When To Hire A Professional Painter

Professional painters play a critical role in maintaining and updating your home. As a home owner you know all the responsibilities you have. Yard work, home maintenance, etc. It never seems to end. There is always something that needs attention. It makes sense that your not going to call a professional every time something needs to be done. Leaky faucets, installing a new light fixture, etc.

When should you call in a professional painter? I get asked that question often. I tell people to look at the scope of the project to decide. There are 4 times when you might want to consider hiring a professional painter.

professional painter






1. Time

If time is a factor hire a pro. Do you have a house party scheduled and need the living room painted prior to that? Are you having a 4th of July event and need the house painted? Often if your planning an event, the last thing you need to be concerned with is the hassle of painting. A painting contractor will have all the equipment and experience to get in and done quickly.

2. Quality

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! We have all heard that but sometimes there are areas like a guest bathroom or a room in the basement you may want to experiment with and that’s ok. If quality and skill are important then hire a pro! Are you painting your entryway or having all your woodwork refinished? Those are not good DIY projects.

3. Equipment

It is amazing how much equipment paint contractors accumulate. Almost all of it is necessary and serves a purpose. None of it is cheap. It can be very frustrating to try and do a professional job with poor quality equipment. I always suggest buying high quality materials and equipment but that may not be practical when you need to buy ladders or scaffolding. If the job requires professional equipment hire a pro!

4. Risk

If the job to be done involves risk hire a pro! If you are not accustomed to working on long ladders, scaffolding, over stairs or in tall entry ways, now is probably not the time to learn. Workers compensation insurance for painters is among the highest in the trades. Only 1 trade has higher premiums then painters. The reason the premiums are so high is because of risk. Be safe. Hire a professional painter!

Tinted Primer Magic

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We have already covered the function and importance of primer but what we have not emphasized is tinting that primer. There are several reasons for tinted primer but first and foremost is depth of color and hide. Tinting your primer doesn’t mean you can skip a coat of finish. That would defeat the purpose. What it does mean is you will have a finished product with color uniformity and depth.


tinted primer on wall








Primer promotes adhesion and provides uniform porosity of the surface to be painted. We believe primers are absolutely necessary and not something to be skipped. You can definitely tell the difference between a primed and a non primed wall.

When having a primer tinted you want to be sure it is a tintable product. Most can be but check. Many stores push the idea of having your primer tinted a percentage of the finish color. The reasoning for this are it helps you see where you are when applying a finish coat. We don’t have that problem and I find most people can tell the difference between a wet section and dry section of wall regardless of color. We have our primers tinted 100% when possible. You never want to over tint a product. Primer or top coat. Normally 4 to 5 oz of tint is going to do the trick and that is an acceptable amount.

Using Magnetic Primer

Magnetic primer comes in many different brands and types however it is not magnetic. It is actually a mixture containing iron suspended in a resin. The first varieties available were all Aklyd or oil base because iron rusts in the presence of water. The Latex or water base varieties available now have encapsulated the iron particles so there is a barrier between the iron and water.


magnetic primer key ingredient iron oxide
experimental iron particles








We experimented prior to any “magnetic” primer hitting the market and managed to make something that would work. We located and bought fine iron particles and then mixed them in an alkyd primer. The trick for us was to apply several coats. The more coats the more iron that is suspended on the wall and the stronger the hold of the magnet!

This same idea works with the various “magnetic” paints on the market today. More coats = stronger hold.

magnetic primer









The trick to using these products is twofold. First make sure you keep the product stirred to keep the iron particles in suspension and as already mentioned, you want to do several coats. The product that we experimented with years ago actually works better then any magnetic primer available today. I think that is because we added lots of iron. Iron isn’t cheap in this form so what we made was not cost effective but it sure worked!




Painting Shutters

Shutters are commonly found on homes today. If you are lucky enough to have the classic wood variety, you will want to take care of them. The vinyl/plastic variety are perhaps more popular but lack the detail and style the wood variety offer. If you are really really lucky you will have the functional shutter that can actually close and protect the window. These are increasingly rare.

