Smart Solutions: Painting details that contractors wish homeowners knew

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Get help with paint color selections to ensure the shade is right for you.

DIY remains popular, but there can be perks to hiring a pro for some projects. While doing your own painting can save money, it’s a lengthy process, especially when dealing with multiple rooms that require primer and a few coats of paint.

Besides, mistakes can be costly. Reputable paint contractors are considered experts at surface prep, an important step that homeowners often skip. Professionals also have access to quality paints and know how to apply them to withstand everyday wear and tear. And not all paints are created equal. The raw materials make a major difference in how the product performs.

Contractors would like you to look at the bigger picture when picking your paint, experts say. Some companies focus on one attribute of a product like an exterior paint that resists dirt. However, in order to do so, the product might be prone to crack and peel. 

Key questions for your contractor can start by asking if the cost of paint is included in the estimate. It’s also important to know what type of paint will be applied. Make sure the paint has a reputation for quality and was designed for the surface being painted.

Ask how many coats will be applied and how the other features in the room like furniture will be protected. No matter how careful someone may be, paint will often drip or spill in the process. 

Lastly, you should find out how long the project is expected to last so that you can plan accordingly to avoid the areas during the painting and the drying process. 

A great deal of thought should go into any paint project, especially when hiring a pro.

Mike Mundwiller, field development manager at Benjamin Moore, offers a few additional tips for those embarking on a paint project. As he explains, if you have a tight budget and you’re willing to wait, some contractors may give a discount during their slow time, which is typically the first quarter.

He suggests getting at least three estimates when making your selection. Reputable contractors can give a little more detail on the bid, such as what type of product they use. “Not all paint is the same,” he says. “It’s like baking a cake. One ingredient may make one attribute strong, but may weaken another.”

Go to manufacturer websites to gain a better understanding of the products and get assistance with your color selection by visiting retailers for advice. 

Other sources can guide you, too, like the Painting Contractors Association (PCA). “Social media is another great way to discover painters who take pride in their profession. Many contractors collaborate and share best practices,” he says. 

“Talk to your neighbors and check online reviews,” adds Mundwiller. “Social media brings a lot of power to the consumer.”

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at