Sooner or later, every homeowner faces the same question.
New paint not only looks good, but it protects your home from the elements.
It's also one of the more expensive things you'll do for your home and the
results could last a decade. So Ted is wise to make his choice carefully.
Let's begin with paint selection. Good quality paint can save you money in the
long run. If cheaper paint saved you 20% but only lasts half the time, you
haven't saved any money.
According to the Paint Quality Institute using better quality paint will reduce
the likelihood of peeling and flaking. It will also hold color better and be
more resistant to mildew. They also claim that it will apply easier.
The best way to find a quality paint is by checking the ingredients in the
paint, not by the company who made it. Quality paints have better binders. These
binders not only affect how well the paint sticks to the surface being painted,
but also how resistant it is to stains and cracks. Look for latex paints with a
high percentage of acrylic binders.
Ted will also want to look for prime pigments. The most common being titanium
dioxide. Prime pigments are better at covering old colors.
Finally, make sure that the paint contains a mildewcide. That's especially
important for exterior painting.
Once Ted has selected a paint, he'll need to find a painter.
The best way to find a reputable contractor is to talk with other people. Ask
co-workers, neighbors and friends.
It's easier to compare bids if they're all using the same quality of paint.
Ideally, the homeowner will have made a choice and notified each bidder what
paint he wants.
It's always good to get three bids for any large job. Most of the time you'll
find that two of the bids aren't very far apart. That's probably about what the
job is worth.
Sometimes one bid is significantly lower than the others. You'll be tempted to
take this bid. Don't do it without thoroughly checking out the contractor. Ask
him why his bid is lower than the others. It could be that he's going to skimp
on materials, permits or cut other corners that could cause you trouble later.
You don't want to arbitrarily reject the highest bidder. You won't pick them
often, but it can't hurt to ask why their bid is higher. Perhaps their service
justifies a higher price. You'll need to decide whether the extra money is
well-spent in your case.
Sometimes a contractor will bid a little more or less for a job depending on how
much work they have lined up. If your work isn't urgent you might get a better
price by allowing the contractor to use your house as a fill-in between other
jobs. Especially if it's a smaller job. The downside is that they might make
only sporadic progress on your job.
You may want the job to move quickly from start to finish. Ask each bidder if he
intends to stay with your job once started. Some are notorious for beginning
many jobs to collect partial payments. But then things begin to drag.
The contractor should have proof of insurance and any necessary licenses. A good
one won't mind you asking about their training and experience.
Check references. You'd be surprised what you can learn from people who have
already worked with a contractor.
Expect a good contractor to need to schedule your job a few weeks or even months
in the future. That's because good contractors are busy. It's rare when one can
start your job right away.
There are also certain warning signs of a painter who might not be up to the
job. Beware of a request for a large deposit. Ten to twenty percent is
Don't be pressured into signing anything. Reputable contractors won't make
offers that are good for 'today only'.
Ted has some important decisions to make. Selecting the right paint will take a
little work on his part. And, finding the right contractor is a matter of
balancing quality, service and price. But, the combination of the right paint in
the hands of a good painter should have his home looking good for years to come!
Gary Foreman is a former purchasing manager who currently edits The Dollar
Stretcher website <www.TheDollarStretcher.com>
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