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Here’s how to tell if an exterior paint job is bad

In a perfect world, every contractor would be reliable and trustworthy. You’d be able to hire exterior painters with confidence, and without worrying about the potential for a poor outcome or an unprofessional exterior paint job.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world. The reality is that there are a number of unprofessional painters out there. They water down paint, charge obscene fees upfront, and—overall—don’t do a great job. But, the problem is that their work can look okay at first. Many homeowners don’t realize the extent of the problem until a few years down the road when the paint starts to prematurely peel and fail.

In this article, we’ll review just a few of the telltale signs of an unprofessional paint job, and what you need to watch out for when looking for an exterior painting company.

With the windows masked and taped, our painter begins the paint application process using professional-grade painting tools.

How can you tell if a paint job is bad?

As mentioned earlier, you’re not always going to be able to tell that there’s something wrong with the paint right away. You may only notice problems weeks, months, or years down the road. Still, here are a few things you should inspect your home’s exterior for prior to signing off on the project.

Air holes

Tiny air holes that appear on the wall serve as a glaring indication of subpar exterior paintwork. These minuscule imperfections often emerge when an insufficient number of paint coats have been applied, reflecting a lack of diligence in the painting process. Over time, these tiny air holes may burst, revealing the bare walls beneath and compromising the overall aesthetics and protection of your home’s exterior.

To prevent this undesirable outcome, it is crucial to ensure that your chosen painter adheres to best practices by applying multiple coats of paint and refraining from cutting corners. A professional painter will understand the importance of proper surface preparation, such as cleaning, sanding, and priming, to create an optimal foundation for a smooth and long-lasting paint job. By selecting a reputable exterior painting company like Crash of Rhinos Painting, you can have confidence in the quality of the work and avoid the pitfalls of a poorly executed paint job.

Cracking or peeling

Cracked or fading paint is yet another telltale sign of an inferior paint job. This issue typically arises when a painter dilutes the paint by mixing it with 25 to 50 percent water, which compromises the paint’s quality and longevity. Detecting this problem can be challenging, as the paint may not begin to peel until a month or more after application.

To safeguard against this issue, inquire about the type of paint your painter plans to use and the quantity of paint needed to paint the home. Ensure that the selected paint is of premium quality and specifically designed to withstand your region’s unique climate and conditions. Our team at Crash of Rhinos Painting, for example, relies exclusively on 100% genuine Dunn-Edwards paint, which is specifically formulated for stucco homes and engineered to endure the intense sunshine characteristic of Arizona. By choosing a reputable painting company that uses high-quality materials, you can rest assured that your home’s exterior will remain vibrant and protected for years to come.

As a trusted painting contractor in Glendale, AZ, our team knows everything there is to know about stucco painting and repair.

Blisters on the walls

Blisters are another problematic issue that can emerge soon after the application of a fresh coat of paint, sometimes appearing immediately or within the following day. These unsightly blemishes can eventually dry out and crack, exposing the underlying bare wall and compromising the paint job’s integrity and appearance.

Blisters typically form when the paint has been contaminated with impurities, such as oil or dust, which hinder proper adhesion to the surface. In addition, using old or expired paint can also contribute to the formation of blisters on the walls. A thorough and professional painting process that includes diligent surface preparation, such as cleaning, degreasing, and sanding, is crucial for preventing these imperfections.

To ensure a high-quality, long-lasting exterior paint job, it is essential to work with a reputable painting company that understands the importance of proper surface preparation and the use of premium, uncontaminated paint. By doing so, you can avoid the frustration and expense associated with blisters and other paint defects, and enjoy a beautiful, durable finish on your home’s exterior.

What causes issues with an exterior paint job?

There are a few factors that can lead to poor painting outcomes:

Watered-down paint

High-quality exterior paint can be costly, especially when considering the substantial quantity needed to cover a home’s exterior. Some painters, in an attempt to reduce overhead and save money, resort to buying cheap, low-grade paint, exacerbating the issue by excessively diluting it with water to “stretch” their supply further. It is important to note that “watering down” and “thinning” paint are not the same thing, as Mike clarifies in the video below.

While all professional painters strategically thin paint to achieve optimal consistency and workability, a reputable painter will never water down paint as a cost-saving measure. Over-diluting paint can compromise its durability, longevity, and appearance, leading to issues such as fading, cracking, or peeling, which can ultimately necessitate costly repairs or repainting.

To protect your investment and ensure a high-quality, long-lasting exterior paint job, it is crucial to select a reputable painting company that prioritizes the use of premium paint and proper application techniques. By doing so, you can avoid the pitfalls associated with cheap, watered-down paint, and enjoy a vibrant, durable finish that enhances your home’s curb appeal and value for years to come.

Shady business practices

Caution is warranted when dealing with any painter or home contractor who demands full payment upfront, as this may indicate a lack of trustworthiness. Reputable professionals typically have a steady stream of work and sufficient cash on hand to cover the cost of supplies, only collecting the full payment upon completion of the job. A reliable contractor understands that customer satisfaction is paramount, and they are willing to put in the effort to achieve a high-quality result before expecting payment.

