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How To Plan & Execute A Reliable Painting Project

By on Jun 25, 2015
How To Plan & Execute A Reliable Painting Project

There are a number of factors to consider when you’re planning a home painting project. Whether you intend to do it yourself or decide to hire a professional, most of the same questions still apply. ImproveNet offers excellent advice on the process of selecting a painting contractor, and I would strongly suggest you refer to those articles as well.


If you’re planning an exterior repaint project, you will want to take into account the time of year and the projected weather conditions. Most manufacturers recommend application when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the conditions stay above the dew point, with no rain expected for at least 24 hours after application. There are some products that can be applied as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind is another factor to consider, especially if using a sprayer. To get an idea of some of the options available, please visit Sherwin Williams.

If you do not adhere to these parameters, it can adversely affect the quality and final outcome of your project.


The single most critical factor in determining the quality of the paint job you will get is the preparation. You can imagine, for instance, if you paint directly over old peeling paint or dirt, the new paint will not have a sound substrate to adhere to and will subsequently fail in short order. When deciding the quality of paint job you want, you will need to settle on how much you want to invest in the preparation phase of the project. The recommended basics include:

  • Power washing, accompanied by hand scrubbing with soap and water for difficult areas, and removing of mildew or efflorescence with a mild bleach solution or TSP, followed by a good rinsing.
  • Removal of loose or poorly adhered paint, typically by scraping with hand tools. Always be sure that whether you are doing the work yourself, or if it is being done by others, that the proper protective gear is worn. You should have a face mask, goggles and gloves. You will also probably want to use tarps to cover your landscaping or walkways to catch the debris.
  • If you are deciding between a VW or Cadillac paint, there is an additional step in the preparation that you may want to include. That would be the sanding of the edges of old paint that are evident after scraping off what was failing. This leaves visible ridges between the bare surfaces and the paint that remains, which some people find very distracting to the overall aesthetics of the paint job. These edges can be sanded lightly to ease the difference, or more extensively to better blend the two surfaces. Keep in mind that, if you are hiring a professional, this can add considerably to the cost of your paint job. You may want to ask to have that step broken out as an alternate cost which can help you decide if you want to include it or not.

Painting Supplies


Structures built before 1978 will most likely be coated with lead-based paint.

This is especially critical if children under the age of six years are present. In a court decision, lead was banned for residential use in the U.S in 1978 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 Code of Federal Regulations CFR 1303). As a result, any action (such as sanding) that causes the lead paint to become friable (made into small particles that may be inhaled), must be done in accordance with OSHA regulation 1926.62.

Once your structure is properly prepared, all that is left is to adequately mask off or cover surrounding surfaces and areas to protect them from overspray or drips.

Product Selection

Nearly all manufacturers offer a variety of quality within their product lines. These different products, of course, carry with them varied prices as well as warranties. It stands to reason that the more you pay for something, the better the quality. Nonetheless, I would urge you to investigate this a bit more. Case in point, I have seen companies that offer 25-year or even lifetime warranties. Be aware that the warranty is only as good as the paint job itself. If you hire someone to paint your home and you use paint that boasts a 25-year warranty, that does not mean that the painter will come back in eight years and repaint your house for free if the paint begins to peel.

You can choose a $15 per gallon paint or a $45 per gallon paint and there will be a definite difference in quality. The question you must ask, when looking for the VW or Cadillac, is “how much difference will it make?” I would suggest to you that the $45 per gallon paint will not last three times as long as the $15 per gallon product. It will however cover better, look a little better and probably last a bit longer; how much longer is a guess. My advice is that you will probably get the most bang for your buck by going with the middle of the road product.


As stated above, the prep for your paint job is critical, and the quality of the paint you buy is important as well. Also, the application of the paint will have a definite impact on the VW vs. Cadillac question.

If you’re one of those hardy folks who are not daunted by the prospect of the DIY approach, I want to provide a couple of tips with regard to tools. If you do not own an airless sprayer, you can rent one from most paint stores or equipment rental outlets. I would suggest one that has 2,000 to 3,000 PSI, with a .015” to .019” tip, depending on whether it is for interior or exterior use. Again, be sure to use all protective gear and observe recommended safety procedures.

When using a brush for water-based paints, a good quality 2 ½” or 3” polyester or nylon brush will produce a much better result than one of inferior quality. If you are using oil-based or Alkyd paint, a high quality China bristle brush is recommended.

Note: If you are not familiar with this type of brush, only clean it with Mineral Spirits. Cleaning a China Bristle brush with water will destroy an expensive tool! If you do care for your brushes properly, they should last a long time.

Painting Gloves

For rollers I would typically use a good quality 9” roller frame with a 3/8” to 1/2” nap, depending on the relative smoothness of the surface being painted. Again, this is not an item I would cut corners on. If your project lasts more than a day, you can cover your roller in plastic or saran wrap and reuse it several times.

If you employ a professional for the job, there are several key items that you as the customer can and should look for. A good paint job should be free of:

  • Runs, drips and sags
  • Hoildays (Thin spots of coverage that you can see through)
  • Bleed through
  • Alligating (Cracking in the film due to too heavy an application or improper curing)

In addition, you should look for clean, even “cut lines”, where two colors come together with an even distribution of paint without obvious “roller marks.” If you are paying for two coats of paint, be sure you get two full coats. The first should be allowed to dry at least overnight, in order for it to cure properly. Also, be sure that the paint is in new, unopened cans when it shows up at your home. I would also suggest that you request copies of the receipts for your records (and peace of mind).

Lastly, one final point when hiring a professional; get it in writing. Handshakes and promises are great, but if it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t exist. 


Painting projects may sound easy, but getting it down right is anything but. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you are 25-warranty paint actually last as long as promised.

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