The Ugly Truth about Hiring Out your Exterior Painting

Cover photo for article

Painting your house exterior is a common homeowner project. One that requires a lot of work or a lot of money.

You might be ready to hand over your hard earned cash to a painter, but as a DIYer it can be very difficult to give over the reins to someone else. Even after rave reviews from neighbors, it can still be unsettling to allow professionals to complete a project that you have no control over.

You might just need a bit more candor from yours truly to help sort out your doubts.

Here’s the truth about hiring out your exterior painting; the good, bad and ugly of it.

Let’s start with the good because I want you to know that in the end, the good makes it all worth it.

The Good. Here are the reasons to hire out your house painting.

You are saving yourself from a lot of work.

Painting a house exterior could span many weekends. There is a lot of surface area to cover. Your time and energy could be spent elsewhere.

Not only a lengthy project, it’s also quite dangerous; especially if you have a two-story home. Dangling up on a ladder is not easy work.

exterior house painting

Your hired contractors will most likely do a good job painting your home.

Unless you run into a newbie, which can be avoided by vetting your hired help, your painters will probably know what they are doing. When you pay for a service, you can expect a decent final product that will probably have been done better than what you could do. (But I won’t judge.)

front of house exterior

Your exterior painting project can be done in 2-3 days.  

Hiring help will allow your house to be painted straight through. No trying to fit in painting between your day job, grocery store runs, and picking up the kids. The contractors come in, paint like there is no tomorrow, and get the job done fast.

The painting company will understand paint, what you need and can even color match.

Need to match existing paint, from say, a shed? They can do it. Your painting contractors will know what paint to use and be able to accommodate your requests (within reason.)

Your life will not be too affected by the project.

Some projects take your time, your space, and your money. This one, however expensive, will occur simultaneously with your daily life. Your contractor(s) will probably not bother you unless they need you. They will run to the gas station before asking to use your bathroom.

That summarizes the good, now on to…


While you are happy that the project moves quickly, you may find that it runs too quickly. Here are some consequences that occurred during my exterior house painting project that I was not thrilled about.


ladder on side of house

A ladder is an important tool used during a two-story house exterior project but it can be very damaging to your landscape. It’s big and awkward and more than likely your bushes and flowers will be accidentally trampled on.

Be sure that your contractor’s ladders have cushions at the top to protect your siding and window panes. For the reason that when that ladder slams into your window, you will be praying that nothing breaks.

Protection from Paint

front of house taped for painting

Your contractors should tape and protect your decking and front porch from overspray. (And in my case, my garage door.)

At first I was thrilled with all the tape, but then it all came off before they were finished. The finishing touches were all done quickly, and less caution was used when painting around my decking, as shown in the picture below.

paint marks on decking

Also, the contractors attached the protective plastic sheeting straight to my deck with a staple gun.

I think tape would have been a less permanent alternative and easier for them to rip off. These staples were left for me to pry off.

staples in wooden deck post

Paint spray on window pane and painted shut window

As an avid painter myself, I understand that painting mistakes do happen. But the mistake is usually remedied by taking a towel and wiping it off.

It becomes an issue when your contractor has an oversight on the second floor window and you then have to climb up a ladder and use a razor blade to clean it up.

Another common issue when painting window sashes is that the paint could in fact seal the window shut. This is not however, a big issue, as prying the window open usually solves the problem.

Leaving behind a mess

I’m sure not all contractors will leave behind a mess of tape, plastic, paint spills and paint chips but be ready for it, even if they clearly state in their contract that they will clean up at the end.

Painted landscaping rock

Last and most unsettling for me, was all the painted landscaping rock at the foot of the house siding. They used cardboard to protect the cement bricks from the paint sprayer but didn’t care in the very least about the rock under it. And when I brought it up to the owner of the company, he said that that was normal practice.

landscape rock painted accidentally

A little plastic would have protected the rocks from paint and saved me time turning the rocks all over to their clean side.  (This may not bother you, but knowing ahead of time, I could have put my own plastic down to prevent this.)


Okay, on to the Ugly. The, I wish I knew this before I signed on with a painting contractor, sort of honesty.

If you care about the little details, you need to do a “walk through” before the contractors are done. 

Your hired contractor may not be as thorough as you would be.  

The walk through is a good chance for you to point out all the spots that need touching up, so that you don’t have to.  I found multiple crevices in the siding, where I could still see the white crème of our previous house color, areas where the sprayer missed.

Be sure if they say they will do two coats, that they actually do two coats.

And lastly,

Communication is so important.

Make sure that you and your contractors are on the same page as to the level of quality that you expect.

I was thrilled that the house was painted in 3 days, but I was not happy with the painting prep.  Had I known that the scraping part of the contractor’s time was going to be so little, I would have done this part myself.

house siding with loose paint

I trusted in the signed contract that the scraping would be sufficient and no “real” loose paint would be left on the house. Only time will tell if the scraping was sufficient, but I know I would have spent a great deal longer on scraping.  

And one last tip

for those that ask their contractors to paint their storm doors. (I know, it’s random.) But make sure your contractor actually scrapes the paint off AND paints both sides of your door. The frame sits against glass that can be seen from both sides. I thought this was obvious, but I didn’t notice until after the painters were done and gone.

storm door components

There you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly truth in using contractors to paint your house exterior. It’s a lesson in good communication, and understanding that even your hired help is not perfect.  Be kind to one another, and work through any issues amicably and respectfully.

Helping you plan for tomorrow,


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hiring out exterior painting

3 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth about Hiring Out your Exterior Painting”

  1. Wow that is a lot of helpful information you have compiled. I’m glad to have your first hand experience in this article so we can see what contractors will/can do when they service your home. As and experienced house painter myself in CO I appreicate the ways those contractors failed you and try to use them to better my own business. Thank you.

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