It is generally inadvisable to pay a painter 100% upfront. Instead, exterior painters should ideally only be paid once the work has been completed to your satisfaction. This approach not only provides an incentive for the painter to perform their job well but also helps to protect you, the homeowner, from potential scams or subpar workmanship.

When selecting a painting company, look for one that offers a clear and fair payment schedule, which may include a reasonable deposit or progress payments, with the final balance due upon completion and your approval of the work. This method ensures a mutually beneficial arrangement, promoting accountability and fostering trust between you and your chosen contractor.

Insufficient prep work

Proper preparation of home exteriors is critical before commencing any painting project, and this is particularly true for stucco surfaces. Stucco requires thorough repair and preparation before paint can be applied, ensuring a durable, long-lasting finish. The process begins with pressure-washing the stucco to remove dirt, debris, and any loose or peeling paint. It is essential to allow ample time for the stucco to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Unfortunately, some painters may book back-to-back projects, which can pressure them to rush through their work and neglect crucial preparation and repair steps. This haste can lead to a myriad of problems, including compromised paint adhesion. If a home is not allowed to dry properly prior to painting, the paint may struggle to adhere to the stucco surface, resulting in peeling, cracking, or blistering.

What do you do if you have a bad paint job?

If you have not yet paid the contractors the full amount, it is crucial to address your concerns and ensure the paint issues are resolved before making the final payment. If the company has offered any quality or satisfaction guarantees, hold them accountable for their team’s subpar work. Request to speak with a manager or owner who can take responsibility and address the problems.

The adage “a squeaky wheel gets the grease” rings true in such situations. Persistence is key in obtaining a refund or ensuring the necessary repairs are made. If these efforts are unsuccessful, you may need to either accept the paint job as it is or consider hiring another painting contractor to rectify the issues. Your course of action will likely depend on the severity of the paint job’s shortcomings. Much like a terrible haircut, if your home has become an eyesore, addressing the problem sooner rather than later is advisable.

What should you look for in an exterior painter?

So far, we’ve described what can go wrong when hiring a painting company. Let’s reverse it. Here’s what you need to look for if you’re searching for the right exterior painters:

Great paint, great process

A high-quality painter should be transparent about every step of their painting process, including the specific paint they plan to use on your home. In fact, a reputable painter will take pride in both their choice of paint and the quality of their work, viewing these factors as essential components of their professional reputation. If a painter is unwilling to openly discuss these details or seems hesitant, this could be an early warning sign that you may encounter problems down the line.

A reliable painting company will not only be forthcoming about their materials and methods but also be eager to answer any questions or address concerns you may have. They understand that open communication is key to ensuring customer satisfaction and building trust. By actively engaging with you and demonstrating a genuine commitment to delivering a superior paint job, a top-tier painter helps instill confidence in their services.

To avoid potential issues and ensure a high-quality, long-lasting exterior paint job, it is important to select a painting contractor with a proven track record of transparency, professionalism, and excellence. This approach will help safeguard your investment and enhance the beauty and value of your home.

No payment upfront

A painter who is confident in the quality of their work should have no hesitation in accepting payment for the project after the job is completed. This approach demonstrates their commitment to customer satisfaction and their belief in the excellence of their craftsmanship. If a painter insists on receiving the full payment upfront, consider this a red flag and an opportunity to decline their services and explore other options.

It is essential to find a contractor who is willing to present the finished product before requesting your hard-earned money. This arrangement ensures that you have the chance to evaluate the paint job and confirm that it meets your expectations. A reputable painting company will typically offer a clear and fair payment schedule, which may include a reasonable deposit or progress payments, with the final balance due upon completion and your approval of the work.

By choosing a painting contractor who values transparency and prioritizes your satisfaction, you can feel confident that your investment in your home’s exterior will result in a high-quality, lasting paint job that enhances your property’s curb appeal and value.

Satisfaction guarantee

In the unlikely event that issues arise with the exterior paint job, a professional painter should be prepared to stand by their work and craftsmanship. They understand that maintaining a high standard of quality and customer satisfaction is paramount to their reputation. Should the need arise, a reputable painter will be willing to redo the job from the beginning, as they recognize that mistakes are an outlier and not reflective of their typical performance.

A professional painter’s confidence in their abilities stems from their superior process and the use of high-quality paint, which significantly minimizes the occurrence of major problems. They are dedicated to ensuring that each project meets or exceeds their clients’ expectations and are committed to rectifying any issues that may arise.

By choosing a painting contractor who takes pride in their work and is willing to stand behind their service, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home’s exterior will be expertly painted and that any concerns will be promptly addressed. This level of professionalism and dedication not only enhances your home’s appearance and value but also fosters a positive and trusting relationship between you and your chosen painter.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, recognizing a bad paint job involves identifying signs such as air holes, cracking or peeling, and blisters on the walls. Issues with an exterior paint job can stem from watered-down paint, shady business practices, and insufficient prep work.

If you find yourself facing a bad paint job, it is essential to address your concerns with the painter and ensure that the necessary repairs are made. When choosing an exterior painter, look for one that uses high-quality paint and follows a thorough process. Opt for a painter who does not require full payment upfront and provides a satisfaction guarantee. By taking these factors into consideration, you can ensure that your home’s exterior paint job is completed professionally, resulting in a beautiful and durable finish that enhances your property’s value and curb appeal.