Today’s home improvement question is an interesting one: should you tackle larger scale paint jobs yourself?

The answer is: Possibly. It depends on how comfortable you are with paint work, so I will go over what it entails and then let you make an informed decision on whether you’re up for the job or not.

Whether your interior walls need a fresh coat of paint, a large fence or deck needs staining, or the exterior of your house is in desperate need of sprucing up, understand that painting will be time-consuming. Be sure that you have the time and patience to see the job through, whether it takes a few hours or several weeks. If you have to prime or do more than one coat, it is going to add time to your job. For example, if you are going from a dark color on your exterior to a light color, depending on your starting surface, you may have to scrape or sandblast the old paint off, prime the surface and then repaint. If you wait too long after your remove the old paint, you could expose your home’s exterior to damage. If you wait too long after priming to paint, you run the risk of either having to power wash or reprime the house. Be sure to carefully estimate how long the job will take. If you are unsure, start with a section and do it from start to finish before you move to the next section.

My first piece of advice is to use quality paint. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive paint, but get something that is appropriate for the area you are painting and something that will last. If you do a good job and use quality paint, you won’t have to do this again for years to come.

My second piece of advice is this: if you are going to tackle a large paint job, you should familiarize yourself with some tools that may make the job easier and more pleasant for you. If you need a ladder, make sure it is of good quality with a shelf to put lighter tools on. Wider steps may make for a heavier ladder but it’s easier to stand on when you do work. Something else to seriously consider is a paint sprayer. It can definitely cut down on your time and make you more productive if used correctly. For example, I highly recommend using a pneumatic paint sprayer for exterior work. They are great for outdoor work because you can run them off an air compressor and use any length hose to help you reach anything you want to paint. If you are doing interior work, an electric paint sprayer will make your job easier without the hassle of an air compressor indoors.

There are two types of paint sprayers: gravity feed and siphon feed. This just tells you where the paint cups go. Gravity fed guns go on top and use the force of gravity to get the paint into the sprayer; siphon fed guns work the same as any spray bottle you have under your kitchen cabinet—the liquid goes up a tube and is forced into the sprayer. Gravity feed paint sprayers are, in my opinion, better for two reasons: 1) you get more out of the paint cup because nothing sits in the bottom, it all goes into the sprayer, and 2) no siphon tube to clean or clog with paint. Check out some gravity feed spray gun reviews online and you’ll see exactly what I am talking about: they’re far superior.

Also, especially if you will be working indoors, with heavy fumed items like a stain, near other items that are not your property, or you do not want to get covered in paint: look for a HVLP sprayer. It stands for high volume low pressure, and it means that the paint will come out of the sprayer with less force, which will atomize less paint. This means not only will you waste less paint because more of it will get on your project, but less will become a mist of paint that gets all over everything and carried off by the wind onto your neighbors shrubs, fence, house, and car.

Wear the proper protective gear if you are going to be painting, and be sure the area you are working in is well ventilated. If you need to use a ladder, be sure to do so safely; don’t be lugging a gallon of paint up a ladder with you so you don’t have to go up and down. If you do use a paint sprayer, read the manual first and then take a test run. Protect your skin, nose, eyes, and mouth from the spray. Take your time so that you can do a quality job. Remember that the better the job you do now, the longer you will get to enjoy the fruits of your labor before you have to do it again.

If all this seems daunting to you for any reason, I encourage you to hire a professional. Read up on my blog for tips on finding a quality company.

Good luck!