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Professional Tips and Tricks

In my 40 years as a house painter and contractor, I've gathered many tips and practices that are now part of my every day routine. Some of these tips simply make my work faster or more efficient. Other tips help produce higher quality results.

I'm certain that homeowners painting their own dwellings will benefit from these suggestions. Less-experienced contractors may also find my suggestions helpful, so over the coming days and weeks I hope to provide this information freely via my Twitter feed.

Why am I sharing this hard-earned experience? It's my belief that generosity of knowledge and practice brings benefits to the giver and the recipient. I hope you'll call on me the next time you require a professional house painter.

You can access previous tips and keep up-to-date by "following" me on Twitter.


Choose your patching compound (for repairing surface defects) very carefully. The product "PolyFilla®" is popular with many do-it-yourselfers, but is one of the most difficult products to work with. It is difficult to sand PolyFilla® so that the repair is smooth and level. Unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise, use ordinary drywall joint filler (also known as "drywall mud") for your repairs. It dries quickly, sands easily and the results are predictable.

Anecdote: A client offered to do surface repairs for the painting contractor (to cut costs), but used PolyFilla® for the repairs. What ought to have been repairs taking less than 15 minutes to patch and sand took more than 2.5 hours of hard work because the client had applied the material far too heavily and the PolyFilla® was extremely hard to remove with sanding.

Contractor Tip: Never agree to let your client prefill surface defects. You do not know what product they will use, and it's unlikely the client knows how to do the job correctly. Most often the client will leave the sanding of the patches to you, which invariably leads to overfilling by the client and a need for excessive sanding by you. In other words, you will do all the hard work (much more than you estimated), and your client will expect a discount in the price.

Copyright ©2011 by Nathan Harms
This material is copyright and may not be reproduced elsewhere in any manner whatsoever, whether on the Internet, in print or otherwise.