DIY Painting & Finishing

Should You DIY or Hire a Pro for Exterior House Painting?

When it’s time to freshen up the look of your home’s exterior, it can be tempting to take on the job yourself. Before you put on your DIY hat, however, consider hiring a professional for exterior house painting.
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Exterior House Painting


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If you’re debating painting your home’s exterior yourself or hiring a professional, there are a number of things to consider before you start sampling color swatches. First, it’s worth examining the scope of the project and evaluating the time and effort it will take to complete. Professional painters usually have top-notch equipment and years of experience to get exterior house painting done fast and done right, which may not be the case for a beginning or intermediate DIYer. Second, consider the budget for this project and what new materials may cost. Ladders, brushes, sprayers, scaffolding, and drop cloths can add up quickly. A third consideration to keep in mind is the potential hazards or roadblocks that may keep you from taking on the job yourself. Water damage, tricky landscaping, and dangerous angles are important elements to keep in mind when deciding whether to hire a professional.

Difficulty: Expert. Exterior house painting requires the proper tools and experience of a professional who will know which type of paint to use, what equipment is required, and how to complete the job quickly and efficiently. An expert will also be skilled in a wide range of painting techniques and finishes to determine what best suits your desired result.

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When to DIY

Exterior House Painting When to DIY

There’s a time and a place for DIY projects, and if you’ve painted the exterior of a home before, you may want to tackle this task on your own. If your exterior is in mint condition, you’ve set aside the time it takes to paint, and you already own the necessary materials, the job may as well be yours. Taking on exterior home painting yourself will likely save money in the long run and add to your DIY resume. Plus, you won’t have to wait for a professional bid or schedule the job on someone else’s timeline.

You have experience painting a home’s exterior.

Experience is all but everything, especially in the world of home improvement. If you’ve painted the exterior of a home before, chances are you know what to expert in terms of time commitment, prep work, and end results. Prior painting experience is key to producing a job that looks professional without the high costs of labor that are often associated with hiring a pro. If you’ve learned the tricks of the trade and are willing to take on the task, your work will likely pay off in the long run and build your confidence as a seasoned DIYer.

You have enough time to allot to the painting project.

Exterior house painting can be time consuming, especially when you factor in prep work, which can account for 30 to 50 percent of the allotted time. Depending on the size of the exterior, painting may take several days and several coats of paint to complete.

Tack on the extra 24 hours or more it could take for the paint to dry, and it could take an entire weekend to complete this project. If you’ve blocked out the time it will take to prepare and paint the exterior yourself (or maybe you’ve enlisted your own crew for help), it may be time to start sampling those swatches.

You are on a tight budget and already have the necessary tools.

If you already own ladders, scaffolding, a paint sprayer, and other tools, painting the exterior of your home will likely be considerably less expensive than hiring a professional. Assuming the tools are in working condition and are suitable for the size of the paint job, fewer purchases mean you’ll be more likely to adhere to or even stay under your budget.

In this instance, the cost of paint will likely be where the majority of your money is spent. If you’re confident in your DIY skills and have the spare time to dedicate to this project, painting the exterior yourself may make the most sense.

There is no damage to the exterior of your home.

Before committing to such an extensive project, a thorough inspection of the home’s exterior may be necessary to determine whether you should hire a professional. If any signs of water damage are present, those repairs will need to be made before painting begins to ensure the paint holds up over time.

The roof, gutters, and windows should be examined for water leaks. If leaks are present, the source of the water should be identified and corrected before painting begins. If no visible signs of damage exist, this project is one you may be capable of doing solo.

Exterior House Painting When to Hire a Professional

When to Hire a Professional

Several factors can help point you in the direction of a professional if you’re on the fence about painting your home’s exterior. If you lack experience, materials, and skills, hiring the job out may be your best bet. The risks associated with exterior painting alone are enough to call on an expert, especially if you are concerned about your safety when it comes to two-story homes or lead paint. In these instances, consulting a pro can not only relieve any lasting concerns, but also provide reassurance that the job will be done properly.

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You don’t have experience in exterior house painting.

Regardless of how much research or homework you’ve done, the chance of a bad outcome is high for a beginner tackling this type of project.

A quality exterior paint job takes more than just the proper materials and paint color; it also takes technique and skill that only experience can bring. Without experience to fall back on, you risk a paint job that looks amateur, which will then require the help of an expert to fix. If quality curb appeal is your goal, hiring a professional will allow you to achieve it without the risk associated with doing the job yourself.

The area to paint is large, and there’s more than one story to cover.

Exteriors with sizable square footage require more time to paint, which can seem manageable until the project is underway. Chances are you’ll need multiple coats of paint, too, adding to the overall size of the job.

Homes with more than one story can be tricky to paint, especially for DIYers who aren’t comfortable with heights or don’t have the equipment to climb on roofs or scale multiple stories. Expert painters likely encounter homes with these conditions on a daily basis, and they have the skill sets to scale ladders and the manpower to move efficiently, saving you time and potentially scary situations.

