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Cutting Costs On Home Maintenance: How To Save Money Painting Your Home

Updated on February 17, 2011


Any time you have someone do a job for you, you’re going to end up paying at least twice as much for it.  Painting the exterior of your house is such a case in point. 

We got an estimate last summer for someone to paint the exterior of our home.  The estimate was a mere $3000!  Who has this kind of money we both cried in unison! 

No way were we going to spend that kind of money to have the outside of our house painted so we set about devising our own plan to paint it.

We aren’t strangers to painting by any means.  In fact, we had painted our previous house which was a split level twice over the time we lived in it.  While we are older in years now and the idea of painting a 2-story house wasn’t exactly appealing to either one of us, shelling out $3000 for a paint job just wasn’t going to cut it. 

Read on and you'll discover some ways to save money on painting your home yourself!



  • Keep in mind always how much you’re saving – it will make the job go much faster and be easier to swallow.
  • Don’t rush yourself or the job. As in all things, taking your time and not getting burned out is essential.
  • Check your supplies. Usually, you can find that you have many of the supplies already and you don’t have to invest in new ones.
  • Buy the best paint for the project that you can afford (or justify). If you’re staying in the home for the foreseeable future, buy better paint because you don’t want to be doing this again real soon!


  • Borrow supplies you don’t have. If you need extension ladders and you don’t have them, ask around in your neighborhood, ask friends or family. No sense in going out and buying expensive ladders if this is the only time you’re going to be using them.
  • Do the prep work. Don’t try and paint over cracked or peeling paint. Use one of the painter tools like an 8-in-1 or a 9-in-1 and scrape off the flaking or cracked paint. Give it a good swipe with some sandpaper to make sure you end up with a good looking finished product that isn’t going to turn right around and flake or peel off on you.
  • Don’t paint surfaces in the hottest part of the day that are in sunlight. It will suck up your paint and you’ll use more! Paint when parts of the home are in shade and your paint will go farther – so will you!
  • Poke holes in the lip area around your paint can so that the paint drains back into your can and doesn’t fill up the lid area making a mess when you go to seal the can.
  • Line your paint pan with a plastic grocery bag and then at the end of each painting session, turn it inside out and throw away.


  • If you use a sprayer, be smart about the time of day and the wind factor. Move any and all items out of danger of overspray – including cars! Tape off and cover windows and fixtures. Also warn your neighbors that you’re going to be spraying your house. If there is overspray and it gets on their house or "stuff", you should make it right by either repainting for them or paying them – it’s only right. We live in a high wind area and thus we never spray – it’s just too difficult to control on any given day.
  • Take your time! You want a professional looking job in the end and rushing to get it done won’t help you accomplish that. Divide up the house into sections and decide what time of day you’re going to paint this particular section and how you’ll proceed – if you want to finish one section, then do the trim, or do you want to paint everything and then do the trim?
  • Carry a wet rag in your belt at all times to wipe off any oops paint spots. Immediately after painting where there are windows, wash the outside of the window – you’ll be sure not to have any paint spatters that you’ll see later on.
  • Use drop cloths even though you’re painting outside. Doing double work of cleaning up paint droplets on concrete, wood, planters, and shrubs, etc. doesn’t make sense. Canvas drop cloths are extremely durable and can be thrown in the wash, dried and used over and over. Tarps and plastic visqueen are great too – but have a care – they’re slippery. Just plain old used sheets and blankets work great too – just drape off things so you don’t have to come back later and do clean up!
  • Keep pets away from the painting area – and kids for that matter! I was painting outside once and set my paint can down only to come back out a few minutes later to find that my malamute had upended the paint off the shelf – all over himself and the patio. That little mistake cost me 1-1/2 hours to clean up him and the mess – not to mention the wasted paint!   
  • When you’re done with your painting, seal the can well.  Store any leftover paint upside down in the can.  You will create a vacuum in the can and it won’t go bad.  Also store paint inside a cabinet in the garage or bring it inside in cold climates.  It will freeze and be rendered useless.  If storing in a basement, don’t leave it right on the basement floor as concrete will conduct cold and freeze the paint in the can.
  • Dispose of all paints properly.  Consider donating it to a local Habitat for Humanity.  Or take it to the toxic waste recycling spots in town, or donate it back to your paint shop to have them give it to someone in need.
  • Invest in at least medium priced brushes and buy roller covers in bulk.  You’ll save money in the long run.  Cheap brushes wear out or the bristles come undone.  Roller covers bought one at a time are way more expensive than buying a whole bag.  If you’re a painter, you’ll use them eventually!  Think inside projects!  Don’t dip your brushes into the paint more than halfway up the bristles and they’ll last longer.  Buying a middle-of-the-road priced brush will last you far longer than buying a cheap brush that you have to replace 2 or 3 times.


So how did our painting project turn out? Well, my husband spent the summer painting "here and there". He would decide each day what part of the house he wanted to tackle and then he just kept at it. He painted when he wanted to (he is very purposeful so he painted almost every single day for at least an hour to several hours).  He painted for roughly 6 weeks.

The house looks fabulous and even though it wasn’t done in a day or two, there was no overspray to contend with for the neighbors or our cars or theirs, and there’s no worry that the house didn’t receive an adequate coat of paint!

The final cost? The $3000 estimate dropped to under $500 by doing it ourselves. To me, that’s worth everything.  (I say ourselves but he did most all the work)

What’s more, he was able to buy the paint as he needed it so no huge outlay of money.

He could space out the cost of painting the house over several months and could better gauge if he needed more supplies.

He already had many of his own supplies such as ladders, brushes, and rollers, and except for a package of new roller covers, he was set.

It makes so much more sense in many cases if you have the time and the talent (or are willing to learn to do things) to just do-it-yourself.

This like so many other projects around the house can save you thousands of dollars.

For help with any do-it-yourself projects, check out great sites like or even attend free mini-classes at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Most of their employees will also help you, direct you to books that can help you, or spend lots of time talking to you about how to tackle a home-improvement project.

Saving money is an essential part of being a homeowner. Next time your home needs a new coat of paint (inside or out), think about doing it yourself.

It’s one of the cheapest home improvement projects you can do and think of the money you'll save if you do it yourself!

Putty knife or scraper
TSP or mildew cleaner
Caulking or spackling compound
Painter's tape or masking paper
Exterior primer and paint brush
Extension ladder
Drop cloths or tarps
Primer paint if needed
Old cloths for touch up
Paint sprayer if using
Scraper tool
Paint brushes
Paint rollers
Paint pans
Wood putty or exterior patch
8-in-1 tool for getting paint off roller
Scrub brush
Extra roller covers
Exterior primer
Extension pole for paint roller
Putty knife
Painter's tape or masking tape
Newspaper or paper to cover windows
Trim paint

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