It’s a scenario I’ve heard a thousand times. Remember the last time you hired a ‘so-called’ professional to do a meticulous, detail-oriented job only to be appalled with the results? And how you were promised expert work and what you got instead was shoddy workmanship, bad indigestion and a sense that you were cheated out of your money?
Let me share an experience of my own with you. Recently, I remodelled a house in Niagara Falls. I did all of the work myself for the most part but decided to hire someone to do the paint job. One of the hardest contractors to find, by far, is a decent painter. The guy (fellow) I hired came highly recommended — he was supposedly a quality painter and was liked by many in his community. I’ll refer to him as One-Coat Paul.
I can tell you with certainty that no one has ever questioned or scrutinized this guy’s work. Hoping to save you a similar disastrous experience, I wanted to pass on my ‘lessons learned’ from hiring One-Coat Paul.
For starters, beware of the following claims when screening a painter:
One-Coat Paul Modus Operandi
- “I’ve been painting for 20 years and never had anyone question my ability to paint”
- “I’ve never had anybody tell me how to paint”
- “I flip houses”
- “No one has ever been disappointed with my work”
- “I don’t need to prime the wall because it already has latex paint on it”
- “Priming is a total waste of money”
- “You don’t have to paint what you don’t see”
- “I don’t wash walls before painting”
- “I don’t do any prep work . . . I’m just the painter”
- “I don’t fill in any holes or caulk around doors”
- “I don’t sand between coats”
In a nutshell, while most professional painters take great care in their work, some skip steps in order to maximize their profits at the expense of quality results, just like One-Coat Paul — the self-proclaimed professional painter who skips any kind of wall repair, doesn’t believe in using primer, and generally cuts corners anywhere he can.
Needless to say, One-Coat Paul won’t get any referrals from me!
Painting is deceptively easy — meaning, it’s not really as easy as it looks. Sure, any chimpanzee can be taught how to hold a paint brush and slap some paint on the wall but a quality paint job requires conscientiousness and attention to detail.
Choosing a professional interior painter can be a trial and error process. Believe me. Save yourself a lot of aggravation and a One-Coat Paul Fiasco by asking the questions below.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN HIRING A PROFESSIONAL PAINTER
- How long have you been in business?
You want to make sure that the contractor has been in business for at least five (5) years. This ensures that the painter is not a fly-by-night operation and won’t leave town before the job is done.
- Do you use subcontractors?
This is very important as you may end up with unskilled and unprofessional painters working on your home.
- Can you provide references and photos of your past work?
It’s always a good idea to check references and examining good, high resolution photos will show the quality of the painter’s workmanship.
- What wall preparation is included?
Don’t compromise in insisting that the job start with cleaning all surfaces, repairing any damage, patching all cracks and holes, and priming (at a minimum) the surfaces that have been patched.
Another note on primer: Don’t believe that primer isn’t required over acrylic paint even if One-Coat Paul says so. Well primed surfaces are key to satisfaction with the finished results.
- What brands of paint do you use and how many coats do you apply?
Make sure your painter uses professional quality paint from recognized brands such as Benjamin Moore, MAB, and Sherwin Williams, to name a few.
Should you decide to tackle the painting yourself, follow this simple step-by-step painting guide:
Ensure you have the right tools to produce the best results.
- A high-quality roller sleeve is crucial. Use:
- A 3/8-inch sleeve for most finishes
- A 1/4-inch sleeve for glossy finishes
- A thicker, 1/2- or 3/4-inch sleeve for rougher, textured walls
- Wash and dry roller sleeves to remove any loose fibers prior to painting
- Other painting tools you’ll need include a pan, an extension pole and a stepladder.
- Don’t forget to lay down a drop cloth to protect your flooring.
Preparing the walls of the room is always critical to a successful paint job.
- This is the most important part of any interior painting project.
- Start by removing all switch plates, vent covers, window covering hardware, etc.
- Proceed to clean the walls.
- Most walls can be washed using a sponge and warm water
- TSP is a great cleaning product for filthy wall surfaces including nicotine-stained walls
- Repair any damage to the walls.
- Cracks and holes can be filled with putty and/or caulking. Once dry, make sure to sand the surface so that it is smooth or it will show through the paint.
- Priming is also essential.
- Primer fills the small pores of the surface to allow the paint coat to adhere better. An added benefit is that you won’t use as much paint because it won’t sink into the ‘sealed’ surface as much. Overall, it ensure that the quality of the final paint coating is optimal.
- Some experts recommend starting your painting project with white primer everywhere as a foundation.
Cut into the room.
- Cutting in means painting along the ceiling line, corners, windows, doors, molding, outlets and switches.
- Work from top to bottom. Start your cut in at the ceiling and work your way down. Work in four foot sections so that the cut in paint doesn’t have time to dry and you maintain a wet edge (the application of paint toward the unpainted area and then back into the just-painted surface).
- Whether you are using primer or paint, the process is the same.
Load your roller and start rolling.
- Place a liner in your paint tray, and carefully pour paint into the tray. Begin loading your roller by rolling it along the raised roll-off area of the pan. Touch the paint, but do so without completely immersing the sleeve. Repeat this motion until the roller is fully saturated.
- Start each section rolling from the top down first, overlapping each row about 7-12 centimeters. Apply only light pressure, letting the roller and the paint do the work. If you press too hard, you may create drips and runs.
- Every time you reload the roller, begin a new row on an unpainted area and work back into the previously painted row. Your extension pole should be long enough to allow you to reach the highest and lowest points of the wall comfortably.
Note: Painting walls without streaks is an important technique to master. Start by steering clear of painting too large a space at one time. Painting manageable-sized areas will help you maintain a wet edge, which will ultimately produce a smooth, uniform appearance and help to prevent lap marks.
Let dry. Sand. Recoat and let dry again.
- At least two coats of your topcoat product are recommended for optimal hide and colour development. Check the paint can for the recommended drying times and wait until the paint is completely dry before you sand and add the second coat. Be sure to allow proper cure time before returning fixtures, wall plates or frames to the walls.
Note on painting ceilings:
You can’t keep a wet edge when painting ceiling — they’re just too large. You can minimize lap marks by feathering out the edges. Roll the nearly dry roller in different directions along the edge, feathering out the paint. Once you complete an entire length of the ceiling, move to the next section and paint over the feathered edge. If you need a second coat, apply the paint in the opposite direction.
Don’t skip the sanding
Sanding after each coat eliminates all rough patches and ensures that the wall surface is as smooth as can be. Follow these steps in order:
- Apply primer
- Apply first coat of paint
- Apply second coat of paint
Lastly, clean up is essential before you admire your work.
When you’re ready to call it a day, you can soak your roller in paint and then wrap it in a plastic bag so it’s airtight. If you’re returning to the job the next day, that’ll work fine. If it’s going to be a while before you resume painting, you can still put the bag over the roller, but then use it to pull the roller off without covering yourself in paint. Then use a new roller the next time. As for your expensive brush, you can wash that out—presuming you’re using latex paint which is water-based. Do that until it’s clean and it’ll be ready to go the next time you steel your courage to tackle another room!
Tom Vattovaz, RHI