How much does painting your house cost??

sarahandbraySeptember 25, 2006

After reading post after post about not using vinyl siding on old houses, I'm a little worried about our choices a few years down the road. Our house is relatively big, by old house standards, I think--about 3100sf on the two main levels with an enormous attic and full basement.

In the 50's, it was the demo house in the area for the "new aluminum siding." Nothing has been done to it since. We're hoping the original wood siding and scalloping are in decent shape underneath when we get enough money to get this old aluminum off.

I want to try to preserve and paint it--DH says it will cost a FORTUNE, have to be done every 5 years or so, and we just won't be able to afford it. He wants white vinyl (I know, shudder!!) with green shutters. I want to try to restore the wood, if possible, although blown in insulation holes have probably damaged the wood somewhat.

I've shared these pics dozens of times, but here they are--and you can see the wood siding and scalloping in the second picture from the 40's (we think).

Lastly, is there any other siding that looks more "authentic" than vinyl, but has less upkeep (and COST!) than wood?


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Wow, it's a beautiful home and would cost some $$ to paint. No question.

But what a shame to cover up the shingle detail. You can put me in the camp of vinyl haters.

As far as alternative siding goes, the only other thing that I can think of would be Hardie siding--a fiber cement siding that is extremely durable and will hold paint for something like 20 years. It would still cover up all the nice details of your home and is pretty spendy and not a DIY job.

You can paint the aluminum, you know....

I couldn't tell you how much to paint a house. We had 3 bids on our 2500 sq. ft. house. They ranged anything from $2,500 to $11,000. We never had it done. Hubby scrapes and paints what he can in the meantime.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 9:46PM
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Chris Stromberger

Ditto. We have a brick house with wood only on the eaves and fascia. 2400 sq ft. Bids from $4,000 to $10,000. We are doing it ourselves now :)

That house would be much more I'm afraid, but is beautiful! Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 11:56PM
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We just put fiber cement siding on our house -- it looks nice. It was less expensive than wood and, as we're in CA, probably will be a better bet over time since termites won't eat it and it won't burn.

There are at least two manufacturers -- Hardie and CertainTeed. It comes in various plank widths, and Hardie comes as individual shingles too; CertainTeed's narrowest option matches the "before" pictures of your house fairly closely, I think.

I just fished my brochures out of the recycling bin to check -- they both appear to offer smooth and textured (pseudo-woodgrain), dutchlap and beaded siding. There are various shingle options: perfection (all the exact same width), random square straight edge, random square staggered edge, half-round (looks like your scalloping) and octagon (offered only by CertainTeed).

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 12:56AM
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Is there a problem with the current siding? Of the two pics, I think the siding looks better.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 8:17AM
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Fori is not pleased

Where are you located? Unless you're on the beach, you won't need repainting every 5 years!

Is there a spot where you can peek beneath and see what it looks like?

Maybe you can do small bits instead of the whole thing: The third storey/attic level could probably be exposed and give you a big enough job to keep you busy. And that level might not have the holes from blown-in insulation (the holes might actually be under the old clapboards on the rest of it, if you're lucky).

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 11:14AM
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions! I don't really like the aluminum because it covers up the details a bit and you can still tell they were supposed to be there (i.e. the way the second story flares out). It's really faded and chaulky--I'm wondering if you could powerwash the chaulkiness away and then paint it with a spray-gun...that might be a possibility as a temporary solution.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 5:26PM
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I agree with you, Sarah. Your house is beautiful now and I think it would be even more stunning if you could reclaim some of those gorgeous details. Those scallops, YUM! There is nothing compared to the original. Please fight against the vinyl siding, it strips away so much character!

