Common Questions When Hiring a Painter

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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 government has steadily legislated out of use the chemicals in oil paint which used to make it very durable, and oil paints are being phased out of the marketplace for residential painting. At the same time, the technological advances in 100% acrylic resin latex paints have improved dramatically.

What types of preparation need to be done to my house?
Each customer has a different vision for their project, and that means the level of preparation will be tailored to meet the needs of each customer and their unique project. Below is a description of the various types of preparation we usually perform. Your estimator 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 to correctly.
  • Scraping -all loose and peeling paint should be removed by scrappers, knives, and/or steel brushes. All areas should be scrapped back to a firm edge.
  • Sanding- sanding is a beautification process and does not add longevity to the paint job.  As such, this is one point where you must discuss your desires with the estimator. Often, sanding is focused on high visibility areas.
  • Wooden Windows – windows with putty holding the glass in place will have old, dry, and crumbling putty removed, the edge cleaned, and fresh putty applied.
  • Divots- dents and dings in wooden trim items (doors, windows, molding, etc.) are filled with putty or an auto body filler and sanded smooth. The extent of this work is dependent upon what you discuss with the estimator and what is included in the proposal.
  • Caulking and Sealing -gaps, cracks, and crevices in siding, and around doors and windows will be sealed and caulked. Different substrates require different caulks and sealers, and we will use the correct product for each specific circumstance. Please note that horizontal and vertical seams in most siding substrates are NOT designed to be caulked and should remain open to allow the house to breathe.

Does all the old paint on my house 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), please discuss this with your estimator – this 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 paint system listed that the estimator deems appropriate for your particular situation.

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, such as 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 tinted prime coat applied which helps 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.  New, raw surfaces usually receive a full prime coat prior to finish coat(s) being applied. Additionally, very dramatic color changes often require a full prime coat or second finish coat to cover the existing color.

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, but will require discussing the pros and cons of such a paint system with your estimator.  While second coats are not always necessary they are always available at your request.

What is elastomeric paint?
Elastomeric paint is a special coating designed for stucco and masonry surfaces where water intrusion has been an ongoing problem. It canrequire a special primer and two complete finish coats to create a very thick film between the building and the environment. As the name implies, this coating has a very elastic nature that helps it to bridge underlying cracks in stucco and masonry surfaces. The costs for elastomeric paint are much higher than for latex paint due to a much lower spread rate and the difficulty of working with this specialty product.

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 so that they do not stick.

How long should the new paint job last?
The longevity of the paint job is affected mostly by the quality of the preparation. Some customers ask us to skimp on the prep to save a few dollars (i.e., they just want to clean the house up for sale), while other customers want a level of preparation that will last ten years or more. Other aspects that will affect the longevity include the types, age, and condition of the substrates, their exposure to the elements, and how protected a building is by other near-by buildings.

Most often it is not the top coats of paint that fail, but the bottom coats that fail because they are the oldest coats on the house their resins simply degrade. When this happens the top coats don’t have anything solid to adhere to, and thus begin to peel and crack.

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; ensure the proper level of preparation is specified for you project.

Will I save money if I buy the materials?
Not likely.  In fact we get better discounts than the employees of most of the major paint manufacturers.  If you want the best materials for the lowest price, then let us get them for you.

Is there a difference between hand-brushed and sprayed paint?
Basically, both spraying and brushing are acceptable application methods, so long as the paint is put on at the proper spread rate (sq. ft./gallon) and performed by a skilled applicator. Spraying will provide a smoother appearance, and less chance for mildew to get into brush marks and grow.  As long as the surface has been properly prepared, sprayed paint will adhere as well as if brushed.

On some substrates, the first coat is sprayed and a painter follows the sprayer, working the paint into the surface by brushing and rolling the wet paint. This is called a spray with a back-roll/back-brush. Many times a second coat is not back-rolled or back-brushed – the goal is to have a uniform film on paint applied with that second coat. And some substrate manufacturers (ie, James Hardi Hardiplank) actually recommend the surface be sprayed and NOT back-rolled or back-brushed. Our crews know the proper application methods for all the different substrates and paints.

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. Many of them can be toxic and have a bad odor, so the government has limited what sorts of VOC can be used in paints, as well as limited the amounts that can be used. Some examples are paint thinner, mineral spirits, alcohol, gasoline, ethylene glycol, acetone and xylol. Most architectural paints contain some VOCs.

