Anyone here paint their own house?

jlc102482January 18, 2013

Has anyone here painted the exterior of their house themselves? I have a 1700-ish square foot house that is currently painted two colors. Some of the paint is beginning to chip and peel (I suspect it wasn't scraped well before the POs had it repainted) and I never liked the color anyway, so I figure this might be the time to give it the 4-color paint scheme I've always wanted. FYI - All of the lead paint on the exterior was removed a long time ago.

Did anyone here paint the exterior of their house themselves and live to tell about it? I don't mind hard work, but I've never done a project of anywhere near this scope. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew and lose my mind in the process!

Here are photos to give you an idea of the (modest) size and height of the house:




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We've always done all our interior and exterior painting--but that's not the same as you're asking, because both our homes were brick first floors with siding for the second floor (or eaves), so we only had the wooden windows, and a few other little things to paint. We did have a problem in one area where DH used that stripper where you paint the goo on, apply a piece of paper, then peel off the stripper and paint--it damaged the wood and paint never really held well on it after that. you might want to stay away from that kind of product. For stripping, we've found that the most effective (and probably most dangerous--be careful if you use this method) way is to burn it off with a torch.

Your home is adorable. And doesn't look as if painting would be all that difficult.

One thing I'd suggest, is picking up one of the inexpensive scaffolds they sell at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. They're usually about $200--but I think right now Tractor Supply is running a special on them for $150. It's a 6' long scaffold, with a sturdy platform--which means you wouldn't have to be balancing on a ladder while managing your paint cans and brushes. got my DH one for Christmas and it's going to be handy for so many projects both inside and out.

What colors are you planning to paint? It's such a dollhouse, it will look lovely when you're done, I'm sure. Have fun and enjoy the results.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 2:38PM
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From what I can tell, most of your house would just need a good cleaning, then repaint. You are lucky in that it is a one storey house--it could be done fairly easily with a ladder or scaffold as suggested. My house, alas, and my fear of heights mean I can't paint higher than the first floor...with the second floor and eaves far out of reach. :)

One other idea is to do one or two sides this summer, and the rest next--and I can't wait to hear what colors you are choosing!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:26PM
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Are those cedar shakes? I'd love to see them natural, but stripping all that down to bare wood would be a huge task. I once helped paint my parents' house, but it was only eaves and soffits. We cleaned with TSP and bleach, scraped or sanded any flaking areas, and primed then painted. Even that small amount of painting was a pretty big job, but I think I was only 12. I might not think it was such a big thing now as an adult.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Yes, I painted my own house about 20 years ago. I'd never do it again.

It was a three-story Victorian, and it took me an entire summer. I purchased scaffolding (cheaper than renting it), and each night, my husband would help me move the scaffolding to a new spot.

It's an obscene amount of work, but you'll save a fortune.

Your house (the one story home) looks quite do-able, but it's still very time consuming and it gets to your shoulders after a few days.

Hard work. Slow work. But gratifying.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 6:32AM
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I heat stripped the entire house & then repainted it. It had so many coats of paints that you couldn't see any details. It took me a couple of summers to do it properly, people would walk by giving me a bad time, telling me to just hire someone, but you can't hire people to do stuff like that, so I did it myself. Not that hard, you just have to keep at it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Oh.........yummy. What an adorable house and boy, could you do a lot with that with the proper paint. Yes I have painted the exterior of my previous house, a smallish two story 1890s farmhouse. On a ladder. Myself. Thankfully, there was a minimum of prep, not a lot of peeling or chips. I think I got it done in a little over a week, and I was in nursing school at the time, IOW a full schedule. I love painting, and we didn't have a lot of money to blow, so I chose to invest it in a good quality paint and went for it. That was thirty five years ago, and I don't get that direction often, but it held up well, because it's not been repainted since and still looks decent.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:45PM
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I'm SO glad to hear people saying that this project looks doable! I was afraid someone was going to say I was completely insane. :) Those are indeed cedar shakes in the house, from the late 1940s or early 1950s. They bother the heck out of me because they're too big for the size of the house, but I'm hoping a good paint job will help me like them more. Replacing them with appropriately sized clapboard is just not in the budget.

