Monday, February 21, 2011

Painters: Does A License Guarantee A Good Finish?

A while back, I got a call from a local realtor that had sent painters to a client that just purchased a new condo.  While the realtor had used the painter that owned the company before, he had not had any experience with the two guys that ended up actually painting the condo.  It turns out these two guys were nothing more than cheap labor that didn't know how to paint.

When I opened the door to the condo, my jaw hit the ground.  I could not believe what these guys managed to do to the walls, ceiling, trim, base... In the two decades I've been dealing with paint, I have never seen anything like this.  What should have been the easiest paint job ever turned into my filling up my camera with all of the screw-ups.  Unfortunately, I am not allowed to show either the before or after photos.

I fit as much repair as I could into the first two days of the job.  All of the walls had to be sanded down.  Lap marks and holidays had to be razored off.  Ceiling and trim all had to be repainted.  All of the tile surrounds in the bathrooms had to be dealt with.  The whole thing was insane.  Another two days to complete paint, and the job was almost as good as it would have been had it been done correctly the first time.

But this brings up the question of licensing.  The owner of the paint company apparently does good work, and the realtor had used him many times before without incident.  The paint company was licensed and insured in the state the job was in.  But having a license and insurance does not guarantee that a satisfactory job will be accomplished.

Florida is a right to work state and painters do not need to be licensed, though they should have insurance.  I think the more important variable is reputation.  Word of mouth is not only the best advertising for a company that does a good job (or the worst for a company that does a bad job), but it almost guarantees the new potential client will receive a satisfactory job, assuming that the same painters on the original clients job are the same that do the work at the new clients.

Make sure that the painter has an actual consultation with you.  A consultation does not consist of the client telling the painter that they purchased paint already and the painters just need to throw it on the walls.  There are so many variables to a good paint job... Is it new construction?  Any repairs needed?  How many coats are needed to accomplish certain sheens?  What paints work better with what?  The painter should know the answers to these questions and more.  And they should discuss this with you.

Let's say that I received a phone call from someone who wanted Aura paint in their new construction condo.  As a professional, I would have to tell them it isn't going to happen.  I know what happens when you attempt to paint new construction with Aura, and it just can't be done unless the walls have been previously painted with at least three coats of something else.  There are other eco-friendly options available, and while they don't provide the "aura" that Aura does, they are much better options and allow for Aura to be used as a final coat.  All painters should know this.

They should also know that it is impossible to achieve satin walls in one coat over new construction.  And that flat or matte is the answer to walls that have a lot of imperfections, as is the case with a lot of older homes.

Talk to your friends about their painters.  Did they enjoy the experience or have any issues?  If you hear about a company or person and are considering having them in your home, check out their online presence.  Do they have negative feedback?  If so, analyze what was written and see if it's a potential problem for you.  Do they have pictures of their work?  And most importantly, let the contractor dictate the consultation.  Make sure you feel comfortable with everything they tell you, and also make sure that they are the person that will actually be doing the job.  If you're not comfortable, have a consultation with someone else.  But if all goes well, more than likely you will be quite happy with the finish you receive.

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