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Jay's School Of Inspectology - Painting Do's And Don'ts - Part 1

One thing home inspectors see a lot of is unprofessional or poorly-applied paint.

There are many kinds of paints and each has its own application recommendations.  YES, IT'S ALL ON THE LABEL!  But who reads the labels!?  Each paint manufacturer has its own website, also with application recommendations and tips.  But who researches paints!?

As a home inspector, I see a lot of painting mistakes.  How about a list of Do's and Don'ts!

This is Part 1 of 2 partsIT IS THE DO LIST!

This list is by NO MEANS complete!  And things are listed in no particular order.  But I hope it is helpful nonetheless.

  • Before a paint project is begun, always research what you want to do, what kinds of paints work best for what you are painting and what colors work well with that kind of paint.
  • What kind of base is needed for the color you want to apply?  For instance, reds require a NEUTRAL BASE, which means that it is formulated to receive more tint.  A neutral base has to be applied in many coats because it is naturally thin.  Some other colors require neutral bases.  Ask!  Blue needs a DEEP BASE and covers very well.  Ask at the store what kind of BASE the paint color you want needs to use.  And plan accordingly.
  • Different grades of paint and their colors have different Light Reflection Values (called LRV).  You want one with 50% or more.  Vibrant colors usually appear more vibrant when on a wall.  Keep that in mind!
  • Determine the amount of square footage and buy the amount of paint accordingly.  The label will tell you about how many square feet that a particular paint will cover comfortably.  Ceiling white can cover as much as 400 square feet per gallon.  A deep color around 200.  Read the label!
  • Pick a paint with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's).  VOC's are gases that are released when the paint is first applied and as it degrades over time.  If your paint has a high VOC content (alkyds and urethanes) air the place out accordingly.
  • Be sure to clean the surface(s) very well!  Dust, spider webs, dirty hand prints, outdoor goops affect paint appearance and coverage.  Clean well!
  • Prep the surface!  Prepping can take more time than painting.  It includes spackle, joint compound, caulking and making sure the surface is free of bumps and lumps by general scraping.  Also scrape and sand loose paint completely. 
  • BIG TIP - if you spackle or apply joint compound, before your final coat, "seal" those spots first with a separate coat flat paint or primer.  If you do not, the spackle absorbs the paint, particularly the various glosses (velvet, semi or gloss), and you will have a dull spot which is reflected on the wall.  That makes for an ugly final coat.
  • If you need to prime first, tint the primer 1/2 the color of the final color.  There are those who say that the final color will be truer over a primed white base.  I have experimented with this and I cannot tell the difference when the primer is tinted.  BUT I DO KNOW THAT WHEN THE PRIMER IS TINTED, THE FINAL COLOR COVERS BETTER AND HAS FEWER LINES.
  • If you are using a color and have two or three gallons, be sure to BOX your paint.  Boxing paint means to mix all of the paint into a single 5-gallon bucket.  Mix them well.  While each gallon will be fairly close in color to each other, they are never exact.  Boxing them creates one true color.  And when you save the left over it will exactly match your wall for touch ups.
  • Strain your paint.  Paint is full of what painters call "junk."  And that stuff will dry and leave those unsightly bumps and weird spots on the surface.
  • If you are using new rollers, clean them first.  They are full of hairs what will detach and end up on your surface.  Foam rollers work best with latex, but only for small areas and thin trim details.
  • Choose good materials- paints and supplies.  The paint looks better.  It lasts longer.  Good supplies last longer.  They apply paint better.  Pick the right brush and roller for what you want to do.  Man-made bristles work best with latex and acrylic paints and natural bristles with oils.  Thin rollers, 1/2" and less, work best with semi gloss and gloss.
  • Cut the edges first.  Roll as close to the edge as you can.  That leaves a nicer-looking finish.  It is more uniform.  Be sure to apply enough paint when you cut.  An angled brush works well for cutting corners and edges and leaves a good coat.
  • Protect what is around and below what you are painting!  Drop clothes are cheap and essential.
  • Work from top to bottom.  The only exception to this is floor molding.  It is best to paint floor molding first, let it dry completely, then tape it with painter's tape to get a nice, straight line with your final color.  Sadly duct tape is not recommended.
  • Let the paint dry completely between coats.  At least 24 hours for latex and 48 or more hours for oil.  Drying time depends on humidity and temperature.  Paint dries more slowly when it is humid and cool.
  • Clean up when you are done and protect your brushes and rollers.  That is my little paint bucket, brushes and blades.  They are all well over 20 years of age!  And if that 4" drywall blade was to break, I think I would cry.  It bends and bows true and is sharp!
  • You can't paint?  How do you get better at painting?  By painting!  How do you get better at typing, singing, piano or long-distance running?  The same way you get better at painting.  Just paint!
  • If you hire somebody, ask questions!  See if he knows his stuff.  Now you might just have a list of questions!  Don't be shy.  OH, WATCH HIM - NO PREP GOOD, NO PAINT GOOD.  FYI.