I'm not sure how much you like DIY, but we painted our 2300 sq. ft. house with a huge attic ourselves. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all easy, and hubby is very handy and handled the high spots, but we did it. Let me tell you, that is the most rewarding thing I've ever done, seeing an old chipped paint job suddenly new and shining again. Now I know it was done right and it should last more than 5 years. We already plan next time to tackle one side of the house at a time (maybe one side per year) when it needs another round.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 7:35PM
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I know we CAN do it ourselves...we're both relatively young (28 & 36), but I live with a perfectionist, tortoise-paced DH and I have this fear we'd be the house perpetually half painted with scaffolding on it all the time.

Then again, we're both teachers, and do not have 10K to pay someone to paint our house!! Yikes!! The bill from the plumber today was $2400 to do the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room plumbing...and now DH is saying, "Well, we probably could have done that..." Yeah, maybe over the course of one year what he did in 28 hours!!

I shouldn't worry, because the exterior of the house is the least of our worries right and bath first!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 9:28PM
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You may be pleasantly surprised to find wood in very good condition under that siding. One of the late Federal town homes in my neighborhood had a section of siding ripped off when a truck took down some wires attached to the house. All of the old aluminum siding was removed and only two lower rows of the old "German" siding needed to be replaced. All of the other details and profiles were enhanced by the siding removal. Unfortunately, the couple decided to reside the home in vinyl despite offers of help and funding to return to the original. I wish I had taken pictures to compare original to vinyl.

We did almost all of our own painting. I did hire a painter to do the eaves on the sides where the roof peaks. I think painting your house over a one summer off from school time frame could be too ambitious and overwhelming. Is there a back porch area where you could do a test side? I don't know anything about aluminum removal, but I'll bet one of these forums has an expert.

Maybe you could be really nice to the industrial arts teacher and then ask for help to replicate that porch! That would be the icing on the cake for me. Do you have stacks of shutters somewhere on the property? Are the windows original to the house?

That house looks like a Christmas present just waiting to be unwrapped!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 5:09AM
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Windows are ALL original, except the two in the kitchen (back right corner--can't see it from the photo), wavy glass and all. About half of the pulleys still work great--other half are broken.

We only have about 5 or 6 of the original wood shutters left over. Hoping to either make or get repros. of them in the future. In April of '05, our original barn burned down (would have taken the house too, if the wind hadn't shifted to the South!), and we lost remnants of the old porch railing we were saving to have copied and most of the shutters. Lost one interior door as well. Everything else really is in good shape in the house. You can see the charred red building just peeking out behind the house.

We have a lot of family in the area, so I'm sure we'll get lots of help if and when we take down the siding. At least it's an old family house (DH's grandpa), so we have lots of pictures of the structure from the 40's and 50's.

Thanks again for posting!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 1:51PM
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After removing the original depending on condition of current paint on claps, you may have to: strip claps down to barewood, repair rotted claps and trim, prepare surface, prime, caulk, putty nails, first coat paint and second coat paint.

Don't want to kill you enthusiasm, but it is a LOT of work. Consider removing the siding and stripping paint yourself. Let a prof painter finish the job.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 8:54AM
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Your house is beautiful! It would be amazing with the exterior restored.

If you DO decide to pull off your aluminum siding, it's worth it to haul it to a metal recycling center. When I removed my aluminum siding from my 1920s bungalow (and it was MUCH smaller than your house), I got over $200 for the aluminum. And that was five years ago.

You may want to consider doing one side per year to make the cost more manageable. Pulling the siding off is something you could definitely do yourself with scaffolding and a good nail puller/pry bar. I did the painting too, but like I said, my house was much smaller.

If you get a good paint job with really thorough prep, you should definitely be able to get 10 years out of it. Pay for good quality paint and top notch prep, you won't regret it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 8:59AM
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Sarahandbray, I so understand your pain! We just bought a 1929 English style house, and it is the only one on the street that has been murdered by aluminum siding... that's why, I suspect, we could afford the house! Every time I look at the siding my heart falls.

