Painting is probably the most common DIY project a homeowner tackles. Painting an entire house is an entirely different endeavor. In Arizona where ceilings went as high as 16 feet (above), we decided to hire professional painters. House painting is even more challenging with a new house so you're glad that the builder is responsible for this task.
That's both good news and possibly bad news for home buyers. Using my experience running a handyman business, I discovered a ridiculous number of problems with the painting done (or not) in my new house. This article lists the problems found with my new house in Florida, built by Richmond American Homes … and probably a few added items from the eight years spent running a handyman business.
How Often Should You Paint?
Many homeowners think about painting their home to change the color of a room or the front door. That's fun but paint plays a much more important role in maintaining your home.
The exterior of a house must be painted on a regular basis. House painting protects the surface below the paint. Why is that important? It keeps the water out and the materials dry. That's because moisture often leads to mold and wood rot repairs are expensive. The challenge is learning how often your home's exterior needs painting. One of more sides of your home will experience more damage from the sun and/or wind. The quality of the last paint job, both paint quality and how well the paint is applied, will also affect how frequently you to paint your house.
- Wood siding should be repainted every 3 to 7 years, or stained every 4 to 10 years. Stain takes less work because it breathes better and doesn't require scraping or priming like paint.
- Aluminum siding will need painting every 5 to 10 years, although you won't have to worry about wood rot.
- Stucco needs to be painted as it absorbs moisture unless there's paint to protect the stucco.
- Cement fiber siding, a newer siding material, should only need painting every 10 to 15 years.
- Brick and stone if unpainted, only need occasional cleaning … but don't forget to paint the wood trim.
Learn more about wood rot repairs …
House Painting: How Many Coats of Paint?
With most paint colors you need two coats of paint. The first primer coat is used to improve the adherence of paint to the surface being painted. A primer coat will also limit the need for extra coats of paint, reducing the cost of paint (half as much as paint) and time to apply the paint. Painters are responsible for prepping walls, caulking gaps and painting.
Here are the amazing shortcuts taken by Richmond American Home when painting my new house (full punchlist here). What's amazing is how narrowly focused each subcontractor defines their job. The production builder process is preventing quick resolution of my house painting problems (and everything else). They said they can't remove a finish nail sticking from the door jam … so someone else has to do this and then who paints the newly exposed trim?
- Tops and bottoms of all doors (15) not painted!
- Door trim not painted where it's not visible. You could have the same problem with window trim at the top of the windows.
- Doors (4) rough because they weren't sanded and second coat applied.
- Door paint splotchy where they were closed before paint dried.
- Stucco around the patio door needs to be caulked and painted.
- (New) Garage door was only spray painted so there are unpainted white stripes along the side(s) of the door, mostly hidden behind rubber seals.
- (New) Front door only has one coat of paint, so spots left by team re-tiling the guest bathroom!
- Lastly, the builder refused to install a drip pan or paint the floor of the HVAC air handler, even though it's quite common for the condensate line to clog and leak water inside your house.
Lastly, no paint was left in the house for touch-ups by myself or the builder during the one year warranty period.
House Painting: How Paint Quality Affects Coverage
Few homeowners are familiar with paint quality unless you once worked with/for a professional painter. For DIYers, the best way to learn which paint to buy is to visit your local paint store in the morning and survey the professionals picking up their paint. They're always happy to share their expertise.
Richmond American Home's default paint is Sherwin William's MASTER HYDE flat wall paint … with two color choices. You have the option of upgrading to a higher grade of paint and more color choices for $1,000. But they couldn't tell me the quality of the upgraded paint so I decided to spend the money with my own painters after closing on the house … the right decision!
Every painter has their personal preferences. With my handyman business, we did lots of builder punchlist work. We had to keep on file which brands each painter used for a given house. And it was common for them to prefer Benjamin Moore for interior and Sherwin William for the exterior or vice versa. Here's what I've learned about the Sherwin Williams paint common to production builders (summer 2019):
- The walls in my house took 20 gallons of paint. With a ProMar 400 cost of $5 more than MasterHyde, the paint would cost $100 more. That's a 900% markup if no additional money paid to painting subcontractor.MASTER HYDE flat costs professional painters about $14/gal.
- ProMar 400 eggshell costs professionals about $19/gal.
- ProMar 200 eggshell is what more professional painters prefer, costing roughly $22/gal … and Richmond only allows single color.
The benefits of an eggshell finish are a good match for production built homes with lower quality drywall installs. It's easier to clean than flat paint (not as easy as satin) and has a subtler shine so it's better at hiding problems with drywall seams, nail pops and texture (orange peel) inconsistencies.