Landscaping will get in your way.

Invasive trees, shrubs, or other intrusive landscaping can literally stand in the way of you being able to successfully paint your house’s exterior. If this is the case, calling in a professional painter can help prevent the headaches these elements may cause throughout the project.

Painters often utilize drop cloths to prevent paint from damaging landscaping and know the correct weight of materials to use so fragile plants or bushes won’t succumb to heavy tarps or cloths. Not only will they know how to work around landscaping, but they’ll also have the equipment to help do so without damaging plants that could be expensive to replace.

You are concerned with safety hazards or don’t have the proper safety equipment.

No DIY job is worth risking your well-being, regardless of your confidence level or skill set. If your house presents safety hazards that you haven’t encountered before or aren’t prepared to handle, it’s safe to assume a professional painter will know how to operate around risky conditions.

It’s also likely they’re insured in the case of an accident or injury. Proper safety equipment, such as ladders and scaffolding, are often pricey, and your chances of using them enough to justify the cost are slim. In this case, securing your safety is worth the money you may save in the end.

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Your home’s exterior has intricate details.

Exterior house painting is more than just slapping product on a brush and calling it a day. Instead, it requires consistent application in every nook and cranny, which can call for a more experienced hand depending on the home’s details.

The more intricate features a house has, the more a professional can help. They’ll know the correct tools to use and lean on the knowledge they’ve gained from past projects to ensure the job is done right the first time. An experienced painter can judge what type of paint to use, whether primer is necessary, and how to make the home’s character stand out.

Your home was built before 1978.

Homes built before 1978 have a higher chance of having paint that contains lead. In this instance, the paint will need to be removed before new coats of paint are put on, which adds to the overall time and expense of painting yourself.

A professional painter will know how to safely remove lead paint from the home’s exterior and will have the tools to do so before new paint goes on. Stripping paint can be messy, time consuming, and dangerous, so the experience of a professional painter is even more valuable in this instance.

Investing in the material and gear needed will exceed your budget.

With interior paint projects, the scale of the job likely requires less equipment than exterior house painting. Items such as ladders, drop cloths, scaffolding, brushes, and sprayers can add up quickly, extending the budget beyond what you might have planned for.

Not only will a professional already own the necessary equipment to complete the job, but they’ll likely have top-of-the-line materials and gear that a beginner might not be able to splurge on. Plus, if you only need to paint your exterior once, you may not have a need for the equipment afterward. In the end, hiring a pro will save you the time and hassle it takes to research the best tools and haul them home.

You have to repair damage before the painting project.

Before painting begins, it’s worth it to carefully inspect your home’s exterior to determine what shape it’s in. If you come across areas affected by water or other conditions, repairs will need to be made prior to painting.

If you’re not equipped to repair the damages yourself, a professional painter will know what repairs need to be made to ensure the exterior is ready for paint. This guarantees the end result looks professional and not like a cover-up, which could be the case if you do it without the help of an expert.

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You’re selling your home.

First impressions are important, and especially so if you plan to put your home on the market. Potential buyers will likely form an opinion on your house before they even step through the front door, which makes the quality of the exterior paint job even more crucial.

In this case, hiring a professional to do the job for you might make the most sense. It will save you time to focus on interior projects that better suit your skill set and improve the home’s curb appeal, potentially earning you more money in the long run if it increases the value or sale of your property.

Exterior House Painting Verdict: Hire a Professional

Verdict: DIY or Hire a Professional?

Since the exterior of the home is the first impression for visitors or potential buyers, it’s worth it to leave exterior painting to the professionals. An expert painter can produce a quality job that could increase the value of your home and save you the time and money it requires to do it yourself. Their experience and expertise ensure the right painting techniques and formulas are applied, which leads to a thorough, mistake-free job that won’t need to be corrected. Regardless of your skill set, free time, or confidence, the sheer scope of exterior home painting is worth leaving to the pros, who will likely leave your home looking brand new in no time.

Verdict: Hire a professional

Why Skip This DIY Project

Painting the exterior of a home is no small task. It not only takes a lot of time, but there’s a chance the money you thought you’d save by doing it yourself will go toward expert-level materials. Plus, if the paint job doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, you’ll spend even more time correcting your mistakes or hiring a professional to make it look presentable. Enlisting the help of a pro will provide peace of mind that the exterior paint job will be done right the first time.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional

There are plenty of DIY projects that are perfect for beginner and intermediate DIYers, but exterior house painting isn’t one of them. Instead, it’s a job best handled by a professional due to its level of difficulty. Hiring an expert painter ensures:

  1. The job is done right the first time. Experience and skill set mean less room for error.
  2. The job is done quickly. Professional painters will be able to complete bigger projects in less time.
  3. The job is done well. Skills developed over time lead to a higher-quality outcome.

By letting the experts do the job for you, you’ll be able to increase your home’s value, and hopefully, over time, your pocketbook.

For professional painting, hire a HomeAdvisor painter in your area.