Preparation is the key to any successful painting project. First, remove as many items as you can (planters, mailboxes, shutters, house numbers, hoses, outdoor furniture, and light fixtures).
Put drop cloths in place under the areas you plan to paint.
Make sure that all surfaces you plan to paint are smooth and free of cracks. Countersink any exposed nail heads, and spot prime areas as needed.
Putty and Caulking
Use putty to fill any nail head depressions, cracks, and imperfections on the surfaces to be painted. Where necessary, scrape away old caulk and apply new caulk and prime.
When working with bare wood, apply primer before you re-caulk.
For glossy or shiny surfaces, lightly sand for better adhesion. Sand any "mill glaze" off new siding, to ensure proper paint adhesion.
Wash under eaves to remove any salt that may have accumulated.
Dust, Dirt, and Mildew
Use a cloth or soft brush to clean off any dust and dirt from the surfaces to be painted. Remove chalk residue with a brush or water, and be sure to remove any mildew.
On any exposed areas where paint has worn thin, peeled, or blistered, apply primer and allow it to dry thoroughly.
For Special Surfaces, Special Steps
If your brick or masonry surface is streaked with a white powder or efflorescence, you can remove it with a wire brush and scraper. Take care to find and eliminate the cause of any efflorescence.
For newly constructed block and stucco surfaces, be sure to allow 30 to 60 days before you apply primer or topcoat.