I have a 100+ year old two story house with wood siding that the paint starting to chip off. I have a couple general questions regarding the project that I am hoping you can assist.

1) I am not super fond of heights so I am looking for an alternative to using an extension ladder. I would love to use some scaffolding but this project will likely take me several weeks and I am looking to not spend a ton of money. I am considering buying a tall (15-20 ft) a-frame step ladder. Would that be a decent solution?

2) I am pretty sure the last time it was painted, the previous owner used a flat latex paint. Should I use that again or would a semi-gloss be a better long term solution?

3) Brush vs sprayer. Is it possible to get a good, solid coat of paint with a sprayer? I would love to avoid doing this again in a couple years LOL

  • 2
    I did a similar project a few years ago and the scaffolding was worth the expense especially near the top of my two-story home.
    – jwh20
    May 14, 2019 at 17:35
  • @jwh20 I know it would vary by area etc but do you remember how much it was per day to rent? May 14, 2019 at 17:37
  • I don't recall and I'm sure it varies widely depending on the local market. Check with a local rental supply. As I recall, I rented 3 levels and 5 planks. I used 3 planks at the top and one on each of the two lower levels. You can get fancy with guard rails and such but I didn't do that. Also it's not that expensive to buy. I am working on replacing some windows and just bought a set of my own so that I didn't have to worry about being in a hurry. I spent about $1200 for it all.
    – jwh20
    May 14, 2019 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


Personally, I feel safer on an extension ladder leaned up against the house, compared to a free standing step ladder. They topple too easily. But you do what makes you feel safest. What kind of wood siding do you have? If it's horizontal like ship lap, I would use a brush. I tried spraying mine once and in the process of trying to get paint up into the cracks under each board, the paint built up and ran. So I ended up going over it immediately with a brush anyway. Eventually I stopped bothering with the sprayer. But if it is vertical siding, spraying is fine.

  • It’s horizontal May 14, 2019 at 17:41
  • 1
    Yeah, then just brush it. It ends up looking better, especially when doing it yourself in your spare time where you are stopping / starting frequently. Buy two brushes so that when you finish one day and clean the brush, you use the other one the next day and the first one the third day after it has had a chance to dry out. Otherwise there will be moisture left in the brush after cleaning and your first applications will end up thinned out (learned from bad experiences)
    – JRaef
    May 14, 2019 at 17:45
  • "Brush" can include "roller". I use roller for high volume application then tip it out with a brush, and get nooks/crannies with that. Even better if one person rolls, the other tips. May 14, 2019 at 19:07

"Started to chip off" is a bad sign. New paint may hide loose paint for a short time , but loose paint should be removed for a good job. Along with that I washed it with TSP and a broom ( dirty location -Chicago area) . If you are in a "clean" location , a hose or power wash will be enough to clean. Another house I planned to paint, I hired a guy to wash it with TSP ( Joliet area) ; The vinyl siding looked so good after the wash that I did not need to paint. Although I painted 2 one story houses , I used a scaffold for the eaves/overhang. I used a good/expensive brush - I think it was worth it. My fourth house painting went best; it was two stories, BUT - I paid a nephew who was experienced to do it with airless spray. That worked very well. With any "gingerbread" , I think spray is the only thing to do. Acrylic tends to chalk so is probably better as a flat paint; clean it with a hose every few years .

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