trick to painting up high?

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Re: trick to painting up high?

Post by Rick »

I too have been painting the exterior of my house from a tall ladder. I gradually became accustom to the heights, focusing on my work and ignoring the fact I was 25 feet in the air.

The ladder I am using (Werner) has D-shaped rungs that are flat on the top which make for more secure footing when climbing and standing. If you think about it, round rungs are crazy! My ladder has stabilizer arms at the top to brace the ladder. This are GREAT but they do get in the way sometimes. I strongly recommend them It has a paint bucket hook but I could use one on both sides of the stabilizer arms.

Here is a tip painting from a gallon can: Using a bungee cord and loop it around a ladder rung. This keeps the paint can in front if that is more comfortable. Hook the cord to the can handle, loop the cord around the rung and hook it back to the can handle. I pinch the hooks tighter so the can is less likely to slip from the cord hooks.

Once up on the ladder, paint (or scrap) right to left (if you are right handed). Grip the ladder with your left and paint with your right. Move the ladder to the left to access the work as needed. To finish up and area, you may have to switch paint hands, painting with your left and gripping with your right. This is especially true with trim.

You will eventually become comfortable on the ladder given enough time.

Have fun! : )


Mark B.

Talk about a Pain!

Post by Mark B. »

Working from a ladder to touch up small areas of damaged or deteriorating paint makes sense, but if you're doing an entire house, especially a multi-story, try scaffolding.

I'm stripping and painting my 3 story colonial revival, and I can't IMAGINE doing it all from a ladder! Two ladders, with ladder jacks and a plank between them, maybe, but even that would be marginal. But a nice, wide scaffolding, where I've got room to lay tools beside me, and put the paint can on a little stand so its at the best height for not stooping over to fill the brush (not to mention space to put a jug of gatorade), makes the job much more comfortable. And I can sit on the planks and work while I'm heat-stripping trim and corners!

Set-up and take-down of scaffolding is more of a pain than with a ladder, but I can move across 14 feet of wall without having to move the scaffolding, and if I need longer runs, I can just add additional sections. Scaffolding can get expensive - I paid about $200 for three end sections and four cross-braces, which is enough to make a five-foot high, five-foot deep, fourteen-foot long scaffold. Planks, jacks (feet on the bottom end sections), and locking pins (for locking stacked end sections together) are extra. I've spend about $1000, but I can work comfortably along an entire expanse of wall, at almost 30 feet in the air.

The extra cost is more than worth all those trips down and up the ladder, ferrying tools, moving the ladder 3 feet over, and all that.

What I'll do with the scaffolding after I'm done, I have no idea. Store it in the garage until I need to repaint the house in 10 years, maybe. Or... anyone going to be in the market for some used scaffolding?

Mark B.


Re: trick to painting up high?

Post by Vlad »

You should not be holding anything except the ladder and your paintbrush.

On those really hairy spots, I duct tape a little stick to my brush so I don't have to over-extend.


Re: Talk about a Pain!

Post by Nancy »

If you were done with your project, I might have bought your scaffolding. At the moment, I'm just priming raw molding around the windows so the weather doesn't get to it before I do with trim paint.

I will be putting the final coat of paint on the entire house and trim (I did the first coat clapboard by clapboard in my dining room), and I think you're right - using a ladder's going to be rough going. We've been using two ladders and one plank on top of another to replace rotten sheathing and side on the second story --- maybe my carpenter will let me hang onto it (literally :O) when we're done so I can use it for painting. If not, I'll find out what it costs to rent it. Sure sounds like a more comfortable way to work.

The good news is, working on the plank is so terrifying (not so much working on it but standing up and sitting down) that I'm not afraid to climb the ladder anymore.

I found that if I put the primer in a shallow bucket with a handle, hang the bucket in the crook of my elbow (which I won't be able to do with a gallon of paint), stuff the brush in my overalls pocket, (I agree with those of you who advise keeping two hands on the ladder), and make sure somebody else is around - even a neighbor in their yard nearby (just makes me more comfortable), I can climb up and down without freezing and can actually paint once I'm up there.

