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Don't paint the town! Paint your home!

“Today” contributor Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, shares tips on getting your home’s exterior in shape.
/ Source: TODAY

Looking good on the outside makes you feel good on the inside, especially if you save money on painting your home's exterior. Lou Manfredini, aka Mr. Fix-It, was invited to the “Today” show to share the ABCs of house painting.

Whenever I meet people who want to begin some home improvements of their own, I tell them to start with painting. This ranks as one of those projects that busy homeowners can feasibly tackle themselves, whether on a weekend, after work, or during a vacation. But remember one thing: Shortcuts are terrific — if you’re trying to get to the airport in a hurry. Take a shortcut when you’re working on your home, however, and you’ll end up with a mess.

Painting a building can be tricky, as Michelangelo found out, and the problems begin with the paint themselves, where the choices go far beyond the color. There may be 50 to 100 different brands to choose from on the market. Understanding the exact differences among them would require a chemistry course, but I can boil it down to a simple rule. You get what you pay for. If you spend $7.99 a gallon, you’ll get a can of paint — which will be fine as long as you’re planning to paint your doghouse (although you obviously don’t have much respect for your dog). The color just won’t hold up, and neither will the paint.

In the paint store, you’ll immediately encounter an age old problem over which paint is better, latex or oil. Latex paints have come so far in recent years that it’s truly the way to go when it comes to exterior painting. Look for latex paints that contain high-quality acrylic resins, rather than the inferior vinyl ones.

Exterior wall finishes should have at least a satin finish and the trim can be the same although a semi-gloss finish tends to make the trim look better and easier to keep clean especially around doorways.

In our rush to get on with the job, we often forget that preparation counts for about 90 percent of the finished look. Spread fine paint over a glopped-up wall, and you’ll end up with something that looks even sloppier than when you started.  Wash everything using a pressure washer, make sure you are careful around windows and doors and make sure you let your home dry for a few days before the work starts.  Sanding and scraping should be done with care, as well as patching. Make sure you spot prime the repaired areas with an exterior grade primer. This will give you the smoothest surface, and insure that the paint sticks the way it should.

When it actually comes time to paint, be sure to buy the best rollers and brushes you can for applying paint. Choose rollers with hard inner cores, rather than cardboard ones (you should not be able to squeeze the end of the roller together). For latex paints, you can use synthetic fibers or a blend for the best results. Either way, expect to spend at least $8 or more for a brush that will last.

And no matter how well you paint, know this. I have never once met a can of paint that went on with just one coat. You’ll need at least two coats to get the evenness of color that makes the job look crisp and professional — which is always the result you are looking to achieve.

If you have more questions for Lou, you can visit his Web site,