Mastering Exterior Wall Painting

Your house is one of your biggest assets so it’s important to look after it and invest in it. Painting the exterior is a maintenance must and a project you need to get your head around. This blog article will guide you on everything you need to know before you begin.

But first, here are Three Top Reasons why painting your house is essential for a homeowner:

  • Improve the appearance of your home: Paint colour trends change over time, so you may want to update the exterior colour of your house to give it a more modern feel and to reflect your style. Whether you prefer bold and vibrant colours to make a statement, or you’re considering more subtle or traditional hues, pop into a Shaves store and let our experts guide you on the right colour and product for your house. Find your store here
  • Increase the value of your property: Painting improves the condition of your house and its overall exterior appearance. It’s a relatively low-cost investment with a high return as it can significantly enhance the property’s overall appeal and value in the eyes of potential buyers, who may perceive it as well-maintained and requiring less immediate maintenance or renovation work, and therefore as move-in ready.
  • Protect your house from the weather: Your house is exposed to the elements all day, every day. By painting exterior walls you protect its structural integrity and prolong the lifespan of the building. Paint provides a protective layer, sealing over cracks which stops water and moisture penetrating, and also protects against UV rays that cause damage over time.

5 Signs Your House Needs to be Painted

  1. Cracks and general wear and tear: Cracks (even hairline ones) can make the wall vulnerable to water and moisture penetration and exposure to other elements that weaken structure over time. Wear and tear includes scratches, dents, dings and scuffs, these cosmetic imperfections can make your house look untidy, worn and in need of a fresh coat of paint.
  • The colour is fading, discoloured or patchy: Thishappens if the house was painted many years ago (sun and rain fade colour over the years) or the paint originally used was not a good quality. Shaves Paint + Décor prides itself on only stocking superior quality paints like Dulux, Plascon and our house brand Dekade. This ensures you get the best results in a colour that is hard wearing and stands the test of time.
  • Peeling or bubbling paint: Areas that show these issues indicate that the protective barrier of the paint has been compromised. This renders the underlying surfaces vulnerable to moisture penetration that can lead to damp issues that damage walls.
  • Mould or mildew growth: Areas of mould or mildew growth on exterior surfaces indicate excessive moisture accumulation. You’ll need to clean this area with Dekade Biocidal Wash and paint with mould-resistant paint like Dekade Ultradek , Dulux Wallguard or Plascon Wall & All, which all prevent further growth and protect the underlying materials.
  • Chalking or powdery residue: If you notice a powdery residue (known as chalking) on your hand when you run it over the exterior walls of your house, this is a sign that  the paint is breaking down and losing its protective properties. Your walls will need to be primed with a quality plaster primer, like Dekade Surface Conditioner, and then repainted.

The Best Time of Year to Paint in Gauteng and KZN?

Winter is the best time to paint the outside of your house if you live in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal. Here’s why:

  • Little to no rainfall during winter reduces the risk of the paint blistering. Paint blisters due to moisture penetration prior to it drying.
  • Drier air conditions enable paint to adhere more effectively to surfaces and gives the paint time to dry and fully cure to its final finish.
  • Reduced humidity reduces the risk of streaking.

If you live in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Hillcrest or Pietermaritzburg the ideal time to paint outside is from 10am – 2pm. The temperature for painting walls needs to be over 8 degrees Celsius and over 10 degrees Celsius for painting steel.

Guide to Painting Your House

Step 1: Understanding What’s the Right Paint for Your Exterior Walls

Shaves Paint + Décor only stocks premium quality brands, like Dulux, Plascon and Dekade, for exterior painting. When choosing the right paint for your house, consider the exterior surface and its condition (are there cracks or imperfections?), the environment it’s exposed to (high moisture, high salt?) and what finish you’d like.

