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How to Paint the Exterior of a Two Story House

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Sandi has been an online writer for over eight years. Her articles focus on everything from life as a nurse to home repair.

The Boom Lift

The Boom Lift

Let's Get Started

Painting the exterior of a two-story house can be quite a daunting project. This is especially true for those that became AARP eligible a few years back, who are not quite as agile as they used to be and have aging knees and/or a fear of climbing tall ladders. However, it can be done with the right process and preparation!

Prepare the Surface to be Painted

The first and most crucial part of exterior painting involves Substrate or Surface Preparation. If the surface isn't prepared right, the paint may not adhere correctly or premature peeling might occur.

The surface we painted on was the existing aluminum siding.

  • We used a solution of TSP and water applied and then scrubbed onto the siding with a car wash brush.
  • If there is mildew on the surface, bleach can be added to the cleaning solution in a ratio of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water.
  • Use a hose to rinse off each section after cleansing.
  • The surface must be totally dry before it can be painted.

Choose Your Paint

We chose a Glidden semi-gloss latex exterior paint and had it tinted to match the siding on the adjacent barn. All we had to do was give Home Depot a piece of the siding and they matched the color beautifully!

While they were mixing the paint we gathered

  • rollers
  • paint brushes of varying sizes
  • paint trays
  • painter's tape
  • caulk

Make sure you have all the supplies on hand so you don't have to interrupt your work for a shopping run.

Ladders Have Their Limitations

Working from the ground up we graduated from 4 to 8 ft. ladders to complete the lower part of the house.

We then rented a Boom Lift (a.k.a. a boom truck) for the upper story. It was the best way to get at the high peaks and those areas where it would be difficult to negotiate the pitch of the roof.

Rent a Boom Truck!

Working with a boom truck can be intimidating!

  • For starters you have to have an SUV or truck that is capable of towing it home.
  • It has a control panel with lots of buttons and instructions.
  • Before it will lift you there are quite a few safety features that must be employed.
  • When you situate the lift you want to be sure the arm of the boom will have clearance to maneuver the bucket around as much of the surface you want to paint.
  • This is important because when you need to move the lift to a different area it is not easy.
  • As long as we were not on an incline we could push it a very short distance.
  • However, when it needed to be placed on a different side of the house it was necessary to raise the outriggers, secure the boom in a stowed position, hitch it back up to the truck, and tow it around. This is one heavy piece of equipment!
Using a Boom Truck to Paint the Exterior of a Two Story House

Using a Boom Truck to Paint the Exterior of a Two Story House


Using the Boom Lift Bucket

Our boom had a bucket that could accommodate two people up to 500 pounds total. This feature allowed us to be much more efficient as we could paint the surface twice as fast as just one person could.

There was room for a paint tray and can of paint on the floor. Once situated correctly the boom could move us up, down, and across a large surface.

Working with tall ladders would have been much more difficult! Not only would it have been more precarious, just think about having to move them every few feet and then climbing up and down all day long while carrying your can of paint and brush. Using a roller would be out of the question.

Possible Hazards

There are some possible hazards you have to watch out for:

  • Trees
  • telephone wires
  • electrical wires
  • where the outriggers that lift the tires off the ground and stabilize it are going to land (you don't want to crush plants and especially feet!)
Be careful not to come in contact with Electrical Wires

Be careful not to come in contact with Electrical Wires

Using a Boom Truck is the Answer!

  • With some practice, the boom is easy to operate.
  • You can't help but feel safe and secure once up in the bucket.
  • The self-leveling outriggers come down, lift the tires off the ground and secure it in place.
  • The emergency brake is employed.
  • The key has to be switched to control the bucket and it can be controlled from the ground or inside the bucket.

I would recommend the use of a boom lift for anyone who needs to paint the exterior of a two or more story house (it has a reach of 50 ft!!)

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the cost to rent a lift?

Answer: I believe it cost $150.00 for the weekend.

© 2011 Sandi


Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on November 27, 2011:

The boom lift was a great option since very tall ladders are so very scary! It is best to err on the side of caution and I do believe that does come with maturity, at least for some:) Thanks for the vote and comment, f.

f on November 23, 2011:

Voted up. I must admit that I'm not so keen on using a ladder on the house! Depends on whether the person has a head for heights, I suppose. I think as we get older we do sometimes become more cautious than we might have been previously. Whether it is to do with balance in the head, or whether we naturally sense possible dangers more, I'm not sure. But you are right: houses may need painting so unless you are going to hire someone, you need to figure something out.