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How to Get the Painting Job You Want from Your
Since neither you nor your contractor can read each other's
minds, it is essential that you maintain the lines of clear
communication that caused you to select this contractor in
the first place. Let's explore some of the potential problems
that await you as the painting is about to begin and look
at how you can avoid unpleasant outcomes.
To start, let's look at color selection. If you tell your
contractor you want the walls to be painted "peach,"
are you going to get a nice ripe-orange color or warm, picked-too-soon
yellow? Don't know? That's because, as you remember, your
contractor can't read your mind. In selecting color, always
use color chips to start the selection process. But never
let a chip be the end of your color selection process. Once
you have narrowed the color field to several possible choices,
ask the contractor to paint large (at least 4 feet by 4 feet)
samples directly onto the surface to be painted. (Of course,
when you interviewed the contractor for the job, you stated
that you would expect these samples as part of the contracted
service.) Look at these samples in all kinds of light—natural,
sunny, cloudy, day, night, and artificial. The color will
look different under different conditions, and only you can
select the color most suitable to you.
Are you planning to use a color scheme of two or three colors?
Remember that each color will appear to change in contrast
with the other colors. The contractor should show you samples
of each scheme, employing all possible color combinations
you're considering. The less you know your own mind and the
more color schemes you need to see, the more expensive your
choice-making will become. But remember to always pay the
price to get the right color scheme because if you settle
for colors that are "pretty close," you will be
disappointed on a daily basis that you did not get what you
So now you've picked the contractor and the colors, but don't
plan the celebration dinner party just yet. If you are undertaking
a project as part of planning for an important event (such
as a wedding or family reunion), be sure to let your contractor
know the date by which you must have the work completed. Allow
yourself at least one week of reorganization time in addition
to event preparation time between the project completion date
and the event date. Ask your contractor how much time in ays
(not man-hours) your project will require. Drying times may
mean that three hours of labor must be followed by 16 hours
of drying before work can proceed. Consequently, your project
may require more days to complete than is apparent from the
number of hours of labor needed on the project.
If your project is more complex, coordination between different
trades may result in lost time and extend the target completion
date. Also remember that weather conditions can cause delays.
Even projects to be completed entirely indoors may experience
lengthier drying times due to very cold temperatures or very
high humidity. Plan well in advance if the timing of the completed
project is crucial. And remember, if for any reason the work
cannot commence in time to allow for everything, cut back
the scope of the job or defer it until after the special event.
Here are some additional details that are important to consider
so you will be satisfied with the work you've contracted.
When you are picking color, remember to also select the sheen
you want. Sheen is by no means as important as color, but
it will be a bummer if you want your flat walls to be glossy.
Do you want your contractor to remove the hardware on your
doors and windows, or will you permit him or her to paint
around or mask it? No matter how careful your contractor is,
there will always be a small amount of paint applied to hardware
that is not removed. If paint is already on the hardware or
window glass, do you expect your contractor to remove it?
This is often possible, but only at additional cost. Do you
need finishes that you can touch up? If so, any spray work
must be followed by a brush or roller, and flatter sheen is
better. Do you have serious allergies or are you sensitive
to the ingredients in paint? If so, plan to be absent during
interior painting work, if possible, or, if not, ask your
contractor to use products low in or free of organic solvents.
and, finally, is there anything about your project I haven't
mentioned that's important to you? Mention it to your contractor
to make sure you get the job you want. With proper contractor
selection and ongoing clear communication, you will get the
job you want, pay a fair price for it, and be satisfied with
both the process and outcome of the entire project.