We, too, are trying to decide what to do with our horrible siding. We're probably going to paint it. We have no idea what's under the siding, and as this is only a starter house, we hate to spend a lot on it. But, oh, how I hate that siding. Poor, poor little house.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 11:18AM
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First, I love your house! It would be a great service to all who see it and love it if you could get it back to its 1940's appearance. Around here in CT, painting is
not cheap because the price of labor is so high.

Yesterday we got a postcard in the mail from a service called Liquacoat of Connecticut - LLC. They sell something called CHIC Liquid Vinyl coating system. I don't know if it it worth looking into or not. They claim the product lasts 10 times longer than paint and it comes in many colors. I found a website, linked below.
As with everything, I would check them out completely before contracting with them. My guess is that this is more expensive than paint, but may slow down the maintenance on the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vinyl Coating option

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 12:21AM
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I just painted my house myself. I have a brother in law that does billing for a store that sells Ben Moore paint, and the store owner gives me a pretty hefty discount (contractor pricing maybe? its at least 25% under retail)

We did the painting ourselves, with the help of some friends and relatives. I pressure washed the house, then scraped anything that was still loose, and primed any bare wood. Once it was all prepped we had a "painting party" - cooked some food on the grill and had about 10 people over to help paint (most of them have some painting experience so I was not worried about the quality of their work). After a weekend we had it almost completely done - I just had to finish our detached single-car garage the next weekend (the house and attached garage was mostly done after the painting party).

I would say I spent around $800 on paint (part of my house is brick). I took two vacation days to do some prep work, as well as some time after work and on the weekend, and maybe $100 for some food for the workers. I would guess that it would have cost me at least $5000 to pay to have it painted.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 8:37AM
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Bumping for some more responses! Any thoughts? Contractor tonight called this house "3900 sf" as per getting it sided (I think it must take into account the attic). Ouch!

I'm not really going to get into the discussion about vinyl right now, but I have had two estimates for the dreaded vinyl (gasp!) and they're ranging from 27,000-33,000 to make it look as close to the B&W picture as possible--thick trim, custom millwork, scalloping, etc.

I just get the feeling that it would be at least 15-20K to repair the wood siding, scrape, prime and paint. I think to be fair to myself and my decisions, I'm going to have to get a painting company or two out here to give me an estimate.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 9:53PM
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I think you owe it to yourself to get estimates on painting. It's the only fair way to compare it to the cost of vinyl and make an informed decision. Besides, it can't hurt to get the estimate. If you don't get it, you will always wonder.

For what it's worth, I would get a couple. I couldn't believe the difference in the estimates for painting our house (of course we got what we paid for but that's another story).

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 12:11PM
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We just did this to the exterior of our house (uh, ok, we paid to have it done LOL) - not removed any siding, but scraped, replaced rotted boards and soffits, puttied, sanded, 2 coats of paint. We did NOT take it down to the original wood, which would have been way out of our budget. Our house is relatively small I guess, 2 stories, but with a mansard roof so the actual area done wasn't huge - and it was $11k. We used a premium cedar to replace boards as needed (per requirement of our historic district commission) so that probably added to the cost. It was a LOT of work. Carpenters first, it took them about a week to get all the wood replaced that needed it. We had our painting crew (3-4 guys at a time) going behind the carpenters - priming the new boards, chipping off bubbles and chips, sanding, puttying areas of chipped paint to make them look smooth, sanding and then priming those, 2 coats of paint (including the gutters) - and it took them 3 weeks.

We live next to the ocean and so can expect to paint our home every 5-7 years - FYI your paint will resist peeling/bubbling if it is done RIGHT. If not, it will fail sooner.

I personally cringe at the thought of any siding. If it were my house, I'd do the siding removal myself, then pay a carpenter to fix areas needed. Then if I couldn't hire painters, I'd round up my entire family and make them help. ;-)




    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 2:08PM
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I hand stripped, filled, sanded, primed & double top coated our house. First I had to remove the asbestos siding. DH & I removed the siding first. Then I did all the work on the house. Although not as big as yours, I didn't find it completely overwhelming.

