How to Paint a Porch
What you'll need:
Here's everything you'll need to get it right the first time.
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute
  • Appropriate chemical resistant gloves
  • Appropriate chemical resistant boots
  • A painter’s hat, goggles and dust mask
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Cloth or plastic drop cloths
  • Painter's tape (narrow and wide)
  • Plastic bags (large and small)
  • Newspapers
  • Rollers in widths and fabrics for the surface and finish you choose
  • Paint trays and liners
  • Extension poles
  • Buckets, cans and jars
  • Stir sticks
You may also want:
  • Lightweight patching compound
  • Wide blade scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Edge pads
  • Sponge mop
  • Sandpaper – medium and fine grit
  • Sand sponge for trim and molding

Your porch is often the first thing people see when they approach your home; it may also be an outside space you and your family enjoy using. Protect and maintain it—maybe even add a decorative flair—with paint specially formulated for these well-travelled areas.
Step 1 – Assess the Condition

Before you paint, prepare your surface for optimal results. Perhaps your porch shows signs of peeling or chipping, or maybe it needs a good cleaning.

Important: If you will be removing paint that was applied prior to 1960, it probably contains lead.

Removal of Lead-Based Paint

There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead.

  1. Have the painted item replaced.
  2. Have professionals trained in removing lead-based paint do the work.

Each of the following paint-removal methods can produce lead fumes or dust that can be inhaled or ingested. The wet method generates the least amount of airborne fumes and dust.

  • Wire brushing or wet hand scraping with the aid of a nonflammable solvent or abrasive compound. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before purchasing and using. It is important to use personal protective equipment (such as gloves, safety glasses and disposable coveralls) when using some paint strippers.
  • Wet hand sanding and/or power sanding with HEPA filters. Only wet hand sanding and/or an electric sander equipped with a HEPA-filtered vacuum attachment should be used. Dry hand sanding should never be done.
  • Heat stripping, using a low-temperature heat gun followed by hand scraping. Heat guns pose a fire hazard and can create dust and vapours, so they should be used only by experienced workers wearing respirators.

The following methods of paint removal are hazardous (and in some communities illegal) and should NOT be used:p>

  • Open flame burning or torching
  • Machine sanding or grinding without a HEPA attachment
  • Abrasive blasting or sandblasting
  • Power washing without a method to trap water and paint chips

Exterior work should be done on calm days, and wet misting or vacuuming should be used to control lead dust and paint chips during removal. The ground around the building should be protected with heavy (6 mm) plastic sheeting. The outer edges of the sheeting should be raised to trap dust, debris and liquid waste. Waste should be disposed of properly, per local government ordinance.

Step 2 – Select Your Colour Palette

Valspar porch and floor enamel paints are available in over 1,000 colours. See your store sales associate for options.

TIP: In hot weather or sunny environments, darker colours may get “hot” when exposed to sunlight. Choose a lighter colour if your porch is exposed to full sun or if you tend to walk on it with bare feet.

Valspar offers a variety of online tools and resources, including help with estimating the amount of paint you’ll need to get the job finished.

Step 3 – Choose a Paint Finish

There are two types of porch and floor paints—oil-based enamel and latex enamel. Oil-based enamel delivers a high gloss finish while the latex enamel is available in a low-sheen (no-glare) or gloss finish.

First, consider your substrate:

  • Exterior wood porches (those structures covered by a roof) can be coated with either latex or oil-based porch and floor paints.
  • Exterior concrete porches should only be coated with latex porch and floor paint.
  • Other substrates, like composite lumber and PVC, may require the use of specialty coating products and/or adhesion promoters.
  • Anti-skid porch paints offer added traction right in the can. Consider them if children or senior citizens frequently use the area or a slipping hazard exists.
  • NOTE: In most cases, you do not need a primer with porch and floor paint products due to the high binder content in the formulation. This is why many of them are considered self-priming.

    TIP: If your current coating is oil based, you can recoat it with a latex porch and floor paint if the current surface is in sound and solid condition. Roughen the surface first using 120-grit sandpaper and then thoroughly clean it with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute. Avoid recoating in full sun or in temperatures below 10 °C or above 30 °C.

Step 4 – Planning

Be aware of the outdoor temperature before you begin your project.

If you are applying paint:
Paints dry through an evaporative process—cold or humid conditions later in the day or evening can slow down and almost stop this from happening. Temperatures below 10 °C will create drying/curing problems with the coating that could lead to premature failure. Warm conditions—temperatures above 30 °C—should also be avoided when applying paint coatings; the faster evaporative drying could lead to adhesion, skinning and marking problems..

If you are applying or removing a clear protective coating or sealer:
Clear protective coatings and sealers are not intended for floor paint application. If these coatings are exposed to UV radiation, clear coatings such as polyurethane or varnish will break down and degrade before the paint layer. To correct the problem, the clear material will need to be removed prior to recoating with paint. Sealers are penetrating finishes that must absorb and “soak into” a surface; if applied over a nonporous paint layer, these types of products may flake, peel or remain tacky.p>

Choose the right painting clothes. Wear something that you won’t mind getting paint on, like an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

Step 5 – Remove Old Paint and Prep Floor

Move any furniture, pots or floor coverings from your porch. Use a scraper to remove any flaking paint, and make sure to wear goggles to prevent paint chips from getting into your eyes and gloves to protect hands. Clear away debris from any holes or cracks with a dry paintbrush or a vacuum with a brush attachment. Wash with a solution of TSP (or substitute) and water to lift any surface dirt and debris, rinse and let dry before you begin painting.