Here are three types of exterior paint, their textures, finish and what they’re best at:

  1. Smooth suede (mid-sheen) finish like Plascon Wall & All or Dulux Wallguard, a durable exterior coating with dirt shedding, mould resistance & hydrophobic mechanism. It is ideal for exterior walls where moisture levels do not exceed 25%.
  2. Smooth low-sheen finish like Dulux Acrylic PVA or Dekade Ultradek with stain and dirt removal properties. This paint is hydrophobic & breathes, so it can release trapped moisture & repel water on the surface, allowing moisture out & preventing water from seeping back into the wall. It contains dry film biocide that prevents fungal and mould growth.
  3. Fine textured like Dulux Weatherguard with Maxiflex technology that covers hairline cracks, hides imperfections and provides weather resistance.

All of the above paints are weatherproof and designed to protect against South Africa’s harshest conditions, so you can purchase and paint with confidence.

Step 2: Understanding the Surface, Preparation & Application

Before you paint, you will need to know what surface you’re working on, its condition and common problems associated with that surface.

Here are common exterior substrates, typical problems, how to troubleshoot them and the correct application:

1. Unplastered Exterior Brickwork:

Common Problems:

  1. Plinths below Damp Course Level: Sometimes, the base of the wall (plinths) is located below the damp course, leading to moisture issues.
  2. Alkali attack (saponification): This occurs when the alkaline surface of the wall reacts to the oil-based coatings causing the formation of a soap-like substance. Saponification is prevalent on new concrete or bricks which is highly alkaline.
  3. Efflorescence: is the white powdery substance formed on the wall surface due to water seeping into the exterior wall. When water enters a wall and later evaporates, it leaves various soluble salts on the surface, disfiguring the wall.
  4. Glazed face bricks: These bricks have a smooth, shiny surface that needs to be roughened for better paint adhesion.

Preparation Steps:

  1. Remove loose or flaking coatings and residues due to saponification and efflorescence: Carefully scrape off any old loose & flaking paint and underlying salts/soapy residues that have seeped out of the bricks/concrete due to saponification/efflorescence. You can use Spirit of Salts solution with a scrubbing brush to do this, get both at any Shaves store or hardware store. Spirits of Salts is hydrochloric acid so it’s extremely important to wear protective rubber gloves, goggles and a mask when working with it. You’ll also need to cover any steel items and furniture when applying it.
  2. Repair grouting: Fix any deteriorated or damaged grouting between the bricks with Polycell Rockset, also available at Shaves stores.
  3. Feather edges: Smooth out the edges of any remaining coatings to ensure an even surface.

Application Steps:

  1. Apply Surface Conditioner, Dekade’s Primer: Once the surface is dry, start by applying one coat of Surface Conditioner to prepare the brickwork for painting.
  2. Apply acrylic paint: Finish by applying two coats of Dekade Dekatex for a textured finish or if you’ve used a Dulux Primer then use Dulux Weatherguard.

2. Cement Plaster

Common Problems:

  1. Alkali attack: This happens when the sand used in plaster contains too much salt.
  2. Weak plaster: When the plaster doesn’t bind properly.
  3. Strong plaster: Can lead to hairline cracks.
  4. Old coatings: If not removed, they can cause problems.
  5. Fungal and algae growth: Especially on exterior walls exposed to weather.

Preparation Steps

  1. Remove coatings: If the existing coating is in good, sound condition you can skip this step. However, for surfaces in poor condition use a high pressure washer to strip old loose & flaking coatings until you reach the bare surface. Adjust the pressure based on the plaster’s strength.
  2. Repair cracks: Use Dulux Crack Filler or Polycell Exterior Crack Filler for cracks other than hairline cracks.
  3. Apply Dekade Biocidal Wall Wash: A generous coat helps prevent fungal and algae growth. Allow to stand, preferably 24 hours for solution to act. Wash off and rinse with clean water & paint when surface is dry.

Application Steps:

  1. Apply Dekade’s Primer: Start with one coat of Dekade Surface Conditioner for better adhesion.
  2. Apply Acrylic Paint: Finish by applying two coats of high-quality exterior grade acrylic paint for a long-lasting and impressive finish.