My recommendation:  plan your work and work your plan.  I find painting to be therapeutic.  In my house I am not the decorator, I am the grunt.  Find the division of labor in your house that works best, and, trust me, DON'T VARY FROM IT!  Peace is important!  Give peace a chance.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 48 commentsJay Markanich • June 03 2012 04:10AM

Comments

I love DIY landlords who buy CHEAP paint, spend NO TIME to clean and prep the walls AND then wonder why they have to REpaint in 2 years....

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 7 years ago

Exactly Wallace.  Good paints are more washable and do in fact last longer.  That fact will come out in Part 2.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

These are wonderful tips.  I'm suggesting and I'm going to reblog later.  I also see lots of poor paint jobs...most especially for people moving into new homes where the seller appears to have done it themselves when they put the house on the market.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 7 years ago

This has me laughing out loud.

How often do we read recommendations by listing agents and staging pros that the first advice they give to sellers is "paint", "paint", "paint".

Well, I've seen the results of a lot of that great advice.  I've also heard comments from buyers, "We'll have to repaint that room.  How many coats will it take to cover that intense crimson?"

I showed a home Friday to a buyer and her lasting thought was "I wonder whose bright idea it was to paint the Family Room BLUE"? 

HA!  The Master Bedroom was blue too.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Great advice and very useful to keep handy for all DIYs.

Posted by John F Muscarella, Broker/Owner, Venice, FL, Florida's Suncoast (RIVER FARM PROPERTIES, LLC) about 7 years ago

Ah yes....the times we have seen water based paint over oil based and the "new" paint job that was....well not really looking so new !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 7 years ago

Thank you Debbie.  Often sellers try to neutralize the house, on the realtor's suggestion.

Lenn - you remember my living/dining room blogs when I did the hardwood flooring?  That color is based on the Persian rug.   But again, I am the grunt, not the decorator.  I once did an inspection on a house with every room a different VIBRANT color and the buyer's loved it!  Go figure...

Thanks also John.  Those guys are out there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

That will be covered in my Part 2 S&D!  There are many don'ts.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Yes the label it is put  on there for a purpose but hardly anyone reads it anymore.  It's just another bucket of paint what could go wrong right?  It's on there for a reason read it...

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) about 7 years ago

Good advice James.  Good advice.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

What? Clean and prep the wall? If a bug gets in the way of my roller... he becomes a permanent part of my decor! Isn't that art?

All good stuff Jay, great post!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 7 years ago

Jay,this is great information!!!  Biggest mistake I have made in past was when we do a sample of paint on the wall, we rushed and decided to buy after waiting few hours of paiting a patch on the wall. Now we wait for a day and so, do a test patch on different wall of that room. As you mentioned LRV will make a difference! Great advise

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 7 years ago

Good morning Jay. I am waiting for the book to come out and will be first in line to buy it. You seriously could write one with all your Jayism's we love to read.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 7 years ago

Jay, the painting part is easy. Its the preparation that takes a lot of time and skill to make it look good afterwards. Good information!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 7 years ago

I have used cheap paint and expensive. I have applied dark colors and off white....the oil base versus water base always got me and how about gloss, high gloss, semi gloss etc...I had to lecture a painter once who would not prep as prep is often overlooked on purpose because of the labor involved...Painting....? It has to be done and I am doing it now..good post ..Jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 7 years ago

What a great tutorial on painting. Painting can make such a huge impact for sometimes a very small investment so it's a great way to update. But you are so right that you need to do it the right way.

Gretchen

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Just like any job.... if you want it done right.... know what to look for in a good painter. Great post!

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) about 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing - very detailed and a great DIY project that everyone can do!!

Posted by David Grbich, Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484 (Realty One Group - www.FindCARealEstate.com) about 7 years ago

A cheap and quick paint job is often a sign of the "paint will hide it" repair. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) about 7 years ago

Hi Jay. This I will always leave to the professional. I remember the one time I painted my dining room....SMH, never again! This is bookmarked for later ref.

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com) about 7 years ago

Dude, you are giving away the farm!

How do you expect the contractors to maintain that level of professionalism, if you give away all the secrets?

Just kidding. this is an awesome list for painting - it's not rocket science.

I particularly like the priming of the patchwork, this does wonders. We have a saying, "A good painter can hide that!". But he can also make it stick out for everyone to see.  :)

Great featured post Jay, look forward to the second part.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 7 years ago

Great tips on painting like the pros, and this advice will be very helpful to everyone reading it.  In my line of work I often recommend painting a wildly-colored wall a bit more neutral for potential buyers ... and I also advise my seller clients to hire a professional painter rather than attempt to DIY.  I've seen way too many bad paint jobs done on the quick by homeowners who thought they could do it themselves.

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) about 7 years ago

Jay- love this informative post.  I'm always suggesting paint because so many of my clients still have the all white walls  that were there when they bought the house.  And, if they've not painted before, I strongly urge them to hire a professional.  Most of the time, though, it's begging suggesting the seller to paint the DIY faux leopard paint job in the entry or the chartreuse wall that slaps you in the face when you walk through the door. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 7 years ago

My favotite part is 'Read the Lable'......