I did one side per year, set up scaffolding & completed each section, doing all 5 steps before moving the scaffolding. We bought used scaffolding & sold it when we were done.

I found my motivation by saving $10,000 - $20,000 in after tax dollars, along with being able to say that I did it! :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:26PM
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We had our 3600 square ft home taken down to bare wood, primed w/two coats of primer and then two coats of paint for $12,000. Yikes!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:34PM
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Thanks for the responses! And the pics are great!

Don't get me wrong--I prefer wood siding. But I also am trying to be a bit of a realist here--we are working hard to preserve the inside of this house as best as possible, and we're not really in a historic area, to be quite honest. There are some old homes, for sure--and there's a lot of history in the area--but there's such a diversity of homes in our little hamlet--lots of 20's/30's unassuming bungalows, some 80's ranches/bi-levels, etc. It's not Cambridge/Sturbridge/Provincetown/etc.

I am following two leads as of today for funding to help with this project--whether we go the repair/paint route or the new siding route. And I am going to get quotes from painters--although, I would imagine it would be tough to get a quote without seeing the shape of the wood underneath. And we're not unwrapping this thing of its aluminum cocoon until we know we're actually going ahead with the project.

I'll keep you posted!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:40PM
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Have the painters give you an estimate for painting the exterior as it is now (with vinyl siding). As others have pointed out, it can be done well by the right painter. My mom and dad had their siding painted and it's surprisingly lovely. We have a '39 cape with the 30's version of hardiplank siding (concrete composite) We painted when we first moved in 11 years ago for a cost of $7K and painted again just this past fall at a cost of $10K...
Even if you don't want to paint the siding, the number they give you for doing so will be a good data'll know that the cost of painting AND pulling the siding off will be higher. Get at least 3 estimates--it can vary widely. (Make sure you have them specify the level of prep work they are going to do--that's often the difference between a 3K estimate and a 10K estimate!)
It's a beautiful house--and you have lots of competing priorities--I think the realist approach you're on is the right one. Pace yourselves financially--it's going to be lovely no matter which way you go with the exterior.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 10:04PM
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I agree, you are being realistic. Do any of us realize the money pits we are entering when we buy old houses? :)

I just painted my house - 1,000sq ft - for about $4500. I also had to have a ton of boards replaced - though this wasn't as expensive (maybe $1000 for materials and labor, but I didn't use fancy wood, just treated plywood). From what I have read, you can find a real disaster under aluminum siding if moisture has been trapped inside. If you decide to take the aluminum off you'll have to really commit to taking it off and the expense involved with potentially having to replace lots of wood.

If I could afford it I would go Hardiboard, with their already coloured boards. That way you never have to paint, and no problem with rot. I'm sure that would be a massive cost to do on a house the size of yours though.

Otherwise if you and your husband have time, you can tackle the painting yourselves, and have a professional do the wood replacement. It would save a lot of money but it is a tremendous amount of work - as one previous poster described with the scraping, sanding, puttying, etc... You could probably also hire a couple of guys on an hourly basis to help you with the scraping/painting/etc...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 4:02AM
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If you leave the siding up, I would not not not power wash it. Water can get under the siding and rot what's there...including the basic structure of the house. In addition, since you have original windows, you might really want to consider the risk of breaking them with the strength of power washing.

If I had your house, I'd remove the siding one side at a time over 4 years and DH and I would repair/paint, keeping the original wood. I'm not at all surprised by the size of the estimates you've had for total house painting. In addition, the more colors one ends up with, the higher the cost.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 8:33AM
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Oh, we're not going to power wash the siding--it's chaulking aluminum and the white color comes off in your hands if you touch it! And we're very happy with the original windows, so we won't do anything to jeopardize them. Although the aluminum storm windows, I don't exactly have a huge love for, but we're not replacing them at the current time.