Step 6 – Paint the Surface

Using a roller affixed to an extension pole, glide the paint in one direction, moving quickly to maintain your wet edge and avoid excess pressure.

TIP: For easy cleanup, line your roller tray with a roller tray liner.

TIP: If you have to take a break from your painting project, instead of rinsing the brush or roller, tightly wrap the tool in plastic wrap or an airtight plastic bag. The plastic wrap will keep the paint wet so the roller can be reused later that day. p>

Check your product label for drying times. Remember not to put anything on the floor until the paint is completely dry, at least 72 hours.

Step 7 – Clean and Be Green

More painting to do tomorrow with the same colour? You don’t have to clean brushes and rollers when you take a break. Wrap them in sealed plastic to stay moist until you are ready to paint again.

TIP: If paint has hardened on the handle or along the edge of the bristles, soften it with warm water so that you can remove it before you begin to paint. Make sure you dry the brush before you dip it.

Project finished? Don’t throw away the rollers and brushes. With proper cleaning and storage, good painting tools can be reused many times. Reusing them saves you time and money and also helps the environment because you’re generating less waste.

Cleaning Rollers
To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you are removing latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth. You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, add detergent to remove partially dried material. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry. p>

For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Next, wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and then place it in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).

Cleaning Paintbrushes
To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you used latex paint, remove the excess paint in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water—if necessary, use a brush comb to remove it. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.

Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse the brush until the water runs clear. p>

DANGER: Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.

Moist paintbrushes can be wrapped in wax paper and sealed with a rubber band or aluminum foil to retain their shape. Hang the brush by the handle to maintain straight bristles and proper shape. p>

Storing Paint
An important step in planning your paint job is determining how you are going to store or dispose of your paint when your project is completed. You’ll want to protect your immediate environment and heed any local ordinances.

Valspar offers a number of easy and earth-friendly answers to the question, “What do I do with the leftover paint?”

Use it Up
If usable latex paint is left over after the project is finished, you can:

  • Use it for touching up your work or store it away for future fixes.
  • Mix small amounts of paint together and use it as an undercoat for future jobs.
  • Donate paint to charities, church groups, community groups, theatre groups, schools or your neighbour.
  • Contact your local recycling centre to see if the cans and lids can be recycled.

Never place liquid paint in the trash or pour it down the drain.

Store It
Prepare your paint for storage: Label the paint can lid with the colour and location where the paint was used. To properly store your paint, make sure you tightly seal the can. First, wipe away any excess paint from the rim. Then cover the can opening with plastic wrap. Put the lid securely in place and tap it down with a mallet. Store the can upside down. If the can is leaking, place it in a leakproof container.

Store paint where temperatures are moderate. Temperature extremes can negatively affect paint and make it unusable. Never allow paint to freeze. Quick-reference your stored cans by brushing a small amount of paint onto the outside surface (body of can or lid) and writing the colour name and number in permanent ink. You can also identify the room or wall that was painted with that colour..

You may also want to create and save a file on your computer of the paints you have placed in storage; that way, if someone tosses it by mistake you still have the information at your fingertips.

Keep paint in a safe location, away from children and pets.

Paint Disposal
Proper paint disposal contributes to a more efficient use of our landfills and, ultimately, safer groundwater and soil. We recommend the following tips:

  • Check local ordinances and waste hauler regulations.
  • Read paint can instructions for proper disposal.
  • Get rid of properly dried latex in your regular household trash; however:
  • Cans with leftover paint should be left open so that the paint dries before disposal; make sure you place the drying cans in a properly ventilated area. Cans with less than a quarter of the paint remaining will require a few days of drying time; cans with larger amounts will take longer, about a week. You can also add shredded newspaper, sand, sawdust, cat litter or solidifier to the paint, which will absorb the excess liquid. These materials also work well in stopping paint spills from spreading on most surfaces.
  • Another solution is to punch holes in the top of the can and then place it in a dry area for a couple of weeks.
  • When the cans are ready to be thrown out, make sure the lids have been removed, to let waste haulers know the paint is dry.

NOTE: Oil-based paints, varnish and paint thinners are generally considered hazardous waste. Check with your municipality about any local ordinances and read label instructions before disposal—another good reason why you never want to spill paint on the back of your paint can label. Only dispose through your locally designated household hazardous waste program.

To locate a recycling facility in your area, you can visit and search their database. They also offer a toll-free, bi-lingual resource at 1-800-Cleanup.

The Valspar Corporation takes environmental sustainability and responsibility seriously. For instance, we’re doing our part both in how we formulate and how we manufacture our paints. Valspar paint and primer products displaying the Clean Air Formula™ logo means that they are low odor and low VOC. Low VOC denotes less than 50 grams of VOC per litre. In addition, we have saved over a million gallons of water usage in our latex plant operations through optimization and reuse programs.

Step 8 – Celebrate

Congratulations! You have successfully transformed your porch.

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