Be Informed

Read Between The Lines

Following is some information to give you, the customer, insight into what is happening in the industry, things to think about, and things to watch out for, so that you may make an informed and well thought-out decision on who will paint your home.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me, Michael Gatto, at Vision Painting.

Lifetime Paint

Come on folks, if it sounds too good to be true, Bluh, Bluh, Bluh.  You know the story.  There are a few paint manufacturers offering lifetime paint (this of course is in addition to the 10, 20, and 25 year paints that already exist).  Sherwin Williams has Duration, ICI/Dulux has Fortis and Behr has a product.  What you need to know is the following:

  • Some of these products have an inspection process before, during, and after the job by a rep for the Company
  • Most of the products are two to three times the retail price (five times my price)  of the next top line paint from that manufacturer.
  • Some of these products are high-build paints requiring a slightly different application method that most painters are not aware of, may not do, and therefore all benefits are lost.
  • Some of these products require the homeowner to purchase the paint, not the painter, or you void the warranty.  Some even say you need to keep the receipt and the empty cans.
  • What do you get if you have a claim, the material to repaint that area that is affected.  You will need to do the work yourself or hire a painter.

Keep in mind that the most common reasons for paint to fail is poor preparation and moisture, which will usually cause it to peel in months not years.  If there is a pin hole in the caulking or paint at any time during the life of the paint, moisture can build up and cause the paint to peel.  This usually happens down to bare wood.  Peeling due to moisture build-up can also be caused by over insulating, lack of interior exhaust fans, poor attic ventilation, and too many layers of paint.  All of these items would void the paint warranty if you had a problem.  The goal is to use a manufacturer’s top of the line non-gimmick mainstream paint.  Most manufacturers are similar in quality if top line brands are used.  Just think, if paint lasted as long as the label indicated, would you be getting an estimate from us right now?

So, what do you get from a lifetime paint warranty, maybe a gallon of paint and definitely a lighter wallet.

25/35/45/55 and Lifetime Caulking

This is similar to lifetime paint and its failure is one of the top three reasons why paint peels.  Caulking is one of those things that even if you use a top of the line caulking, most painters do not know how to caulk properly.  For caulking to work, you must get the recommended bead thickness on the label to allow for proper expansion and contraction.  Too often, painters wipe off most of the caulking leaving little to work.  The most common areas caulked that are purely for aesthetic reasons is the butt joints on siding.  All you are doing is wiping caulking in a crack—there is no bead to expand and contract.  We even do it, not because it works but because of aesthetics and the expectations of the customer.

Caulking is an area that most painters will cut corners on.  You do not want to use a low-grade 25 or 35 year caulking.  Typically your better caulking will be 45/55 and lifetime caulking.  This is not to indicate that they will last that long.  You want your painter to use a minimum of a TTS-230 spec.  This will be on the label.  Vision painting uses either a 55 year elastomeric caulking or the Sher-Max line from Sherwin Williams.  These are both outstanding caulks for residential use.  By the way, do not waste your time trying to collect on a caulking warranty.

Two coats versus one (related to repaints)

Often times a painter that does not have a lot of work will try to up-sell you a second coat when it is not needed.  It gives him more money and longer on the job.  A two coat system is usually only needed when there is a color change, if you need a specialty primer for bonding or chalking, or to create an even finish due to extensive repairs that are in between already painted areas or a sheen change such as flat to satin or semi-gloss on siding.

Coats to Cover

Often times you will find painters being ambiguous.  This can especially happen if the painter is not sure if the paint will cover in one coat or two but does not want to scare you away with a two coat price.  If you see, coats to cover, or paint number of coats as needed, you either will not get a proper job, or you are paying too much.  Think of it like this, if a job takes two coats but the painter only bid coats to cover, you can bet he did not figure two coats and will try to get one heavy coat applied which is a disservice to you.  If the job only takes one coat and the contractor actually put 2 coats in his price, but stated coats to cover, you paid too much.  Always get a one coat price and then a price to apply a second coat on the trim, siding, stucco, etc. separately for each item.

Good/ Better/ Best

Some paint companies are offering different levels of job quality.  I find this amazing.  Yes, people have different budgets, but everyone wants a good job with top quality paints.  Paint actually makes up a small portion of the job so to skimp on the paint makes no sense, there may only be a 1-3% difference in the overall cost when comparing paint.  The other major cost is getting the company there and doing the prep.  How do you cut costs on preparation?  The prep is the most important part of the job which will determine how long the paint lasts.  Hire a company that offers a detailed specification on prep and paint.  Please do not hire someone based on verbal agreements, get everything in writing.

Overpriced Name Brands

One thing that is very important to me is to give my customers the best service and top quality paint at a reasonable and fair price.  Often times we are asked to use products like Benjamin Moore, Pratt&Lambert or other similar type paints.  Although these products are good, they are not worth the extra money it costs to use them.  If you select one of these products, first you will pay an extra $300-500 extra in paint for your job with no extra long-term benefit, second, you will NOT get the customer support from your painter or the manufacturer the way you would by using a mainstream brand like Sherwin Williams, Porter, ICI/Dulux, or Duron (also Flexbon and MAB in Florida), and third, Vision Painting would not warranty the job.  Trust me when I say, as long as your painter is specifying top-line paint with a major manufacturer do not try to change it.  Keep in mind that we have relationships with our suppliers, if there were ever a problem we have a lot more pull with these people than we do with a small privately owned BenMoore dealer or ACE hardware selling Pratt&Lambert.

