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A Strong Finish

The quality of the paint job can make or break the look of a custom home. Many homeowners expect plumbers and electricians to be expensive but are shocked at the prices charged by other subcontractors. One 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. A professional paint job may run as high as 5 percent of the total job cost (for example, $40,000 for a $800,000 home), but it will produce lasting and beautiful results.

Professionals get these results by paying attention to details that most homeowners and casual painters miss. In fact, really good painters—the ones whose work meets the quality demands of an expensive luxury home—are nothing short of obsessive. They spend a surprising amount 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 begin to apply 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 brands and 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 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 corners, and how to create a smooth look over multiple surfaces.

Pros also invest in high-quality tools. It takes experience to learn which rollers, brushes and spraying equipment will provide the exact look the homeowners want, whether that’s a traditional brushed finish or one with a glassy sheen. The payoff for all this work is a finish that looks great and stands the test of time. Due in part to careful preparation and the 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 builder to use that company? There are a couple of concerns with this. Professional builders vet all subcontractors using the same criteria. Their trade partners are reputable companies with a track record of satisfied customers and the right insurance coverage. And because they get steady work from the builder, they tend to show up on time and offer fair pricing. To ensure that a new subcontractor can meet these criteria, the builder will insist on trying them out on a couple of small jobs.

The bottom line is that successful builders 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 a fine custom home. The final finish is one area where you definitely get what you pay for.