There's still time to paint your home's exterior
Before it gets too cold, check the paintwork around your house. Does it need a touch up? Are any signs of rot showing up? Is the paint flaking? If you see any signs of deterioration of the paint layer, its time to get out the old brush and paint can. First, inspect the job carefully. Rotting wood will require more work than flaking paint, which will require more work than a few dirty marks.
If you have rotting wood, the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rotted material out and replace it. Anything less will give you problems down the road. Before you install the new wood, undercoat it so that you don't have to do it again when it is in place. I like to bed any new wood in epoxy so that it will not break off or rot, but that's just a personal preference.
If you have flaking paint, simply scrape it off, sand the edges back and repaint with primer. I prefer an oil based primer coat thinned slightly so that it penetrates deeply into the wood. Once that primer coat is dry - especially over knots - the wood can be repainted with a full strength primer coat and left to dry. The top coat is usually an outdoor latex paint applied in dry weather when
daytime temperatures are over 50 degrees. If you apply paint on high-humidity days it may eventually flake off.
The best brush to use is a good one, not a cheap chip brush unless you are applying undercoat and don't want to wash out oil-based primer. A moderately good brush lets you put a full load of paint on the surface, doesn't shed hairs, and leaves a nice finish. Chip brushes tend to shed hairs and don't hold a lot of paint. Sponge brushes are OK for small applications but if you're going to paint the entire house, a sponge brush will fall apart fairly quickly. I prefer to use a 4-inch-wide brush, with 2-inch slant-tip for narrow trim, cutting in and around windows, but you can also use a roller for large areas. If you don't like the finish that a roller gives you, roll the paint on and then work it over with a dry brush to get a better finish. This technique is known as "roll and tip." You can also use a sprayer for painting large areas, but you should mask off windows and doors before spraying. Remember, too, a sprayer applies a thinner coat of paint than a brush and one that may also have to be thinned to enable it to be sprayed, so you will need to apply at least two coats if you are spraying.
If you have to use a ladder, a few safety tips are in order. Make sure the paint, scraper, brushes, and you are secured properly. It's not for nothing that they say its bad luck to walk under a ladder. A falling can of paint can spoil your entire day! When setting your ladder
against the wall, try to put it at about a 60to 70-degree angle. Putting the base too near the wall can result in the ladder tipping over backwards like one of those old movies where the Indians always get tipped backwards off fort walls.
Use latex gloves and wear old clothes when painting. No matter how hard I try to keep paint off me, I get it all over me. I also use a painter's hat, because I know that if I have just painted the underside of an eave I will stand up and make a hair pattern in the new paint as soon as it is done. Use a drop cloth to keep paint splatters from falling on decks, stairs, cars or anything else. Newspapers don't work too well when the breeze gets up. Also be very wary of using a dropcloth on a roof or sloping surface. A dropcloth can make the surface slippery and I need every reader I can get!