The Colorado House Painting Economy 2012

As a painting professional, it is our duty to provide information and educate our prospective customers about our services and the industry. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the house painting market has tightened up over the last few years, along with the rest of the economy. With all the conflicts overseas, whether it’s the financial crisis of 2008-09, the housing market bubble crash, rising tensions between middle-Eastern countries, rebellions and revolutions in Libya, Syria, Tunisia and other countries, it can be difficult to take stock of our local market and economic conditions. On one hand, we are still very fortunate to be in the best part of the country, living in the best country in the world. It’s amazing how we can drill down and see the chain reaction that all these events have on our local economy. Again, as a painter living and working in the Fort Collins and Northern Colorado region, I see the effects every day.

Our economy seems poised for continued, slow growth. Locally, we can look forward to businesses coming into the region, including NASA and Halliburton, which will no doubt add strength to the region. Currently, in the painting industry, with commercial building still slow, many of those companies have wandered into the residential painting market. There are significant differences between commercial painting and house painting. Many commercial painters are accustomed to shortcuts, they don’t have to worry about customer service or communication, they generally use low quality materials and different sheens of paint, which result in different finishes. For instance, a flat paint can be applied by anyone and look fine because there isn’t any flashing of paint. With a satin finish, which is typically found on the exterior of homes, the paint will flash if not applied correctly. It’s amazing how many houses I see in Fort Collins that have been recently painted and the lap marks (flashing) are all over the house. The other trend is that with the economy slowing down, many former employed painters are trying to run their own little painting company. When the economy picks up and companies start hiring again, they will abandon their solo gigs. They likely don’t have relationships with painting vendors or own their own equipment. The primer, materials and paint is likely all the cheapest they can find. Most of them do not carry insurance or warranty their work. These are your typical “fly by night” painters. However, they’ll probably work for cheap and you get what you pay for. There is also a huge risk involved, especially if they damage something or get injured. Just be careful when considering hiring these types of painters.

One difference between Mile High Coatings and much of our legitimate competition is that we always apply two coats of paint – whether it’s exterior painting or interior painting. See my blog about “what two coats of paint really means.” Many painting companies in Fort Collins will estimate just one coat. Then, after the contract is signed and the painting crews show up, they tell you the house needs two coats and that it increases the price of paint job significantly. We always give you a quote for two coats because even if you are re-painting the same color, the paint job will look much better, perform longer and it’s within the manufacturer recommendations. There are actually painting manufacturers that advertise single coat coverage or a single coat warranty. We still believe in two coats on every paint job.

Another way that painters can manipulate their customers is by using flat exterior house paint. This is pretty much the standard east of the Mississippi River. Out here in Northern Colorado, satin is the standard. The reason that flat paint is used out east is because it does a better job of hiding imperfections and layers of paint. Remember, there are many homes that are nearly a hundred years old with multiple layers of paint. If a satin sheen is used, the light reflects off the imperfections and they become more apparent. A satin sheen paint does a better job of standing up to the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. It’s also slightly more difficult to apply than a flat paint. A wet edge is required to prevent lap marks and flashing. Only if you have an old home with several layers of paint would we consider painting a house with flat paint. So, to bring this back, house painters will use a flat because it’s cheaper and easier to apply, thus reducing the amount of the job. It also means that you’ll be repainting your house sooner than you anticipate.

Posted in Interior Painting, Residential Painting