The Perils of House Painting: What do we tell Frank’s wife? Is he getting a fair deal? Or is he getting ripped off?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Jun• 14•07

PaintcanFrank is in a pickle. He’s having his house painted and his wife thinks he’s getting fleeced. What do you think? Here’s Frank’s story:

"I’m having my house painted. It is a one-story stucco with 2,000 square feet of floor space with lots of fascia trim and tall, floor-to-ceiling windows with mullions and headers (about 13 feet high) with lots of overhangs and carport soffit (about 800 square feet). The fascia boards needed quite a bit of prep because of minor wood rot in one spot, termite damage in another and general peeling and some separation at chamfered corners. I had three estimates: One came in at $8,500, another at $9,000 and the third at $11,000. I went with the middle guy because he had just painted the house next door where he did a pretty good job. Also, the neighbor has used him in the past and has been happy with his service. He is using ICI Dulux elastomeric paint on the stucco and ICI Dulux Fortis Premium on the trim/highlights. He’s doing one coat of primer and two coats of finish paint. He is also stripping, staining and varnishing two exterior doors and doing a utility room interior that has extensive water damage to the ceiling. What happened is that a co-worker of my wife said she had had her house painted (allegedly larger that ours) for $5,000 and my wife thinks I’m giving our money away. I’m telling her I believe we’re getting good value for our money, but she’s not convinced. I don’t know how many coats of what kind of paint her friend got, but I think we’re paying a fair price for our project."

My opinion:

I think you’re doing the right thing, Frank. You’re hiring a company you can trust, whose work you can see right next door. That’s worth a lot! Every time you do anything, someone will rise up with a story about how they or their second cousin’s wife’s neighbor did it cheaper and faster. It’s an American pastime to outdo the next guy on getting a "deal." I don’t think that’s wise. Remember Earl Scheib who would paint cars for $29.95? What quality do you get? Why do we gauge houses at the price per square foot? Why not buy a car based on price per pound? That’s because we want quality.

A contractor’s opinion:

Based on your description of the work it does not seem that what you are charged is excessive. — Alon Toker

What’s your opinion? Is Frank getting ripped off? Or should his wife stand down?

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2 Comments

  1. rusty says:

    If you mean only outside painting, I agree with the co-worker, too much. If you mean in and out complete, it doesn’t sound too bad.

  2. John Howell says:

    I’am a Painting contractor in Portland Oregon area. This does seem high, but without being on the sight it would be very hard to estimate the job. I have been in business for 15 years, and I can tell you that most 2,000 sf ranch styles go for about 2,400.00. I painted an older home last year that needed more prep than I really wanted to give her, but I did and severial days of it, and that turned out to be around 7,000.00. It’s just like most jobs if there is a lot of prep work the price goes up.The thing about one coat of primer and two coats of elastomeric paint is a little over kill I think. One coat of elastomeric is as thick as three coats of regular paint, but the thing is you had three bids so that good.

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