Painting the exterior of your home can be a daunting project, but adding a new coat is a worthy investment in your home’s curb appeal. Preparation will help you get the most for your money, and hiring a professional is recommended to achieve stellar results. But if you need to DIY, you should know how to do so safely, such as using a sturdy ladder designed for outdoor use. Here’s how you can help preserve your home’s siding for years to come.

1. Check for lead paint

There are millions of homes built prior to 1978 where lead-based paint remains.1 Some of the signs include peeling, cracking or damp paint. If your home was built before 1978 (when the federal government banned consumer use of lead-containing paint), you should have a certified lead inspector check for lead paint.2 If there is lead paint, there are certified lead abatement contractors who can safely remove the lead before you get started.

2. Get the right supplies

An exterior paint job costs $2,581 on average, with most homeowners paying between $1,714 and $3,682.3 To make the most of your investment, buy quality supplies. Purchase a scraper, caulk, sandpaper and a scrub brush to help prepare the outside of the home ahead of time. Having the right tools can make the process run smoothly. If you’re hiring professional painters, find out what they plan to use that’s compatible with your siding (e.g., concrete, metal, stucco, vinyl, wood).

3. Work with a clean canvas

Exterior surfaces should be dull, clean and dry prior to being painted. It’s best to scrape off peeling paint and repair surfaces for a smooth first coat. Be sure to recaulk old door and window trims, sand any surfaces you have repaired and remove mildew with a solution of chlorine bleach. Cover doors, windows and even landscaping to protect against any paint spills or splatter. Before painting, wash the exterior with a pressure washer. Then, apply a high-resin sealer and primer to the clean surface.

4. Choose the right paint and brush

There are two types of exterior paints – latex and oil – that offer protection to a home’s facade. Use a nylon brush or roller for latex paint and a natural bristle brush for oil-based paint. Different types of siding can determine what type of paint (and how much) is needed. A 2,100 square-foot home will need roughly 12 gallons of paint for two coats.3

Maintaining your home not only makes it look better, it can preserve its value. Learn how cleaning gutters, for example, can help protect your home from expensive water damage.