Interior photos courtesy of Benjamin Moore.
How to be better than good
But how good is good? Lots of folks can do a good job, but not everyone can do a great job. What’s the difference, and just as important, who decides?
Joseph Cassidy, ICP Construction’s Technical Service and New Product Support Manager, notes that if a job looks great, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is great. “In fact, it can be bad,” he says. Plenty of folks know how to make something look great—right before they skip town and it peels off and rots out like an old avocado.
“When you paint something, you are making old look new or changing up the color,” says Cassidy. “Either way it will look better than before it was painted. That doesn’t mean it is good or great. To me ‘good’ is what is expected. For example, you paint the exterior of a home. The job looks great, and lasts about 4-5 years. That’s good. Great is when a paint job lasts 10+ years,” he upped the ante. “If a homeowner spends $5,000 to have their house painted and needs to do it every five years, that can add up. Hiring a quality painting contractor who uses quality products will make that paint job last much longer and save the homeowner thousands of dollars.”
But, adds ICP Executive Vice President Dan Cohen, if the job is great, looking great is obviously part of the deal. “It starts with the final appearance,” he said. “This can be achieved by proper preparation, sanding between coats, proper painting technique, and the use of quality tools and products.” When you start to cut corners, you’re back to “good.” if that. “Simple steps like sanding and using a tack cloth to remove dust will make a painted surface look great,” said Cohen.
Finally, he echoed Cassidy, use the best. Best paint, best applicators. Best painters, while you’re at it! With high quality products and tools, your work looks good—er, great—longer. And with top quality products, it’s often a lot easier for you to do the job.
And there’s more than that—there’s that professionalism thing. Did you keep your customer waiting six weeks after you said you were going to get started? Argue over adding $1.000 after they John-Hancocked the contract? “There are various factors to determine a great paint job. For example, was the job completed on time and on budget?” asks Brian Osterried, PPG Product Marketing Manager, Interior Paint. “Were the painters neat and efficient, or did they leave a mess for the customer to clean up? Perhaps, the painter decided to go the extra mile and paint a piece of trim that wasn’t in the original quote, or took a door off of the hinges to paint instead of painting it in place.”
And once again, what did you paint with? “After the job is complete, does the paint stand up to wear and tear, cleaning, and more?” he posits. One way to get great, he says, is to ask your customer what’s important to them. Deliver on those issues, and you’ll win where it counts—in your customer’s opinion.
Do You See What I See?
Mike Mundwiller, Benjamin Moore’s Field Integration Manager, agrees with Osterried that this estimation of your performance can be subjective. If your customer likes your work, it’s great. If not, it’s unfortuantely not, even if it is. Certainly, this type of disagreement can lead to bad feelings, which is why having expectations out in the open before-hand gives you a blueprint to get from good to great, and may even satisfy those picky, demanding, fastidious customers that are the backbone of your business.
Not only that, but if everything is in the contract it’s easier for a client to see where you’ve gone above and beyond. “Ultimately, the customer makes the determination between a good paint job and a great paint job,” said Mundwiller. “Focus on not only getting the job done right, but also making it a good experience for the customer by over-communications and problem solving.”
Here’s hoping you’ll say “great article!”
From Decorate to Deco-Great
In decorative coatings, there are a different parameters to help you turn that corner from good to great. Brent Barnard, Sales Director at Golden Paintworks, tells us that it’s your experience as a painter that can tip the scale—a homeowner can do a nice job with a decorative finish, but you can very likely take it a step further. “Most anybody can slap up a coating on a wall after they have watched a few videos on the internet and call it faux,” he says. “Golden Paintworks Lifestyle Finishes are anything but faux. While intended for the professional, we built the line so that the product in the can determines the final look more than the skill of the applicator. Decorative painters can use our products and take that basic look to levels beyond what could be achieved by the average homeowner.”
And, he adds, their product line is easy to use. “For our metallic paints, a ‘great’ job can, in most cases, be achieved in just two coats. Achieving a uniform look that is free of streaking, brush marks, and lap marks is also critical. Rolling in multiple directions (not just the classic “W” pattern) is needed to cast the mica pigments in a non-uniform pattern which is how you achieve a uniform look. (Embrace the weirdness, right?)“For our textured finishes randomness is also the key to success,” he added. “You don’t want to see a repeatable pattern like in wallpaper.” The great news is that your customer will have a custom finish just by nature of the beast. “It’s better to have just one person working at a time, or at least per wall, as no two people are going to apply the product the same way.”