Over time the wood shutter will wear and be in need of repainting. It is worth the investment to do so and it is not really all that hard to do. The first thing you will need to do is remove the shutters from your home. They will be either nailed or screwed to the face of your home. You will want to be careful because sometimes the shutters will need some repair work in addition to repainting.


painting shutters. black shutters







After the shutters are removed they will need to be cleaned. You can power wash them or use a hose and scrub brush. Be sure to use a good cleaner like Simple GreenAfter the shutters have dried it’s time to scrape and sand them. It is always a good idea to test for lead base paint before sanding or scraping. A carbide scrapper will work best. Having a dust brush on hand also helps the process.

It will take time to scrape them because of the detailed nature of the wood shutter. Same for the sanding. If the shutters need repair or reinforcement, now is the time to do so. Do they need to be glued or re-nailed?

Priming is the next step. I like to use Peel Stop on shutters. I usually do a couple coats.

Painting shutters is much easier to do with a sprayer but you can do it by brush. If brushing stick to light coats and watch for drips and runs.  It is time consuming using a brush but you can pay attention to the detail and work the paint into all the seams and difficult to reach areas. Be sure to paint all sides! Shutters look nice with a satin or semi gloss finish on them.

Cabinet Painting

Cabinet painting is very popular today. The trend has been away from stained cabinets and toward painted. Sometimes homeowners wants to coordinate other kitchen remodeling around the same time as the cabinet work but are not sure on the scheduling. Is it better to have the cabinets done first and then get new countertops? or do you want to get that new floor prior to having the cabinets sprayed?

There are several different approaches that be taken when doing a cabinet painting project. All things considered I prefer to be the last trade on the project but we can usually accommodate most scheduling. If you have your cabinets done first you might expect to have areas that will need to be touched up from possible damage from other trades work. This is something that can occur when for example you have a new counter top installed, etc.

What usually does not work is having other trade work go in tandem with the work by the paint contractor. Sawdust and grout don’t go well with paint finishes. Paint contractors need a clean environment to work in and spend a fair amount of time cleaning and vacuuming an area prior to getting to work.


cabinet painting

Interesting Paint Products IV

Round four of the interesting and different for your next painting project.


Glass Mask

There are several different companies that make liquid masking material. Most of them work well. The biggest drawback is often the cost. If you will be painting a lot of divided pane windows or doors, it can be worth the cost. In my experience, I would not buy in to the priming claims (on bare wood) some of the products make.


liquid mask










Lead Check

A must have for your painting tool kit. Easy to use and very accurate. Simply crush the glass ampule and shake. Then rub the moistened tip on the surfaces to be tested. Red indicates lead! This is also something nice to have around to spot check your children’s toys. Remember the batch of lead painted toys from China a few years ago?


painting project must have. lead check










Gorilla Hooks

These go by many different names but they all appear to be basically the same thing. They work great! We spend lots of time removing nails, etc. from walls and these are easy to install and remove, They are very strong and simple in design. Worth a look for your next painting project.







Stairway Painting

Stairway painting can be a little more difficult then painting a room. With a few tips, it is not any more difficult then painting in any other room. We always equip all our extension ladders with leg levelers. The strange thing about these, and frustrating, is that on stairs the levelers are always a couple inches short. We fix this problem by using a stair wedge. The actual name is “pivot ladder tool”. The ladder tool works well. We pretty much only use these on stairs and not in any of the other ways they show you can use this tool.

stairway painting. leg levelers
Leg Levelers











So the challenge with painting a stairway is mostly with the confined space and the height. The other things that can pose a problem are curved walls and when carpet and wall meet without there being any wood trim between the carpet and painted wall. These are easy to solve.

stairway painting. ladder tool
Ladder Tool











So One of the first things you will want to do is cover the stairs with drops. If the stairs are carpeted and there is no riser, the carpet ends where the drywall starts, you will want to use a wider tape like a 2″ and tuck a good inch behind the carpet. It is helpful to use a five-in-one or putty knife to work the tape down along the wall. So when cutting out the walls you will want to stab the paint down between the tape and wall. When you are done and you pull the tape it will also pull up on the carpet past your cut line.

When the walls are all cut in you can get a good roll on the walls with the use of extension poles. It is easier to have a taller pole and a shorter one.

If you were considering painting the ceiling, now is the time to do it. When doing your cut at the ceiling line do two cuts before doing the roll. That way once you are done with the cuts you can get the ladders out of the way. Another tip is to not take you ladders too far away until you are done. That way if you do tag the ceiling you will have the ladder on hand to get back up there and fix it.









