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Wall insulation | Drywall | Finish carpentry | >>Paint | Attic and crawlspace insulation | Hard floor coverings

     Everyone thinks that they are a painter. While painting is a common trade that many homeowners do, painters do a lot more than just apply paint. Latex (water based) paint is used for drywall and MDF board while oil based paints, stains and finishes are used for real wood.      Eventually, most oil based products will probably be discontinued because they are not environmentally friendly.
Paint sheen is defined by the amount of gloss that a paint has. The spectrum varies from flat paint (no shine) to high gloss (very shiny). Flat paint tends to hide defects while gloss paint is more durable and easier to clean.

The Process
Once the finish carpentry is complete the painter starts the prep work. Painting a home interior is probably 80% prep work and 20% actual paint application. Preparation consists of the following activities:

  • Clean and vacuum house.
  • Fill joints in carpentry work.
  • Caulk gaps between moldings and drywall
  • Fill nail holes
  • Remove doors and hinges and handsets.
  • Mask areas that are not to be painted

Once holes and joints are filled, excess filler must be sanded smooth. After the prep work is completed the house must be cleaned. The walls are blown clean with an air compressor, and the floor is vacuumed. If the house is not vacuumed the dirt and dust will contaminate the paint surface.  The doors are usually put in the basement or garage to be painted. One coat of primer is applied followed by one top coat. Professionals use airless paint sprayers to do the bulk of the work. One painter can spray an average sized house in about 3- 4 hours. Natural woods are masked and finished before the painting process, or they are installed after the paint process is finished.

The cost for painting depends on several factors. The quality of paint, the amount of prep work, and the number of colors. The least expensive choice is a low cost acrylic paint, single tone paint job. Which means that the entire interior including doors, trim, walls and ceiling are one color. Prices rise for two and three-tone paint jobs. Painters often have set prices for single-tone, two-tone, three-tone paint jobs.  Painters usually figure the job by the floor square footage. For example a 1500 square foot single tone paint job might cost $1.50 per ft² making the total paint bid $2250.

Points to consider

  • Painting is a common sweat equity trade done by homeowners.
  • Painting is mostly prep work.
  • Single tone paint jobs are common in low cost tract housing.
  • It is easy to underestimate the time and skill needed for a professional paint job.
  • Paint will not hide drywall flaws.
  • Painters must have experience staining and finishing natural wood.
Notes for the owner-builder
The contract with the sub should include the following details:
  • Length of contract (total number of days) and liquidated damages ($ amount)
  • Paint description (brand, grade, color, sheen, etc.)
  • Number of tones and where they are to be used
  • Cost of the bid & cost for change orders
  • Hourly rate for extra labor
  • Exterior doors and jambs should be included in the interior painting contract if no exterior painting is required (i.e. brick exterior).

Natural wood moldings are installed after paint or they are masked.  A good two-tone paint job will take 5-6 days to comlete.

Wood door tops and bottoms need to be painted or door warranties will be voided. Unpainted tops and bottoms allow moisture to enter the door and cause warping.

It is important that painters organize the hinges by door and position on the door. The reason is that those hinges have been adjusted by the carpenter to make that door close correctly.

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