• Beyond Paint

7 things your house painter wishes you knew

Painting your house is one of those maintenance projects that most homeowners undertake at some point, whether it's the outside or the inside.


But homeowners tend to get nervous around painters. What if they spatter the new carpeting or shatter the china cabinet window? What if the colors you've painstakingly selected don't work out?

Take a deep breath. You've hired a professional. Here's how to help them do their best job.


1. Painting your house is art—let the pros do it

Think of painting as not just a skill, but also an art: You wouldn't hover behind Michelangelo as he completed the Sistine Chapel, fretting the whole time, would you?

Yes, it's true that your bathroom wall will never be one of the world's premiere masterpieces, no matter how skilled your painter, but that doesn't make back-seat painters any less annoying.


2. Prep can take a long time

30% of a good-quality paint job will be prep time. The differences between a rushed paint job and one done properly are enormous: paint on the walls and everything else; uncleaned walls leading to a splotchy paint job; your favorite couch ruined by a misguided spatter.

3. Make sure your home is ready to paint

Don't leave all the prep work to the painters, though—they've got their hands full. Things will go much smoother if you make sure your home is truly painter-ready. For interior jobs, make sure you've cleaned all of the awkward spots, including behind the toilet, and picked up any knickknacks that might get in the way (e.g., soap containers, loofahs, and kitchen organizers). Removing the switch plates and outlet covers from the walls also goes a long way toward speeding up painting time—and painters' time is (your) money. For exterior jobs, it is recommended to trim your bushes and shrubs away from the house, leaving at least 18 inches of clearance. Making sure your gutters and downspouts are in "tiptop condition" can also speed up the painting process, he says.

4. Ask for touch-ups right away

After the paint job is finished, ask for a walk-through. Most painters should offer this regardless. That doesn't mean most painters are willing to provide endless touch-ups, though—especially if it's not a result of poor workmanship. Feel free to call back about something you noticed only when the light hit the wall in just the right spot.

5. Sit on the toilet

What?

Yup, after getting your bathroom painted, sit your butt down on the toilet and stare. It's a great way to catch tiny, missed spots you wouldn't see otherwise. What you see in a bathroom when you're painting isn't what you see when you're sitting down. Look around in the areas where you're going to notice stuff.

6. Compare the specifics of the bids

It's tough to over-emphasize the importance of hiring painters who provide detailed bids before painting your house. Deciding between two or three contractors is hard enough; it's more so if you're relying on pure guesswork.

Look at the material costs. You don't need to go with the painter who buys the most expensive materials, but don't go with the cheapest, either.

7. Don't be scared to ask for a discount

If you're comparing two bids and you really love the more expensive painter—but your budget just won't allow it—don't hesitate to ask for a discount for the pro you want to be the one painting your house. Sure, if the difference is astronomical, you and your painter might not be able to find a comfortable middle ground. But it never hurts to try.

And when business is also art, it's worth taking the time to find a contractor you love.


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