The Face Off - Comparing Exterior Home Painting Estimates

Here is a quick way to compare estimates for the exterior painting of your house. Ask the painter if the painting of the trim will be faced off or wrapped around?

“Huh?” you say.

Take a look at the trim on your house. The trim is any surface that isn’t painted the same colour as the main body of the house. It includes fascia boards, gutters, soffits, door trim, window trim, shutters and other similar features. The trim is usually painted a contrasting colour from the main surfaces of the house, in order to outline and define features.

Depending on the detail and character of the house, trim can be painted one, two or even more colours to add depth and detail.

See if the trim colour has been applied only to the face of the trim and if the edges are the same colour as the main body of your house. This is called Facing Off. It is the fastest and easiest way to paint a house. It requires little ability to paint a straight line because the face of the trim board can be rolled off without any need to cut in. This is a very common practice in multi-unit complexes where a painter will spray out all of the main body and then paint over the trim boards with the contrasting colour.

If the trim is painted around the edge of the trim boards to the main body of the house, it is called Wrapping or I’ve heard it also referred to as French cutting. This process takes more time and calls for a better painter since the edge must be cut in with a brush. The difference though is noticeable in the depth and definition of the trim. It is something to look for in a quality built home.

Both are considered acceptable practices in exterior painting.

Here is the thing, though. How many homeowners are aware of this difference when they get a quote for the painting of their house? It is often a big reason why a homeowner can get quotes that vary by hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Probably even more than the type of paint being used, this issue will impact the price of an estimate, but few homeowners would even know to ask about how their trim is going to be painted.

I have seen paint jobs where a painter wrapped around on all the lower areas of a house and faced off around the higher, less visible areas. To me, doing this is inconsistent, and even someone with an untrained eye will look at the house and know something is not right. They just might not be able to put their finger on what it is. I have also seen a repaint on a house where the original painting on the trim was wrapped around and was being repainted by facing off. Unless that homeowner understood the difference, I think that painter ripped off his customer.

Choosing between facing off or wrapping comes down to personal preference and budget. To some homeowners, this is a minor aesthetic issue and facing off can help save them money. Other homeowners will prefer the look of wrapping around and appreciate the extra time and work involved. But in all cases, this should be the choice of the homeowner and not a cost cutting, time-saving, profit increasing measure taken by a painter on an unsuspecting customer.



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