It actually is all written right there. The horses mouth ..so to speak.

And the last part, the division of labour... it's not always divisible by 2. No, even if the math makes no sense, 'give peace a chance' insdeed.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 7 years ago

Jay - A good paint job is critical when one is selling their home, and a great paint job can cover or distract from a "multitude of sins." And, as you point out, selecting the right product and then following the manufacturer's directions are essential.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 7 years ago

Fer sher Fred!  I have seen walls into which I am sure ants have been made a part!

Ritu - light makes all the difference!  The same color can look very different in two different rooms.  Wow, how many people are in that Chantilly office?!

Randy - need to find a publisher!  One day maybe someone will recognize the potential!

Mike - if a painter walks into a room and starts painting, something is wrong.  Prep takes time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Richie - the objective is to get in and out.  Few painters recognize how much more money can be made when the job is great when they are done.

Thank you Gretchen.  A good paint job stands out without overtaking a room.  Well, except perhaps that ceiling in Rome...

Thanks Sandy!  Learn to paint and do your own terrific work!

Glad you enjoyed it David.  Most people can!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

I had one of those just Friday Rob!  Obviously wet wood, with mold and swollen spots, painted over quickly just prior to my inspection.  He forgot the primer and didn't get the paint all the way down.  And my moisture meter found it quickly.  88% moist!

Cheryl - glad you enjoyed it and you are entitled to leave it all to the pro.  BUT, find a pro!  SMH?  Smiling My Heaven?

Thanks Cosmo, um, Tom!  I thought you'd enjoy this one.  The Don'ts are even more fun, coming soon to a blog near you.  A lot of paint jobs stick out more stuff than they hide.  No prepo, no pro-o.  Perfect Spanish.

Maureen - neutral is the realtor's friend.  Look at what I said to Lenn up there in comment #7!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Kathy - color shows personal vibrancy and happiness!  I think...  Sometimes rooms do stick out to me when I walk in the house!

Robert - give peace a chance works every time.  And who was it that said, "I only know that I know nothing..."?

John - any pro knows to use good stuff.  If the client wanted me to use cheap stuff when I was a contractor, I would talk them out of it.  There were jobs I refused to do!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Thanks Jay, Great post. The practice improves the quality is so true. My first few attempts were not good but each time it got better. If I don't paint for 5 or 10 years the quality goes back down a little.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) about 7 years ago

And the hand gets a bit more unsteady Wayne!  But it all comes back, like riding a bike.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

WOW, THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR THE REBLOGS!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

You have got my fingers twitching for a paint project...what to do, what to do!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 7 years ago

Painting is one of those projects that sounds like it will be easy, but it has a lot of important steps as you have quite clearly wrote about.  This is great advice for the do it yourselfers and for an experienced person.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 7 years ago

There are a couple of really high ceilings in my house Lisa.  Mon ovah!

Thanks Eileen.  Painting is not easy, but can be learned!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Valerie - go over to their houses, pound on the door, point at them and say, "Repent!  Repent you heathen Visigoths or face damnation and eternal hell fire!"

Or you could show them this post.

I think it works either way.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, Frank always says that you should use drywall mud and not spackle to repair holes. If you do that, then it doesn't show. Looks like your suggestion may be another work around if people do use spackle or joint compound. I'll tell him about it.

Sharon

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) about 7 years ago

Sharon - with either the repair will bleed through the paint as a dull spot.  What I hear sometimes recommended is toothpaste!  Um, no!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Nice job Jay.  Whether approaching a place as a real estate appraiser or as a Landlord, I can say that color makes a huge difference and it is better to have no paint job than a poor one.

Posted by Michael Hobbs, SRA, LEED GA, RAA (PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy) about 7 years ago

Thanks Michael.  Poor jobs stand out!  And not in the same way as a good job!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Put the coffee on, I have my extension rollers and ladders ready to go!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 7 years ago

I don't drink coffee Lisa.  Hot cocoa work?  How about a nice, iced sasperilly?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, this is so helpful.  I'm going to send it to several of my clients.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Great tips Jay, full of information that will help anyone.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 7 years ago

I'm glad you can use it Margaret!  How are you doing?

Chris - I hope it's useful.  It was spurred by a previous post about peeling latex paint on oil-based.  Wrong move!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, Thanks for the great list of dos and don'ts. I am going to bookmark this and part 2 to show to my clients.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) about 7 years ago
Jay, I'm here via Chris Smith's reblog of this post. Absolutely great information...I used to have a painting business with a couple of friends when I was much younger...it took us a while to learn all your tips and it's really surprising how much difference they will make....a novice painter reading this should pay attention....this post will save you a lot of grief later.
Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) about 7 years ago

Thanks Tom.  I haven't been able to get on for two days!  Good to be back.

Nick - that was the intent.  I hope it helps a lot of people.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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