July 17, 2023

When to hire a professional

The paint is peeling, the color is fading, and it’s time to update the look of your home. Painting the exterior might be a money-saving project. Some houses are easy to paint, others more complex. Before you position that ladder, you should review equipment, safety, and stress factors. Exteriors on a simple, box-shaped house make for more accessible work. Older, more elevated homes are the domain of a professional.

When to hire a professional
Exteriors on a simple, box-shaped house make painting more accessible. How tall is your home? Older, multi-story homes are the domain of a professional. Homes of two stories or more with dormers, gingerbread, or turrets require substantial preparation time. These architectural details are complicated and may indicate that a professional is needed.

Any intricate designs?

On more ornate homes, accessibility is also an issue.Ladders won’t get you into their many high nooks and crannies. Professional painters have the experience and the correct equipment to inspect, remedy, and paint in awkward positions. If your home has delicate detailing, decide if you are the type of person who enjoys doing detailed work. Those who prefer only painting the broad strokes might be better off leaving the complicated work to a pro.

Flat or sloping ground?

Look at the grade, the finished surface slant of the land around the house, for ladder positioning. It’s a bonus if all elevations have flat levels up to the house. Walkouts with slopes make it difficult to position ladders safely. Check if obstacles like trees, shrubs, decks, fences, vines, or electric wires will be in the way. 

How much prep work?

Examine your house for potential problems that may require extensive prep work. Wood rot, mildew, severe peeling, or alligatoring(the large formation or pattern of shallow and deep cracks) are typical siding problems. Other issues are cracked window panes, crumbling glaze, and loose caulking around the trim.

Do you have lead paint?

Homes built before 1978 are likely to have paint containing lead. If you decide to paint your home yourself, you must learn how to handle and remove it safely.

Tools, materials

Each home project will be unique. If you have determined your needs and own the equipment, your decision may be more manageable. But be sure to price out the rental or purchase tools and equipment. Then compare the price of everything you need to rent and buy to estimates from at least three local professional companies who will bring all of it with them.

Lifts and ladders

Do you need ladders, scaffolding, planks, or lifts? While a one-story home may only require a ladder, a multi-story house requires taller extension ladders, scaffolding, planks, or a lift. 

Prep materials

Preparing the house is the first step, and cleaning it is the number one job. Basic cleaning supplies include scrub brushes, pails, bleach for mildew, a cleaning agent such as TSP( trisodium phosphate), and a hose with a spray nozzle. Consider a power washer to clean exterior surfaces. They do an excellent job of removing loose paint and surface dirt, but they don’t usually remove heavy chalk created by the oxidation of the previous coatings. Check into hand and eye protection for this equipment and follow the guidelines. Have canvas and plastic drop cloths, rags, and masking tape around critical areas such as windows. 

Paint removers

If you have any blistering or peeling paint areas, a good amount of scraping may be ahead. Carbide blade scrapers will be needed if a fair amount of scraping is involved. Also, use an old, dry paintbrush to sweep the dust away. Just be sure to use dust masks to protect your lungs. Pressure washing should never be used to take off paint because it can ruin wood siding.Chemical removers may be necessary if the paint must be softened to be removed, as is the case with many older homes with multiple coats of paint. Power sanding can be dangerous because it can release many toxic elements into the environment.


This is required to seal cracks around windows and doors and maintain flexibility and adhesion over many years. There are many types of caulk available.

Paint applicators

Quality brushes are made for latex, oil, or varnish paints. The brush hairs are typical of varying lengths and taper neatly. They have a ferrule or band that holds the bristles tightly to the handle. Quality brushes hold more paint, don’t lose hair, paint more smoothly, and are easier to use than cheaper alternatives. Spray equipment is possible if the house has a lot of flat surfaces with few doors or windows. Sprayers require extensive cleaning. Rollers can be a huge time saver.


You will need to prime any new, severely weathered, or problem areas to ensure a proper seal of the surface and a smooth surface for the paint. A primer does not need to be used on a clean, dull, coated surface in good condition. Choose a primer geared specifically for your job. For example, if your paint is acrylic latex, you want to use an acrylic resin primer.


For most jobs, you will want acrylic latex paint. On the inside, you can get by with lesser quality, but you’ll wish to use top-of-the-line brushes for holding up to outside conditions. One hundred percent acrylic latex is the standard. Quality acrylic paint adheres best and holds its color much better than less expensive paints.

Assess your experience and painting skills

If you have never painted even an interior surface, an exterior is probably not a good place to start. If you have painted an interior and had many problems or hated it, this is an excellent signal to call a pro. There are techniques and tricks to learn along the way. When issues are discovered, knowing how to remedy them is vital. 

Have you painted before?

Knowledge of painting techniques is essential. People tend to over-brush, extending paint too far and not putting on a thick enough coat. Sprayers can put on more color in a hurry, but they require skill to use. 

Can you physically handle the job?

Being able to take on the job physically is a consideration. The mind may be willing, but painting an entire house requires a certain amount of fitness. It’s physical work and takes the arm and upper body strength. Climbing up and down ladders for prep and painting also requires stamina.

Will you have time for the needed prep work?

Expect 30–50% of the project time on proper prepping. You won’t want to skimp on surface preparation. Most exterior paint failures are due to poor surface preparation or structural defects that lead to water damage. Extra time spent on stripping the outer surface is almost always worth it. If the house has signs of water damage, the damage must be repaired, and the water source must be corrected before painting. Check caulking around windows; replace it if necessary. Check the gutters and roof. Roof leaks, ice dams, and plugged or leaking gutters can lead to moisture problems in the exterior walls that affect paint.

How much time do you really have?

Painting a house takes a lot of time for an individual. A more extended timetable will be necessary if you can only handle a project fora few hours daily. Also, keep weather and change of seasons in mind since you might be mid-project as the air gets damper. A project should be kept clean and dry. Typically, paint needs to dry for 24 hours. Time available from work, time away from family and family duties, and household budget should also be considered. 

It's your decision

Think it through and avoid shortcuts. In the end, it pays to protect your home. The cost of hiring a pro may be lower than you think, especially if you value your leisure time. Evaluate not only the dollar estimate but on how confident the contractor appears. Get references and followup on them. Ask those homeowners how long the project took, the crew’s professionalism, if they stayed on budget, and how happy they are with the results.

Craftsmanship, quality, and knowledge often justify the additional cost of hiring a professional painting contractor. Better craftsmanship lasts longer, and knowledgeable choices (color, texture, and specifications)help accomplish the correct result.

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