Painting blues

Today, if things go as planned, I will finish up a two day painting job. This is day three. If I wanted to be completely unbiased and forthcoming, I could admit that it’s been quite a while since my last painting gig and I’m not as fast a painter as I used to be, and to a certain extent that would be accurate—but mostly not.

No, the main reason this job has taken longer than it should have is cheap home builders. I’ve painted rooms in modestly priced new homes and homes that are not at all modestly priced. It matters not. Without exception, every wall where I’ve painted over the builder paint is the same:

Cheap, watered down and sprayed on.

If you’ve ever painted over builder paint, you may already know what I’m about to tell you. The walls will soak up the paint more in some places than in others because the walls beneath are unevenly coated.
When we had our current home built, I requested a satin finish. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t like flat paint—you can’t clean it. But more importantly, you can’t spray on a good quality satin finish paint – it clogs up the sprayer. It has to be applied with a roller and a brush. They didn’t want to oblige my request, but I pointed out to them that if they were going to call themselves custom home builders, then the home should be built to the buyer’s specifications. I had them there. Even though I’ve painted over most of their paint, I’m still glad we paid the extra money to have them paint the house the way it should be painted.

The superintendant in charge of the construction of our house confided in me after the painting was completed that the builder would no longer agree to a painting upgrade as I requested for other customers. It was too labor intensive and took too much time.

I realize most of you could give a rat’s patooty about cheap paint and cheaper contractors. But it’s bigger than that.

There are thousands of painters in my little corner of the world alone who go to work every day doing a job they know is substandard. I don’t blame the workers. They’re just doing what they’re told; what everybody else is doing. I have the luxury of being an independent contractor. My only boss is the person I happen to be working for at the time.

I was raised to believe (and still do believe) that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Am I ridiculously old fashioned to believe this? That reputation and honor are more important than a job completed quickly, cheaply and for the maximum profit margin?

I suppose I should be happy that I can make money covering up other people’s less than excellent work. I’m grateful for the jobs, but it still makes me a bit disappointed that it wasn’t done right in the first place.


It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” ~ Steven Wright

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