Exterior Painting Project: The Base Coat

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.


Hey Everyone!

Wow. I have to admit, September was a crazy month for me. Between work and life I had to take a step back from home projects. The past two weekends I have finally been able to get back in the swing of things and began prepping for my next BIG project.

For the next few weeks, I will be spending every free moment I have painting the exterior of our home.

After months of researching the professional cost of this project my husband and I came to the conclusion that we simply can’t pay someone to do this for us. It would cost thousands of dollars, which we would much rather spend on a vacation!

As with any of my first time home projects, I have dedicated hours to researching the best practices, and I have asked a heck of a lot of home improvement store staff questions. I found the paint guy to be particularly helpful with this project. 🙂

In this post I am going to do a quick overview of the products I ultimately chose for the priming stage, and give you an insider look at our “before” exterior.  Thankfully I did not need to do much in terms of preparing the surface.  All of our shakes are intact, and the ones closest to the ground just needed a rinse.  Other than that there was some quick spider web clearing and I was on my way!

Two of the main products you will need in order to prime are (obviously) paintbrushes and the primer.


The Paintbrush

I am not going to lie, when I saw the price tags on these brushes I started swearing up and down the aisle….”There is no way in hell I am paying $20 for a paintbrush!”….once I had a moment to get over the sticker shock, I was able to gain some clarity.  I thought to myself, why am I complaining about paying $20 for a paintbrush when I am saving thousands of dollars on this project?  So I came to a mental compromise with myself and I purchased a $20 brush and a $10 brush.  After having used them both I can strongly recommend the Wooster Pro brush, i.e. the $20 one.  It is far superior.  After completing some of the priming, the $10 brush became frayed and the bristles did not hold their shape.  In contrast, the wooster pro has completely maintained its shape and the sturdy bristles look as if they are still new.  Trust me, a good brush is worth every penny.  

I purchased the Wooster Pro Flat 4″ Brush on sale at Home Depot, but all of you Amazon lovers can purchase it by clicking on the hyperlinked brush name.


The Primer

This is where the paint store guy came in handy.  Not all the staff at my local Sherwin Williams are well versed in paint science, so I do my best to stalk the most knowledgeable employee there.  I am not saying I know his work schedule…but I do have a knack for showing up when he is there.

Since I am painting both new/untreated cedar shakes and previously painted cedar shakes he recommended that I use two different primers.

The first is Sherwin Williams Latex Wood Primer.  This one was optional since the shakes had already been primed at one point, but I opted to use it as we are going from brown to very light gray.  I can already tell with the first coat that this was a good choice, it covers that brown up nicely!

The second primer I bought is Sherwin Williams Oil-Based Wood Primer.  This product will ensure that our beautiful new cedar shakes don’t bleed through the paint.  Tannin extraction is a common problem with cedar, and it is better to use a good primer than have your house need repainting next year.  An oil primer takes longer to dry and has more time to penetrate into the wood, resulting in better overall protection.

Genius Primer Tip:  Tint the primer to 75% of the final color.  I owe my paint guy a kickback for this amazing tip.  He encouraged me to go slightly lower, as tinting at 100% of the final color can sometimes come out darker in a primer.  75% gives it enough tint that the second (and possibly third) coat of paint can cover with less effort.  



Here is a look at the front of our house before I started the priming process. 

Here is a look at the front of our house during the priming process.  Even this stage is making me feel so excited to see it all done!  It is the biggest motivation as I stand there thinking my right arm might fall off if I take one more stroke.  I can’t wait to have the house be one cohesive, light, and clean color!



My goal is to have this done before the beautiful New England winter sets in.  Then in the spring we will address the serious need for new front steps, roof repairs, and landscaping!

Have you completed any exterior painting projects recently?  I would love to see some inspiration in the comments section! 
Keep an eye out for my upcoming post “Exterior Painting Project: The Final Coat”, and as always, if you want to stay up-to-date please follow Damsel With A Drill and subscribe to our email list.


  1. stephabbot

    October 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    love the title and header page for your blog – it’s really welcoming and makes a reasonably intimidating venture (for me anyway!) seem a lot more accessible! Will definitely be following your tips.

    1. Laura Cameron

      October 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you so much! Some of my projects can seem intimidating (I feel that way a lot) but once you get the hang of things it isn’t so scary! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. amindfultravellerblog

    October 16, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Wow, that’s a big job Laura. Good on you. Have a great day 🙂

    1. Laura Cameron

      October 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Thank you!!! You as well 🙂

  3. Claire

    October 17, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I am amazed at the money you will save doing this yourselves. That will take you far! The change in color is great. I can’t wait to see your landscaping completed.

    1. Laura Cameron

      October 17, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I might need a landscaping consultant 🙂

  4. HappyHauteHome

    October 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Looking good…you really have been busy!

    1. Laura Cameron

      October 17, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Thank you! I sure have been 🙂 Still so much to do!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: