House Painting and Economic Development…and a few tips on how to paint your house

As a former house painter I couldn’t help notice one of the newest franchise opportunities, house painting, in Inc.’s May issue.  Inc highlighted WOW – 1Day in their Company Watch column. A 16 man crew shows up and paints your house in a day and leave behind a vase of flowers after clean-up.  WOW – 1DAY is looking to have 50 franchises by the end of the year.

Although I was a paper boy, house painting with my two brothers was probably the beginning of my entrepreneurial spirit.  What started as a summer job for the three of us turned into the next summer and the next, and if we weren’t in school, high school or college, or needed extra money, we booked jobs year round.  Of course the summer jobs were the best, outdoors, tanned, and we set our own schedule. Could we paint a house in a day?  Not exterior, unless it was a cottage. We were known to paint 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, interior, in a weekend, but it usually took us a week to recover.  So financially, it didn’t help us.  It helped the customer by minimizing the time of disruption and now WOW – 1DAY has cut that to one day. Amazing!

Economic Impact

Just as Student Movers and Two Men and a Truck formalized summer student employment, so it appears paint in a day businesses could follow the same path.  Therefore, these types of franchise opportunities could be a good target for your local entrepreneurs.  It has both a rural and urban fit and in densely populated areas sales of one franchise could reach $10 million per year and over 50 employees.

Tips for Painting Your House

I still paint.  In fact my wife and I just finished painting the exterior of our home in Louisiana.  We did not paint it in a day, or a week, it was about a month with lots of time in between “painting days”.  But that’s the best most sane approach if you are going to do-it-yourself.  It’s a great way to save money.  In painting, the cost is in the labor.  The materials for our 2,500 square foot home was about $500.  So your savings will be in the thousands if you paint it yourself.  So here are a few basic tips if you do-it-yourself. Oh, only do-it-yourself if you can safely reach all peaks with the appropriate ladders or scaffolding.

  • Select high quality latex paint but don’t go overboard.  Just because its the most expensive doesn’t mean its the best.
  • Purchase paint as you go.  Most people are bad estimators of the amount you need, as are the sales reps in the store.  Start with a gallon or two and go from there. You will need three paint finishes; flat for ceilings whether interior or porch ceilings exterior; satin for siding, stucco, or walls, and semi-gloss or gloss for trim.
  • Start in the back of the house for exterior, to hide your early mistakes, and until you get the hang of it.  You don’t want your neighbors watching you muck it up.  If interior, start with a less used room.
  • Divide the project up into manageable sections.  On exterior jobs I usually break it up into porches first and each one a separate tasks, and then each of the four sides of the house as a task. This way the house looks good from each side even if you have to wait two weeks to get back to it.  For interior jobs, one room at a time.
  • Prep the area by sanding, caulking, and repairing.
  • The order of painting is ceilings first, followed by walls then trim.  The floor last if it is getting painted.  For exterior porch ceilings, put a very light, and I mean barely noticeable hint of baby blue in the paint.  This does two things, minimizes the number of bugs that will hang out on your porch ceiling and, gives a warm feeling to your porch.  When painting the ceiling if rolling, paint the edge “corners” all the way around with a 3″ brush first, then roll.  Same if you are rolling the walls, paint the corners first with a 3″ brush first, then roll.
  • Finally, use the right brushes.  Spend the money on good China bristle brushes. You need a 4- inch one for walls, a three inch one for cutting the corners, and a 21/2 inch trim brush for the trim. Rollers, I buy the cheap ones because I use them for one time/day and throw them away.  They are not worth cleaning.
  • Clean your brushes each day, or every time you stop for more than 30 minutes during each day. Rinse the paint off with warm water, no soap.  When done, whack the bush against your upturned toe of your shoe so the excess water is flung off the brush onto the ground.  The brush can be used again within a few minutes after this.

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