If you're going to tackle this project, be sure to do all the prep work—it's the most important step, says our expert.

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Your porch is the first thing people see when they visit your home, so any mistakes you make while applying paint will definitely stand out to visitors when they come knocking. Failing to do the prep work, purchasing the wrong type of paint, or even applying it incorrectly can create a mess—and an even bigger eyesore. Fortunately, tackling this project on your own sans any errors is as simple as following these tips, courtesy of the experts.

Don't forget to prep.

The most common porch painting mistake that Trevor Leysock, the owner of Handyman Connection of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, sees homeowners make is skimping on the prep work. "It is tempting to paint over wood rot as a quick band-aid, however it will not fix the issue and the color will not last if the surface is not properly prepared," he says. "It is a shame to see a recent paint job fail due to improper preparation—or worse, seeing fresh paint applied over an area that is not structurally sound." As part of the preparation process, Leysock says you need to examine the integrity of all parts of your porch, including the framing and surfaces, before you go in with your brush. "It will help keep you safe and may save a lot of extra expenses down the road," he adds. You should also make sure you've sealed any cracks, removed any chipping paint, and washed away any dust, dirt, or debris.

colorful yellow painted front porch
Credit: Jon Lovette / Getty Images

Choose the right paint type.

Because your porch might see different types of weather, including rain, snow, and freezing temperatures, Leysock recommends consulting with the experts at the local paint store of your choice before you purchase a can. "Rather than the 'big-box' retailers, a dedicated specialist can provide the best options based on their experience and knowledge of your specific region," he says. "Many are also familiar with the style and construction of the surrounding neighborhoods, so they can dial in the best products for your application." That doesn't just include letting you know which type of paint will work best on your porch's surfaces, but also whether you'll need to use a primer or remove any existing paint or stain before getting started.

Create a plan.

Nothing is worse than reaching the end of your home improvement project and realizing that you have—quite literally—painted yourself into a corner. To avoid making a mistake that leaves you waiting for the paint to dry (or walking across a wet porch), Leysock says to devise an exit strategy that allows you to finish the job at either the doorway or your stairs. And don't forget to block off the area or post signage immediately after you have finished. "With many of us receiving more packages these days, you don't want the unsuspecting delivery driver accidentally ruining all of your hard work!" notes Leysock.

Paint like a professional.

According to Leysock, it doesn't matter whether you paint side to side or up and down—just as long as your method is uniform. He says to pick a direction that works for you, and then stick to it until the paint has all been applied. Just remember to start at the top and work your way down. "Doing so will ensure that, as you go along, you'll be covering up and smoothing any splatters that may have dripped down," he concludes.

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