3. New Concrete or Plaster Surfaces That Are Unpainted

Common Problems:

  1. Curing time: Remember that concrete and plaster can take more than 28 days to fully cure. Painting before this period can lead to poor adhesion and premature paint failure.
  2. Release Agent removal: If release agents were used during construction, they must be completely removed before painting.
  3. Cracks, blow holes, or voids: Avoid using Normal Powder Crack Filler, especially on exterior surfaces, as it may not provide adequate durability.


  1. A water-based degreaser is suitable for removing release agents.
  2. Large cracks should be filled with Exterior Masonry Filler, small cracks can be filled with Dekade Skimming Plaster.

Application Steps:

  1. Use Dulux Plaster Primer for new concrete and plaster. It helps improve adhesion, is alkali resistant and ensures a smooth painting surface.
  2. Paint with Dulux Weatherguard which gives flexibility and adds strength and durability to any exterior wall.

4. Previously Painted Surface

Common Problems:

  1. Peeling or flaking paint: These areas need to be scraped off completely to prevent the new paint from lifting.
  2. Check for chalking: A chalky residue when you rub your hand over the surface means the existing paint is deteriorating and needs to be cleaned or treated.
  3. Mildew or mould: These should be treated with a mildew remover to prevent regrowth under the new paint.
  4. Cracks and holes: Identify any cracks, holes, or other damage that needs repair before painting.


  1. Wash the surface: Use a power washer or scrub with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution to remove dirt, grime, chalking, and mildew. This step is essential to create a clean surface for the new paint.
  2. If chalking is noted, the surface must be sanded down to prep it before it’s primed.
  3. Mould and fungal growth will need to be treated with Dekade Biocidal Wall Wash.
  4. Sand the surface: Lightly sand the surface to remove loose paint and to roughen glossy areas so the new paint can adhere better.
  5. Repair any damage: Fill in any cracks, holes, or other imperfections with an appropriate filler: use Pro-Struct 684/1 Crack Filler for large cracks and use Dekade Skimming Plaster for smaller cracks. Sand the repaired areas smooth once the filler has dried.
  6. Remove old coatings if necessary: If the existing paint is in poor condition, consider removing it entirely using a scraper, sander, or chemical paint remover.


  1. Apply Plascon Primer once the surface has dried to safeguard your surface before painting. It also helps the topcoat resist peeling, cracking and other forms of wear and tear.
  2. Paint with Plascon Wall & All for a smooth low sheen finish. Ask an expert at a Shaves Paint + Décor store for advice on the best product for your specific wall, you can also contact Shaves with any questions you may have.

In all the scenarios mentioned above, remember to ensure you apply the primer evenly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Typically, one coat of primer is sufficient, but heavily stained or uneven surfaces may require a second coat.

Remember that the above steps are not exhaustive and that other steps like parapet sealer and damp proofing might need to be added. In a separate blog we will give further insight into waterproofing products and dealing with parapet walls.

Parting Painting Advice

A master painter is someone who has all the necessary equipment needed before starting a project. Here’s a basic list of essential equipment and tools you’ll need (all available at your nearest Shaves store):

  • Various size paint brushes
  • Roller and tray
  • Scraper
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Drop sheet 
  • Masking tape
  • Overalls & goggles
  • Mineral Turpentine
  • Sandpaper

Once you have all your equipment and you’ve chosen your paint (based on your knowledge of the surface you’re painting), there are two more important things to remember:

  1. Be pedantic in your preparation stage! There are no short cuts to painting, especially with exterior walls that are exposed to the unforgiving elements of nature every day, all day. So follow all the steps listed in this article above.
  2. Be patient. You can’t be in a rush when painting, so allow for proper drying time. Let the primer dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the topcoat. This ensures optimal adhesion and performance of the exterior paint.

This guide to painting your house, with all the tips, info and advice, is designed to make your exterior house painting project easy and enjoyable. So, the hardest part might very well be choosing the colour, as the colour charts are filled with so many beautiful, inspiring and exciting colours that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Happy painting!