Painter Manufacturer Preferences

If your painter is specifying Sherwin Williams but you want to use Duron, you might want to reconsider.  Although most painters use many different brands, they usually favor certain brands and product lines for specific types of work.  They will usually specify the brand and type in the proposal (or they should, if they don’t, then you never know what you are getting).  Certain paints cover better in certain cases while others do not.  Some will outperform others, especially when dealing with interior paints on cabinets or garage floor stains.  The painter is a professional, and unless he is specifying a no-name, or low-grade paint, let him use the product specified.  This will alleviate any problems later when the painter comes back to you and says the product you wanted me to use will take two coats and cost you $1500 more.  Painters, for the most part, choose products based on quality, cost, and overall performance on the substrate to be painted to give you the best possible job at a fair price.

Wood Repairs

When your house is being painted, often time wood repairs are needed.  They can be done two ways: Time and Material or fixed cost.  Although fixed cost pricing lets you know what the exact total is, you may be paying too much(of course the fixed price is based on items specifically listed and only those visible to a ground inspection-anything that is in need of repair that is not visible or covered by other wood would be an extra).  Providing a fixed cost price involves estimating time and materials.  To cover yourself on both, the cost is usually higher than working on a Time and Materials basis.  On a time and material basis, the largest cost is already absorbed in the painting, getting us there.  Although most people are skeptical of time and material work, we do it almost exclusively, especially on our larger jobs.  This insures that all the repairs get done the correct way with the correct materials.  If a contractor underestimates the repairs on a fixed cost basis, they may try to cut corners which in turn will give you an inferior job.  Time and material insures that you will get the materials you want and the quality job you are looking for.  With fixed pricing, if something is discovered that was not seen before, whose responsibility is it, are the specific areas covered under the fixed price identified and is this one extra. As you can see, problems can result.

Wood Repair Materials

If at all possible, specify to the person doing the repairs to use rot resistant products ( I am not talking about pressure treated or cedar wood).  There are many new products around which come in most types of sizes and molds to meet the needs of residential repairs.  Some of the products that are rot resistant and take paint well include Hardie siding and trim, PVC, Marley, Azek, Miretec and others.  These products should be used when repairing siding, corner boards, fascia, window sills, window sill extensions, crown molding, fascia, soffits, etc.  This will insure you never having to replace the same areas twice.

Uninsured Contractors

Please request a copy of the certificate of insurance from the contractor you are considering for both worker’s comp and general liability.  Please see the Insurance Tab in this binder for more information.  Do not hire uninsured contractors.

Detailed Proposals

In this day and time it is critical to know what you are getting for your money.  There are many types of painters out there.  Some work out of an old pick-up truck and write the price of the job on the back of a business card, some are smooth talkers and don’t write anything down, others write things down but are vague on exactly what is being done and/or materials being used.

The proposal is a legally binding contract.  In order to enforce it, it must be specific in nature.  If your siding is being painted one coat, it should state that.  It should also state the brand and type of paint being used.  Is your house being washed, if so with what?  Are your front metal railings, shutters, fascia, soffits, windows, doors, etc. being painted?  It should state all that on the proposal with the number of coats and the products being used.  If it’s not specified, it might not be included and could be an extra which now makes this job more expensive than the one you really wanted to go with.  Make sure you are comparing apples and apples and get everything in writing.  See our Company Comparison section in this binder.

Upfront money

There is no reason to provide a painter with money prior to beginning the job.  Most companies have accounts with paint stores to buy paint which give them 30 days or more to pay.  Most jobs do not take over 3-4 days to complete which means he will be paid in full at completion by you to pay his labor.  In 1995 we started the policy of not collecting deposits or progress payments to show our customers that we have complete confidence in our ability to provide them a quality job and that when we start a job, we are there to stay until it is complete.  If the painter cannot afford to buy paint or float labor, what will they be able to do if there is ever a problem, something breaks, property damage or even something as simple as a warranty claim?

Written warranties

Most reputable companies offer some type of warranty.  Although warranties are important, read between the lines and know what is included or excluded.  If you get a blanket 2, 3, 5 or longer warranty with no exclusions, be weary.  There are a lot of things which cause paint to peel, many of which are not the painter’s responsibility.  I can promise you that if you think you are getting an all inclusive long-term warranty from a painting contractor, you are being deceived.  Make sure whom ever you hire has a detailed written warranty explaining what is covered and what is not.  When considering a company that might offer a long-term warranty at no cost to you, consider whether they will be able to make good on it 3 years or 5 years from now.  Remember, as stated above, there is no such thing as lifetime paint or caulking or even 15 or 25 year paint.

30-day touch-ups

Some companies are claiming they are doing something ingenious related to a 30-day touch-up guarantee.  They claim that anytime within 30 days of completing a job they will come back if a touch-up is discovered.  This of course is not new and if anything is somewhat limiting.  Any reasonable company would come back in 30 days to fix something that was done incorrectly or missed.  A better company would come back at anytime to correct a problem that was missed.  Why would you limit your customer to 30 days?

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