New construction painting is done through a series of steps that need to be coordinated with the other trades working on the site. Surface preparation, like with all painting, makes or breaks the job. The combination of having quality drywall installers, finishing carpenters, and painters will give you the best results.
Step By Step Process For Interior New Construction Painting
The techniques used and sequencing for new construction painting can vary, but here’s a general overview of the interior painting process.
The Initial Arrival Of The Painters
The painters will arrive after the drywall mudding, taping and sanding have been completed, along with any textured ceilings. The rough-in for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC will have been installed. Any construction debris, along with other tradespersons tools and equipment has been removed.
Flooring, cabinets, trim work, electrical receptacles, switches, or lighting fixtures, closet shelving, and internal doors are not yet installed. Not having to work around or protect these elements allows for the most efficient painting during this initial stage. Aside from the windows, there will be little else that has to be masked off.
The first step for the painters is to remove the accumulated construction dust on the walls, floors, and ceilings. The tools used might be a combination of a dust mop, a soft brush for getting into corners, and/or blowing it with an air compressor. The floors are thoroughly vacuumed.
Applying a primer to the drywall is a crucial step to having the paint adhere properly. Primer is sprayed and back rolled onto the walls and any smooth (non-textured) ceilings. Back rolling ensures even absorption and coverage. After the surfaces are dry they need to be sanded. The application of the primer raises the fibers of the drywall paper. If it’s not sanded the result will be a rough feeling of the finished walls.
Inspecting Primed Surfaces For Defects
It’s not until the primer is applied and dry that defects in the drywall become readily visible. The walls and ceilings are inspected for anything missed by the drywaller. It’s common to see a few holes or divots here and there, but a lot of defects warrant the drywall installer to come back and correct them. Any new patches are sanded and spot primed.
The walls of the room below have a coat of drywall primer.
Two coats of paint will be sprayed onto any smooth (non-textured) ceilings. The paint is usually white or slightly off-white and in a flat sheen. The paint spray will slightly overlap with the top of the walls. It’s fanned out enough that it’s generally not an issue, but if any runs or build-up of ceiling paint are on the wall it’s addressed with a bit of sanding.
Applying The First Coat of Wall Paint Colour
Typically an eggshell sheen is used for the wall paint, but the painter may choose what’s called a hi-hide paint due to its flatter finish and ability to mask drywall imperfections. The drawback is that this paint does not have a durable finish.
The paint is cut in at the top of the wall and two to three feet down the corners. Then the paint is sprayed on the lower two-thirds of the walls so that the ceiling does not have to be shielded. Enough volume of paint is applied to allow it to be rolled from the floor level up to the cut-in at the top of the walls. This is usually done with one painter spraying, followed by another painter doing the rolling. This is a method that is done when the walls are painted after the ceilings have been completed. Some painters have a system where they paint the walls first.
The painter may choose to apply the second (final coat) of paint on the walls where the kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and toilets will be installed. Then they do not have to cut in around the cabinets after installation or fuss with getting paint behind the toilets. Touch-ups may be required due to minor wall damage occurring during the cabinet or countertop installations. Another place that is beneficial for receiving a second coat at this time is the closet interiors.
In the main living area featured below the ceilings will be a tongue and groove wood. It will be installed afterwards. So in this particular case, the wall paint can be freely sprayed and rolled up to the ceiling without concern for it getting on the unfinished plywood.
Tradespeople Return To Finish Further Installations
Typically the door jambs, door casings, window liners and casings, chair rails and crown molding are installed at this time. The baseboards are installed in rooms that will be carpeted. In non-carpeted areas they are usually installed after the flooring has been put in, unless a shoe molding is used then they will be put in now. The electricians will install the light switches and electrical receptacles, but not the cover plates. Various other installations will take place, along with the kitchen cabinets, countertops, and bathroom vanities.
One coat of primer and one coat of the wall colour has been applied in the space featured in the photo below. It’s ready for trim work and other installations.
The kitchen below is ready for the cabinets to be installed.
