The reality is that many homeowners don’t know what to expect in terms of service and quality and what to expect from a painting contractor. They may not be aware of the difference between a mediocre and an excellent quality paint job. Unfortunately, there have been some low standards set in the painting industry. This has led to the acceptance of subpar work. Once you’ve seen what an excellent painting looks like, any inferior work will become glaringly obvious.
The aesthetics of a paint job are so much more than the colour. The foundation of a good paint job is the preparation. If the surfaces were prepared poorly or not at all it won’t matter how beautiful the paint colour is.
One of the telltale signs of a bad paint job is the lack of precision in the cut-in areas. Cut-in lines should be sharp and straight where the walls meet the ceiling and where the walls meet up with the baseboards, door, and window trim. This takes time to master. It’s a skill that can be improved upon with practice, but not everyone has the dexterity or the patience to do it well.
The application of paint onto the surfaces should have a consistent, smooth, and uniform finish. There shouldn’t be streaky brush marks, lap marks, ridges, runs, drips, or sagging in the paint. The paint finish should not be full of chunks and bits.
The photo on the lower left is an example of a poorly done cut-in against the window casings. There are spots of wall paint on the trim and the line defining the trim and wall is not straight. On the right is a precise cut-in of the wall paint against the trim work.
Below on the left is a poorly done cut with wiggly lines above the baseboard and on the right how it should look, straight and precise.
In the photo on the lower left the cut-in is wavering along at the meet-up of the wall and crown molding. In the photo on the right, it is precise and straight.
Paint Shouldn’t Be Where It Doesn’t Belong!
Wall paint shouldn’t be haphazardly spilling over into the sides of the window or door frames. Most importantly wall paint should not be up into the ceiling, this has to be the worst of the poor painting techniques. Cabinets, floors, light switches, outlets, electrical fixtures, door hardware, and hinges should be free of paint.
Below in the photo on the left, you can see the wiggly line at the top of the wall and where the wall paint incorrectly extends into the perimeter of the ceiling. On the right is a proper cut in line creating a straight and precise line where the wall and ceiling meet up.
It goes without saying that paint should not be on flooring, furniture, or personal belongings. This is beyond unskilled painting, it’s just plain carelessness. The surfaces and items in the painting space should be protected with drop sheets and plastic. There may be items on the surfaces being painted that need to be masked and taped.
Full Paint Coverage And Number Of Coats Of Paint
Proper paint coverage means there shouldn’t be any areas of thin coverage or shadowing of the previous paint colour coming through. This is an area we find the homeowner doesn’t know what they don’t know. After years in the industry, it’s easy for us to look at a surface and instantly see that it doesn’t have the full coverage that it should. Quite often we can see the cut-in areas have paint sparsely applied and there are misses within the rolled areas of the walls and/or shadowing of the previous colour coming through.
Rarely is there a situation where one coat of paint is acceptable no matter how expensive or high quality the paint is. A minimum of two coats of paint is what is required in almost all situations to give adequate and full paint coverage. There are times when more than two coats are required. This is most common when there is a drastic colour change, usually applying a light colour over a dark colour or when choosing a vibrant colour.
Sanding, Sanding And More Sanding
It’s been said that it would be more accurate to call a painter a professional sander, at least a good painter. Sanding is one of the most overlooked aspects of painting preparation. It’s a large part of what makes up a quality paint job. Each time a surface is painted without being sanded or sanded properly it adds to the demise of the surface aesthetics. Depending on the circumstances it can also lead to paint failure. By the time a house is ten or twenty years old, it can look dreadful if it’s had one bad paint job after another. Sanding the walls, trim work, and doors before painting ensures a smooth and uniform finish. Any past drips, runs or sags if there are any present in the painting should be sanding out of the walls, trim work, and doors. An overall sanding removes any anomalies and excess texture that may be present in previously applied coatings.
Patching and Caulking
The preparation for painting can take a significant amount of time if the surfaces being painted are in poor condition. The walls should be inspected for nicks, scratches, and dings. They should be filled and sanded along with any unwanted nail and screw holes from pictures or artwork that was previously hung.
Poorly done patching can cause more issues than not patching at all. An unskilled person tends to over-apply the patching compound. If these areas are not sanded out properly it leaves behind raised and uneven areas on the wall. It’s not uncommon to find patches like this that get painted over again and again with layers of paint without being addressed. When someone finally decides to fix the walls it can take a lot of sanding and re-patching to get them looking good again.
There can be situations where walls are in very bad condition and require an extensive amount of patching. It takes time and patience to fill and sand all the imperfections in rooms like the one shown in the photo below. The extra effort is well worth it when you see how much better the walls look after they have been repaired and re-painted.
Caulking is an important part of the painting process and there’s a skill to applying it. It’s used to conceal gaps and cracks and add to the overall quality of the paint job by giving it a seamless finish. There’s no such thing as a good-looking paint job that’s applied over a back caulking application. Caulking is applied within trim work joints and the joints where the walls meet up with the baseboards, the door and window casings, and crown moldings. Caulking should be done before the painting. If it’s not painted over it can discolour and become a magnet for dirt and dust collection.
Removing Hardware Prior To Painting
Anything that can easily be removed should be such as switch plate, outlet covers, door knobs, towel bars, etc. Anything that has to be left in place is protected from paint and a good painter knows how to paint around these items without leaving highly visible brush marks.
High Quality Painting Products
A professional painter will not only use high-quality paint and materials, they will ensure that the correct product is being used for each particular situation. The painter will know when to use a paint with mildew-inhibiting properties or when a special primer or sealer is required. The materials used to apply the paint materials all play a part in the outcome, this includes the brushes, paint rollers, caulking, and patching compound.
It’s important to note that not all paint is created equal. The painter has a myriad of choices and price levels to choose from. There are different levels of paint quality in all company’s product lines that range from mediocre to excellent. Even the top well-known paint companies have lower-end products that are not as superior in durability and adhesion. Every company has at least one cheaper paint known as a “builder’s grade”.