How important is painting? Very! A good painter can fix a bad builder, yet a bad painter can make a good builder look, well, better. The painters are the last trade to come into the house and are responsible for finishing your house. In fact, for that reason we refer to them as a ‘finishing trade’.
But here’s the problem. You normally pick your painter right at the start of the build; the painter is under the builder’s contract, and at the point you’re picking your builder you’re normally pushing for a better price. So the point at which you agree to your painter is the time that you’re most concerned with price and least concerned with quality. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Let me give you some examples of the difference between a good painter and a bad painter. A good painter will do the correct work to prime the work before putting on their top coats. On hardwood weatherboards he’ll often do two coats of primer after sanding back the surface. A bad painter will not sand back the surface enough, do one coat of primer (if any) and then throw his top coats on. And within 3 years the paint will start to fail, normally either flaking off or going chalky. I’ve recently seen cases where the painted has used a pre-primed chamferboard and used this as a primer, putting just two top coats on after. A good painter will sand off the pre-primer and apply his own primer on top before starting the top coats.
The source of most paint problems is insufficient preparation of the surface before the top coats go on, typically with the primer. A good painter will used an oil based primer on finger jointed pine, as a water based primer will often blow out the finger joint (like old chipboard getting wet). A good painter will ensure that when removing lead paint, it’s ALL removed. I love it when they use a product called ‘Peel Away’ to strip it all off. A good paint job on your house should have a 15 year life if done with quality paint and a full acrylic system. At that point you only need to clean the house and apply one additional top coat for the next stretch of life. So you can see that getting the right painting job has long term value for you. Saving a few thousand dollars now could mean a full repaint in 5-10 years. Is it really worth cutting the cost of this to reduce your total build cost?