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.  If you really want to save money, spend a little more on quality materials.

That said, there are instances where the most expensive paints may not be appropriate for your situation. An example is Sherwin Williams Duration. This is a super-premium paint that lasts a long time. However, it dries very tight and is not necessarily recommended for homes with lots of previous coats of paint because Duration may pull off the old coats. Again, working with CertaPro means that you will get the right paint specified and expertly applied by our experienced crews.

Access, Colors Selection, and Lead

How is the crew going to reach the difficult areas of my project?
All of our workers have been trained on the safe and proper use of extension ladders. If it is called for, we are also expert in the use of scaffolding, lifts, and booms.

How is interior access to my home handled?
This decision is all about your comfort level and we will accommodate your wishes. Some customers give us the garage door opener or front door key and let us come and go as we need. Other customers do not want any work done while they are not present. Let us know your desires and we will work within those guidelines.

Is there lead paint on my house, and if so, how is it handled?
Lead paint was outlawed for residential use in 1978. If your home was built before then, your home might possibly contain lead paint, even if it has been painted a number of times since 1978 – the paint closest to the substrate is what we are concerned with. By law, we must either assume that homes built before 1978 contain lead paint and take specific measures to protect residents, the general public, our workers, and the environment, or we must test for the presence of lead, and take all necessary precautions only if the tests are positive.

However, testing is not a simple process and can be expensive to perform correctly. Moreover, if the presence of lead is confirmed the owner must disclose this upon sale of the property, which might reduce the home’s value. Consequently, for pre-1978 projects we simply assume there is lead paint present and take all the necessary precautions.

I’m not sure what colors I want to use. What help can CertaPro Painters give me?
We realize color selection and placement decisions can be a source of anxiety for some customers, and we have developed a number of options to help you through this process.

·        We provide many three- and four-color palettes to choose from which have been designed by the paint vendors

·        We offer color matching of another home in your neighborhood

·        We have a color consultant we can recommend

What if I am already working with a color consultant?
CertaPro Painters regularly works with color consultants and designers hired by our customers. Our experience has been that most designers are very good at what they do and the results are usually very attractive. Simply provide us with the color palette and placement information developed by the consultant and away we go. If we have any questions about the palette or its placement we will ask you first, and the consultant if necessary.

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 once they have been confirmed there may be additional charges for more paint, as well as for any rework/labor that may be required.

Are there extra charges if I have more colors on my house?
Pricing is not necessarily determined by the number of colors on a house, but rather the desired amount of detail to be brought out using the various colors. Your estimator will talk with you about the amount of detail you want brought out, spell that out in the proposal, and price the work accordingly.

Will CertaPro Painters leave me with touchup paint?
We will be happy to leave you with clearly labeled paint for future touchups.

The Process and Our People

I have just met with the estimator – now what?
There are a number of ways the estimator can get the proposal to you, and he will have discussed these options will you at the time of the appointment. If you were not left with copies of the proposal at the time of the appointment, we can email the proposal to you as an Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) attachment. We can put two copies of the proposal in the mail. We can fax the proposal to you. We can schedule a time to meet with you and go over the proposal in person.

I have reviewed the proposal and would like to proceed – what do I do next?
The best thing to do is to call or email your estimator who will discuss the next steps. These often start by getting a signed copy of the proposal, discussing where you stand in the color selection process, and where your project fits into the production schedule.

What experience and background do the foremen and painters have?
Our foremen have at least 7 years of painting. Our painters have between 2 and 10 years of painting experience, and we also have a handful of apprentices who are learning the trade under the direction of our foremen, cleaning up job sites, staging equipment and paint, and making the rest of the crew more efficient.

It is important to know that our workers are career painters. We do not use day labor/casual labor. We take great pains to attract, train, reward, and retain experienced, professional painters. Most of our workers have been with us for many seasons – we have very low turnover in a trade that is notorious for transient labor.

How do I address any concerns I may have throughout the project?
Many questions or concerns can be addressed by the foreman. All of our foremen have received training on addressing your concerns quickly and professionally. Additionally, they will want to give you periodic updates on the progress of the job, and this is a great time to raise any concerns you may have.

Occasionally there is a concern that requires the estimator’s input. S/he is also available to help address any concerns you have.