If I can't get scaffolding, I was thinking of "bumping" the gallon up the ladder (set the can on a rung and step up holding on with two hands, move it up a couple rungs, step up, and so on, and then hang it with the chain and hook from the ladder) - I'm not there yet, so we'll see.

Thanks again, and good luck with your projects.


Bill Heston

Re: Talk about a Pain!

Post by Bill Heston »

Bill Heston

Re: Talk about a Pain!

Post by Bill Heston »


Locally, I can rent scaffolding if I wish to. I believe I can rent enough scaffolding to erect a 5' X 8' platform approximately 20' high which is enough to place me at roofline at my house, at a cost of near $100.00 per month. The catch is, the rental place only rent these on a monthly basis, so expect to pay at least that amount. I will admit that the "feel" from working from scaffolding is much better, but I know that moving them is a bit of a job, not a job one person can do easily if at all. I work alone most all the time, so I may opt to utilize another option; perhaps a crane and chair. Actually, I hate working up high. I didn't have the nerve to work on my roof so I paid a contractor to do it for me. I cost almost double the cost of materials, but I'm still alive. My paranoia to heights is exampled by the following. I decided to take down one of my chimneys which was planted almost in the center of my house. One knows, that in order to remove it one must begin at the top. I stepped back in my yard and looked up at the top of it. It seemed the top of my chimney and the clouds moving overhead were one. My mind began searching for other ways to go about it. I went to my attic and scanned the surface of the chimney from bottom to top, and it hit me! If only I can approach it from within! Within the chimney (if I'm able to dig my way in) I would be surrounded by brick! YES!- THE ANSWER! I then went to the bottom floor, got my ten foot stepladder and headed to the attic. Standing on the last step of my ladder, with hammer and crowbar in hand, I began removing one brick at a time. My aim was to open a hole large enough for me to enter, but no more then that, so as to not "weaken" the structure TOO much. Alas, I made my way in, and while standing on a firm partition within, I reached up to the top and began "surgically" removing the brick above (my head). It was no easy task, since at one time someone had "repaired" the loose brick with the harder mortar they use today. Consequently, I had to "pound" a little HARDER, with my hammer to loosen them enough to grab and throw beneath my feet into the throat of the chimney below. I made my way around the chimney a couple of courses, when I heard a "threatening" sound. UGH! I thought. THE WHOLE DAMN THING WAS MOVING! About that time, my thoughts were comfirmed. Approximately 500 or 600 pounds of brick and mortar was shoving at my back! I ducked just enough to allow the avalanching chimney to scrap over my back, down the roof into a dormer, only to have it recochee off it and on down the remaining bit of roof and over it. Relize that this only took seconds, but believe me, it seemed like forever, and the thoughts running through my mind at the time would fill a newspaper. You see, just over the edge of my roof and below was a city alley. I started to scream something like, "LOOK OUT BELOW", but then I thought, "What if it hits something or someone??" I remained tucked just under the roofline long enough to read the situation. If I heard screams, or heard the metal of a car crunching beneath the avalanche of brick, I could remain hid and pretend it was a "freak" thing - Like I wasn't there at all! Thank God I didn't HAVE to do that though. I heard nothing but brick hitting the alley below. I slowly raised my bruised body erect again, and now I was standing looking at my roof, scraped and vacated by the brick which once was there. I looked to the alley side and saw a plume of dust rising from the alley below. I looked toward the dance studio which is located across the street and noticed a young lady with her daughter staring up the alley from where they heard the avalanching brick. Their eyes, as mine did, scanned upward following the plume of dust rising to meet the sky. That is when their eyes met mine. The mother howled with laughter once she realized what I'd done. It was then I breathed in (the first breath taken since I first heard that threatening sound), and began laughing too. I can laugh at this now, but had I got "STUCK", OR "PINNED" by the chimney, I would have made headlines at CNN, (and maybe my grave too). I'd never live that one down. Anyway, that is the extent in which I'm affraid of heights, and the pickle I got myself into. Good luck with the painting.


Re: Talk about a Pain!

Post by Nancy »


Listen, if you ever need any more work done up high, call me or put out the bucks for a pro, and you stay planted on that ground. When I think of all the good advice we would've missed...

Sure seemed like a good idea, though. One of those dreaded aha's.

Glad you're still with us!


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