I’ve been an avid believer of the notion that there is no reason to pay someone to do something that I can do myself. So, when we needed to paint the outside of our house, there was no question about whether or not we would hire someone to do it. I paint for a living. Of course I could paint the outside of the house.


Let’s take a trip back to October, 2015, eight months in the past. My husband and I were in the process of refinancing and as a result, needed to do some fairly significant upgrades to ensure that our loan would process (significant as in new sewer pipes, tree removal, new front door, patio roof repair and exterior paint). Exterior paint kept getting pushed off the list. Sewer pipes became a hugely urgent matter (urgent as in that one weekend where we had a houseful of kids spending the night and of course, pipes clog up at 8 pm on a Saturday night)…new pipes took up any budget we would’ve had to paint.

But, with an impending appraisal, the curb appeal of the house got moved way back up the list. Since our savings went to the new pipes and subsequent tree removal, I put together a project management plan to tackle this project ourselves. Our house isn’t that big after all, so it would be doable if we accomplished the task with an organized, phased approach.


Phase one of the project was just completing the front of the house. Basically, everything that you could see from street level. I picked out about four possible exterior colors and painted samples on the side of the house and had my friends and neighbors vote on their favorites, then I promptly ignored the consensus and went with my own choice…this is where my husband says, “I don’t know why you bother to ask when you aren’t gonna listen to what anyone has to say.”  We carved out the better part of a weekend to do some of the major prep work, filling in cracked wood, sanding off flaking paint and taping the windows and painting. Our neighbors and friends even came over and spent an entire Saturday painting with us. Painting the color that I picked out. The color, that when applied in its entirety on the front of the house was a blinding silver. Not the beautiful rich grey that was on the side of the house.

Well, CRAP! We just spent an entire Saturday painting an awful color. I seriously laid awake at night trying to decide whether to just live with it or start with a new shade. Finally, at about 2 am I decided that if we are investing gobs of time and effort into this project, we were going to get the color right. So, back to samples and a new shade of grey.


The blue, silver grey that we started with next to the final shade around the edges.

Having given up the weekend to a bad color, I was on my own for re-painting the new shade during the week. My days looked something like this for about two weeks straight;

Drop kids off at school
Go to Work
Pick Kids up from school
Paint the House
Cry a bit
Cook Dinner
Go to Bed

It was awful! Normally, I’m gratified by an extreme sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. But, this project just was turning into a NEVER ENDING abyss of awfulness! My project plan had us finishing the house painting by mid-December, but we were running into the end of November and hadn’t even finished the front. Our appraisal for the new loan was scheduled for early December, so at the very least, we had to make sure street view was finished.


We finished the front days before the appraisal. Got our loan approved. And, the sense of urgency diminished. Neither one of us were eager to resume our project. Never mind that the back of the house looks like a pit of despair and doesn’t match the front. It was almost time for Christmas break. Jerry would be home from work for two weeks. Perfect time to resume painting. And, so we did.

Jerry and I were working on the covered patio one afternoon during vacation. It was freezing. California freezing. Like, 62 degrees. I was so cold. It was raining. I was angry at this project. But, kept at it. Then, my paint brush went through the wood. Termites. Dry rot. Problems with the exterior wood that we never noticed until we got up and personal with it. At that point, I (very dramatically) got off the ladder and told Jerry I was going to take a nap. I threw my brush in the sink and put on my jammies and went to bed.

It was nearing the end of December and we were nearly three months into a two-month project that was yielding even more problems and expense. Not to mention that we were running into what was predicted to be an extremely heavy El Nino rain season. From exhaustion, lack of motivation, weather and damage that we couldn’t fix ourselves…we just simply gave up on the painting.

El Nino came and went…very underwhelming rainy season.

Taxes were filed.

Refund received!

We were fortunate enough to get a decent tax refund this year. Enough to handle the cost of the termite treatment with a little left over. For about two weeks, I mulled over how best to use the left over tax money. It is important that I am a good steward of my finances so don’t spend money arbitrarily. We had already invested on the time and supplies needed to paint the front of the house. But, we still had the back to contend with, which was a bigger piece of the project than the front, encompassing the garage, the back gate, the metal pool gate, the back wall, pergola and the house itself.

Jerry came home from work one bright and sunny day in March (six months after we started), and I said, “I hope you don’t mind. I called Gabriel to ask him for a quote to finish painting the house.” Gabriel is my painter. He’s painted both knot too shabby GLENDORA and knot too shabby MONROVIA. Jerry was more than pleased to know that chances of him having to grab a paint roller were greatly reduced!

Between scheduling termite treatments with some minimal construction involved and coordinating professional painting in between, we finally were able to see the house completed in May; eight months after we started!

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Ugh…that Volkswagen! Yet, another project that we like the time and know-how to take on. It’s for sale!!!!

The question I get is why didn’t we just use a sprayer to do the painting. Quicker and more efficient for sure!

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My front door is painted in a 50/50 mix of Cream and English Yellow Chalk Paint®, burnished to a shine. No top coat needed.

My answer: I don’t have a commercial grade paint sprayer that could accommodate a project of this capacity. And, to rent a paint sprayer, we would’ve had to knock out the project in a matter of days. The reality of our day-to-day schedules only allowed us to bite off small pieces of this project at a time. Rollers and brushes really were the most logical way to accomplish it without a heavy amount of set up and clean up. When we only had three to four hours at a time to paint, I didn’t want to spend 50% of that time setting up and cleaning up a sprayer.

I would NEVER recommend anyone tackle a project of that size and scale themselves! Without the time and right tools, it just isn’t worth it. And, though I definitely had the know-how to get it done,  I lacked time and equipment!

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Now that it’s done, I’m eager for the summer…for outdoor BBQ’s, swimming and lounging in the sun!

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