This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement. Painting the exterior of a home is a large undertaking that requires a lot of consideration, so today we’re interviewing Jim Amatore, owner of Chicago Painters Inc., to help us take the mystery out of the process.
Narrowing it Down
Selecting a completely new paint color for the Two Flat is incredibly exciting, but also incredibly scary! After all of the time and effort we put into the revised exterior of the home, the final color palette is something we need to get right the first time. We’ll be giving our Two Flat a massive exterior makeover with the help of Lowe’s, where we’ll be sourcing all of our supplies. Think: exterior paint for the siding and trim, stain for the front porch and back deck, and landscaping for the yard! We’ve been daydreaming of this day, and we can’t believe this transformation is finally happening.
In addition to hunting for the perfect colors for the home, we were also on the hunt for the right company to hire for the job of painting her. After a few great meetings and conversations, we went with our gut and hired Chicago Painters Inc. They’ve been in business for almost 20 years, and the owner of the company, Jim Amatore, offered to share some of his knowledge about what to look for in an exterior painting company. Let’s start from the beginning and talk about the hiring process:
What are some important considerations to take before hiring an exterior painting company?
“Online reviews are crucial. Be sure to double check the company you want to hire on Yelp or a similar site, and have them send you a copy of their insurance listing you as an ‘additional insured’ for protection. You’ll also want to make sure they have workers compensation. Some painters might skip this insurance because it can be expensive, but it’s one possible reason why one company may be 20-30% different in price from another.”
Throughout the color selection process, Jim let us know that they even have an interior designer on staff that is available for custom color consultations. If you’re not sure where to start with color, we urge you to pull inspiration from online, print and, of course, in-person! Surely you’ve seen homes you love when strolling the neighborhood, right?
We already had a strong vision of how we wanted the house to look, so we didn’t take advantage of the optional color consult service ourselves, but it’s so great to know that similar resources exist!
Making the Right Choice
As a rule of thumb, we always grab way more samples than we think we need because it can be tough to predict how each color will read in a space. For this step, the more the merrier! As the front of the house came together, we couldn’t shake the idea of a deep green that would play nicely with the brick buildings on either side of the home, but were cautious of going too dark, (even though dark, black-green shades are on-trend at the moment).
Once we had eliminated the colors that weren’t quite right, the final contenders were Valspar’s Cosmopolitan Olive, Sherwin Williams Shade Grown and Sherwin Williams Woodland Lichen. We used paint samples from Lowe’s to paint larger swatches on the house in various areas, so that we could see how these colors react in different lighting situations.
Much like with paint colors, we’ve grown to trust our gut with contractors, but made sure to ask Jim if we were on the right track with our usual quote-gathering process.
How many quotes would you suggest gathering, and how should the homeowner make their final decision?
“Sometimes one quote is enough! If you like the painter and they have good online reviews, great! If you’re on a strict budget and need the best price, then get 3 estimates. If you find a contractor that you’d really like to work with but they’re beyond budget, you can always ask them if there are slower times of year where they offer discount opportunities.”
This is great advice and something we’ve implemented in the past as well. We’re also big fans of asking contractors if they can offer a price break for cash/check payment to avoid credit card fees. Jim agreed that this is good practice, as long as both parties benefit from negotiations.
Avoiding the Wrong Choice
As with choosing the paint color for the home, choosing the right contractor to apply the paint is crucial as the wrong decision can have long-term consequences. With this in mind, we asked Jim:
What red flags should a homeowner look out for when hiring a painting contractor?
“How fast do they call you back? If a company hasn’t called you back in 48 hours, they are likely too busy and might be implying that by not responding right away. If you have to call a painter 2 or 3 times to get them to send you the proposal they promised to send you, they may not be the right fit for your job at all. Don’t feel offended or feel the need to stay on top of them to get you the promised proposal. Just move on to the next painter until you find one that is interested and eager for your business!”
This is fantastic advice! If it’s difficult to get a hold of a contractor before the work starts, how difficult will it be if there’s an issue once the work is complete? We’ve definitely been in a situation where we can’t get a single person to call us back, and this is a blunt (haha) reminder that there’s a reason why that happens.
Preparing for Painting Day
Once the final color has been selected and the painting contractor has been hired, it’s time for everyone to prep for the work to begin! This final step should include a conversation to clarify a few things. For example, who is purchasing the paint? Whose responsibility is it to move patio furniture or anything else that might slow down the painting crew? Will the crew need access to the neighboring yards?
Here in Chicago, our homes are generally very close together and sometimes access to neighbors’ yards is necessary, so it’s good practice to get permission ahead of time. Every painting crew will likely have different answers to my prep questions above, but we asked Jim what we could expect once the painting commences!
What should the homeowner expect on the first day of the paint project?
“The basic prep should include cleaning, sanding and covering. If a painter walks in and starts painting, you’ll have problems down the road!”
As we always say, applying the paint or stain is a fairly small portion of the overall project. The prep work should be very thorough. A lack of proper preparation can lead to premature paint failure and added expense down the road, so it’s important to be as thorough as possible on this crucial step!
The Final Choice?
We’re very excited to be working with Jim and the team at Chicago Painters Inc (if you’re in Chicago, you can get a free estimate right here), but what’s the final color choice? We’re waiting for a string of nice weather days to get started on the project, so the big reveal will have to wait! (Aka, we. are. still. torn! What do you think?)
In the meantime, we’re gathering up the paint tallies we’ll need to paint and stain the Two Flat, and then we’ll be placing our big online order through Lowes.com!
As friendly reminder, Lowe’s is offering free curbside pickup through these unique and challenging times. Thank you, as always, to our friends at Lowe’s for supporting our renovation journey.
PS: You can see what the exterior of our house looked like on closing day right here. What a world of difference already!