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Painter #3

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By Ric in North Bend, WA on 1/5/2010

Well, I'm about to fire trim painter #3.

The tale of three painters:

The first one to come in and work on the interior trim was doing a less than stellar job, but it was fixable. But when we pointed out the problem areas, and asked them to fix them, they quit.


Painter #2 was a guy I'd known for a while, and those around him have always spoken highly of him. He is also someone I look to for advice.
He started to clean up some of painter #1's mess, but had manpower issues, and was not able to continue. (no hard feelings on this one at least).

Enter painter #3.

Lots of big talk, and promises.

I had actually considered him for doing my exterior paint (but didn't, another local contractor won out). He came in on Monday, knowing we've had some problems with painters, and made lots of promises. His guys finish-sanded the living room & dining room, and shot paint at it today.
The paint is absolutely horrible! Huge runs all over, and just generally WAY too much paint. It's pooled up so bad at the bottom legs of the fireplace, that the definition between two pieces of trim is nearly filleted in. All the windows have large fillets of paint at the intersections of two pieces of wood, and then there will be a large dry area right next to it. I could hand my 12-year-old my painting rig, and she could do better with no training at all.

Aside from the many abundant runs, and overall extremely heavy paint, my two favorite spots are:

1) The tape covering a door hinge is open, and they painted one of my rubbed bronze hinges white.

2) There was a piece of blue tape stuck on a corner of a baseboard (and only stuck in the center, the ends are sticking out!). They just painted over the top of it.

I could see some sloppiness if this were a scratch coat, and they intended to sand and finish-coat it. But even then, it's still WAY too much paint, and it would take them a week for the paint to dry enough to sand out all the runs!! (It's oil-based paint), and they're supposed to be done by Friday, or Saturday at the latest.

I'm beside myself. I NEED to get this done, and get into the house by the end of the month.

I'm at a point now of saying: "Screw the rest of the trim for now. I'll do the rest by hand, with a trim roller".

I have a spray rig, but I don't have time right now to finish masking everything, sand, and spray it all.

I've already contacted the owner, and instructed him to stop work until we can meet on site in the morning, and he can explain to me how they're going to make it all okay.

I tend to overreact, and I may be. But what I saw tonight was beyond reason. Even if they did manage to sand out the runs, there's still the issue of there being far too much paint on the trim.

If I throw this crew out, I'll cancel the trim painters for now, and just finish the rest of the house. Then I'll come back and do the trim with trim rollers and oil-based paint. I've about had it with painters.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.


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By Rachal in Janesville, CA on 1/6/2010

I have run into a few workers/contractors who talk big.  They always scared me and I've never hired them.  When I speak to a contractor I expect a businesslike attitude.  I want to talk to someone who will bring up issues that need to be discussed or resolved.  If the conversation turns into them talking about all the great work they have done, then we are not addressing the issues of the job.  I also like contractors who aren't afraid to give me bad news.

After hearing your story, I feel more justified in not hiring the big talkers.  I always felt bad for not hiring people because I didn't like them.  Now I can put my finger on why I didn't like them.


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By Ric in North Bend, WA on 1/6/2010

Met with the owner this morning to discuss things. I'll admit that once the paint had dried, it didn't look as bad as it did last night, but it's still not right.

I got to the house ahead of the painter this morning, and just for "fun" I pulled my paint rig into the living room and parked it in a corner. During the meeting, I didn't address the paint rig, but he kept looking over at it. Nothing was said, but he's listening better.

The guy doing the painting gave me an explanation of his "painting style". He is a one-coat wonder. He likes to get all the paint on in one coat. He says it's best to get the paint on a little heavy so it's more durable. Then I explained my philosophy of: "Two lighter coats are better than one heavy coat. It goes on better, looks better, and doesn't run."

Unfortunately, they still have the mentality that they don't have the time to stay on a job long enough to do two full coats, only one. So out comes the old axiom: "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it twice?" As it stands, he has a fair amount of rework to fix the runs. Seems it would have been faster to spray two light coats, and not do the rework.

After much talking and arm waving, they're still on the job. I'm in a crunch, and just don't have the time to switch painters again. But I'm watching. And they know it.  ;)

At least now they have a clearer understanding of my expectations.


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