The question is a bit like that how long is a piece of string question, but there are formulas that can answer the question, at least loosely. So, I will say, if you take a two-thousand square foot home, and you want to paint the entire interior of the house in one day, you’ll probably need eight or ten experienced, focused painters there for the whole day. Having said that, every house is different, so consider these factors before you begin:
If you begin with an empty house – I mean, empty of all furnishings, pictures and people’s things – all you need to do is cover the floor, workout what has to be masked (light switches, banisters, and such) and get moving on the painting immediately. If the house is full of furniture, ornaments, and stuff that needs to be protected, they all have to be well covered, removed, or otherwise fully protected before the first container of paint is opened.
In addition, if you’re covering a child’s plastic playhouse that cost a hundred dollars, you probably won’t worry too much if it picks up a spot or two of paint. But if you’ve got a ten-thousand dollar grand piano in the middle of the living room, you will very likely want to take plenty of time to protect it before any painting begins.
There’s also a safety consideration. Decades ago, if you remember, paint contained unsafe levels of lead. There probably are no ‘safe’ levels of lead other than none at all, but that lead was a health hazard that was proven later to have serious side effects, especially on infants and toddlers, whose brains were still in a significant stage of development. Well, that risk has certainly been all but eliminated, but why take the risk that there are still some contaminants in the paint that have not yet been discovered to be hazardous? So, I always recommend to every painter to:
In an occupied home, it’s hard to simply move all the furniture somewhere. Some of it can be moved – like small coffee tables and such – but you’re unlikely to move a king size bed all the way to the garage, only to move it back after the work is complete. Think about the small stuff that can be easily moved to a part of the house that is not going to be painted. Would it take longer to physically move it or to cover it?
Remember that there is a risk of paint splashes if you leave furniture in the room, but there is a risk of furniture and home damage if you move it! Just imagine, you’ve done a spectacular job of the interior of your home, and that evening, you scuff up the trim in the hallway while you’re moving the upstairs furniture back to its rightful place. All else being equal, cover the furniture. You might also move it to the center of the room, all in one cluster, and cover it properly as one piece. Whatever you do, make sure it’s all done long before the project begins.
Remove all pictures from the walls of course, before the job begins. You might pack them away in boxes, and again, either store them in a room which is not being painted, or protect them thoroughly before you begin.
A question that comes up often is, should I do the trim or the walls first? In almost all cases, you want to do the walls first. In general the trim is done last. It’s the ‘finer’ part of the work, and is usually less likely to have those accidental ‘splashes’ people have when doing the large area painting of wall and ceilings.
You will still need to cover carpets, and possible window panes before the start of the project. Personally, I cover every inch of glass. I use painter’s masking tape along the edges, because I I know from bitter experience, it’s easier to overdo the masking stage than to recover from getting paint where you didn’t want it.
When someone asks me what the golden rule is about painting, my answer is a single word: Preparation. If you are prepared, the actual working of painting is easier. If your masking is all done right, you don’t have to worry about getting a drop of paint on the window pane. Instead, you can focus on the actual painting itself, which can then become a joyful experience – making your home a more pleasant place to live – instead of a worrying one.
Painting contract companies take on these questions for a living. Any such painting contractor company worth its salt will have invested in the most effective equipment to protect every customer’s home contents. They do that because it’s much more expensive to repair paint damage than it is to protect it in the first place. In addition, they know they are responsible for any repairs.
Make sure, if you do choose a painting contracting company, they are bonded and insured. If not for you and your stuff personally, it’s for them. If an uninsured painter falls down your stairs and breaks his back, he or she can come after you for a settlement that may … well … take your mind of splashes of paint for a while.
Check back next week!