How to Paint Exteriors 101

  • Photography by: Danielle Moss
  • Styling by: Alaina Kaczmarski

Yesterday we featured How to Paint Interiors 101 in partnership with Valspar, and today we’re discussing painting an exterior wooden wall. The process is quite similar, with the main differences lying in the type of paint you’ll be using and prep work. That’s right. We’re bringing power tools into the picture. Here we go!


The wall and doorway of this first floor apartment, formerly a coachhouse, was recently redone and needed a fresh coat of paint to better blend with the building’s exterior. The old framework also needed a little TLC, so we opted to paint the wooden wall a clean, welcoming white, and match the trim with the hunter green window trim around the rest of the building. The fresh wood was in great condition, but the framework needed quite a bit of prep work.

First up, gather materials…


  • Paint
  • Paint can opener (you can also get creative and use a flathead screwdriver, but this makes it easier)
  • Paint brush
  • Rollers and exterior roller covers
  • Power sander
  • Drop cloth (you can always use old towels to cover furniture, but this is large and easily disposable)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint stirring stick
  • Ladder


First up–choose what color(s) you’re going to be using! We wanted to use a bright white for the main wall so we went with Ultra White–doesn’t get much whiter than that! Then we opted for a rich green color, La Fonda Trail Green, in a high gloss finish for the trim to coincide with the building’s window trim.

While the fun part is definitely choosing the color, it’s important to make sure you purchase an exterior paint designed to withstand outdoor elements. Similarly, the type of material you are painting–whether it’s siding, wood, brick, etc.–makes a difference! Talk to a professional wherever you’re buying your paint; they can help you determine what type of paint is best.

We explained our project to the experts at Valspar and they recommended using their Reserve paint in exterior, which has paint and primer in one, allowing for a solid finish in just one coat. Valspar Reserve exterior paint also features a dirt and mildew resistant coating so we knew it would be perfect for the patio.


Good news! There is an easy-to-use paint calculator on the Valspar Paint website. Go to, in the top right corner hover over Paint Like A Pro, and you’ll see Paint Calculator.



Similar to prepping interior walls, exterior walls have to be cleaned and patched up before getting started. Exterior prep work includes cleaning the wood, sanding off old or chipped paint to create a smooth surface, filling any holes in the wood, etc. The idea is to create a smooth, clean canvas for the paint to go on; this not only makes painting easier, but it will allow the paint job to hold up longer.

Also be sure to lay a drop cloth over surrounding surface areas including grass, patio brick, landscaping, etc. to protect it from splattering and spilt paint.



Now onto the fun part: painting! As always, we recommend starting with the trim to avoid painting areas you don’t want to paint. Use a brush for this, but remember, wood grain has a tendency to cause splattering when you lift the brush, so be careful to paint in away from the trim. In other words, start in the corner where the surface meets the trim, and paint outward.



Once trim is complete, you can switch to a roller if you prefer, and paint the remainder of the surface, going with the grain of the wood. Make sure paint goes on smooth and not too thick to prevent dripping. Two coats will likely be needed, unless you use a primer and paint in one like we.



As we mentioned, we wanted to paint the trim of the wall a different color to frame the entryway and match the other trim on the building (not shown in the photo). This meant waiting a day for the white paint to dry so that we could apply painter’s tape to protect it from the darker green we wanted on the trim. Again, remember to paint with the grain of the wood. It will go on smoother, filling in the nooks and veins of the wood.



Tada! A much lovelier way to greet guests! Post a photo of your recent painting or home improvement project and tag #TheEverygirlDIY!

And in case you missed it, check out our How to Paint Interiors 101 tutorial where we makeover and brighten an entryway.


Note: this article was sponsored by Valspar but all of the opinions herein are those of The Everygirl editorial board. Valspar Reserve is available exclusively at Lowe’s.