Advice by Paintologists

Thorough surface preparation – a mark of the professional painting contractor

You better believe it! Thorough preparation of your home’s surface before repainting is critical if you want to get your money’s worth out of the job. Surface prep work isn’t fun. Sanding, scrapping, caulking, removing rusty nails, resetting nails, re-nailing loose trim and siding, treating mildew, and power washing … that spells time-consuming work.

A lot of guys who want to repaint your home are not going to take surface preparation seriously. First, because they are not professionals, they do not understand how inadequate surface preparation leads to early failure of that new paint job you’re paying for.

Second, because they are pitching a super low price, there is no way they have built into their price the time it takes to adequately prepare your home for repainting. They will have to slap the paint on and run to the next job.

Third, they probably don’t intend to be around in two or three years, when paint problems may start showing up. So they don’t have to worry … the new coat of paint will look great for a while … and you’ll be happy with the low price … for a while.

The professional contractor you want to repaint your home – the one who will give you your money’s worth for the job – will carefully inspect your home before giving a bid. This contractor will explain what surface prep work is necessary and why.

If you request one, you will be given a list of the paint-related problems observed and the contractor’s recommendations for treatment.

Don’t be surprised if the professional contractor points out problems such as clogged gutters or shrubbery that has grown too close to your home. Such problems may cause moisture-related paint problems, and your contractor simply wants all problems corrected, to ensure a long life for the coat of paint he is applying.

Also, don’t be surprised if the contractor uses some rather technical terms: “extractive discoloration”, “substrate deterioration”, “ultra violet degradation”, etc. You would expect a professional to have a technical understanding of his field.

If you are in doubt about the contractor’s recommendations, take his list of paint-related problems and recommendations to the paint store that will be supplying materials for your job. Discuss your job with the store’s paint specialist. Though that person will likely not be able to inspect your home, he or she should be able to tell you if the painting contractor’s recommendations sound reasonable and appropriate.

Usually, basic surface preparation work such as power washing will be included in the contractor’s bid for repainting your home.

However, repair work such as paint stripping and replacing damaged trim or siding usually will be performed on a time-and-materials basis.

You should expect the contractor repainting your home to perform quality workmanship, use quality products, and give quality service.

  • All areas around your home, including your shrubs and landscaping, should be protected from start to finish by drop cloths or plastic poly.
  • All surfaces to be painted should be thoroughly pressure washed to remove dirt, mildew, and loose paint flakes. This step also helps new paint adhere to the existing surface.
  • Any loose caulking should be removed and re-caulked. Any open gaps shouldb e filled with new caulking.
  • All areas of loose paint should be scrapped and sanded, and a sealing primer should be applied to all bare wood areas to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint. This step also prevents future peeling in these areas.
  • Loose nails should be re-set and re-puttied as needed.
  • Only quality materials should be used on your home.
  • The work should be done in a neat and professional manner by skilled craftsmen who are polite and friendly.
  • All paint should be removed from windows, and the entire area should be clean and tidy when the work is completed.

When selecting a painting contractor to repaint your home, carefully write down exactly what work you want painted; this becomes a checklist for the contractor. Decide the colors and sheen of paint you want, and insist on top-quality paint for your home.

Solicit at least two or three bids for the work you need. Certainly do not automatically accept the lowest. Make sure all bids are based on the same plans and specifications: surface preparation, number of coast, quality of paint, etc.

Ask each contractor for local references. Also ask for copies of their certificates of insurance or as for the name of the contractor’s insurance carrier or agency, to verify that the contractor has adequate insurance against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of accidents.

And if contractor licensing and/or bonding is required in your area, ask to see a copy of the document to be sure the contractor has met this requirement.

And insist on thorough surface preparation. All paint fails eventually, and repainting is needed. Yet thorough surface prep prevents premature paint failure. It costs more but, in life, you get what you pay for.


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