The first thought most people have after moving into a new place is something along the lines of “A fresh coat of paint will really brighten this place up!” or “Sure the master bedroom is small, but that’s nothing a new paint job can’t handle!” or even, “One or two coats of primer should be enough to cover these black walls!” The ever optimistic new owner heads to their local hardware or paint store, picks up a couple of cans of paint and thinks “I’ve got this.” It might take a few days after work every night, or maybe they’ve got extra holiday time to paint, but eventually it gets done… probably. For those of us who don’t have the ambition or more likely, the time, to repaint an entire 1970’s orange kitchen, you can always call in a professional. We did.

builder facade plasterer worker

Photo from JJ Painting and Drywall

The first time we hired painters, we were moving into our first house and had a two-year-old and three-year-old running around. We realized we were no longer in a position to do the job ourselves, or at least, were not able to paint the entire house within a reasonable time frame — say, before winter (it was June).

clean cut

Photo from Clean Cut Painting and Decorating Corp.

Since then we have hired many painters to paint many, many rooms in several houses. They have scraped 30-year-old seagrass wallpaper off walls, they have (much to their dismay), painted over original gumwood trim and dark cedar ceilings, they have filled holes, repaired divots, sanded away bumps and finally, painted the walls and ceilings. Along the way I’ve developed a checklist of things to watch out for and to discuss with your prospective painters to make sure you’re talking about the same job and getting the quote for the work you intended.


Photo from Revolution Painting

Price Quotation

Make sure you look carefully at the written price quotation you’re given to find out what it includes.  Some painters will break down the quote into labour and materials. Make sure they’ve included:

  • prepping the walls, including sanding, filling any divots, scrapes and picture holes if necessary, removing wallpaper and doing a quick skim coat if necessary,
  • have included the number of coats of paint you expect (which is generally two, plus primer) in their price,
  • brand and quality of paint they intend to use,
  • approximate amount of time painting will take.

Tip: preparation is the most laborious part of the job and therefore the most expensive but will make your walls look like new.


Photo from Invision Hardwood & Decor

Paint Quality

If you’re going to the expense of hiring a painter, don’t skimp on the paint quality. Use the highest quality paint you can afford. The difference between high and low quality paint is in the coverage, washability and durability. A high quality paint won’t fade over time and won’t wash off on a cloth when you’re cleaning the walls. By using good quality paint, your walls will last many years longer than with low quality paint.

Tip: Benjamin MoorePPG Pittsburgh Paints, and CIL are all brand names and each carry different quality levels of paint within their brands.


Photo from Benjamin Moore

Painter’s Loyalty to Paint Stores

Painters often receive volume discounts at paint stores where they do a lot of business. The result is that they may be hesitant to use a brand of paint you want to use if their store doesn’t carry it. Instead they may suggest you do a colour match. Sometimes colour matches work, sometimes they don’t. For instance, clay-based paints, such as Farrow and Ball, are very difficult to match in non-clay based paints such as Benjamin Moore and PPG Pittsburgh Paints. In full light the colour may look the same, but when the light changes, the paint won’t look the way the original paint is supposed to. This is an instance where you might be better off supplying the paint yourself. In the event that you plan on supplying paint for your painter, tell him before he prices the job as it will affect his final quote.


Photo from Alpha Pro Painting

Once you’ve found the colour you love and a painter who meets all your requirements, it’s time to get started. Should you decide you’ve made a horrible mistake and electric purple wasn’t the best choice for your nursery, hopefully your painter is willing to start the process over again… and again if needed.


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Posted by Samantha Goodman