House Painting: DIY or Hire a Pro?


A couple cans of paint can totally change the look of a room, but when it comes to painting your home, should you do it yourself or hire a pro? That all depends. Do you have any painting experience? Are you under a time constraint? Painting your home can potentially save you money, but there are some more questions you should ask yourself before making a decision:

1. What’s your level of expertise? If you have never painted a room or the exterior of a home before, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the task. Painting looks easy enough, but getting a quality finished product can be difficult for a novice. Professional painters know all of the tricks of the trade and can promise good-looking results. Cutting the lines between walls and ceilings, for example, takes finesse, and taping often comes off looking sloppy. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can make a big mess in a hurry.

2. When do you need the project done? If you only have a short window to get your painting project completed, you might want to hire a pro. Pros have all of the equipment and know-how to finish a painting job much faster than your average weekend warrior. When you do it yourself, expect to spend twice as long as you think.

3. What is the condition of the walls? Painting on perfectly smooth drywall isn’t hard, but most drywall isn’t perfect. Drywall repairs and surface preparation work are the first step in most painting jobs. If your walls need extensive repairs from holes, cracks, water damage or settling, you should probably hire a pro. If the prep work isn’t done right, it will show right through the paint.

4. What is the old finish? The current finish on the walls will have some bearing on how you repaint them. For example, if the finish is alkyd based, it needs to be primed with a super adherent acrylic primer before it can be repainted with latex paint. If you fail to do this, the paint will not adhere properly. Professionals can recognize things like this that you might overlook.

5. Do you have all the tools you need? Paint requires more than just paint and some rollers. There are a lot of items you need to purchase to get the job done right. These include: Drop cloths, scrapers, sandpaper, hole filler, primer, paint brushes, roller frames, extension poles, paint trays, caulk and ladders. If you are painting the exterior of your home, you may also need to rent a paint sprayer, sander and taller ladders. Getting all the tools you need could cost you an extra couple hundred dollars, so be sure to factor that in when you are estimating the cost savings of a DIY paint job.

If you decide the tackle the job yourself, you’re probably going to have to trade of some level of quality for cost savings. But in a recession, cost savings are the name of the game. If you choose to hire a paint contractor instead, save money by comparison shopping. Most professional painters will come to your home and give you a free estimate. It’s perfectly acceptable to haggle on the price. In today’s economy, painters are accepting smaller margins, so you should be able to get a good deal.  

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