Common Commercial Painting Questions

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Commercial Painting – Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions About Paint and Preparation

Which is better – oil paint or latex paint?

While oil paint has traditionally been viewed as superior to water-based paints, the chemicals that made oil paints especially durable have been legislated out of use by the government. As such, oil paints are being phased out of the marketplace for residential painting & some commercial/industrial applications. At the same time, the technological advances in 100% acrylic resin latex paints have improved dramatically. CertaPro inspects and provides specific recommendations for each project.

Latex Over Oil Based Paint – why is this an issue?

We commonly find a low-quality latex based coating applied over a previous oil paint on commercial properties. These latex coatings do not adhere well and can easily be scratched/peeled off. In this situation we recommend stripping the failing component back to a stable substrate, followed by a full primer coat and two coats of paint.

What types of preparation need to be done to my commercial property?

Each client has a different vision for his/her project. This means the level of preparation will be tailored to meet the needs of each client and unique project. Below is a description of the various types of preparation we usually perform. We will discuss with you what you hope to achieve with your project, tailor the proposal to capture that vision, and price the project accordingly.

  • Washing – New paint requires a clean, dry, and firm base to adhere correctly.
  • Scraping – All loose and peeling paint should be removed by scrapers, knives, and/or steel brushes. All areas should be scraped back to a firm edge.
  • Sanding – Sanding, depending on the condition of the substrate, is sometimes necessary to remove loose and peeling paint. Sanding can also help smooth out rough edges. Your estimator can help discuss the level of prep needed for your project.
  • Caulking and Sealing – We will caulk areas that have been previously caulked where the caulk is missing or failing. We will also remove any failing caulk prior to re-caulking.
  • Rust – Surface rust will be scraped/wire brushed until sound. Then a rust-inhibiting primer applied prior to the top-coats.

Does all the old paint need to be removed before it can be repainted?

No, not all of the old paint needs to be removed. It is important to have any loose, peeling, cracking, or degraded paint removed prior to painting. However, if you do wish to have specific areas of the building stripped of all old paint (such as entryways or front doors), we will be happy to discuss the process for doing so. These services can usually be priced as an option, although this type of “restoration” can be rather expensive.

What is a ‘paint system’, and which is appropriate for my project?

A paint system is the combination of sealers, primers, and paints that are developed to work together for different substrates to produce a durable and beautiful finish. Your proposal will have the specific paint system recommended for your project

What is the purpose of primer, and when it is needed?

Primers are specifically designed coatings used to prepare different substrates to accept top coats of paint. They solve specific challenges painters face: sealing out moisture, resisting bleeding of stains and chemicals from inside the substrate, and locking down chalky surfaces.

Substrates that have paint adhering to them, in good condition, usually do not need a full prime coat. Rather, spot priming is performed where the surface is bare, or preparation tasks have been performed. However, if an extreme color change is planned, it is often helpful to have a primer coat applied to help the finish coats cover better.

How many coats of paint are appropriate for my project?

The durability and longevity of a paint job is affected more by the quality of the preparation than the number of coats of paint. In most instances, CertaPro Painters specifies two complete coats of paint for previously painted surfaces. New, raw surfaces usually receive a full prime coat prior to finish coats being applied. Additionally, very dramatic color changes often require a full prime coat prior to finish coats being applied. This is most often seen when covering deep reds, greens and browns and/or when re-coating with a very light color. We will consult with you and can provide an option for an additional coat in those areas.

If you are not changing color, and the existing paint is in relatively good condition, a single coat of matching color and sheen may suffice.

How long does it take the new paint to dry?

Most latex paints set up in 30-120 minutes but may take as long as 30 days to fully cure. For this reason, we recommend opening and closing newly painted windows and doors regularly during this period to avoid sticking.

Is there anything I can do to increase the longevity of my new paint job?

Here are three things: make sure you use only the highest quality materials and paints, have your home power washed every few years, and ensure the proper level of preparation is specified and performed on your project.

What does VOC mean?

VOC stands for “volatile organic compound” and refers to the chemicals that are off-gassed into the environment as part of the drying process. Some of them may be toxic and have a bad odor. The government has limited the types and amount of VOC’s that can be used in paints. Some examples of VOC’s are: paint thinner, mineral spirits, alcohol, gasoline, ethylene glycol, acetone and xylol. Most architectural paints contain some VOC’s.

Are more expensive paints better?

Generally, yes. More expensive paints contain more durable pigments and resins. The resins, along with the binders, give you the quality of finish. The way the product is produced can also impact the quality. Better pigments mean less coats of paint. Your estimator can help recommend the product best suited for your specific application.

