Questions to ask when Hiring a Painting Contractor

Are you in the process of getting painting estimates for a project at your home? Is this the first time hiring a professional painting service? Here are some important questions you should ask the estimator.

Is your company licensed and insured?

Some states require particular trades to be licensed. If a company is not trade licensed, the company may not be able to be insured. Building inspectors can also stop work if the contractor is not properly licensed.

It is very important that the contractor you hire is insured. There are two types of insurance, liability insurance and workers compensation.  A homeowner can be held responsible if an employee is injured on the job. Howeverapartment-architecture-blur-735319, if the contractor you hire is insured, their workers compensation insurance will pay for the workers injuries and their liability insurance covers any damage done to a home while completing the job.

Do you use sub-contractors?

Not knowing who is working on your home can lead to poor quality and even put homeowners in danger. If a company is using sub-contractors to complete work, you are rolling the dice on the quality of work. You might get lucky and a seasoned painter arrives to do the work or the company might send someone hired for the day that has never held a paint brush.

Often sub-contractors rush through the work because they were given a flat fee to complete the job. Speed is more important to them than the quality of work. Also, customer service dramatically drops off when you don’t know who to contact if a problem with the job arises. Using subcontractors can jeopardize homeowner safety as well. Are the sub-contracted workers background checked and drug tested? It’s something worth taking the time to ask.

What preparation will take place before applying paint?

This is huge! Preparation is a key element to a lasting paint job and proper preparation is the difference between success and failure. Preparation and product selection move the needle for a successful paint job lasting many years. Painting over peeling paint, dirt, or gloss finish without sanding or removing mildew is only a temporarily fix. Eventually the paint will fail sooner rather than later.

Another aspect of preparation is repairing minor wall imperfections. Will the preparation include repairing nail pops, dry wall lines, etc? It’s a good question to ask because not all companies will include it in their bid, or they will rush, spending little effort on this critical step.

Will I have a dedicated foreman on my paint project?

This can be tied into the second question about sub-contracting. It’s important to know who is in charge of the job. Most companies will have a field lead, or foreman to interact with the homeowner on site and walk them through the job, answering any questions they have. The foreman wears a lot of hats. He or she is responsible for quality control, safety of everyone on site including the customer, and customer service. If the customer has concerns, the foreman will most likely be the person that works with the homeowner to resolve the issues.

What type of paint are you planning to use?

Not all paints are the same. The estimator should always take into account surface material and its’ current condition to determine type of paint, primer, stain, etc. Paint often fails prematurely due to the wrong product type being used.

An estimator might plan to use low end commercial grade paint to save money. The low grade paint will reduce the quality of the job and increase the likelihood of the paint failing.

Higher end paints tend to cover better, are self priming and produce low volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Better coverage can result in fewer coats needed (and less money you have to spend) with a superior finish. Low VOC paints are nice to use for interior painting, especially in the winter when there is less circulation of indoor air. These paints also have fewer odors and are environmentally friendly, which homeowners, as well as painters, prefer to use. (Trust us; we dislike the smell as much as you.)

Products are also constantly changing. Professional painters must stay in contact with paint technicians and sales representatives to ensure they are using the proper product and following the right course of action for a unique job. At O’Connor’s Painting Service, we constantly communicate with our representatives from all the major paint and stain manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and McCormick Paints. The representatives are well informed of new products, conditions required to apply a product, and the proper steps needed to apply a product properly.


Another Angie’s List Award Winning Year – Thank You

O’Connor’s Painting Service Earns Esteemed 2016 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

O’Connor’s Painting Service has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of customer service to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2016.

This achievement is particularly significant as Angie’s List experienced unpreceden2016angies-ssa_webcolor528pxted member growth in 2016. More than 1.6 million consumers, many of whom were eager to quickly hire highly qualified service pros, joined Angie’s List after the company added a new, free membership tier.

“Companies that can meet higher demands without missing a beat in their exemplary performance standards truly do stand apart from their peers,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “Only a fraction of the residential painting companies in Montgomery County, MD were able to do it.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2016 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade. The SSA winners must also be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

 “I just want to thank all of our customers for again voting us 2016 Angie’s List Super Service Award. When I started this company, my main mission was to provide a great service and quality work. Thank you for all your letters of support in achieving our company goals with this prestigious award,”

David O’Connor, President.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For more than 21 years, Angie’s List restricted access to its verified reviews to consumers who paid membership fees. When the company removed that barrier, some companies worried that the new, non-paying members would not be as engaged as members of the past. Experience has shown, however, that these newly added members are just as engaged – across all age groups – as prior members. Also, because the company continues to adhere to its review verification process, there has been no degradation of review quality.

“The biggest change at Angie’s List is that we are connecting even more consumers to high quality service professionals,” Hicks said. “And that’s good for everyone.”


Angie’s List helps facilitate happy transactions between more than 4.5 million consumers nationwide and its collection of highly rated service providers in more than 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. Built on a foundation of more than 10 million verified reviews of local service, Angie’s List connects consumers directly to its online marketplace of services from member-reviewed providers, and offers unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.


Deck Finish – Clear, Solid or Semi-Transparent Stain?

When I get a call to bid a deck staining job, often the homeowner asks me my expert opinion on whether to use a clear, solid or a clear semi-transparent stain. It all depends on the level of maintenance and investment you are prepared to commit to over the years.

Clear finish deck stains only last up to two years. In most cases your deck will look the same after power washing when you apply a clear finish. Some clear sealers may have a hint of color. The advantage of a clear stain is that after several years the sealer will be gone so prep and re-application is simple. Just power wash and apply clear again.

