Painting your home is necessary, and a good investment. But who to hire? Recommendations are useful, but what your close pal or neighbor deems a good painting job compared to your expectations may be vastly different. And then there’s the challenge of getting the painter to show up on time, to do the necessary prep work, to use the best finish for walls, ceilings and trim, and to clean up properly when the job is done.
This is why CertaPro Painters, the largest painting contracting company in North America, has grown to operate in 375 markets over a course of 25 years. They’ve grown their company by hiring people with expertise, by completing painting projects on time and because of their commitment to stand behind their work. "Consumers have become a lot more knowledgeable and do their homework, often on the internet," says Mike Stone, the President of CertaPro Painters headquartered in Oaks, Penn. During our recent interview with Mike, he covered nine areas any home owner should know about before embarking on any painting project.
- Cost-effective decorating, and necessary home protection. Yes, painting is still the hallmark of decorating, versus other more extensive design treatments. And while paint projects are often undertaken to beautify an interior room, painting outside protects surfaces that may be blistering or bubbling from weather. Painting both inside and out improves the look of your home, protects it and can increase its value.
- Reflect personal decorating preferences. Many paint manufacturers debut a color of the year annually, but these are first and foremost a promotional tool to showcase their new colors and capture the imagination of homeowners, Stone says. "Individuality is what really comes to life with a home owner’s color choice; it should reflect their intent for that space rather than someone else’s," he says. The right color for a hospital or hotel would be very different than the mood home owners want to create for, let’s say, a dining room. And despite some very tantalizing promotional colors, now in the blue and red families, the two most popular colors today are beige and white, Stone says. "People want to be safe," he says. And, yes, some are beginning to stop using so much gray, which had made great inroads in recent years.
- Achieving the color desired. While paint may be relatively easy to apply, the tricky part is getting the exact hue desired. And dabbing some paint sample on a surface and even studying it for several days, or studying a large 8 ½-inch-by-11-inch large colored swatch of the color, isn’t as good as buying a quart and applying it to different areas of a room. "That way you see how light and furnishings affect it," Stone says. He also suggests if home owners don’t hire a professional designer to help, they should consider asking a CertaPro painting contractor. They are very familiar with how colors will appear and provide free color consultations.
- Buying the right paint. There are many paint choices available from many manufacturers with a wide range of prices. Stone is a big fan of products from large companies such as Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams, since they do a lot of research and development regarding what goes into the paint to achieve good colors and adhesion and avoid environmental issues.
- Right finish for the right surface. Flat paint isn’t scrubbable, but it’s easy to touch up and blends in. This means it doesn’t reveal it was tweaked and makes a good choice for walls. But a paint with a higher sheen should be used on walls where you need greater durability because of heavier traffic and also where you might want to wash or scrub it. However, be aware that this finish isn’t as easy to touch up without leaving a mark. Some sheen is also smart for trim. A good way to remember what to use is to remember this grading description: paint goes from no sheen or flat to low sheen, eggshell, semi-gloss and then high gloss. A skilled painting contractor will also know of recent developments in paints such as those with microbials built in, so it kills staph infections and can be used in hospitals. "Paint technology is advancing," Stone says.
- Prime or not. Some of the newer paints on the market come with a primer built in. Stone says these are marketed mostly for do-it-yourselfers (DIY) who like the idea of painting a wall with one less coat. A true professional, he says, primes first since a primer aids in the finishing coats’ adhesion to a wall, ceiling or trim. "It will last longer and helps block whatever color was underneath," he says. And part of good prep comes even before—covering furniture—and waiting between coats for all to be dry. "Part of our company delivering ‘an extraordinary experience’ is explaining that painting is very disruptive, but we can minimize it or at least alert people what will occur," Stone says.
- Number of coats. The old rules still apply. If you use a good quality paint that’s in the same color family as the old color, you often can get by with one coat. If you’re changing colors, you almost always still need two—and even sometimes—three coats to cover the old paint adequately.
- Getting a warranty. Many independent painters won’t, but CertaPro does for at least two years. Most exterior paints, Stone says, should last for five to seven years in a harsh climate and maybe a bit longer in more benign weather. How long an interior paint lasts depends on how much use and traffic the area will get.
- Key questions to ask before hiring any painter. How long will the job take, who will be doing the actual painting, do they have insurance, what’s the total estimate and does that include both labor and materials?