth

After the filler has dried completely, sand the area until it's flush with the rest of the siding. This will ensure a seamless look when you paint over the repair.

Addressing Serious Issues like Rot and Warping

If your inspection uncovered more serious issues like rot or warping, your approach will be different. In these cases, you're likely dealing with structural damage that requires replacing sections of the siding.

Remove the Damaged Siding

Begin by carefully cutting out the damaged section of siding. Using a pry bar, remove the damaged boards. Be careful not to damage the surrounding intact siding.

Measure and Cut the New Siding

Measure the gap where the old siding was removed. Cut the new piece of siding to fit this gap precisely. Remember to consider any overlaps with other pieces of siding.

Install the New Siding

Fit the new siding into place. It should align perfectly with the existing siding. Secure it using galvanized nails, which resist rusting.

Seal the Edges

Once the new piece is secured, apply a bead of exterior-grade caulking around the edges to seal it and prevent water intrusion.

Remember, while repairing your wood siding can seem like a daunting task, a systematic approach will make the process manageable. However, always be conscious of your skill level and don't hesitate to seek professional help if the damage is beyond your capabilities. A well-executed repair not only enhances the appearance of your home but also protects it, making it a vital part of exterior wood siding maintenance.


Preparing your home is the most involved step of painting and includes putting plastic over the windows and paper over exposed shingles and soffits.

Once you've completed the previous steps, it's time to prepare your home's exterior for the repair and painting process. Proper preparation is essential to ensure a smooth, efficient process and a professional-looking result.

Safety First

Make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment before you begin. This may include safety glasses, gloves, a sturdy ladder, and possibly scaffolding for higher reaches.

Protective Measures

Protect the areas around your house that aren't being painted. This includes windows, doors, lighting fixtures, and landscaping. Use plastic sheeting or drop cloths to cover these areas and protect them from paint splatters and debris. It's also a good idea to remove any loose items like outdoor furniture, garden hoses, or potted plants that could get in the way.

Siding Cleaning

Even if your siding looks relatively clean, don't skip this step. The siding must be free from dirt, mildew, and loose paint for the new paint to adhere correctly. Use a brush or a power washer with a low-pressure setting to gently clean the surface. Let the siding dry completely before proceeding to the repair stage. We typically let the house dry overnight before we begin painting. Wood tends to absorb moisture and still look fairly dry, but still has plenty of water inside of the wood. If this water is present when painting, it will completely ruin your paint job.

By devoting sufficient time and attention to the inspection and preparation phase, you'll lay a solid foundation for the rest of your exterior wood siding repair and painting project. It may be tempting to rush into the painting phase, but remember - a house well-prepped is a job half-done.

Priming the Siding

Just like an artist would not dare to apply oil paint to an unprimed canvas, so should you never overlook the pivotal process of priming your home's exterior wood siding. It forms an intermediate layer between the wood and the paint, bridging the gap for a perfect finish.

Understanding the Importance of Priming

Priming is about more than just creating a blank canvas for the fresh paint. Here are the main reasons why this step is so crucial:

Proper Adhesion

The primer improves the bonding of the paint to the wood surface, helping to prevent peeling and blistering. This adhesive property of primer ensures your paint job lasts longer.

Blocking Stains

Primer prevents stains and knots in the wood from showing through the paint. This is particularly important for light-colored paints where dark wood stains can otherwise become visible.

Uniform Finish

By providing an even base tone, primer helps to achieve a more uniform color application. It can prevent patches of darker or lighter shades, creating a flawless appearance.

Additional Protection

While not its primary function, a good primer can also provide an additional layer of protection to the wood surface, helping to seal small imperfections and prevent moisture infiltration.

Applying the Primer

After understanding the importance of priming, let's look at how to do it properly:

Choose the Right Primer

Not all primers are created equal. Choose a high-quality exterior primer that's appropriate for wood siding. Your local paint supplier can guide you to the right product based on your specific needs.

Prepare Your Tools

You'll need a good-quality brush or roller that's suitable for the texture of your siding. If your siding is rough or textured, a brush may give you better coverage. For smoother surfaces, a roller can help you cover large areas quickly.

