Many people don't enjoy painting: the taping, the monotonous strokes, the sore shoulders, the hand cramps, the mess. But there's one thing we all can agree on: Boy, a little paint sure makes a big difference.
Painting your house's exterior is laborious, but makes a big statement. Photo: Getty Images
So, if you're looking to make a big change to your home's exterior, what better way to do it than to give it a fresh coat of paint? Your house will look and feel brand new. We're talking major curb appeal, which adds to the value of your home.
So the question is: Is this a task that you're willing to DIY? Or would you rather spend a ton of money to have someone do it for you? Let's take a look at the costs of each approach. Then you decide: is it worth the sweat equity?
Painting your exterior is about a 3 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10. Skill aside, the actual process is laborious and intense. First, you have to prepare the home for paint
, which requires scraping off any old paint
, power washing
, and removing exterior fixtures like lights or shutters. This is the most trying part of the process, and the longest. Then, you have to wash it and of course, paint it. The tasks are definitely doable, but make no mistake: this is a job for a committed DIYer. And a brave one, too. If the idea of getting on a 28-foot extension ladder
or standing on scaffolding all day makes you queasy, you might want to consider bringing on a professional.
If you hire house-painting professionals you'll likely pay somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000
for an average single-story, three-bedroom home
, but for two-story homes up to 3500-square-feet
can go up to more than $5,500.
This is for labor costs, but you'll still have to spring for the paint, which is $25 to $50 per gallon. A gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet, so if you have a 1500-square-foot home, you will need about 5 gallons of paint and primer
. That is at least $250
, to start.
If you're up to the challenge, choose a day when low humidity, low winds, and temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Farenheit are in the forecast. Avoid painting areas of the house under direct sunlight; paint in the shade, and follow the shade as the sunlight shifts. Also, consider the time commitment: Removing paint, pressure washing, priming, and painting are the major steps in the process. All together, it can take anywhere from a few days to a week.
But the money saved can make it very worth your while. Painting the exterior of your house can easily be done for less than $1,000. If you can borrow the major tools and already have a lot of the materials, it can cost as little as a few hundred dollars! Let's break down the costs of DIYing this popular home improvement project.
Airless paint sprayer. Photo: The Home Depot
To do the job yourself and save money, you'll have to rent some special tools
. (If you have reason to believe you'll use these items again in the foreseeable future, then go ahead and purchase them.)
: Don't try to scrape every little last bit of paint off your exterior when this handy tool can do it for you in a jiffy. Plus, it gets all that extra dirt and grime off, too. About $50 to $70 per day.
Or, you can spring for one for about $299
: Have mercy on your hands! A paint sprayer will save you so much time and pain when painting large expanses. Approximately $70 per day.
For most two-story homes, a ladder just isn't going to do the job. Renting scaffolding
will save you so much time and energy. About $15 to $50 per day, depending on the size.
Tool and Material Purchases:
These are pricey, but they'll get the bulk of your house's paint off effectively. $60
This hand tool, with interchangeable blades, will save you a lot of agony getting off some of that old paint. $28
This knife's long, narrow blade comes in handy for more scraping and evening out the surface and crevices. $7
After removing all the old paint, attach sandpaper to this long-handled tool to sand the house's surface. This allows the new paint to better adhere to the surface.
Keep a generous amount of sandpaper on hand, so you can keep refilling your pole sander. Sand by hand to access tight spaces.. $3 to $10
This works for hard-to scrape areas and to help loosen thick, tough paint. $11
: (If you're not renting scaffolding.) Extension ladders come in all sizes, from 20ft to over 30ft. Choose the best size based on the height of your home.
Remember that the paint is going to take a beating, so it might be a good idea to pay the extra few dollars for better quality paint. Plan on spending $25-$50 per gallon.
Just like you would for an interior room, grab a few rolls of masking or painter's tape
. Consider that you're using a paint sprayer and over-spraying often occurs. $15 for 6 rolls
Use this (with your masking tape) to protect surrounding areas, such as walkways, windows, decks, stairs -- just about anything surrounding the house. $28 for 400ft.
Make sure to fill in gaps and openings using caulk
before you begin painting. $2 to $6 per tube.
You will definitely want one of these because your hands will start to hurt without one. There will be a lot of caulking to do! Around $30.
So...are you ready to do it yourself -- and save?