What Kind of Paint are You Driving?

I met a mom at the ice rink the other day. When she found out I ran a painting company she started telling me about how much she hated her last paint job.  She complained that even though the painter did fine work, she couldn’t wipe the walls without leaving paint on the cloth or leaving a stain where she had tried to clean the wall.  She was dismayed that her painter hadn’t used a paint suitable for a high traffic, kid-filled house where wiping fingerprints, ketchup and snot from walls was a pretty regular occurrence. That’s a house that sounds like my house.

I know what happed with her paint job. There were no paint specifics outlined in her estimate or contract.  She told me the painter used Benjamin Moore.  But the brand is only one part of the paint.

Saying you had your house painted using Benjamin Moore paint is like telling someone you drive a BMW without saying what model you drive. There’s a big difference between a fully loaded BMW M6 Gran and a BMW 1 Series coupe. They are both nice cars but only one has 560-hp sitting under the hood.

If your painter is giving you an estimate and it simply says “application of two coats of Sherwin Williams paint to walls” you are not being given enough information from him. And you should wonder why.

I have written about this before and I think this is an underhanded move by painters, especially when they quote using an expensive brand of paint without specifying the actual product they are going to use. The brand alone doesn’t mean you are getting a high grade paint.

I don’t mean to single out Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams (they just happen to be the two most well known national paint brands). This applies to the majority of paint manufacturers. And its not that using the most expensive brand of paint is always the best, but you need to know the product so you can determine which is right for your budget and situation.

Much like with cars, price, quality and performance can greatly vary between two types of paint from the same company.

The more ingredients and features a paint offers, the more expensive it gets. And just like car companies, most paint companies have a range of products to appeal to a wide range of customer’s needs and budgets.

So here’s how to protect yourself from being sold a bad can of paint.

  • Ask your contractor to include product numbers and names on the estimate for every product being used. That way you can check what grade of paint they are basing their estimate on.
  • Tell your contractor in advance, what your needs are. Do you need scrubbable walls? Are you putting the house up for sale? Are you concerned with colour retention?
  • Ask your paint contractor why he recommends one brand over another. Every painter has their favourite paints. You want to make sure his reasons aren’t based on price alone.
  • Make a trip to your local paint store (or their website). A quick review of their products will help you with painting ideas for your project and budget.
  • Don’t get hung up on brand or price. There are very good paints at lower price points. You don’t have to buy the most expensive paint to get great results for your painting project.



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