What if dry rot or other carpentry issues are discovered during the estimating process?

We regularly perform basic carpentry repairs that are commonly found as part of exterior painting projects. These include removing and replacing rotten window trim, door casing/trim, siding boards, etc.

Your estimator will provide you with a separate price to complete any wood repairs we find during our inspection.

Occasionally, additional repair needs are uncovered during the pressure washing process or when our carpenters access areas that are difficult to access or clearly see during the estimate. We will consult with you, as soon as possible, when additional repairs may be needed and will get your approval for additional work before it is performed.

I’m concerned about water leaks. Will painting solve these issues?

Water intrusion can occur for many reasons: poor draining from gutters, rusted or damaged window and/or roof flashing, rotted siding or trim work, or damaged roofing, just to name a few. It is difficult to determine the exact point of water entry because water follows the path of least resistance once it enters a structure. This means it may come in at one point, travel along an interior joist or other hidden structural elements in the building and come through the wall far from the point of entry.

The caulking and sealing that are part of the normal preparation process of painting often solves leaking problems. However, if the root of the leaking problem is from some other source (for example, a damaged roof or gutters) the painting process will not solve the problem.

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Questions About the Access, Colors Selection, and Lead

How is the crew going to reach the difficult areas of my project?

All our crews have been trained on the safe and proper use of extension ladders. We are also experts in the use of scaffolding & aerial lifts to reach areas inaccessible by ladder.

I’m not sure what colors I want to use. How can CertaPro Painters help me?

We realize color selection and placement decisions can be a source of anxiety for some decision makers, and we recommend visiting your local paint store to look at color selections.

Color charts are available, and we can guide you through what colors are popular and/or fit your preference. Color renderings of your building’s exterior can also be supplied. Our sales representatives will be glad to meet with you to provide color consultations.

What if I am not happy with the colors once they are applied to the building?

CertaPro Painters requires that you confirm your color selection before we order the paint for your project. If you wish to change the colors after they have been confirmed, there may be additional charges for any additional paint and labor required to accommodate the requested changes.

Will CertaPro Painters leave me with touchup paint?

We will be happy to leave you with clearly labeled paint for future touchups

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Questions About the Process and Our People

I’ve met with the sales associate, reviewed the proposal, and would like to proceed.  What do I do next?

The best thing to do is to call or email your sales associate to let him/her know you would like to proceed with the project. Once your sales associate receives your confirmation to proceed we can discuss scheduling a start date for your project.

What experience and background do the foremen and painters have?

It is important to know that our painters are career painters. We take great pride in attracting, training, rewarding, and retaining experienced professional painters. Most have been with us for many seasons. This culture of development and growth has allowed us to have very low turnover in a trade that is notorious for transient labor.

Does CertaPro work nights if needed and/or weekends?

Due to certain commercial environments work is better done after hours, at nights, or on weekends. We do need full access to the property during this time.

How long will my project take?

When we start a project, we stay until it is finished – meaning that our goal is to minimize the disruption painting causes to your normal routine. However, weather may play a role on when your project is able to start and, if it’s an exterior project, how long it takes to be completed. We will be able to give you a time frame of how long your specific project will take one the estimate is completed.

What about inclement weather?

On exterior projects, there are several tasks that can be performed in light rain or fog, such as power washing and scraping. However, we cannot apply sealants, primer or paint in wet weather. In these instances, we must wait for the property to dry out.

Rest assured that we will wait the proper amount of time to ensure the coatings we apply leave you with a quality, dependable finish.

How is payment handled?

For commercial projects, payment is due within ten days of completion and final inspection. For larger projects we will set up a progress payment schedule that is acceptable for both parties.

We prefer payment by cash or check. However, we accept major credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, Discover) with a 3% service fee.


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We can assist with professional color consulting services. Our color consultants know the latest color trends and will work with you to find colors you LOVE.

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Questions About Insurance and Liability

Does CertaPro Painters carry workers’ compensation and general liability insurance policies?

Yes, and at your request we can provide insurance certificates that name you as the certificate holder.

How do I know for sure if a contractor carries workers’ compensation insurance?

Ask for a certificate of insurance, and check with the carrier before work begins to verify the policy is still in force.

Why is it important for a contractor to carry insurance & workers’ compensation?

Contractors such as builders, painters or other tradespeople who work on or around your home are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance. Any injuries suffered during the project would be covered under that policy. If the contractor does not have coverage, or has discontinued his policy to save on premiums, you would be next in line to pay for a worker’s injuries and/or disabilities that occur on your property. Therefore, it is important to only use contractors who have workers’ compensation policies in place.