Written by Richard Thompson

No two painting projects are alike. Types and conditions of materials to be painted, complexity of architectural features, types and degree of weather exposures, impact of landscape features, and shade configurations all make a big difference in a well-conceived painting program. Even the purpose of painting can vary from one project to the next. Painting may address preventive maintenance, aesthetics, waterproofing program or all of the above. Regardless of the variables, following the acronym “P-A-I-N-T” will enhance your chances of success:

Plan. Inventory every paintable item and decide when it needs to be painted. Prioritizing is particularly important if the painting budget is inadequate to paint everything at once. You can concentrate on the short-term needs, and accrue money in reserves for future painting.

Ask. The paint industry changes rapidly so make no assumptions. All paint companies offer free expert advice on the latest and best products for your particular needs. In addition, they can provide specifications to use for bidding the project and actually do inspections on the project to ensure the product is being applied properly. This is also the time to update your color scheme. Ask the paint company to prepare a color board with three different trim and body options (usually a free service but worth paying for). Let the owners vote on their favorite.

Inspect the Work. In the planning process, walk the site completely. Notice which areas are fading faster than others (typically south, southwest exposures). Determine the condition of the underlying materials to be painted (they may need to be refurbished or replaced).

Note the detrimental effects your sprinkler system may be having on your painted surfaces, and make necessary connections to avoid premature failure of the new paint. Know what unavoidable damage the painting process may cause to landscaped areas, and plan accordingly.

During the job, don’t rely on the painting contractor to inspect his own work. Make sure that the paint manufacturer’s representative inspects the project at logical intervals. This way, the manufacturer cannot void the warranty for improper application.

Each product has a recommended “mil” thickness which can vary depending on method of application (brush, roll or spray), ambient temperature and dryness of the surface. It is critical that the right product be applied in the right way.

After the job is done (at least according to the painter), do a walk-through inspection of your project before you pay the final painting bill. There are always, always, always (did I repeat myself?) always corrections and additions to every job. Get them done before you make final payment while the painter is motivated. Once paid, it’s off to the next job and motivation plummets.

After six months, and especially after the first rainy period, inspect the whole job to see how it’s holding up. There are often areas that begin to flake or crack. In particular, look for painted rails and other exposed horizontal surfaces that get direct rain. All significant failures should be touched up immediately. Do not wait!

Negotiate. Get competitive bids from qualified contractors whose references you’ve checked. All bids should be based on identical and clear specifications provided by the paint manufacturer. Do not automatically choose the low bid. All bids are negotiable and you may get the price you want from the painter you like best just by asking. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Timing. All your planning and painting needs should take into consideration that most painting is done usually within a relatively small weather window (unless it’s interior). Give your contractors plenty of lead time so you don’t get caught in the “schedule squeeze”. It’s common for painters to take on more work than is humanly possible given the weather envelope. The last thing you want is to have the painter working in the rain saying “We always do it this way”. Better to wait until next year.

There are few homeowner association projects more important than painting. Remember the acronym P-A-I-N-T as you venture into your next round and it will turn out A-O-K.