House Painting How To Manual
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Ladders and Scaffolding in House Painting

For many jobs, both interior and exterior you will need a ladder. Be sure to get a ladder of the appropriate height and type. For interior jobs, you will want a stepladder with a good spreader brace. Be sure to always open this ladder to its farthest extent. It could slip when you are standing on it, and the subsequent jerk could cause you to fall or spill your paint. You should never stand on the very top of a stepladder. As high as you should go is two steps from the top. Most step ladders come equipped with a bucket shelf, handy for setting buckets of paint and tools. Always be sure to remove the tools and buckets before moving the ladder.

Leaning Ladder Image
For exterior jobs, you will very likely be using an extension ladder. These generally have a hoisting rope connected to a pully to help you extend the ladder. They also come with rung locks to secure the ladder at the appropriate height. Experts recommend that you adjust the angle of the ladder so that, when extended, the vertical reach of the ladder is about 4 times the distance from the base to the wall. It is very important to get the appropriate angle, as too close to the wall the ladder may tip sideways or even backwards. A ladder too far from the wall can have the feet slide out from under it and come rattling down the wall. Either incident can cause serious injury. (Read about the author's personal experience with ladders.)

Stairwell Scaffolding Image
Scaffolding can be used both indoors and out. You can acquire standard scaffolding or use two extension ladders with ladder jacks and 2X10 scaffold-grade planks for mid-level work. You can put together a platform for working in a stairwell by using an extension ladder on the steps facing the wall and a step ladder at the top of the stairs, with a 2X10 plank resting on the rungs between them. Before setting up either of these scaffolds, be certain that the bases of the ladders are secure and the boards are not likely to slide. For details, see the illustration at the right.

To further secure your work platform, you can use a ladder stabilizer. This is an attachment to the top of a ladder that broadens its contact with the wall it is leaned against. It makes it less likely that a ladder will swing away from a wall and can also be helpful when working around windows. As always, be sure that the base of the ladder is secure and that the side leaning up against the wall is not likely to slide.

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