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Using a painter, part 2

17 Jan 2017

In part one of our mini-series, we talked about finding a painter, deciding on colours and getting ready. Here, we get find out what’s involved in a professional painter’s job.

Starting painting

The saying goes that with painting, preparation is everything. It’s certainly very important. The more prep that’s needed, the more it will cost. Getting this aspect of the job right is often a good reason for employing professionals.

There may be:

  • Holes and cracks that need proper filling.  Ask for good fillers, and ones which are right for the job.
  • Old surfaces that need preparation (see below).
  • Appropriate safety and access equipment needed.
  • Rotten or decaying surfaces (especially timber) which may mean the surface needs work or the timber needs replacement.

Your painter may be able to help with woodwork, but often another tradesperson will be needed. Also note that as a rule, newly supplied wood, which has been exposed to the weather for four weeks or more, is best if sanded back.

Challenges include mould, water stains, wallpapers and glue, old plaster surfaces, rust, and flaky and powdery old paint. Old or raw surfaces often need cleaning and sealing. Rust needs treating.  Old putties and fillers often need removing and replacing: then cleaning and resealing with an appropriate product is often the key.

Filling and sanding takes time and the right products. Grime and dust may not be obvious but surfaces almost always need cleaning.

Paint that has blistered, flaked and peeled on wooden surfaces is usually caused by moisture under paint. Painting over stains (for example, caused by water) can involve special steps, as can painting surfaces previously treated with stains and oils.

Any water problems need to be properly fixed before you paint, and often another tradesperson will need to do this for you. Moisture is often a sign of a greater problem and your painter will rely on your word that the problem is fixed. If it isn’t, and the paint job then fails, your ability to complain will be limited. If inside, the problem may be condensation. Painting in wet areas requires special steps to be taken.

Top tip: Use Resene Kitchen & Bathroom paint for areas subject to moisture. It combines anti-bacterial silver protection and MoulDefender to minimise unwanted nasties in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.

Don’t skimp on costs if it means skimping on preparation. The cheapest quote may well include less preparation.

If you do any preparation yourself, get proper advice. Irrespective, your painter won’t be responsible for problems that your inadequate preparation causes. It often doesn’t make sense in the long run for you to do it.

During the work

Painting is a skill.  Don’t underestimate what’s involved. In additional to proper preparation, the job of painting itself can be challenging.

For example, it’s important to:

Choose the right paint. It’s not just the colour or finish that’s important. Paint generally falls into two categories: waterbourne latex paints; and solvent bourne paints (or alkyds). Which to choose depends on many factors including the type of surface, its condition and age, what was used on it before and its location. The finish of the paint (gloss or sheen) can have a significant impact on both the appearance and life. Primers and undercoats must be appropriate and again, which is best depends on lots of factors.

Do things in the right order. Painting from the top down is a good rule, as is painting away from a light source so you are not painting in shadow. Usually, painters start with ceilings, then move to walls, doors and windows, skirting and trim.

Paint at the right time. Like us, paint is sensitive to heat and cold. Hotter or colder days are not the ideal days to paint. Rainy days fill the air with water. Painting in direct sunlight or onto a hot surface is better avoided: painters often follow the shade.

Use the right gear. Special paint rollers, brushes, masking tapes and tools are often needed.

Always be safe. Accessing difficult areas, working off the ground and working around electricity, gas and water, and with heavy things, all bring important safety issues, which need to be managed professionally. Don’t interfere with any work the painter is doing. Don’t touch paint to check if it’s dry or remove masking tape.

Be patient, but if something doesn’t look right ask the painter for clarification. Better to ask than fret over something that may not be important.

Your painter isn’t responsible for other contractors, such as carpenters, tilers, electricians or plumber,  even if your painter put you in contact with or recommended them. They are answerable to you.  Check they are licensed and insured. Get a contract. If they damage your painter’s work, you may need to pay your painter more to fix the damage. Even scrapes and scratches can mean an entire wall needs to be repainted.

When the job is done

There’s no such thing as a care-free painted surface. Paint is more than just a pretty face. It helps protect the structure beneath so it’s important to take simple steps to look after your investment.

Keep painted surfaces clean. Cleaning advice can be obtained from your Resene ColorShop or the Resene website.

Repair any damage. If you see paint deteriorating, contact an expert.

Repaint early, before problems are visible, and within the expected life of the paint.

Many factors have an impact on how long paint looks good and acts as a protector of what’s underneath. The main ones include:

The type and quality of the surface. A new surface will give better results than one which is older or has been painted of treated before.

Wear and tear. Paint isn’t an indestructible barrier. It’s actually relatively thin and can be damaged. Painted floors and higher traffic areas will usually show more wear and tear earlier.

Number of coats. Usually, for new (unpainted) work, an undercoat plus two topcoats is the minimum recommended. The fewer the coats, the poorer and less resilient the finish. Make sure you understand how many coats are included. Sometimes once a job starts, the painter will recommend additional coats for a better result, particularly when using dark colours.

Environmental factors can impact on painted surfaces.  For example, a painted surface exposed to water or sea spray will probably fade sooner than the wall of a bedroom in the country, and a surface exposed to the sun will age sooner than one in the shade.

Things do not always go as planned

Life is uncertain and neither you, nor your painter can promise things will turn out as planned. For example:

You may need to pause the job once it starts.

The time taken to complete the work may be extended. Weather, poor previous work, approval requirements and unavailability of materials and people are common causes.

Materials may need to change. Materials not being available or price increases are a common cause.

Your painter may not always be there when they plan. Staff, being let down by subcontractors, weather, breakdowns and illness are all things that happen in a painter’s life.

It may be difficult to determine the nature of previously painted surfaces. Incorrect or substandard products may have been applied previously, or the substrate (that is, underlying structure) can turn out to be poor, rotted or rusted.

Moisture may be unexpectedly present.

Inappropriate or inferior surfaces. For example, untreated pine left outside soon deteriorates; timber on or below exterior flooring often has problems, ungalvanised steel, even a reasonable way from the ocean, often has rust and sealing can be poor.

If you are not happy with the painting, the key to solving most problems is good communication. Contact the painter sooner rather than later. Explain your concerns. Stay calm and be polite. Take notes. Ask them to meet you on site if you think that would help.

If you missed part one in our professional painter’s mini-series, click here

To find a Registered Master Painter in your area, ask your local Master Painters' Association office, your local Resene ColorShop or check out the Master Painters' website for registered painters in your area.