Idea Notebook - Atlanta Home Improvement Blog

Expert Secrets to Painting Success

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Painting is one of the easiest, least expensive and fastest ways to improve your home interior. But to get the results you are envisioning, you need an expert's skill. Here, Scott Specker, owner of Five Star Painting in Suwanee/Sugar Hill, shares his expert answers to common painting questions he hears from homeowners: 

What color should I paint in a room and how do I coordinate with my furnishings?

We have seen about half of our customers request the same color and half would like an update on their existing color. They enjoy the color but would like a higher quality paint that is will not scrub off when water gets spilled on it. Those customers just wanting an update usually have a color in mind. If they don’t, we will review the current color palette in their home. What is the color of the carpets, hardwood floors, cabinets, draperies, furniture and other permanent items? It is important to find out which items might be staying in the house and which are leaving. Then, what color is currently carried throughout the house? We assess if it is a “warm” color (likely shades of brown) or a “cool” color (light greys or mixes of green and blue). It is important to guide a customer along in this process and not jump on the color that we think works best. Ultimately, it is the customer’s decision.  

At this point, we use many of the tools from Sherwin Williams available to us. The small color decks are a good start because of just that reason...they are small. We have seen many customers get completely overwhelmed with the large wheel. We prefer to start with the Designer Expressions series, since it shows which colors go well together and this is often the hardest decision. Anyone can find a color they like but then finding other colors that go well with it is difficult to accomplish.  

If the customer can’t decide which color for their walls at this point, we then use other tools. Sherwin Williams can provide a printed list of the most popular colors for the year. Usually a name or color will spark someone’s interest and only then do we bring out the large color wheel from Sherwin Williams. We know which colors tabs are the most popular for cool and warm colors so although the color deck has thousands of colors we pull out the most popular to help guide a customer along in their color decision.  

We have found customers to be very visual; their imaginations cannot picture what the color will look like or how it will go with their furniture. In response to this, our company has created Pinterest boards to help customers see the cool and warm colors in action. We have collected many beautiful pictures of completed rooms on Pinterest and created a board to help guide them in their decision making. Our Pinterest board also lists the color on the walls but it really helps customers see the final product.

What type of finish should we use on the walls?

Of course we begin to answer this question by asking our customers’ opinions. If we aren’t asked this we always have a short discussion on it because it is important. For high-traffic water areas like bathrooms or kitchens, we usually recommend at Satin or Cashmere’s Low Lustre finish. Of course, eggshells are good too but you have to be careful. Adding sheen to paint (i.e. eggshell or satin) will reflect light and also show any imperfections that might exist on the walls. Imperfections like dry wall finishing, nail pops, and dry wall taping will be enhanced with these types of finishes. We really like Cashmere’s Flat due to its finish and wipeability.  

What is the cost?

Of course this depends on many factors but it is simple for our company to calculate due to our state of the art software. We can have an estimate done for an entire interior in less than 30 minutes. From needs assessment to proposal we are averaging 60 to 90 minutes. All our customers should expect a written proposal or cost at the end of their appointment. For interiors the factors are as such, number of coats, number of doors/jambs/windows, baseboards, crown, ceilings and chair rails.

According to remodeling online --

•    For a Minor Interior or Exterior Painting: $700 - $2,500 (A Few Rooms or Trim) 

•    For a Major Interior or Exterior Painting: $3,000 - $9,000 (Entire House)

When customers are shocked at the costs we ask if they ever did research on costs? Most have not but they know that they can paint themselves but don’t have the time. They will review our costs compared to the value of their time, among other factors. 

How long does it take?

For exteriors we always start with pressure washing the home. The average length in total is three to five days. A reputable company will always wait a day for the wash to dry. In typical Georgia summers this should be plenty of time. Most homes are painted in two days. Smaller town homes can be painted in one day.

Most homeowners are amazed at how quickly our crews can paint an entire home interior. If the house is empty most of our crews will work all day and night to “knock it out”.  At Five Star Painting we always try to end our projects first with a foreman and project manager walk through, and then a project manager and customer walk through. Our painters are on-site while the walk through is happening so any slight touch ups can be handled immediately. Most interiors are one to five days.   

What colors are "in"?

We get this question constantly on interiors.  Our immediate answer is “cool” colors.  Then most people look at us strange, because they don’t know what that means. “Cool” means a soft color like a grey or blue/green. Our Pinterest site is loaded with examples and we also always come equipped with samples from Sherwin Williams.

What quality of paint do you use?

This depends on several factors but our default paint on Interiors is Cashmere and on exteriors is Superpaint.  However, if it is a simple repaint in anticipation of a re-sale we could save the customer money by using Promar 200.  It is the highest quality contractor paint but does not cover or look as good as Cashmere. We have also used Duration but it is a very thick paint. Cashmere is a fantastic interior paint on walls as it finishes on the wall exceptionally well.  It also covers old colors very well. On trim we love ProClassic. It is a paint specifically designed for trim due to its high shine and hard finish.   

Superpaint we have found to be workhorse for exteriors. Our national pricing enables us to bring this paint 25-year warranty paint to customers at a great price. At times we have downgraded to A100 but also upgraded to Duration on large exteriors on Lake homes. Sherwin Williams will run deep sales on Duration once or twice a year and our customers will use this time to purchase their paint.

How many coats will it take?

Of course this depends on a few factors as well. If it is the same color and sheen then it will only take one coat if you are using a high-quality paint. We just painted an entire home that had not been painted in over 10 years. The walls were chalking meaning when you rub your hand on the walls a white substance comes off. It was painted with a chap Duron masterpiece builder quality paint.  We used one coat of Cashmere and changed the color to Useful Gray SW 7050. It covered perfect. We also learned that we won this job because we were the only painter to have a knowledgeable discussion on number of coats and quality of paint.

When should we paint if we are re-doing the floors?

We always recommend painting before adding new floors. Floors are much more expensive than a paint job. This takes coordination between the contractors because there are always delays or project changes. The homeowner must be involved with these projects to make sure everyone knows the timing. We usually recommend our painters returning after the floors get installed to paint the baseboards and shoe moldings. In most cases, these boards will get bumped or accidentally stained with the floor installer.  

Do painters repair wall imperfections?\

Yes, if it is a professional company. It is up to the estimator to make sure the time needed is accounted for in the proposal.  If the walls are in need of severe repair, meaning we need to use mud or retape corner seams we will charge extra to account for that time.  However, simple nail holes, sanding or small nicks are standard for a professional paint job.  We keep a “dry wall skimmer” on call for projects that stretch our painters’ ability.  

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