Importance of Paint Surface Preparation (Young Couple’s Paint Job Story)

You may have heard it said that good surface preparation is an important part of a paint job. Well, this is very true but good preparation can mean different things to different people. Also, what can be considered good preparation for one type of surface may not be so good for another type.

Different types of surfaces (wood, plaster, metal, etc.) will require different paint preparation procedures. Furthermore, the preparation procedure for a given surface type at an interior of a home may be completely inappropriate for the same type of surface at a home's exterior. Use a wrong procedure or product and you can wind up with a real mess on your hands.

This brings to mind a time about three years ago when this young couple bought a house just down the block from my own home. The woman noticed my truck sign and approached me for an estimate.

The place had not been painted in years and needed a lot of work. During the walk-through, the new owners pointed out various surface imperfections and wanted those addressed. I bid the job accordingly - lots of scraping, sanding, partial stripping, etc.

I was not too surprised when I saw another painting company's sign on the front of that house - a bit disappointed but not surprised. Imagine my surprise though when, just a few days later while on my way out to lunch, I casually looked up the scaffold to discover the painters, on the young couple's project, skimming the front of their place. I mean literally, with large cans of spackle and wide taping knives in their hands, those guys were laying down a thin coat of spackle on the surface of the wood siding like they were doing level five finish on a new sheet-rock wall.

One should never use spackle in the shallow depression of an exterior wood surface, but there they were going at it. I just stood there looking at those guys, not knowing what to do. Do I try to locate the homeowners? (They have not moved in yet.) Do I climb up the scaffold and slap the Spackle Experts alongside of their heads? I just kept walking.

Every time I go by this house now (which is about every other day), I regret that I did not climb up the scaffold that day. Just a few months after the scaffold came down, I could see some hairline cracking. By the spring time, minor peeling had developed and today some parts of that place look like a shag rug bristling with bits of loose paint and spackle.

My guess is that I lost that job because the homeowner wanted to save some money. Well, trying to save money is totally understandable but the irony of it is that, from the cost savings view point, it would have been much, much better if those other painters did not do any work on that place to begin with. If I were to bid on this project today, I would have to more than double my original bid to correct the results of their "cost saving technique" and to get rid of all that loose paint and spackle.

Proper paint surface preparation is essential to every paint job. For proper paint surface preparation to take place, one must have a considerable understanding of the surface being painted as well as materials to be used. Also one has to be willing to take the time necessary to do the job right.

(Also read Steps for Paint Surface Preparation.)

Yefim Skomorovsky
Painting Contractor in San Francisco Bay Area

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