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Updated: Jun 3, 2018

What do painters talk about behind the scenes? What do painters wish you'd know to make their lives easier and your job infinitely better?


Have You Nailed Your Paint Color?

I am part of a private Facebook group comprised of professional painting contractors and suppliers. It’s very interesting to learn from their perspective about what makes a successful painting project. There are common themes that pop up again and again in the discussions - many hinge around scope-of-work and prep work expectations.

1. Painters Cannot Perform Miracles

I have seen the pictures. Countless times the painter enters into a situation where the contractor had done shoddy repair or installation work, and then the painter is expected to make it all look perfect.

Your painter can do amazing things with a tube of caulk or some wall mud, making your trim look tight to the wall, smoothing out the “character” in an uneven wall surface… but when the contractor has taken shortcuts with properly sanding the casework, correct cuts on the mill work, huge holes and gaps around switch plates, light fixtures and bathroom fans - there is only so much the painter can do.

2. Painters Are Happy to Help You Move Heavy Furniture, But Make Sure to Discuss First

When a painter shows up to a job site, and there is a huge king-size bed against the wall, they have to stop everything and get that thing moved. Which may include stopping everything and finding a helper - time is money, and this will cost.

3. Painters Are Not Housekeepers

Imagine showing up to the job site, and there is crap everywhere. Yes, it happens! You have a responsibility to get your space painter-ready. Move the laundry, old newspapers and piles of papers before painting day arrives. Take pictures off the wall. Move fragile art to a safe place. You can certainly build this into our painting bid, just make sure you’ve discussed this ahead of time.

Sometimes, this is a case of putting lipstick on the pig; people in houses that are overwhelmed with “stuff” think repainting with make everything better, when in reality, they need to bring in a organizing expert… As a culture, we are drowning in stuff, and a new paint job will not fix that.

4. Painters Need Other Trades to be Gone

This is a situation that arises when you’re in the middle of a construction or remodeling project. By the time the painter comes on the job, it’s towards the very end of a larger scope of work, and surprise surprise - deadlines have gotten behind, and the general is stacking the work to try and catch up.

There are issues when the painter shows up, and sees that drywall is still being installed in another area of the house. Or the tile is being set. Or furniture is being delivered and shades being installed.

Have you seen the dust created by sanding drywall? Do you want the risk of that embedding into you brand new, expensive paint job? Yikes, I don’t think so!

When an installer is installing window treatments, or the furniture is being delivered, then you’ve got a situation where the professionals are working on top of each other, and it lowers efficiency for both sides. Nobody is happy, and you increase the opportunity for mishaps. Spilled paint, anyone?

5. You Haven't Decided on Your Colors Yet

The painter is starting tomorrow, but you haven’t quite nailed down the color scheme. No big deal, they have to do the prep work first, so there’s still time, right?

Not so much. Sampling colors takes time. Think about this: if your painter is painting the samples for you, they take time out from another project to go to the paint store, drive to your home, paint out samples and then wait for your feedback. What if you need to make adjustments? Then it’s rinse-and-repeat, and many hours have been spent.

Simply stopping by the paint store and picking up samples can take a good hour out of the day. The more we all plan ahead, the more efficient this becomes for everyone.

Sometimes, your painter’s schedule opens up early, and when you’ve got the colors nailed down ahead of time, you are ready to rock-and-roll(er).

Your delay has a ripple effect, too. All the other projects your painter has lined up are affected and if you aren’t ready, you might lose your place in line. Nobody wants that to happen. Except maybe the lucky person who now gets your project slot, because they ARE ready to go.


A lot of frustration can be avoided by simply asking questions and being clear during the bidding process. The more we all understand our expectations for each other, the smoother the project will flow.

Find a painter with whom you can easily communicate. If you are unsure about something, shoot them a quick question. Do your part to be ready for them, and make sure their paint bid explain the scope-of-work clearly - ranging from prep, application, to cleanup and disposal.

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