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trick to painting up high?

Posted: Tue May 23, 2000 10:04 pm
by Nancy
I need to prime some existing trim on second storey windows that the PO never bothered to paint.

I wrestled the ladder to the side of the house, cranked it up high enough, bounced on it to make sure it was planted, tucked my paintbrush in my overalls bib, held the quart of Fresh Start in one hand, climbed half way up and froze.

Eventually I came down having painted zip.

There must be a trick to a. overcoming fear (I'm not ordinarily afraid of heights or ladders - it's the combination plus holding something plus the thought of having to reach once up there); and b. painting up high.

I have a ladder hook for gallons that have a handle - suppose I could rig up a sling for the quart but that seems like a lot of fiddling and wiggling way up there - and I'd have to fight to get the paintbrush in the can.

Is there a simple solution I'm missing (other than hiring a pro?)



Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Tue May 23, 2000 10:32 pm
by Ken Holmes
Hi Nancy,

Now that it's been approximately eight years, three months and, let's see, about four days (but who's counting?) since I left the contracting business -- thereby assuring that I would NEVER have to climb 40 foot ladders ever, ever again, I guess it's fairly safe to confess that I'm not terribly fond of climbing ladders.

So no, I won't offer to paint any up-high trim should I make it to your part of Massachusetts this summer.

That said, I can offer a simple solution to your problem. Buy a cheap plastic paint bucket with a handle. Attach paint hook to handle. Place quart can in plastic bucket. Climb toward the skies and paint away!

Hope this helps,

Ken Holmes


Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Tue May 23, 2000 10:51 pm
by Nancy
Rats! I was hoping you'd say, 'no, there is no possible solution to getting that quart of primer (attached to your body) safely to the top of the ladder - you must simply accept the tragic fact that the trim will have to rot, alas.'

Well, I can only hope that there has been a mass recall on cheap plastic buckets with handles so that there is none to be found this side of the Mississippi.

Thanks a lot :o)



Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Tue May 23, 2000 11:48 pm
by Vonda
My quaking knees are with you! When I paint on the second story while on a ladder nobody can be around. It takes ALL my concentration to not "flip out" both literal and figurative. One thing I discovered is that I can paint from the inside of the second story if it is just the trim around the window and if that window can be opened from the inside both top and bottom. Looks silly from the road(but who cares). I can set my paint inside on the floor, paint with one hand and still HANG ON with the other hand. It also feels great to have BOTH feet planted firmly on a solid surface!! You cannot reach every spot but it reduces the time you have to spend embracing a ladder like a long lost love!


Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 1:08 am
by Double Dog Dare Bob
And I thought I was the only one that didn't like high-wire acts! I have to confess that this last weekend, I finally forced myself to clean the outside of one of our second-story windows that top out at approximately 25 feet or so off the ground. The idiot Previous Owners had the house spray-painted before we purchased it 5 years ago and it had paint splatters galore that I finally removed. And the house needs painted badly, so I'm going to be in your shoes again soon. I recall having similar qualms when painting my first house 15 years ago. I got over the fear then by taking baby steps. I'd climb to the top of the ladder then stop. Take a breath, look around. Reassure myself. This ain't so bad. Gingerly take the brush . . . paint a few strokes, pause . . . you get the picture. After a while, you will get more used to the height. But you should always RESPECT the height so you don't fall. A little fear is a good thing . . . I think it's called self-preservation. Good luck. Just take it slow. That's how I got over it in the past! Also, if it is EXTREMELY high or an extremely large area, you might consider renting scaffolding. Would cost more, but your neck is worth it, isn't it?


Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 9:19 am
by Scott Frederick
I have a very practical cure for the fear of heights. Take up rock climbing! That is what I did, and honestly, it worked. I now can climb any ladder anywhere, when before, I used to be afraid to get to the top of a 6 foot setpladder.

But, if you are not into taking the adventure cure, just work your way up the ladder a little bit at a time, and stand there for a while each time you advance. Do this at first without anything in your hands. Go up and down the ladder like this several times, and you will eventually get used to the height. Just don't get too brave. Respect the ladder and the situation to keep yourself out of trouble.


Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 9:53 am
by J McKee
Meeee Tooooo

About half way up, the ladder will really act up if your shaking at the knees. It seems to be more steady when your up farther. Maybe its the way the load is distributed.

I found some surplus army pants at the Army/Navy store and load it up with everything I need to paint: scraper, putty, rags, wasp spray (yes.. I think I would fall off if a wasp bit my butt). Then I wear boots when climbing. My feet are too sore with tennis shoes. I generally don't climb high unless someone else is around.

Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 11:14 am
by Rose
Nancy - I had this same exact problem. My plan to paint my 30+ foot tall house kind of fizzled when I found I couldn't climb a ladder (or scaffolding) without freaking out.

As someone else said, the shaking is the worst at the mid-point. Near the top, the ladder doesn't move around so much.

I found my biggest fear was that the ladder would slip out from under me. So, I staked the ladder legs at the bottom so they couldn't move.

For me, climbing the ladder is the hardest. Once I'm up there, (and distracted with the work at hand) it's not so scary.

After a summer of painting, the fear of climbing ladders eventually disappeared. And once I gained some confidence that the ladder wasn't going anywhere, I stopped staking out the legs.



Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 11:56 am
by Ray Barker
Nancy, now that you have all the remedies and cures, practice, and when you have it mastered and after you get your second storey trim all painted, please come see me and together we can start at the peak of my three storey (plus attic). I'll get the sixty footer out and ready. Seriously, best of luck with your trim, and you have gotten great tips.



Re: trick to painting up high?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 2:06 pm
by Nancy
Ready for battle. I've got my army pants stuffed with putty knife, rags, wasp spray, and for some unknown reason Rose's shellacked cat; got my window sashes out; got my cheap plastic bucket with handle; got my ladder legs anchored; now if I can only talk my new rock climbing instructor into scaling my house with paintbrush in hand...'cause I CAN'T MOVE!

Ray, you made me realize I have an attic window way up in the peak. Can I borrow your ladder?

Now let's just hope the rain doesn't let up. Ever.

I hate you all :o)

Thanks! Nancy