Semi-transparent deck stain can last about three years. When the semi-transparent stain wears off you must apply a stripper, then a cleaner before power washing the deck clean to prepare the surface. In most cases, a semi-transparent stain will give the wood deck color. This option is more costly to keep up due to the extra prep work needed.

Solid stain deck finishes will give you a solid color just like paint but with much less sheen. Solid stains last around five years. To re-do a deck with solid stain, manufacturers always recommend you completely remove or strip all stain first. If the solid is peeling, you will need a professional painter to determine the correct application process. Some times you may be able to avoid stripping the deck by power washing and re-coating with the solid stain. But in some cases for example, the deck floor may be peeling profusely so you will need to strip and apply penetrating oil, then re-coat with the solid stain. Decks stained with a solid experience more peeling than semi-transparent or clear stained decks thus requiring additional maintenance.

At O’Connor’s Painting Service we recommend products such as Cabots, Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Behr or McCormick stains. Your deck stain will last longer with a professional application with a top rated product.

Trying to Decide between Power Washing or Hand Cleaning Painted Surfaces?

Often it takes a trained professional painter to determine if the exterior paint of your house should be cleaned O'Connor's Painting Service in Montgomery County Maryland example of paint hand or power washed and to what extent.

Scenario 1Your paint job was done about two years ago and you decide to change the color. If there is very little mildew, you may be able to just hand clean the dirty areas.

Scenario 2 – Your house has not been painted in 8 years. When you rub your hand across the surface it is covered with a powdered chalk. Also upon examination you also see black mildew spots. In this case O’Connor’s Painting Service would apply a cleaner for the chalk and mildew surfaces.O'Connor's Painting Service recommends Krud Kutter as an exterior painted surface cleaner We will then power wash the largest areas always using a low pressure. Around windows and doO'Connor's Painting Service recommends Jomax as an exterior painted surface cleanerors, we always clean by hand. Good quality cleaners like Krud Kutter or Jomax can be found at all paint stores, home Depot or Lowes.

Painting Aluminum Siding

I’m often asked by customers who have very old aluminum siding if it’s a good idea to paint their siding. I was at a paint trade show recently where I met a large company that manufacturers raw materials for paint. They informed me that paint will hold up on aluminum siding for a good 15 years. I find, unlike wood, where wood can go rotten, siding will hold up very well after painting. It can loose its finish after so many years and start to chalk but in general it holds up very well.  The key to choosing paint is to make sure you use a latex product because of its flexibility because aluminum siding moves.

 When working with aluminum siding we prepare the surface with a cleaner like TSP by brushing it in by hand then power washing the cleaner off.  As the surface is now ready to paint, its time to choose a method.

  • Method 1 is to use a direct to metal primer finish latex product. We apply 2 coats of this for a good cover.
  • Method 2 is to apply one coat of a bonding primer and one top coat of something like a Sherwin Williams Duration product.
  • Method 3 is to apply two top coats of Sherwin Williams Duration without the bonding primer.

 Your next question would be which option is best for my house?

 Choose Method 2:
If after power washing you see any metal showing through or if the siding is really slick to the touch use method 2 with the bonding primer.  Or if you don’t want a flat finish and more of a satin sheen, use Method 2. O’Connor’s Painting usually recommends this satin sheen finish because it more closely matches the original look of the siding.

 Choose Method 1 or Method 3:
If after power washing the siding is just dull and no metal is showing, method 3 is acceptable per manufacturer’s instructions but at O’Connor’s Painting, we like to use Method 1 where we apply direct to metal primer finish.

 At O’Connor’s Painting Service we have much experience painting aluminum siding and which method is best for each individual home. Depending on what color you select for your siding, you might need 3 coats of paint so be sure to alert the contractor to give you a 2 coat price and a three coat price.

 Don’t be scared of hiring a painting contractor  to paint your aluminum siding. It’s a good option to help save homeowners the cost of replacing their whole house siding. Call us to schedule an estimate and we would be happy to give you a quote.

One Coat Paint vs. Two Coats Paint – How to Choose

One of the biggest debates in the paint contracting world is whether to provide one coat or two coats of paint to the exterior of a house. In my 25 years plus experience in the paint business, I have found the number of paint coats depends on the current color, the color selection (for the new paint job), the age of the house and how long the customer wants the paint job to last.

The “Bare Minimum” Paint Job: Typically when the exterior of a house is in outstanding shape, the paint color is remaining the same, and the previous paint job was recent and has remained in good condition, then paint contractors can recommend spot priming the house and applying one top coat. This is the ONLY time I would ever recommend spot priming and one coating the exterior of a house.

The “Two Coat” Paint Job: Normally when it has been several years since the exterior of a house has been painted or customers are changing colors then we recommend two coats of paint. First, apply one coat of primer that is tinted to the finish color and one top coat. However, if the customer has a dark color selection (Dark green, dark brown, etc.) and we cannot tint the primer color close enough to top coat color then we recommend to spot prime peeling areas and apply two finish coats.

The “Best of the Best” Paint Job: When a customer is looking for a long-lasting paint job or switching from a dark color to a light color (Black to white) then we recommend one primer coat and two top coats. First, apply one coat of primer that is tinted to the finish color and then apply two top coats.

In general, we always recommend at least two coats of paint for the exterior of the house. Two coats will provide proper paint coverage and durability for your money. Normally, most of your paint costs are invested in proper painting preparation, which is why it is extremely important to ensure that the contractor you hire takes the time and effort to thoroughly prepare your house before painting. Customers often think it is just about the paint, however, if a house is not properly prepped then the paint job may not turn out as dreamed.