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Neighbors of DuPage

Painting – do-it-yourself vs. hiring a pro

Jul 13, 2017 10:20AM ● By Ben Scott

Many homeowners expect plumbers and electricians to be expensive but are surprised at the prices charged by other subcontractors. The most obvious example of this is the professional painting company.

Although people tend to see painting as intuitive work, there's a vast difference in appearance and durability between a do-it-yourself finish and one applied by a pro. On a large project, a professional paint job may run as high as 5 percent of the total job cost, but this will produce lasting, picture-perfect results that make your home pop.

Professionals get these results by paying attention to details that most homeowners and casual painters miss. In fact, really good painters—the kind of people whose work meets the quality demands of a luxury remodeler—are nothing short of obsessive. They spend unbelievable amounts of time prepping surfaces, following a multi-step process that includes sanding, masking, caulking and filling, then priming, sanding, and caulking and filling again before they even think about applying the finish coats. The final appearance has as much to do with all this prep work as it does with the paint.

When it comes to paint, pros stick to products that have proven themselves over years in the field, and they have the experience to know which ones work best where. They understand the differences in sheen and coverage between different products, as well as what kind of surface each covers best and in what environmental conditions. They also know how to mix paints in the right quantities, what additives to use, how to make crisp lines at edges and intersections, and how to create even looks over multiple surfaces.

It's no surprise that pros also invest in high-quality tools. There are an overwhelming number of choices in rollers, brushes and spraying equipment, and it takes experience to learn which ones will provide the exact look the homeowners want, whether that's a traditional brushed finish or one with a glass-like sheen.

The payoff for all this work is a finish that looks great and stands the test of time. Due in part to the careful preparation and right materials, a finish applied by a skilled painter will last much longer before it needs painting again, which of course lowers the long-term cost.

But what if the homeowners have worked with a professional painting company in the past and want the remodeler to use that company? There are a couple of concerns with this.

Professional remodelers vet all subcontractors using the same criteria. Their contracting partners are reputable companies with a track record of satisfied customers. They all have adequate insurance coverage. And because they get steady work from the remodeler, it is important to them to show up on time and offer fair pricing. To ensure that a new subcontractor can meet these criteria, the remodeler will insist on trying them out on a couple of small jobs.

The bottom line is that successful remodelers become successful because they zealously guard their reputation for quality work, and the quality of the paint job can make or break the look of even the most carefully detailed project. The final finish is one area where you definitely get what you pay for.

Provided by Scott Buckingham
Project Manager 
Hogan Design & Construction 312-259-0929