I have been playing around with color schemes and have about 5 in mind! Red and green is my favorite Victorian color combo, so I am leaning towards sage green/dark green/maroon/cream with mustard accents if I have any place left to put them. I love crazy color combinations and would really like to do something even bolder, but it's a small house and I don't want to overwhelm it. I'm sure I'll be running potential combinations by everyone here soon! It certainly makes the winter go by faster to keep busy with planning spring projects.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:08AM
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What a cute house! It's totally do-able. I'm just finishing up my house. I stopped painting a week before Christmas, with probably three days left to do. I only did a side a year, on a ladder, by myself. I painted in May, and the fall every year. I also removed the asbestos shingles, scraped and patched holes. The worst part was the three-story back side. I talk about the process at length on my blog (, if you're interested).

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Indeed a beautiful house. I've done 100% of my own exterior painting on my two and half story circa 1810 house for nearly 40 years, so for what it's worth:

The difficult and time consuming part is the preparation. The beautiful moldings on your house will make this task even more labor intensive, but well worth it in the long run.

Avoid heat guns - just too dangerous imho - and chemical strippers - they create a mess and can do serious damage to the underlying wood. Carbide steel scrapers are well worth the extra cost.

If you can, do 1/3 to 1/2 of the house per year until it's done. Work slowly and be patient. Removing the peeling paint on the moldings especially will require care and time.

Buy the best quality paint you can find for your climate. 90% of the job is labor. There's no point in skrimping on paint.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:55AM
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i'm watching this thread with great interest. i have a 2.5 story house, entirely wood siding. the current paint job was completed in 2008 and is quite stable except for a few window sills.

how long are you finding between recoats? so if you do 1/3 of the house per year for three years, how many 'years off' do you then have?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 8:42AM
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In the middle of the work ourselves. DW and I are trying to do everything and do it right. Our home is only 100 years young, but in an historic district. Overall the previous paint is in great shape, but we are having to repair a little rot. Would love to use cedar or cypress, but 16' boards of 1x10 stock are $65+ each. So far we have one side, the front porch and the side porch which all had the worst to do. Reframed all the windows, and will do the mullions after we paint the field. Completely resided the side porch and rebuilt the front porch taking it down to bare wood and studs. Even rebuilt some of the columns which had begun to rot from the inside/bottom. Do it yourself. Quotes for our house ran over $5K, and seeing other work done and redone in the 'hood tells me I would not have liked what they did.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:00AM
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regarding old siding

on my house, the back porch is new. the 100 year old planks are arrow straight, then they meet up with the new planks. compared to the old, the new planks are very, very wavy. so there is a lot to be said for repairing what you can of the old.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:33AM
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civ IV fan: I would say 6 to 10 years is a fair average before the need for repainting. Areas mainly in shade last longer than those subject to direct sun or alternating sun and shade.

I should point out that the siding is 95% the original cedar clapboards and that there is no insulation in the exterior walls. Two houses of similar vintage nearby need repainting much more frequently because of paint failure issues due largely to interior moisture exacerbated, imho, by blown in insulation.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 5:20AM
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I just noticed the cat admiring your work, Whit461. LOL. Precious.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:45PM
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What an adorable house! My DH and I completely repainted our 1881 Cape with an el with an el with a barn 10 years ago. We changed the color from drab tan to historic yellow, and paid attention to trim detail. I agree that carbide scrapers are the bomb. We are now working on re-painting a side or more a year. It is very doable in my opinion, and you control the end product.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:48PM
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YES! I painted my house this summer, every brushstroke myself. I am 49 yrs old & it is literally my proudest accomplishment. I started in April and finished in Oct.

What worked for me was to do a section at a time. My house has lots of angles that split it up I to discrete sections. I would power wash, scrape, patch, prime and 2 coats of paint on one section before moving to the next. I also painted all the trim on the section before moving on.

I have a Cape Cod so I was able to do most from an extension ladder. I did buy roof jacks to paint the dormer on the back. I was just too scared on the ladder because I had to stretch to reach it.

I will try to take pics tomorrow and post.

I really encourage you to give it a try. The worst that could happen is you'd find it to be too much and hire someone to finish it. Talk to people at paint stores. I got a lot of conflicting advice. I chose to follow the advice of an older gentleman at a paint store who retired from painting g houses after 40 years & works T the store PT now. He told me exactly what primer and paint to use. It turned out FANTASTIC.

Another tip - I didn't have a lot of $ so I bought the primer and paint one gallon at a time. I just went back when I needed the next gallon. It stretched out the big expense over 6 months. I also didn't have to store the paint. I just had on hand what I was using.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:15PM
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