Got enough tools for your paint job yet? See some home construction pictures.

A few years ago, my brothers and our families gathered at my parents to paint their early 1900s farmhouse — and we did it in a day. The younger set painted the trim with brushes while my brothers and nephews manned the paint sprayer. Unfortunately, my toddler wandered away with a paintbrush and went Rembrandt on the porch’s concrete steps. Luckily, my parents thought it was adorable.

Painting a house requires more tools than you might think. But making the effort to gather the right ones to prep and finish exterior walls can save time and, in the end, offer a more professional result. Exterior paint is one of the fastest and most inexpensive ways to redo your home and up its value. Done right, it’s a new look that can last 15 or more years — just as if you’d hired professionals. Here are 10 tools that will set your project up for success.

A Multipurpose Tool
 It’s nice when you find a tool that can do the job of two. But what about five? A multipurpose painter’s tool, sometimes known as a 5-in-1 tool, is essential for the rounds of prep work that must take place before painting a home’s exterior. And it fits easily into a pocket. Among its many features.
  • The hole in the center of the tool’s blade is great for pulling nails.
  • The straight edge is sharp enough to scrape loose paint and can double as a putty knife when making repairs.
  • The pointed corner cleans out cracks before filling them.
  • One side of the tool can open a paint can.
  • The other (curved) side of the tool is designed to squeeze extra paint out of rollers.
  • The handle hammers the paint can lid shut.

Usually a 5-in-1 tool is enough for the job, but you can buy versions with more features, such as a 7-in-1 or even a 17-in-1 tool.


If you’d like your new paint job to reach higher than the 6-foot (1.8-meter) mark, you’re going to need a ladder.

There are several different types, but stepladders, extension ladders and straight ladders are the most useful for exterior painting. Stepladders range up to 20 feet (6 meters) in height and are nonadjustable. They have a hinged design that opens two self-supporting sides, one of which has flat steps for climbing. Most stepladders come with a horizontal platform near the top, which can accommodate a paint can or tools.

Straight ladders can reach up to 30 feet (9 meters) and should be propped at a 75-degree angle against a stable structure. If you’re trying to paint the roof eaves, you’ll want the ladder to extend 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 centimeters) above the roof. Extension ladders are similar to straight ladders except they consist of two sections that can be extended, reaching up to 60 feet (18 meters) in height. (A three-section ladder can go up to 72 feet, or 21 meters.) A paint shelf can be purchased or made as an accessory.

Drop Cloths

It’s quite possible that as your home gets prepared for a shiny new coat of paint, your landscaping ends up in a dull, lifeless state, thanks to the chemicals coming off the walls. You can avoid this by protecting your greenery.

Before scraping excess paint or using a pressure washer, cover trees, plants, grass and shrubs with plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Either will work, but some professional painters recommend drop cloths because they let water run through while still catching paint chips. They’re also less likely to rip. It’s a good idea to use only water during a high-pressure wash because chemicals can kill plants and grass. Avoid hitting trees, plants or shrubs with the high-pressure stream because the water blast can damage them.

Use landscaping staples or 2×4 boards to hold the plastic sheeting or drop cloths in place. Keep them there until the painting job is complete because they can catch paint drips, something that’s especially prone to happen when using a paint roller.

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