Part of the process of preparing a residential or commercial structure for occupancy is painting walls and other surfaces that require paint. Some home and business owners perform this job themselves, but it can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, especially when the property is large. That is why many individuals and businesses hire house painters to perform painting for them. The primary job of the house painter is to apply paint to the interiors and exteriors of the building in consultation with the building owners. There are several processes involved in executing a project, including selecting the right paints, preparing surfaces by cleaning them, making small repairs and applying touch-ups to blemished areas, and performing other tasks necessary to ensure that the final result is satisfactory to the client. House painters may work for a contractor or they may be self-employed agents.
Ours was a big job. We chose to work with three colors, one of which Sang and his partner painstakingly applied to all our window trim and grids. But before the colors came the preparation. The detail and precision of their work can not be understated. Even the taping of plastic was performed with purpose, each edge a clean line. Sang inspected all phases (patching, sanding, and power washing) with great attention and after three days of intensive work, it was time for primer and paint. Sang is knowledgeable and gave us great advice on how to best use our colors. Again, he payed close attention to detail, making sure that our house looked beautiful. We are extremely pleased!
Even an old lamp with a bare bulb held close to a wall will make minor cracks, bumps or nail pops jump out. Carmen Toto, owner of C. Toto & Sons in Madison, New Jersey, uses painter's putty or a lightweight spackle for minor cracks and dents; he uses plaster of Paris for dents deeper than 1/8 inch. Instead of the standard tape-and-spackle method for bridging over recurring stress cracks, Maceyunas uses a rubberized spray-on primer called Good-Bye Crack. Damaged wood requires a slightly different approach. "Don't use spackle on wood," says Toto, "because it just won't stick." For damaged trim, he uses painter's putty or a two-part wood filler, such as Minwax's High Performance Filler. Smooth any repairs, bumps, and nibs with a drywall pole sander. For smoother walls and better adhesion, some of our pros sand all previously painted walls regardless of the shape they're in.
Pros prefer 5-gallon buckets with a roller grid to roller pans. They hold more paint than pans and, says Doherty, "It's tougher to tip over a bucket." A bucket also lets you box, or mix, two or three cans of paint to avoid color discrepancies. To use a bucket and grid, dip the roller a quarter of the way into the paint and run it over the ramp to work the paint into the nap.
Picking exterior house paint colors is a lot different than picking a color for a shirt or a car. It may help to drive around to observe colors that other homeowners have combined on homes that are of similar size and design as yours. There are also online resources that provide homeowners with the ability to create virtual makeovers of their home by combining colors together through their software programs as well.
The pros were split on this tip. "Masking tape is problematic," says Mark Dixon, a painter in Missoula, Montana, and author of "House Painting Inside and Out" (Taunton Press, 1997). "Paint can bleed behind the tape, or remove the paint it's stuck to." Another problem is bridging. "Latex paints form a skin," says Dixon. "Removing painted tape can tear the skin, resulting in a ragged rather than a sharp line." Lastly, taping takes time. "Learning how to cut in with a brush takes practice, but if you can do it, you'll leave most tapers in the dust," Dixon says. (Cutting in is painting just the surface you want, not the surface adjacent to it — for example, where a wall meets the ceiling.) On the other hand, "If you can't cut in, you can't beat tape," says Span. The pros we spoke with all recommend painter's (blue) tape because it's easier to remove than masking tape. To prevent bleeding, Span uses a putty knife to bed the tape. After letting the paint dry, he scores the edge of the tape line with a utility knife to avoid tearing the paint.
Specify whether the contractor or you will supply the paint. Check Consumer Reports' paint ratings: In its tests, some relatively inexpensive paints performed better than more expensive paints and cost $10 to $20 less per gallon. But keep in mind that most paints will resist cracking, peeling, mold and mildew. Who does the painting — and how well they do it — is more important than what's in the bucket.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 45 percent of all painters are self-employed, though that number may be slightly higher if companies hire freelancers or self-employed painters as part of their team. The price that painters charge for their services is largely dependent on their association and whether the job is completed in the warmer or colder months (painters often charge more in the summer and less in the winter, given demand and other factors). More information regarding painter rates and associated factors is included below.
Most pros don't bother cleaning brushes and rollers if they are going to use them the next day on the same job. "Latex paint dries slowly in cold temperatures," says Maceyunas. For two-day jobs, he wraps the rollers and brushes in plastic grocery bags and sticks them in the refrigerator. "Just allow the roller to return to room temperature before reusing it," he says. Roller covers are almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Most pros buy new covers for each job.