If you recently purchased a nice old Victorian house but are disappointed with the paint job the prior owners chose, then you should consider turning your house into a painted lady. This is a style of house painting that uses multiple colors to show off the interesting architectural aspects of Victorian-era homes. The colors are up to the homeowner, but you will often see bright pastels and light colors instead of very dark colors.
This is a very fun project if you are into home renovation and are a do-it-yourselfer. This job doesn't require any complicated carpentry or masonry; all you will need to do is strip the old paint and apply new paint. Here's what you need to do to get started.
Ideas of What Painted Ladies Look Like
To help you get an idea about color combinations, take a look online at some painted ladies. The most famous are probably the Victorian homes in San Francisco, but you will find them all over the country (including in NYC).
Get Your Exterior Paint
Once you have your color combos picked out, head to a paint store. Make sure that they know you are painting exterior wood. Often if you're looking at light pastels (pinks, baby blues), the salesperson might think you are doing interior painting. You want them to know you need a paint that is designed for exterior wood.
Get a Heat Gun and a Paint Scraper
You will need to strip off the old paint. Don't paint over the old paint. This will cause the new paint to age faster. The underlying paint can bubble and crack and disturb the fresh coat on top. You need to remove the old paint before you begin to paint the wood. A heat gun is great because it can melt the old paint, and then you can easily scrape the paint off with the scraper. Make sure to also have a plastic bucket and rags to clean your scraper as you work.
You don't want to think about removing paint while you are working on a ladder. This might not be a huge problem on the first floor, but when you're working on the second story, you need something stable to work on. Scaffolding will let you walk back and forth and work safely at second- and third-story heights. You can also place your bucket, paint cans, scrapers, rags, and lots of other tools on the platform. When renting the scaffolding, make sure that you choose one that can reach the very top of the house. The third story has beautiful, small detailing around the windows and is one of the most visually interesting areas, so you want to be able to spend time on it and get up close with your paint brush. If you get a small scaffold that only lets you reach the second story, then you will have to use a long-handle paint brush to reach the very top.
You should also make sure that the scaffolding has some sort of safety bar or chain rope. This will prevent you from walking backward and toppling off the platform while you are painting.