What is the definition of a painter? Is it someone that can simply pick up a brush? Perhaps a painter is someone that climbs ladders while applying paint for a living? An experienced painter may have a few larger tools and own what appears to be a paint van/truck. In many cases, a painter maybe a college student or older person doing a few projects during the summer, on the side, weekend work or attempting to paint a few local homes for extra cash? Maybe this describes exactly what you are looking for? Or, does it sound like something you want no part of? Chances are, if you seek quality, you would likely not hire this person – right? You may ask – what’s the difference? A painter is a painter! Right?
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Ideally, you want as much paint on the brush as you can control without making drips or blobs. To do this, Doherty dips his brush about 1 1/2 inches into the paint, then taps (not wipes) each side of the brush against the side of the can. Tapping knocks off the drips and forces the paint into the bristles. "The brush releases the paint just like a fountain pen," he says. Weeks agrees, saying, "Just be sure to keep your brush moving, or it'll start to drip." For more delicate work, such as when you're painting trim or window sash, you'll want less paint on the brush. Doherty again dips and taps his brush, but this time he also scrapes the sides against his can. "The outside bristles are drier and easier to manage," he says, "but there's still plenty of paint on the brush."

The speed with which a painter can complete the job will determine its final cost, but time is difficult to estimate. Some painters have more experience and cover a wall faster, but some are more methodical and take more time. Most painters should be able to cover about 100 to 120 square feet of flat surface in an hour, unless they are working on a very large wall. Wood or plaster might reduce that amount to 80 to 100 square feet. You should also consider the time required for a first coat to dry before a second coat may be applied. This will add time as well -- anywhere from one to 48 hours depending on the paint.

Most pros don't bother cleaning brushes and rollers if they are going to use them the next day on the same job. "Latex paint dries slowly in cold temperatures," says Maceyunas. For two-day jobs, he wraps the rollers and brushes in plastic grocery bags and sticks them in the refrigerator. "Just allow the roller to return to room temperature before reusing it," he says. Roller covers are almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Most pros buy new covers for each job.


If you decide to hire help, have several contractors inspect the job and provide proposals. You'll probably find huge price differences for the same job. A Checkbook undercover shopper got quotes from nine Washington-area contractors to repaint the walls, ceiling and trim for a living room, dining room, family room, bathroom and kitchen. Including paint and supplies, prices ranged from $2,650 or less to more than $6,500.


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I was a painting contractor for many years and never asked for a deposit upfront. A good contractor should have great credit with his suppliers and an even better contract if the deal should go south before the job is done. Get to know your customer and explain how each paint covers so they understand fully before you have to apply 3 or 4 coats. If you didn't bid your job right and the client has already signed the contract then that is on you not the client. Yes I haven had to eat the difference but the client was happy and a return customer for years so I made up for it.

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