Painting is the single quickest and easiest way to raise the selling price of a property. If the exterior and interior walls reflect a high level of care, a home buyer will feel confident the same attention has been given to other areas of the home. Homeowners have many things to consider when trying to sell a home and gain the most out of their investment. If the budget is limited for improvements on a home to increase its financial worth, the place to start is a gallon of paint. While other amenities such as new appliances and granite counter tops are nice, they are also pricey. Painting is a simple and budget-friendly way to quickly add to the investment of your home.
How can a homeowner find out if a painting contractor is licensed?
Each State Licensing agency provides consumers with a toll free telephone number and/or an online web site where they can verify the status of a licensed contractor (and in some cases the status of his insurance and bonding company). In some states it is not necessary for a painting contractor to obtain a state license for performing some types of painting work. In California you may visit the contractors state license board web site at: (http://www.cslb.ca.gov/). In Nevada see (http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com/). It is also advisable to see if the contractor is a member of a trade association such as The Painting & Decorating Contractors of America (http://pdca.org/) or the Better Business Bureau.
Is it customary to ask for references? If so, when is it a good time to ask?
After a consumer has narrowed his hiring choice down to two or three contractors, it is always a good idea to ask the contractors being considered (prior to hiring him) for references of similar types of jobs the homeowner is considering and that the contractor has most recently completed. It is important to ask for the most recently completed jobs, as even the worse painting contractors can get lucky over a period of time and have even a few of his jobs turn out reasonably well. But the important question the homeowner needs answered is how the contractor has been performing recently and how well has he most recently satisfied his clients. After the contractor has provided the homeowner with the requested information, the homeowner then has the option of contacting the contractors previous clients and asking if they were satisfied with his work, or driving by the jobs (if they were exterior jobs) and looking at the contractors work first hand. If the contractor is unable or unwilling to provide at least three references, then the homeowner should move on with the project using another contractor.
How can a homeowner determine if they need to completely re-paint an area or just do touch-up work?
This is not always an easy decision to make, even for the most experienced painting contractors such as myself. I always advise the homeowner to permit me to test a few small areas for touching up. After letting the touch up areas completely dry, you may then examine the areas touched up at various angles and under different light conditions (at different times of day) to see how well the touched up areas blended in with the old paint color. If the homeowner is not pleased with how well the touch up blended in, then the decision can be made to completely re-paint the areas under consideration. The cleaner and most recently painted areas always touch up easier and better than older dirty surfaces. There are also certain "special" techniques and skills involved in touching up such as "feathering" out the areas being touched up or thinning down the coating being used to touch up. But it takes years of practice and training for a skilled painter to become a true craftsman and learn many of these tricks of the trade in doing touch-up work.
What is "priming" and how can a homeowner decide if an area needs to be primed first?
A prime coat can be defined as the first coat of paint on a surface that has not been previously coated or it can be defined as a first coat of paint on a surface whose coating has completely weathered away down to the original substrate being coated. In a two or three coat paint job a prime coat is sometimes defined as the first coat to be applied. A homeowner should let his contractor decide if a surface needs to be "primed" or not, and if so which type of primer to be used, as this is beyond the knowledge of most average homeowners to determine. There are literally hundreds of different primers manufactured for nearly every type of surface that can be painted. There are special primers manufactured for wood, glass, drywall, stucco, granite, sheet rock, fiberboard, metal, etc. Many paint manufacturers are now marketing products that are "self priming" or have the primer "built in" to the paint. Most repaint jobs do not need a "full-prime" coat but only need a primer applied where the old coating has been removed by the painters by sanding, scraping or spot priming. This is known as "spot priming". Entire books have been written just on this subject of paint primers and priming, and most homeowners should go with the priming instructions on the paint manufacturers label or as instructed by his contractor. It is a common misconception to most homeowners (and even some so-called professionals) that more coats of paint are better and will last longer than fewer coats. At Woodard Custom Painting we advise our clients that it is actually the exact opposite that is true, keeping in mind that multiple coats of paint always increase the risk of a paint failure down the road. This is because the thicker and more numbers of coats of paint that are on a surface, the more stress is placed on that coated surface, thereby increasing that risk of a future paint failure So the minimal number of coats needed to cover & protect a surface, and the thinner the coats are that are applied, are best. So full prime coats should be avoided when they are not necessary, and spot priming will work just as well.
How many coats of paint are typically needed?
Most jobs can be completed with one coat of paint if repainting over the same color. If a new color is selected 1 or perhaps 2 coats may be advised by the contractor. For drastic color changes 2 to 3 or even more coats may be necessary to obtain full coverage. The least number of coats necessary in order to obtain complete color coverage are better than extra coats of paint that are not necessary. As stated above, multiple coats of paint always increase the risk of a paint failure down the road. So color selection and/or condition of the surface being coated are what determine the number of coats to be applied. As an experienced contractor I will usually know this in advance and advise my client accordingly.