Trim Work Painting
After the trim work is installed it is primed if it was not pre-primed. The nail holes are filled and sanded and an overall sanding is done to remove any roughness in the primer. The boards are cleaned of dust and the trim joints are caulked.
Two coats of paint (with proper drying time in between) will be sprayed on the trim or applied with a brush and mini roller. The paint is typically a white or off-white colour and the standard sheen used is satin or pearl. If the trim is sprayed the painter may have masked off the wall areas around the trim to protect the walls from overspray. Or they allow the overspray to go onto the wall and sand it to dull the sheen. Otherwise, it could cause flashing issues through the finished coats of wall paint.
It’s an entirely different series of steps if the trim is unfinished wood that is to be stained and clear-coated.
The Final Finish Coat Of Wall Paint
The walls are inspected to see if anything got missed in the initial patching or from damage that may have occurred. New patches are sanded and spot primed. The second coat of paint is applied with a brush and roller. The paint is cut in around any installations where a second coat was not previously applied.
New Construction Door Painting
Doors are usually set up for spraying in the garage of the new construction house or a large enough room is reserved for them. The spraying space must be meticulously clean and dust free. If they are pre-primed they get lightly sanded and have two coats of paint applied. If they are stain grade they will receive an application of stain and clear coating. The doors will be re-hung in the house at an appropriate time when they won’t be in the way.
This room below was utilized for door spraying.
Hard Surface Flooring Is Installed
Tile flooring may have been done before this stage due to the messy installation process. Hardwood and other hard surface flooring will typically be installed at this point and then their corresponding baseboards. The flooring near the baseboards will be protected. The baseboards are primed if they are not pre-primed. The nail holes are filled and sanded and an overall sanding is done to the board surfaces. They are cleaned of dust and the joints are caulked. The paint is applied by brush or a combination of brush and mini roller. Caulking the top of the baseboards is the final stage of finishing them.
There may have been a coat of primer put on the boards, sanding, and one coat of paint before installation to simplify the painting process after they are installed over the flooring.
Final Inspection And Touch Ups
A good painter will continuously check their work through the painting process and correct any issues. However, it’s inevitable in new construction that there will be a list of deficiencies for several of the trades to address, including the painter. Typically there are small dings where someone accidentally bumped the walls with their tools or equipment or minor damage from any installs that may have been done after the final coats of paint.
Alternative Methods For Interior New Construction Painting
The painting steps for new construction painting will be influenced by how the painters prefer to work, the design of the house and types of installations going into it, and how the painting work has to be scheduled around the other tradespeople.
There are many methods and sequences for the steps to completing new construction painting. Some painters do the entire process with almost no use of a brush and roller. They have a method that allows them to spray almost every step of the way. This requires an extensive amount of taping and masking.
New Construction Painting Is Not A Recommended DIY Project
An experienced professional painter will have a system in place that allows them to get new construction painting efficiently done and with a beautiful finish. Most homeowners, even if they have some painting experience could easily get overwhelmed with the process. They could aggravate the other trades due to their lack of knowledge of the process and worse yet ruin the look of their new home. New construction painting is best left to the professionals.
Does The Paint Always Get Sprayed In New Construction Painting?
Spraying wall paint is the most efficient method when there are only one or two wall colours throughout the house. It’s not practical to load the sprayer up with a paint colour that’s chosen for use in only one or two small rooms. In this case, the painters would brush and roll. The same applies to ceilings. Trim work is sprayed in many cases, but can also be done by brush and roller. A skilled painter using the right kind of paint can get hand-painted trim looking close to a sprayed finish.
Watch Our For New Construction Painters That Cut Corners
Unfortunately, in new construction painting, there is a lot of subpar work. Low-quality painters do all kinds of things to speed up the painting process and maximize profits and in turn produce inferior work. The problem is perpetuated by builders wanting the lowest price possible. The painters are compelled to compete for work by underbidding each other. They try to compensate for the low bid by cutting corners. This is common with spec homes (homes built with speculation that they will easily sell for profit).
Skimping On The Primer Or Coats Of Paint
Some painters tint the primer coat as close as possible to the wall colour and then apply only one coat of wall paint. Or worse, they put only two coats of wall paint and skip the primer altogether. New drywall without a primer can result in the paint coat looking blotchy and having adhesion issues like flaking or peeling off.