We're just sitting in wait mode to see if this funding comes through. I know some have mentioned the side-at-a-time route, but I don't think that's something that's realistic for our lives at this point. My husband is a huge gardener, so his "downtime" is spent in the garden in the he plays in a professional marching band all over during the summer, so any extra time is pretty precious. I really do not want to spend my time away from our little kids up on scaffolding 30ft. up--I know that much!! We already have to divvy up our time on interior home improvement projects--the kids barely saw their dad while he was working all of President's week on the bathroom! The house is a priority--but not our only priority--and it certainly takes a back seat to our kids, that's for sure!!

Even if we do vinyl or some other type of siding (and I'm forever blacklisted from this message board!), I have already made it clear that some of the trim is to be wrapped and some parts are to be left and painted (which one company will do). None of the trim will be cut--they promised me that.

So, if we win the Lottery years down the road and want to pay someone to fix/paint the wood siding, we can do that!!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 9:54AM
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Sarah...maybe this applies somewhat to you, but I found this on John Leeke's website, which I am studying to memory in gearing up to do my window restoration. It's about vinyl.

John Leeke's Historic HomeWorks(tm)

Vinyl Siding

Q: "I purchased an 1840's house in northwestern N.J. in 1991 which has been a great deal of fun to restore. However, I have been ignoring its largest problem: the house is covered in a disgusting, light-green vinyl siding. There was evidence of termites in the basement when I bought the house. I exterminated the termites and have seen no evidence of them since '91. Should I consider painting the vinyl siding? What is the advisability of ripping vinyl siding off, considering I don't know what's underneath. Is there any way to tell whether or not the clapboard underneath is damaged, or is continuing to be damaged."

A: You face the two common problems with vinyl siding: it is not "maintenance free" and it hides conditions beneath. I am now seeing many vinyl siding projects that have 12 to 18 year's age on them being painted due to poor appearance. To improve deteriorating appearance vinyl siding is sometimes washed with high pressure water. This must be done carefully with a downward blast to prevent loading the wall with moisture through the ventilation slots. When cleaning does not help the vinyl siding contractors' response to deteriorating appearance is to replace the siding. So the time proven actual maintenance method for vinyl is little or no maintenance until it fails and then the very high maintenance treatment of replacement. If you have a term of interest in the building that is less than the life of the vinyl product, this approach may make economic sense to you. Even if you plan to sell before the vinyl needs to be replaced vinyl's short-term economic advantage may be limited. Vinyl siding is now becoming recognized as a liability by some astute real estate buyers, because its long-term life is not as cost effective some other siding materials and because it can hide serious problems.
Vinyl siding hides changing conditions of the wood and paint underneath. You need to investigate conditions underneath the vinyl siding. Begin by looking at the exterior surfaces of the siding for visible signs of buckling, trails of light tan insect wood dust sifting out of the vent slots of the siding, etc.. Suspect underlying damage in the walls at inside corners where two roofs drain into one location, and north and east walls in particular which are susceptible to moisture decay problems. Look for major cracks in the foundation which might have telegraphed up the walls underneath the siding.
As an historic building investigator, I use moisture meters to sense high moisture content in the wood underneath the vinyl. This is quickly done and does not damage the vinyl. You can also spot moisture problems by looking for black streaks of dirt left by water from cornice leaks at the top of the wall. Locations of high moisture usually indicate trouble spots.
Selectively remove sections of siding where you find these signs of trouble and where you saw the termites. There are special tools for removing vinyl siding so you might want to hire a vinyl siding contractor. It can usually be done carefully enough to put the vinyl siding back up without damage. Look for dampness, peeling paint and decayed wood. Paint peeling to bare wood indicates there has been high moisture, which could also have lead to decay. Look for dampness that indicates the moisture problem is current and not historic. You might need to remove the old siding in areas of concern. This should be done by a finish carpenter or cabinetmaker. Again, it can sometimes be done carefully enough to reapply it without much damage. Look for deep decay in sheathing boards and the structural members beneath such as sills, studs and plates.