What colors are the best choices for increasing the value of a home?
Color does not normally determine the value or increase the value of a home. But it can certainly decrease the value of the home if totally objectionable or hideous colors beyond the range of "acceptable" are selected. It is important to remember that what may appeal to you and your family may not appeal to others. If a home is being placed on the market it is usually advisable to paint the home in more traditional shades of neutral or off-white colors that will appeal to the widest base of potential buyers. Otherwise, it is best to work with a decorator in selecting colors, as they have more experience than contractors in color selection. But it is always advisable for a homeowner to ask a contractor his opinion of the colors that have been selected prior to the job being started.
What is "sheen" and when/where should different types of sheen be used?
Without getting too technical, "Sheen" is the luster or brightness of a paint coating. Most paint coatings are available in the following 5 sheens: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss, with flat being the dullest or lowest sheen and gloss being the brightest or highest sheen. Woodwork, doors, trim and moisture areas of a home (bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens) are usually finished with a semi-gloss sheen. Some paint manufacturers make excellent eggshell and satin finishes that also perform well on these surfaces and areas. Other areas of a home, such as the walls and ceilings may be finished in any sheen the homeowner prefers. Some homeowners like the shinier look on walls and ceilings, while other's like the duller look. The higher the sheen the more light that is reflected in a room. The lower sheens reduce glare and light reflection. The higher sheens are more scrubbable, while the lower sheens are less scrubbable and durable. Gloss sheen coatings are normally used on industrial projects such as bridges, water towers, and other metal surfaces, and gloss sheens are not as often used on surfaces to be coated on residential projects (other than metal vents/doors or occasionally wood surfaces such as cabinets and railings).
How long does it typically take for an interior job to be completed? How long does it typically take for an exterior job to be completed?
A typical 3-5 room interior of 1700 square feet can take a crew of 2 painters anywhere from 2-7 days to complete depending on how many colors are selected and if the home is furnished or empty of furnishings. The contractor will know how many days and will advise the homeowner verbally and also in the written contract.
Does the homeowner usually need to be home when a job is being completed?
It is normally not a necessary requirement for the homeowner to be home while the work is being done. Some homeowners prefer to be home while the work is being done though, while other homeowners like to have the work done while they are away from home. Our company we are willing to work with our clients and accomodate their individual scheduling needs.
Should anything be done to ensure that plants and shrubs are not damaged? What happens if they are damaged during a job?
Plants and shrubs should be trimmed or pulled away from the surfaces being painted, or protected from paint over spray or paint splatters by covering them with canvas drops or other cloths made for that purpose. Plants, trees, shrubs lawns and vegetation of any kind should NEVER be covered with plastic or visquine for any length of time, as this will almost always kill the vegetation being covered. In the rare event that plants or shrubs are damaged, they may need to be replaced, or just allowed to grow out and recover in time, depending on the extent of the damage. In some cases (especially with oil base paints and stains) the plants, shrubs, trees or lawns may be damaged beyond recovery and die. The contractor should always be responsible for any damage to a homeowners property, unless he has specifically excluded such in his written and verbal contract with the homeowner.
How should a homeowner prepare their home, prior to having their house painted?
Each contractor has there own requirements and should explain these to the homeowner both verbally and in writing. On interior jobs my company request the homeowner remove all wallhangings and personal items from the tops of counters and furniture, and we will move and replace the furniture, wall plates, ceiling & wall mounted light fixtures & window coverings. On exterior jobs we request the homeowner remove all patio & lawn furniture away from the areas to be painted, as well
How does payment typically work, with regard to placing deposits and paying the balance?
On smaller jobs of 2-5 days and/or under $1,000 a contractor will usually not require a deposit, but will invoice for the work after the job is completed, expecting payment according to the terms of the contractors contract (usually within 1-30 days upon completion). On larger jobs a contractor may require a deposit of 10% or more. Many states limit the amount of deposit a contractor can require to no more than $1,000 or 10% of the total contract price.
Can a homeowner save money on paint if they purchase it through their painting contractor?
This depends on wether the contractor marks up the cost of his materials or not, and if so, how much of a mark up it is. Most contractors can purchase paint at a better cost than a consumer. A consumer can always request the contractor itemize his estimate and separate the cost of materials, then the homeowner can decide if he wants to purchase the materials himself. Of course, if there are any problems down the road with a material failure, the homeowner is then responsible for the material failure, not the contractor. In most cases, my recommendation would be to go with the brand and type of paint the contractor recommends, let the contractor supply the paint, then all liability for any warranty provided by the contractor is the contractors responsibility, not the homeowners.