Painting professionals discuss their work
Who we talked to
Rick Carter owner
Accents Professional Painting & Wallpapering Co.
Brad Bernard owner
Bernard Painting Inc.
Gary Noel owner
Northern Painting & Decorating Inc.
How do you prepare the home for painting?
Rick Carter: “We start by pressure washing the home. We remove all storm windows and cover up plants, shingles and walkways. We sand all painted surfaces, cut out damaged caulking and remove bad window glazing. The prep work is actually the majority of the work. It usually takes us three to five days, depending on the condition of the home.”
Gary Noel: “Prep work is 90 percent of the job. Most painters’ failures are because they don’t properly prepare. If the house is dirty, we power wash it, then scrape and sand all the loose paint. Then, we use an oil-based primer to seal the wood, and that’s how we get deep penetration. Next, we paint, putty and caulk. We also cover up the grounds. It’s very important to leave the premises absolutely clean. We only do things one way, and that’s serving the customer, giving them exactly what they want and doing the job correctly.”
Brad Bernard: “We’ll power wash a few days in advance. When we come to paint, one person will mask off the foundation with paper, someone will cover windows with plastic, and another will check the caulking at the windows, doors and seams. We’ll also do small repairs. Lately, we’ve seen a lot of woodpecker holes or places where the homeowner has clipped the garage door frame with their bumper. We’ll pound in or replace any nails that are sticking out and put on a rust-proofing primer. We also lay tarps around the perimeter.
“Preparation is everything. If you have raw wood, it needs to be primed ahead of time. If the house isn’t washed off properly, it leaves a fine layer of dust on the siding, so washing is critical. Make sure everything is caulked properly so you don’t develop leaks.”
What techniques do you use to remove old paint?
Carter: “Besides hand scraping and mechanically sanding, there are some chemical paint removers you can use, especially with lead-based paint. If it’s a general paint removal, you can just hand or mechanically scrape it. If the customer wants the paint completely removed, we use a chemical stripper.”
Bernard: “We’ll do scraping. We start with the power wash, and then we scrape and sand. Sanding reduces any scarring you might have.”
What’s the best type of paint to use?
Carter: “Acrylics are the best type to use now. They’re more environmentally friendly, and their longevity and flexibility are better than oil-based paint. My exterior paint preference is Porter or Sherwin-Williams. Of course, we use them all, especially if the customer is happy with another kind of paint.”
Noel: “Typically, we like to use our own materials. We don’t like to use paints we’re not familiar with — we like to stay with what we know. The bulk of the paint we use is by Benjamin Moore.”
Bernard: “It really varies. We don’t have one favorite paint, because each of the companies has their own certain characteristics. I’d say 60 percent of the time, we use Sherwin-Williams for the house, then Kelly-Moore for the trim. Rodda or Miller are good local brands. We’ll use Benjamin Moore once in a while, if the customer specifies it. It’s hard to beat Sherwin-Williams’ top-of-the-line paints, I think, but we’ll use whatever the customer wants.”
What’s the average size of the homes you paint, and what’s the typical cost for a job?
Carter: “The average size is probably 3,000 to 5,000 square feet. The average cost is $6,000. We charge by the job. We have different prices for windows, boxing and doors. We don’t have a per-square-foot price, because some people want only one coat, and some people need more prep work. We base our fee on labor time.”
Noel: “There’s no definite size. It doesn’t matter how big the house is — we’ll paint it. The average is probably about 3,000 square feet. The average price is about $6,500 for a job, although it depends on what we’re doing.”
What advice do you have for customers when they’re picking colors for their home?
Noel: “Most of the time, we select the colors for our customers. We’re good at what we do. The most common colors today are white and earth tones. The most unusual color we’ve ever painted a house was for a woman who wanted her entire house — interior and exterior — painted pink. She was very determined it be that color.”
Bernard: “Stick with the color charts from the paint manufacturers. Most hire professional color coordinators to put colors together. Definitely put samples on both the lit and shady parts of the house.
“Right now, the trend is in the greens, but taupe is our No. 1 all-time color..”