Here is a link that might be useful: Historic Homeworks

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 5:54PM
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I am undergoing the same exact project now but on a much smaller scale. I have a 1600 sq foot cape that is half brick. The top half is cedar lap covered in aluminum. So far it has taken me two weekends to remove the aluminum. Two weekends to pull nails and fill nail holes and one weekend to sand and prime one side of the house. The home was built in 1950 and the aluminum siding must have gone on soon after. The cedar was mostly ingreat shape and only had one coat of paint. If you do it yourself it is not an expensive project. Just ALOT of blood sweat and tears. So far I have spent $50 on primer, $10 on drop cloths, $7 on a siding removal tool that didnt work so I used my wonder bar, $15 on a paint brush, $20 on MH patch for the nail holes, and a couple of bucks for some sandpaper. You'll also need a nice mask since you def have some lead paint on there as well.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 1:51AM
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After receiving quotes for painting my 3000 sq. foot Craftsman home with 90 years of old paint build up ($6000 just to paint, up to $21000 to strip and repaint), I decided to tackle it myself. I've done one side a year for the past 3 years, and will finish the rest of it this summer. While I don't have vinyl siding, my old cedar siding was in pretty bad shape from years of neglect and the previous owner just slapping paint on top of it. I found out much of it was repairable with only a few boards requiring replacement. I rented scaffolding, bought a Silent Paint Remover and 2 sanders, and started stripping the paint to the bare wood, using appropriate precautions due to the lead paint issue. I then sanded, primered, repainted with 2 coats and it looks fantastic.
With the quotes I received, I figured I've saved over $18,000 doing it myself. So far I've spent $700 on the stripping tool, $800 on paint and $200 on supplies (brushes, drop cloths, 2 sanders, rollers, etc.) Yes, it takes a while and I'm really tired of doing this, but it looks so good and I've preserved the house rather nicely.
All my neighbors love the house and think I'm nuts for tackling the job, but people walk by and comment on how nice it looks all the time. Even the gay guys across the street copied my paint scheme and colors (I think that's a compliment)!
If I had the summers off, and was two people instead of just me....... I think you could get it done in 2 years if you tackled this yourself. The vinyl siding could be recycled at a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a tax write-off. Have your friends join in to help you paint, or rent a sprayer and paint the exterior with that. All in all it's a ton of work, but I'm a huge fan of DIY'ing things and I'm sure you could do it!
Here are some photos of my job:
Stripping the old paint:


Cedar before stripping

Cedar after sanding



    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 2:06AM
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WOW!!! NICE paint job "oldhousegal". That looks lovely!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:15PM
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Oldhousegal....want to come spend the summer at my house? heh heh I promise I'd only chain you to the outside during daylight hours....

I was going to use collegepro...but I was afraid they'd use spam as a filler in their paint. (dude, hint on spamming...don't claim you "used" a company, and have that company in your sign on name) LOL One figures too many paint fumes might have kept someone out of college heh heh

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 4:22PM
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I just painted our 2800 sf two story for about $700. The gun rental was $100 and the paint and supplies were a little over $600. I used ICI (Glidden?) 450. My wife is out of town for a couple days and I painted it without consulting on color. So, the cost might double when she gets home. haha...

I spent an entire day brushing the exterior with a wire brush and then another half day masking. The gun took about 4 hours for painting and one hour for cleanup.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 2:58AM
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paul - did you back roll?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:20AM
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I read here constant references of aluminum siding. In the 50's steel was one of the first siding applications. The only difference is prep before paint. Simple test is put a magnet on the siding, if it stays it's steel if not it's alum. Both will oxidize over time.

If I may suggest you do a combination of painting the existing and marrying in some architectural element details with Hardiboard. A compromise as well as less expensive than full restoration.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 4:01PM
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