Consumer GuidesPainting & Staining

Planning for House Painting

While most homeowners have no problem picking up a gallon of paint at the hardware store to paint a room in their house, tackling the exterior is an entirely different matter. Creating an attractive, long-lasting paint job requires the equipment, knowledge and skill of a professional.

Exterior Surface Preparations

One should always powerwash to clean the house. This ensures good adhesion for the new paint and removes loose paint. It’s also necessary to apply a prime coat to any raw wood. Caulking is for cosmetic purposes only and should not be depended on for stopping water leaks, as it would only be a temporary fix.

Some painters use a special elastomeric patch for cracks in stucco to prevent them from reappearing. All windows and any surfaces that are not to be painted should be covered, also cover the perimeter of the home with drop cloths.

Paint Types

Material costs usually only make up about 15 to 20 percent of the total price of a paint job.

Manufacturers have come a long way in developing latex paints. Some painters prefer low-sheen or semi-gloss enamels because they are easier to keep clean.


Many people don’t realize that colors often reflect styles, which is why terracotta, which looks great on a Spanish style home, can look out of place on a contemporary home. Research the typical paint colors for your style of home.


Paint quantities are figured on the square footage of the surface area to be painted. Paint will cover between 200-350 square feet per gallon, depending on how rough the surface is. Smooth lap siding will take less paint than textured stucco, for instance. An average 1,700 square foot single story house will take about 25 to 30 gallons for the body and three to four gallons for trim.

Again, this is not a good area to skimp to save money. The amount of paint used will directly affect how long it will last.

What do I look for in a good painting company?

A reputable painting company will have no problem answering the following questions:
* Do they have a state contractors license?
* Do they have any complaints filed against them?
* Do they carry both Workers Compensation insurance on their employees and liability insurance in case of damage to your property (or that of your neighbors)?
* How long have they been in business?
* Do they have references who you can contact?
* Do they use journeyman painters who have years of experience in the trade?
* Do they sub-contract their work or pay their own employees by the hour (so they don’t hurry or cut corners)?
* Do they use a professional bid package?
* Are they on time for their appointments and do they present you with their estimate in a timely manner?
* Do they provide warranty for both material and labor?

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