How to Seal & Paint Exterior Plywood

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When painting exterior plywood, it's important to take the proper steps toward preparation before you even think about applying any paint. If you want your paint project to last, you must thoroughly seal the exterior plywood to protect it from varying weather and temperatures. If you're planning to paint exterior plywood, the following steps will help guide you through the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw or tree trimmers
  • Latex caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Latex primer
  • 80- to 120-grit sandpaper
  • Three- to four-inch paintbrush
  • Roller frame
  • Paint roller cover
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Putty knife
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Pressure washer
  • Razor blade or knife
  • Rags
  • Trim away any vegetation that may interfere with the painting process.

  • Scrape away any loose or peeling paint with the putty knife.

  • Use the 80- to 120-grit sandpaper to sand away any remaining loose or peeling paint chips. Use the sandpaper to smooth any rough or splintering edges. Skip these first three steps if the wood is new, raw and unpainted.

  • Wash away any dirt, dust and mud with the pressure washer. Allow the exterior plywood surface to dry completely.

  • Use a knife or a razor blade to cut the tip from the tube of caulk. Insert the tube of caulk into the caulking gun with the tube nozzle pointing away from the trigger. Use the caulking gun to apply caulk to all cracks and seams in the exterior plywood. Use your index finger to smooth the caulk seams. Wipe away any excess caulk using a rag.

  • Cover any areas you do not want painted using the blue painter's tape.

  • Open the container of latex primer. Pour the latex primer into the five-gallon bucket, filling it about half full. Slide the paint roller cover onto the roller frame. Dip the roller into the five-gallon bucket of primer. Roll the primer onto the exterior plywood. Continue applying the primer, moving from left to right, until the exterior plywood is completely covered. Be careful to smooth out any runs or drips. Use the paintbrush to apply primer to any detailed or hard-to-reach areas inaccessible to the roller.

  • Pour any unused primer paint back into its original container and reseal it. Wash the paint roller cover, roller frame, five-gallon bucket and the paintbrush with warm water. Shake the paint roller cover and the paintbrush vigorously to remove any excess water.

  • Open the container of latex paint. Pour the paint into the five-gallon bucket, filling it about half full. Slide the cleaned paint roller cover onto the roller frame. Dip the roller into the five-gallon bucket of paint. Roll the paint onto the exterior plywood. Continue painting, moving from left to right, until the exterior plywood is completely covered. Be careful to smooth out any runs or drips. Use the paintbrush to paint any detailed or hard-to-reach areas inaccessible to the roller. Allow the surface to dry. Apply another coat if necessary.

  • Pour any unused latex paint back into its original container and reseal it. Wash the paint roller cover, roller frame, five-gallon bucket and the paintbrush with warm water. Shake the paint roller cover and the paintbrush vigorously to remove any excess water. Allow these items to dry, then put them away.

  • Remove the painter's tape from the work after the paint has thoroughly dried.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never try to seal exterior plywood with spackle as this will result in cracking. Only use latex caulking as this offers the flexibility necessary in changing weather and temperatures.
  • Always use appropriate eye protection, such as safety glasses, when painting. This prevents droplets of paint from splashing into your eyes.

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