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.

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Product Review: Sherwin Williams SnapDry Interior/Exterior Acrylic Paint

Often I find, when you paint exterior front doors, it takes 2-4 hours for the paint to dry and several weeks to cure. When you shut the front door after your average paint dries, there is always the fear that the new paint you just applied may release where the door meets vinyl weather stripping.snapdrycan

Last summer, Sherwin Williams introduced a new fast-drying paint called SnapDry. I tried this paint on my own front door and it did dry in close to an 1 hour as advertised.  I also had no problem with paint releasing when it touched the doors’ weather stripping.

Another benefit of this paint is that it’s designed to be resistant to UV rays and weathering. I hope that claim holds true since I get a lot of sun on my front door.

The only issue that I found with SnapDry was that if you went back to areas you painted already that no longer had a wet edge, brush marks would become visible. So it’s extremely important to follow the Sherwin Williams instructions on which areas to paint first on your door especially if you have a paneled door like the one below and not a flat door.

snapdrydoor

SnapDry is available at Sherwin Williams in quarts and gallons. It comes in a variety of colors and is semi-gloss.

Paint Shield, a Major Innovation in Painting

My kids were always active in high school sports from swim teams to lacrosse. School locker rooms are a damp and steamy place, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as Staphylococcus and MRSA. The spread of bacteria from child to child can happen so easily.

This past fall, Sherwin Williams introduced a new paint called Paint Shield interior latex which is designed to kill harmful bacteria. This new EPA-registered microbicidal paint is found to eliminate 99.9% of Staph, MRAS, E. coli within 2 hours of exposure on painted surfaces. It also is found to kill 90% of these specific bacteria up to 4 years later no matter how much contaminants touch the surface or how many times its been cleaned


There is no other paint product like it on the market. If you are a school, daycare, doctor’s office, veterinary clinic, nursing home, etc. this product should be your new go-to choice for your next painting project.  The directions from Sherwin Williams requires two coats of Paint Shield over a primer for new construction or two coats of paint over previously painted sound surfaces.  It will be available nationwide beginning 2017 and come in 550 colors.

If you are interested in learning more about Sherwin Williams Paint Shield or scheduling as estimate to get your facility painted with this new bacteria killing paint product, call O’Connor’s Painting Service at 301- 963-4226.

Choosing the right paint for a busy veterinary office

Last Fall, the Laytonsville Veterinary Practice contracted O’Connor’s Painting to re-paint the interior of their offices and exam rooms. Off I went in search to find the best paint product to use for the project. I needed something that offered durability, good coverage, was easy to wash and had a low odor.  What I found was was Sherwin Williams Pro Industrial Zero VOC Catalyzed Epoxy commercial coating which had all the benefits I was looking for in a paint product for the veterinary practice.

  1. Zero VOC’s

    Commercial Interior Painting by O'Connor's Painting Service
    Interior rooms painted by O’Connor’s Painting Service
  2. Extremely Durable
  3. Created a hard, tough coating that is super washable
  4. Superior resistance to abrasion, corrosion, chemicals, stains… all things that can occur in a heavily used exam room that has high maintenance
  5. Flowed and leveled to a smooth finish
  6. Comes in egg-shell and semi-gloss sheens

When applying the first coat, it was dry to the touch after one hour. However we did not apply a second coat immediately. According to Sherwin Williams we waited the required 8 hours before applying the second coat. In a busy vets office with animals that can scratch the walls, you definitely want the product to cure properly which takes between 5-7 days before the rooms are put into heavy use.

The only problem I found with this product is that if you let it dry longer than 72 hours before re-coating, you have to sand the surface again.

Cold Weather Painting Primer

It's cold outside
It’s cold outside

Brr…. it’s cold here in Maryland this week. It sent my painting crews back inside for interior painting after last week being warm enough to paint outside. Now I know it is winter and I shouldn’t expect to be painting outdoors much in January. All those exterior clients will just have to sit tight for a while.

When O’Connor’s Painting Service does get the opportunity of nice weather in cold temperature months, I like to use a Sherwin Williams Multi-Purpose Zero VOC Latex Primer Sealer. We started to use this product in the Fall of 2012. It can applied at low temperatures down to 35 degrees farenheit and dries fast in 30 minutes so that it can be re-coated in about an hour.  It’s great for exterior painting and interior painting and can be applied to a variety of surfaces from wood, plastics, laminate, ceramic, cabinets, aluminum, metal, concrete and masonry. I really like this Multi-Purpose Sherwin Williams Primer because of all these factors. At O’Connor’s we have used it personally on block, pvc and wood with excellent results. I will keep you posted on my experience applying it to other surfaces.

A Trick for Priming PVC

Sherwin Williams makes an exterior/interior bonding primer that I used the other day at mpaint_template-1y own home in Laytonsville, Maryland to prime PVC. Being a very slick surface, PVC can be tricky to paint and have last a long time without peeling. As I was working with the Sherwin Williams bonding primer, I got a little on my hands. What a time I had trying to wash it off my hands after I had completed the work. Good thing I didn’t have the primer on my hands all day or it would have never come off! One thing this taught me is that this product is a superior bonding primer and since then I’ve used that same product at O’Connor’s Painting Service to not only prime PVC boards but also aluminum siding and any other slick surfaces.

Old paint cans hanging about that you want to get rid of in a responsible manner?

Whenever O’Connor’s Painting Service completes a job, any unused paint we leave with the customer with a description of where the paint was used in the house written on the can. These paints come in handy if there is ever a need for the homeowner to touch up a spot here or there years later. A quick tip, be sure to store your paint in a warm area like your basement or laundry room to make sure the paint remains stable.

After awhile, you might want to eventually dispose of old cans of paint you no longer need. You just can’t throw them in your garbage “as is”. To dispose of paint in a environmentally responsible manner. There are a few steps you should follow.

First, I recommend keeping a log of the paint brand (Sherwin Williams/Behr), type (interior/exterior), sheen (flat/satin), color name, color number and the formula if a custom blend.  You never know when you might need to reference this information later.

Second, check with our local county waste authority for there rules on disposing of paint waste. For example in Montgomery County, Maryland if you are a resident, you can go to the dump and they have a special area set up to accept your old paint along with other household hazardous waste.

Finally, dry your waste paint with a product such as Krud Kutter Waste Paint/Colorant Hardener. It’s great for latex and oil-based paints.  You can find the product at most home improvement stores. Add the crystals to the paint can. Stir paint til it thickens, then let dry hard. You can now dispose of your old paint. Some municipalities will let you dispose of this hardened paint right in you garbage can but call first to make sure.