Many modern houses follow the “open concept” design trend. This translates into a few very high walls and ceilings in your home up to 18-20 feet or even more. While elegant, these walls and ceilings present many challenges when you want to paint them.

To be able to reach this high you have a few options:

  • Use various kinds of ladders
  • Rent scaffolding from places like Home Depot
  • Build custom scaffolding

Sometimes the particular design of the house, like the position of the indoor staircase, can prevent you from being able to use a ladder in an efficient and more importantly safe way. Also there are cases when the standard sized scaffolding you can rent just doesn’t fit or, if it fits, it doesn’t help you with all the walls and ceilings.

Of course every situation is different so the design in this article won’t fit other houses. But the example described here can be inspiration for something similar when you feel stuck and don’t know how to approach a paint job.

This solution is also cost effective. Even if you need to buy all the materials to build the custom scaffolding usually they will cost you less than a big ladder and less then the cost of renting standard scaffolding. And at the end you will have most of the material and can reuse them in other projects or keep and store them to recreate the scaffolding a few years later when you need to paint again.

In this particular case the purpose was to build a platform to allow for the easy painting of the high walls above the staircase.

As you can see the end result is a very safe platform at the desired height. On this platform more than one person can work at the same time and keep all the tools around.

Design and execution principles

When you design this kind of scaffolding you have two purposes in mind:

  1. The end result has to allow you to do the job properly so functionally the scaffolding has to go to the desired height and to allow you to access all the walls you want to paint
  2. You want to be safe when you build the scaffolding, when you use the scaffolding and in the end when you tear it apart

In this particular case the platform was 10 feet tall and went from wall to wall. This might not be possible in every situation.

The end design in this case required this list of materials:

  • 6 2x4s for the 6 legs
  • 6 2x4s for 3 double cross beams
  • 3 4′x8′ OSB sheets
  • 12 2x4s for the simple beams used to support the OSB sheets
  • 3″ wood screws for the structure
  • 1 1/2″ wood screws to secure the OSB sheets
  • The price for the whole thing was under $100 way less than renting scaffolding. In this particular case renting wasn’t even an option.

    Details and tips about the execution

    • 2 of the legs were placed ont he stairs and were shorter
    • All the legs were secured to the floor using screws. In this case the subfloor was exposed, but if you need to build this on top of finished floor you need to protect it. Use some kind of cushioning between the legs and the finished floor. In this case you can’t secure the legs to the floor. An alternate solution is to add a few 2x4s between the legs at maybe 2 feet from the floor
    • The cross beams were doubled because they support all the weight
    • The join between the legs and the cross beams was reinforced
    • This job can be done by 2 people in 2-3 hours. It also takes about 1 hour to take apart at the end

    The list of tools needed for this project is short:

    • Saw
    • Drill

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