Interesting Paint Products III

Interesting Paint Products III. The continuing look at the new and interesting paint products available in stores and online.

Painters Pyramid

These raise the surface of what you are painting with minimal contact with the painted surface. A good idea. There are other ways to achieve the same thing, but these are inexpensive and convenient. You can normally find a ten pack for under $10.00

paint products. painters pyramid






Kosmic Krome

In a nutshell, this is a “paint” that you can use to “chrome” a surface. The manufacture has several different types of coatings you can use to achieve many different effects. This stuff is aimed at the after market automotive industry but I’m waiting for a clever paint contractor to offer it as a neat effect for a business or homeowner.

paint products. Kosmic krome








Good-Bye Cracks

This is a good product. It really works. If you have a recurring crack problem or you just want to repair a crack only once, give this stuff a shot. You repair the crack in the normal way, using drywall tape and mud, then after priming you give the area a few sprays of this stuff to form an elastomeric film between the crack area and the top coat.


paint products. good-bye cracks






Types Of Stain

There are several types of stain and it can get confusing knowing which to use and when. Go into any home improvement center or paint store and you will be offered basically 4 types of stain. Oil stain, water based stain, gel stain and varnish stain. There are other types as well and we will touch on those too.

Here is the information you need to help you choose the right one for your project.

Oil Stain

These are the most widely available and the ones most people are familiar with. Minwax is a popular brand. Linseed oil is a common component and because these dry so slowly, they are easy to work with and give the user the time needed to remove excessive stain prior to drying. The easiest way to determine if it is a oil based stain is the label. The solvent for oil based stains is mineral spirits and that will be listed as what to use for clean up. Usually the color is from a pigment but occasionally an oil stain can be a hybrid of both pigment and dye. An oil based stain is safe to use under any finish except a water based finish.

types of stain. minwax wood finish


Gel Stain

Almost all gel stains are oil based. Easily spotted by their super thick consistency. Great on pine wood and easy to use for creating  “grain” on fiberglass doors. These dry very slowly so they are easy to work with. Color selection can be a challenge unless buying online.


Lacquer Stain

The choice of professionals. Mainly because they dry so fast a finish can be applied in about 30 minutes. Much harder to work with. Not a choice for an amateur or do-it-yourselfer. A stain, pigment or dye can also be added to lacquer finish to create a toner to adjust the color between coats of finish. Easy to identify by their strong solvent smell.


Water Based Stain

Water based stains substitute solvent based thinner with water and use pigments or dyes that are soluble in water. If the label states that cleanup is with soap and water, it’s a water based stain. These dry much faster then oil based stains but not as fast as a lacquer or alcohol based stain. Water based stains are the best choice when using a water based finish. One of the biggest drawbacks with these is that they tend to raise the grain of the wood. One trick if planning to use a water based stain is to wet the surface of the wood to raise the grain, then sand it when dry. You are then safe to stain.

There are additional types of stain but these are the most common. We will discuss other more complex types of stain in the near future.




3 Reasons Why You Should Paint

Bank For The Buck

Painting is one of the most cost effective improvements you can make to your home. Material expense is minimal and labor rates are very reasonable. If you choose to paint yourself, you will save that expense as well. It is very easy to breathe new life into an old space and the change is fast. You can completely change the mood and feel of your space with ease. If you don’t feel like taking on painting all of your home, you can get dramatic results with simply doing an accent wall.


Color Choices

There is such a vast array of color choices available. Today we have tools at our disposal that were not available ten years ago. There are computer programs available at many of the major paint manufactures websites. Using these you can see what different colors will look like on or in your home. There are apps for your smart phone that will do the same thing. One device that is very interesting is color muse . It accurately measures and matches colors from almost anything like flooring, fabrics, paint, etc. The days of struggling to match a color are over.
painting app. color muse a color matching device









Increase Value

Painting is the easiest way to increase the value of your home and help to maintain that value. Painting the exterior of your home not only protects and maintains your investment, it instantly boosts your homes curb appeal. Home values are soaring these days. Painting the interior or exterior of your home, and possibly changing the colors, puts you in a position to both enjoy the improvement and be prepared for an eventual sale.