These days, it seems like anyone with a paintbrush and a business card can call themselves a painting contractor. Homeowners who are most likely to be taken in by these unscrupulous “painters” are those who are focused on cost and cost alone. With painting, like anything else in life, you typically get what you pay for. If the painting contractor you are considering cannot answer these ten questions, proceed at your own risk. If they answer all ten satisfactorily, then you know you’ve found a great great professional contractor to work with.
A thorough scrubbing is a must before painting any exterior surface. It removes the dirt and broken-down paint residues that keep fresh coats from adhering and gets rid of mildew that grows on paint in all but the most arid climates. Most contractors clean with pressure washers, but in the hands of someone unfamiliar with the equipment, these can gouge wood, shatter glass, and drive water behind siding and trim. Using a hose, a pump sprayer, and a scrub brush is slower but safer, and just as effective.

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If a company has a formal training program, it’s a safe bet that they have their act together. They can do training in-house through regular meetings of their employees.  They can have field training systems in place, usually coordinated with classroom training sessions.  They can also use trade associations, such as PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) or paint manufacturer’s representatives to stay up to date with the latest materials and techniques. 

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When it comes to home maintenance, exterior painting is one task that is best left to a professional. Painting contractors have the experience and the manpower to do the job properly and efficiently. They can also recommend the best type of paint for the project, taking climate and building material into consideration. While you may be tempted to save money and turn this into a do-it-yourself project, your safety is important—professionals will have the special equipment needed to get up high and, more importantly, their own insurance, shielding you from liability. But there is a con: working with the wrong contractor. Be sure your contractor is insured, has a good reputation, and offers the best cost estimate to ensure you get the job done without any headaches. We asked Benjamin Moore’s Craig Bunting and Farrow & Ball’s Josephine Rance for tips on finding the right painting professional—so you can sit back and enjoy the finished product.

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These days, it seems like anyone with a paintbrush and a business card can call themselves a painting contractor. Homeowners who are most likely to be taken in by these unscrupulous “painters” are those who are focused on cost and cost alone. With painting, like anything else in life, you typically get what you pay for. If the painting contractor you are considering cannot answer these ten questions, proceed at your own risk. If they answer all ten satisfactorily, then you know you’ve found a great great professional contractor to work with.
Thanks, all, for your time & efforts adding to the article & comments, especially Dave urging requesting both General Liability AND Worker Compensation insurance certificates to protect from real & fraudulent liability--from my experience especially in California, where insurance fraud is a popular income thief, even causing car collisions to collect.
Back to the article. You can add water to all latex based paints / thinner to oil based paint. The tinting base has absolutely nothing to do with it. Say you are working outside and throughout the day you have to add a little water to keep the same consistency. If somebody really tried to add 20% to 50% water they no longer would be painting they'd be performing a whitewash or pickle finish.
Even the best exterior paint can fail if it's applied incorrectly. Always use a primer when painting any untreated surface to seal it off and to provide a base for topcoats to stick to. Alkyd primers are best for bare wood because they cover bleed-through from wood knots better; be sure the label states that the primer is designed to stop bleed-through. Water-based primers are a good choice if knots aren't an issue. Water-based paints are compatible with both types of primer. When repainting, prime only when necessary. If the paint hasn't cracked or flaked, you may not need to prime at all. Advantage 900 from Porter Paints is designed to go over any existing paint without priming or sanding. If you must scrape down to bare wood, spot-prime. Not sure whether priming is needed? Try this test: Paint a small portion of the wall and let it dry. Then put an adhesive bandage on the newly painted surface and snap it off. If paint sticks to it, the old paint won't support a new coat and requires a coat of primer. If the bandage is clean, power wash the siding and paint. For painting new construction, the FPL recommends dipping each piece of siding in a paintable water repellent, priming, then applying two coats of water-based paint. The lab also suggests installing siding on furring strips, creating a ventilated space behind it to reduce vapor. Seal the bottom with screening to keep insects out. If you hire a painting contractor, be sure he or she follows the paint manufacturer's directions. For example, the temperature should be between 50° and 90°F to apply water-based paint. Also, the topcoat should go on within two weeks of the primer. If you wait too long, the mechanical bond between the two won't be as strong because the surface texture of the primer breaks down. And if two topcoats are used (recommended for new construction), the second should go on within two weeks of the first. There are lots of exterior paints out there. Knowing how to pick the best from a lineup of look-alike cans will help your paint job last well into the next century.

Courtney and crew did a fantastic job on my project. We recently built a detached garage and decided to paint both the house and garage to get them on the same cycle. I had several quotes. A Touch of Color’s quote was by far the most detailed and complete, plus Courtney took time to consult on colors and the pros and cons of various paint types. The products he used are of exceptional quality, as is the workmanship of he and his crew. They are prompt, on time, on schedule and clean up daily. I have compared my results to…

My wife and I just painted the interior of our house with about 6-8 gallons, of $30+ per gallon (meaning the good stuff, non-diluted) with absolutely fantastic results. However we just paid an average of $5 per gallon. Reason...all big box stores have paint, set aside, that has been mixed but not picked up by the customer. They need to sell it quick and if you're not in a hurry (you know well in advance that a room or two need painting and it's not like the roof leaking and needs an immediate fix) you can go to each store when you need other supplies or food, like Walmart (when convenient, driving 20 miles to each is not worth it) and over the course of a month or two, pick out some very nice colors of quality paint. We found perfect colors...not saying they were our first choice but when we opened the can, very nice and some even better than our original picks. Cost to paint the entire house was about $100, with all materials included, period. We had it on the market for a few months to sell, didn't sell, painted the rooms, got 2 offers the day after we finished, took the best one and never looked back.
Keep an eye on the new cans as they're being brought in. Make sure they look new and don't have paint in the rim of the can. If it's a five-gallon bucket, check to see whether the lid is still sealed on with the plastic strip. The only time it's acceptable to mix water in the paint is when you're using a deep or ultra deep base paint to reduce its stickiness, which is rare with new paint technology. Dark primary colors are composed almost entirely of tint that makes it very hard to work with without adding water.

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