Each painting contractor can offer a warranty as unique as ther fingerprint, but there are definitely a few salient factors that you should look for in any warranty. They all center around labor and materials. In the typical house painting project – both interior and exterior – about 80% of the cost relates to the labor, while 20% of the cost will be materials (the actual cost of the paint and related consumables).
Most paints fade noticeably within ten to twelve years. If they simply faded evenly, it might not be as big an issue, but in reality, they fade unevenly. That’s because they are not being subjected evenly to light, heat and moisture. For instance, an exterior south-facing wall will fade more in the less shaded part of the wall, and it will fade less under the eaves, where less sunlight falls. In fact, by that time of the day sunlight reaches the under-eaves part of the wall, most if not all of the ultraviolet light in the sunlight hitting the paint does not reach the Earth’s surface because the angle of the light is too shallow, and so the ultraviolet bounces off the atmosphere. This means that the section of the wall might retain its color far longer than the lower sections of the same wall. Inside the house, natural ambient humidity levels, varying heat levels, cleaning agents, steam and perhaps even mold of one type or another, all challenge the strength and durability of paint on a wall or other surface. In addition, a huge factor in the ability of the paint to stand the test of time is the preparation work done before the painting work ever started. If the paint was applied to an unclean surface, or a damp surface, its natural life span can be greatly reduced. If the wall was entirely unprepared for the paint, it might begin to peel long before the expected ‘fade life’ of the paint is reached.
If there is a problem with the painting job, you will usually see that problem within six months of the work, but not always. That’s because, if there was any problem with the surface, as detailed above, you’ll normally see the problem quickly. The paint will not have bonded properly to the surface, will not have cured in the way it was designed to and, depending on what unclean problem that surface had, the paint will have reacted in a totally unpredictable fashion. For all those reasons, you do need a warranty, and while it’s always better to have a longer warranty than a shorter one, you absolutely need at least twelve months of ‘labor and materials’.
It’s really up to the painting contractor to take responsibility for both the labor and the materials. He or she should know what can or cannot be painted over, and exactly what kind of preparation work is needed on that basis. They should bake that requirement into the estimate, and be able to stand behind all the materials and labor employed to get the project completed.
A rock solid warranty is worth paying a little extra for.
As stated, labor is most of the cost of a painting project. For that reason, many people decide to make it a DIY project rather than hire a contractor, only to discover that everything from surface prep to the correct use of drop cloths and masking tools is some of the most important ingredients in a successful project. Industrial quality drop cloths are not cheap, and neither is the removal of even the smallest paint stain on a carpet, curtain or any piece of furniture.
If you are hiring a contractor, you want a warranty that offers you a complete labor plus materials coverage. In other words, if for example the paint begins to peel four months after the job, you must be able to contact your painting contractor and let then handle the entire issue. If they need to reach back to the paint supplier, that should be included in the warranty. For any contractor worth their salt, they will take complete ownership of all if this, of course. Still, it’s nice to have that spelled out in your contract, and to have an eye-to-eye discussion of it, too, before you sign up and commit to the project.
If fading is not an issue for you – and this is common among people starting a family, because they expect the paint to take a lot of rough treatment while their kids are still at home – you can expect the paint to last up to 35 years. That is, of course, only if all the circumstances are perfect. The surface must have been completely clean and free of any oils, etc. The surfaces must have been completely dry – well, that’s not totally true because some paints are made to be applied in humid conditions – the paint must be suitable for the surface, mixed correctly and in the ideal proportions and in sufficient quantity. If too little paint is applied, it will understandably last for less time than if the correct amount is applied. In most cases, two complete coats of the undiluted (no thinner has been added) paint is the ideal amount to use, and to apply it fully and evenly with each coat.
Paint becomes ‘permanent’ about two weeks after it is applied. For oil-based paints, it can be four weeks. It is less the drying of it than the curing of it that makes it permanent. Curing happens when the paint has had sufficient time to truly settle on the surface it has been applied to. Even though the paint is dry to the touch, a slight amount of vapor will still exit from the paint for that curing period, and it is important that this curing process is let run its course fully. It is highly recommended that you do not try to wash it, stick anything to it, or otherwise put it under pressure until that curing period is complete. This will ensure the maximum longevity of your beautiful new painting project, and will increase the chances you never have to call that painting contractor back with a call on your warranty.
Spring is coming, and I hope to see you next week when we’ll talk about mat versus gloss, and everything in between.