What I learned: Professional Painter

The biggest lesson is that I’m as good or better at mudding and painting (albeit considerably slower) than the pros were. I think it’s because it’s my place, and I care about it, whereas for them it’s just another day, and another job.

Lesson #2 is “buy good paint” and OMG Benjamin Moore’s Aura is amazing! A gallon of that covered the whole room —and it covered so well. I bought “Moonshine” (2140-60), though it looks more green at night than it did during the day…


I was thinking of using BEHR Premium Plus Ultra, because that’s what I knew, but I met with the owner of the painting company months ago to get an estimate, and she talked me into trying Benjamin Moore (“covers better, goes further”). She also asked me what level of prep-work finish I’d like, from 1-10. I had no idea what her 1-10 was, so I asked what an 8 looked like. She pointed to an invisible spot on the wall, where upon much closer examination there was a an exceptionally-minor blemish. I pointed to a hole that had been patched but not sanded, and painted over (~1/32nd of an inch raise). She said a 7 would take care of things like that. She thought 2 hours of prep time would be all that was needed for the room.

Fast forward two months and Justin arrives. Nice guy. Affable. He asks what I want. I point out a few things. Of course, of course, of course. I point out a roller line, where too much paint was on the edge, and it dried into a ridge. He said, oh yeah, I can run some sandpaper over that. So, I feel good.

Ten minutes later the owner calls to check if I wanted any finish done, because she thought I did. I said yeah. She said she thought so, but the deal (Angie’s List) only covered one coat and nail holes. I said yes (we’d covered that in the initial quote). She says, I”ll send Esteban.

Long story short, J tells E to just fill in the nail holes (this according to E). E does so (no apparent) sanding. Doesn’t come close to the “7” standard the owner and I agreed on. Doesn’t run sandpaper over the roller mark. Doesn’t sand down the 1/32nd inch patches. Doesn’t seem to do much at all. Meanwhile Justin does a quick (obviously) job on the paint. Brush streaks where he cut the lines along the ceiling. Paint on the window trim edges. “Speckled” rolls with spots of the previous coat/color showing through.

I didn’t notice this when they were leaving, of course. It was all still wet and awkwardly shiny. But once it dried some, the flaws came out in droves. I emailed the owner to ask her to come inspect because I wanted to know what it would take to fix. She called immediately to say that she’s really trying to take a day off, and she’s sending Esteban back, and I shouldn’t let him leave until I was happy — effectively putting me in the role of management. Nice (I hate that).

So, E comes back, all nice and “no problem” and spends the next 2.5 hours ($125) bringing it up to, I’d say, a level 5. That’s fine with me. I stayed home from work for this and caught up on emails and planning for my next conference, but I wanted to get out of the house, so I sent him off and said I’d paint over the patches.

Lesson #3 is probably that I’m too damn picky. I’m moving back upstairs to my smaller apartment, so I won’t even enjoy the new paint. But even beyond that, small imperfections cause me to pause. I need to get over that.

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