Apply the Primer

Start applying the primer from the top of the house and work your way down. This method allows you to catch any drips and avoid streaks. Apply the primer generously but evenly, ensuring all surfaces are covered.

Let It Dry

After the application, patience is key. Let the primer dry completely before you move on to painting. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the primer type and weather conditions.

Primed and ready, your house is now perfectly prepared for the final transformative stage: painting. Remember, every beautiful paint job starts with good priming. In this context, priming is not an optional extra step, but a fundamental part of the process in achieving a professional and durable finish.

Painting the Siding

Typically, painting a home exterior wood siding is done with a paint gun as seen in the photo

Emerging from the shadows of preparation and priming, your home is now ready for its grand reveal. This is the moment when all your hard work pays off - the painting stage. Painting is more than merely slapping color onto a surface; it's an art that requires patience, precision, and the right technique.

Choosing the Right Paint

Your choice of paint can make a significant difference in the outcome of your project and the longevity of your siding. Here's what to consider:


Always opt for a high-quality paint designed specifically for exterior wood siding. These paints are formulated to withstand the elements, resist fading, and adhere well to the wood surface.


You generally have a choice between water-based (latex) and oil-based (alkyd) paint. Latex paint is typically easier to work with, dries quickly, and has lower VOCs. Oil-based paint, however, tends to penetrate the wood more deeply and can offer superior adhesion.


Choose between glossy, semi-gloss, satin, or flat finishes. Glossy and semi-gloss paints are more durable and easier to clean, making them a good choice for high-traffic areas. Satin and flat finishes, on the other hand, hide imperfections better and offer a more subtle aesthetic.

Painting Technique

Now that you've chosen the right paint, it's time to apply it. Follow these steps for a professional-looking result:

Start from the Top

Begin at the top of your house and work your way down. This method helps control streaks and drips, as you'll be working with gravity rather than against it. This technique also ensures that any drips are covered as you progress downward.

Use the Right Tools

Use a brush for detailed work around windows and trim, and a roller for larger flat areas. If you have a lot of siding to cover, consider using a sprayer. It's faster than traditional methods, but it requires more preparation to protect surrounding areas from overspray.

Apply the First Coat

Apply the first coat of paint, ensuring you get even coverage. Pay attention to the direction of your brush strokes or roller patterns. Try to keep them consistent for the best visual effect.

Let It Dry

Allow the first coat to dry completely. This will prevent the paint from peeling or chipping. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended drying time.

Apply the Second Coat

After the first coat is completely dry, apply a second coat. This will ensure the best coverage and longevity of your paint job. Remember, two thinner coats are always better than one thick one.

Clean Up

Once the final coat is applied and dried, remove any protective coverings from your windows, doors, and landscaping. Clean your brushes and store any leftover paint for future touch-ups.

With the last stroke of the brush, your labor of love culminates into a beautifully refreshed home. But the key takeaway here is, while a fresh coat of paint can be transformative, the result is only as good as the preparation and effort put into the stages leading up to it. From inspection to the final coat, each step contributes to the final result - a beautifully preserved home that stands proud against the elements.

Professional Painters: A Worthwhile Investment?

At first glance, painting your wood siding may seem like a great DIY project. However, when you factor in the time, equipment rental costs, paint materials, and the physical labor, the expenses quickly add up.

More importantly, while this guide can give you the necessary knowledge, the expertise that comes with professional experience is incomparable. A professional painting crew will be able to handle any unexpected issues that might arise, perform the job safely, and complete the work in a fraction of the time it would take a DIYer, all while providing a high-quality result.

While you may want to tackle this project on your own, it's worth considering the option of hiring a professional painting contractor. They can help maintain the value and beauty of your home, saving you time and, in many cases, money in the long run. If you're on the fence as to whether you want to hire someone, contact us for a free estimate

Repairing and painting your exterior wood siding can be a feasible DIY project, understanding the process and its demands is crucial. Never underestimate the skill and efficiency offered by professionals in providing a swift, stunning transformation of your home's exterior.

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