Should I Paint My Own Home or Hire A Professional?

Painting is a big impact, low cost way to improve your home. Doing it yourself (DIY) makes the cost as low as possible but cost isn’t the only consideration when thinking about painting. Size, complexity and safety are important considerations with a DIY project. Finishing the job is a near certainty with a reputable paint contractor but we all know DIYers who constantly leave projects “almost” done. Safely completing a DIY paint project in a reasonable amount of time will really depend on your skill level.

Planning and executing a painting project involves a few different skill sets. Comparing your desired outcome with your skillset and that of your paint contractor is important. Paint colour and type selection for the rooms being painted is a big first step. A time and materials estimate will organize the work so that real progress can be tracked. A painting contractor will tell you how long prep, painting and clean-up will take so that you know how long you are without full use of the space. Furniture and flooring protection, brushes, rollers and number of gallons of paint are a few of the materials to factor in. Determining if you can paint at a level that will make you happy is the final factor in skill assessment.

The scope of work that both the professional painter and the DIY painter can accomplish is determined by their expertise. The preparation stage involves sanding (sometimes exposing hazardous materials such as lead), filling of holes and cracks with spackle and/or caulking and sometimes repairs. Using ladders is almost a prerequisite for any paint job and is the number one job hazard in this profession. Some people, even with all the right planning and tools in front of them, just cannot put on an even coat of paint; If you’ve ever tried to make a gingerbread house from a package you know that just because all the materials are in front of you, you don’t necessarily get a finish like the front of the box.

Many DIY painters are skilled paint applicators but so-so at prep and clean-up, usually due to patience, attention span and scheduling. Each stage of the project takes time, from moving pictures and sofas to waiting for paint to dry between coats; How many hours per day can you devote to painting? Your painting contractor will be putting in as many as are needed to complete in the time allotted. Putting paint on poorly prepared surfaces will cause it to fail if not immediately then over time. Rolling out walls is a very simple task (my 2-year-old loves it!) but the real painting happens around the details and the attention devoted to them. The size and scope of work really will determine how long it takes to complete the painting while skipping steps just leaves the job not really done.

The impact of a completed paint job is enormous. While many home owners have the skill needed to apply paint, the desire is lacking. Scope, time and quality of work should be the main considerations in deciding between DIY painting and hiring a paint professional. Before starting your project, ask yourself, “What’s my time worth?” and take a good look at how long the project may take. Is this something you want to dedicate your next 2-3 weekends to? Do you need to take time off work or away from activities that you enjoy to make the project work? If it seems like a chore that won’t be finished, start interviewing paint pros and have them convince you that it’s better to hire than to DIY.