Skimping on Sanding
The sanding of the drywall after the primer is going to make our break the final paint finish. If the walls are not sanded or sanded well enough to remove the raised paper fiber the walls are going to have a rough feel to them.
Using Low-Quality Paint
Many times in new construction the paint used on the walls is known as a “builder grade” or “contractor’s grade” paint. It’s used because its flatter finish hides imperfections in less-than-perfect drywall. Unfortunately, the drawback to this paint is that its finish is not durable, it marks and easily stains and burnishes if you try to even lightly scrub it. The new homeowner is stuck with this finish until they repaint. The other negative is that drywall issues that should have been fixed before the house was sold may not be noticeable until down the road when a higher sheen paint is applied.
Watering Down Paint
There are acceptable percentages of water that can be used to thin paint, it’s a very small amount. It’s commonly done to improve application methods like spraying. Each paint manufacturer’s TDS (technical data sheet) will list the maximum amount of water that can be added to their product.
There’s a difference between appropriately thinning down versus the unscrupulous practice of “watering down” paint with significant amounts of water. This is done by low quality painters who are trying to make their product go further. The elements of the paint are altered when too much water is added. The quality and durability will have been compromised and there can be adhesion issues and inconsistent colour.
How Many Coats Of Paint Are Required In New Construction Interior Painting?
It is essential that there is a coat of primer on the new drywall, this ensures that the paint will properly adhere. For the best finish and complete coverage, two coats of paint should be applied. The same rule applies to ceilings and trim work.
How Much Does It Cost To Paint The Interior Of A New Construction House?
No set price can be thrown out as an answer to how much does new construction painting cost. The square footage of the house is used as a general factor in the pricing, but that varies by region and many other variables need to be considered to come up with a price. To throw out a random set of numbers you could be looking at anywhere from $5000 to $20,000 for a complete new construction interior repaint. That doesn’t include the exterior.
What causes the cost to increase from a basic square footage price? The size, the complexity of the design, and the height of the ceilings. The quality of the paint being used. Whether the trim work is a simple flat stock versus a complex profile, or plain flat doors versus doors with multiple panel insets. Crown moldings, coffered ceilings, wainscoting, chair rails, and stair railings will add to the cost. Costs will increase with recessed skylights, cabinets, and built-in shelving that need to be painted as well as the staining of natural wood.
The time frame that is available for the painting will affect the cost. The quicker the job needs to be completed, the higher the cost will be to provide the extra labour to accomplish this.
At What Stage Should The Final Painting Be Done In New Construction?
If you talk to any painter they would agree that for the most part, all other trade work should be completed before the final coat of paint is applied. Furthermore they would prefer to do all of their painting without any interruptions.
It can be challenging to apply paint where other trades are working at the same time. Dust created by other workers can land in the paint as it’s drying or someone can accidentally touch or brush past wet walls or trim work. Frustrations arise when walls that have been prepped or worse yet finished get dinged, dented or marked up with dirty or greasy hands.
In an ideal world, the painters would be the last trade in the house. Time crunches in building schedules often prevent this and multiple trades end up working at the same time to meet a deadline.
Is It Normal For A New Construction House To Develop Cracks In The Walls?
It’s normal and probably inevitable that at least a few cracks will appear in the walls of a new construction house. They are caused as the building continues to settle and dry out, usually stabilizing within the first year.
The cracks are usually nothing more than a cosmetic eyesore and not a structural issue. The most common cause is from drying shrinkage in the framing lumber. It’s usually causes hairline cracks, but they can be slightly wider. It also causes nail or screw head pops, seen as small round protrusions in the paint finish. They can be repaired with a suitable filler. Some cracks may require drywall tape and mud. There’s no point fixing them until at least a year has past, as more may appear
If a crack is repaired and shows up again the following year it was likely due to thermal movement. Houses expand and contract with seasonal humidity and temperature fluctuations. This type of crack might open and close as moisture levels fluctuate throughout the year. This happens in older homes as well.