How long will the project take?
When we start a project, we stay until it is finished – our crews are not juggling a handful of projects concurrently, meaning that our goal is to minimize the disruption painting causes to your normal routine However, weather may play a role on how long it takes exterior projects to be completed. Your estimator will be able to give you a pretty good idea of how long your specific project will take.

I plan on being out of town during the part or all of the project – is this okay?
We will work around your schedule as best as possible. Some customers allow us to work on the project while they are away, others do not. We will handle it however you wish, but request that you notify us as early as possible if you plan to be absent once the work begins.

If we are requested to pull out of the project entirely (i.e., remove all equipment, paint, materials, tools, dropcloths, masking, etc.) and return at a later date to finish, we charge a small fee to cover the cost of this additional tear-down and re-setup.

What about inclement weather?
On exterior projects, there are a number of 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 home to dry out.

As a rule of thumb, if the streets are dry the house is dry enough to paint. In many instances the building will take a little longer to fully dry. Rest assured that we will wait the proper amount of time to ensure the coatings we apply leave you with a quality finish – that is our primary goal.

How is payment handled?
On most residential projects we do not require any payment until the project is completed. Once completed, the balance is due in full.

We prefer payment in cash or check. However, we accept credit cards (MasterCard and VISA) with a 3% service fee that will be added to your bill to offset the charges the credit card merchants charge us. For larger companies, the merchant charges are nominal, but for a small business like ours, the 3% they charge us really hurts.

Does the crew expect a tip at the end of the job?
Our crews are professional painters and are compensated accordingly. They do not expect a tip and will not solicit one. Occasionally customers want to thank the foreman or the entire crew for going ‘above and beyond.’ Feel free to tip if you are delighted with the quality of the work and the customer service you received, but certainly do not feel obligated or that it is expected.

I’m concerned about water leaks into the house. Will painting solve these issues?
Water intrusion can occur for many reasons: poor draining from gutters, rusted or damaged window and roof flashing, rotted siding or trim work, or damaged roofing, to name just a few. Moreover, it is difficult to determine the exact point of water entry because water often “runs” once it enters the structure, meaning that it may come in at one point, travel along an interior joist or support beam, and come through drywall or plaster in an area far from the point of entry.

The caulking and sealing that are part of the normal preparation process of painting often solve 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 probably will not solve the problem.

What if dry rot or other carpentry issues are discovered during the painting process?
We regularly perform basic carpentry repairs that are commonly found as part of exterior painting projects – removing and replacing rotten window trim, door casing/trim, siding boards, etc. However, while we are very good at BASIC carpentry repairs, we stay away from repairs that require advanced skill, such as hanging doors, replacing wood that involves touching roofing/plumbing/electricity, etc. For example, we do not replace wood that requires the removal of window flashing or messing with an exterior hose bib.

Normally, carpentry repairs are not part of our initial proposal for painting because we usually cannot tell the full extent of the required repairs until we have performed the prep work and poked around a bit. Once we know the scope of the repairs we handle carpentry projects one of two ways. The first method is when we put together a fixed price for the repairs with a description of the problem, the proposed repairs, and associated costs, all written into a change order that must be signed by the client prior to the work being performed.

Insurance and Liability

A contractor comes to paint my house and his employee falls off a ladder and gets hurt. Who pays for his injuries?
Contractors such as builders, painters or other tradespeople who work on or around your home are required by law to provide worker’s compensation insurance and any injury 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 occurred on your property. Therefore, it is important to only use contractors who have worker’s compensation policies in place.

I was told by a contractor that he would have to charge a lot more if he purchased worker’s compensation. He has assured me that my homeowner’s insurance policy would cover me in the event of an accident. It this true?
Absolutely not!  Your homeowner’s insurance is not likely to offer ANY coverage in this event.  It is more likely that your policy specifically excludes it.  Contact your insurance agent for more information.

I was told by a contractor that he is not required to carry worker’s compensation insurance because he only has one employee. Is this true?
There are some cases where this may be true. However, just because he is not REQUIRED to have it does not mean you want him to work on your property without it. Ultimately you could be left with the bill for injuries that happen on your property unless you protect yourself and your assets by only hiring contractors that are adequately insured.

How do I know for sure if a contractor carries worker’s compensation insurance?
Ask for a certificate of insurance and check with the carrier before work begins to ensure that the policy is still in force.

Does CertaPro Painters carry worker’s compensation and general liability insurance policies?
Yes, and at your request we can provide insurance certificates that name you as the certificate holder.