Minneapolis painter customizes his projects

Minneapolis painter customizes his projects

For John Armstrong, painting houses is more than a job - it's a sacred and spiritual encounter. "I consider a home to be a living being, like a tree," he says. "It's a person's temple. We work directly with the homeowner to raise the vitality of the house."

Armstrong grew up in his family's house painting business, but studied psychology and dance at the University of Minnesota – Duluth. "What do you do with a degree in psychology and dance?" he asks. "You start a painting business. For me, it was kind of an inspiration - I felt like I was called to do it."

How do you prepare a home for painting?

"First we mask the house, then we do a bleach or pre-rinse and power wash. Seventy-five percent of the time, we just power wash to get rid of filth and grime. We don't like to use it abrasively because we don't want to put water in the wood. But, we will use it abrasively to get paint off concrete. Then, we scrape and sand the old paint, then patch, glaze, and caulk, depending on need. All our projects are customized, but 60 percent of the project is usually prep work."

What kinds of paint do you use?

"Ninety percent of the time we use an oil-based primer. For topcoats, we collaborate with the homeowner. We use three brands extensively: Hirshfield's, which is a local company, and the national brands of Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. We probably use a third of each. We also only use high-end paint, not contractor-grade paint, and we don't mark up our products."

What advice do you offer for customers when they're picking a color for their home?

"Each person has a personal color palette, meaning they have particular colors that make them feel better. If they don't know their colors, we help them find them and draw them out. Then we find how those work with the design of the house and the neighborhood, but I don't try to force trends on anyone. I'm trying to find colors people love, colors that really resonate with the individual homeowner."

What's the typical cost for a job?

"We're a high-end painting company, so around $10,000 is the average cost for a comprehensive, complete exterior job. A typical job takes eight to ten days, we get in and get out with a team of four or five."

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