Ask A Paint Specialist

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As part of a series, I interview South African contractors in the home improvement industry. I asked for their advice on your behalf. These are things that you should know before you begin renovation work at your home. These interviews will help you gain an understanding before you embark on your project. These professionals give you a clear picture of things that will affect your budget and the timing of your project.

Hiring a professional contractor will give you peace of mind when it comes to long-term results. But if you plan to DIY, make sure you seek out the best advice before you begin your project.

Photo from Freepik

Interviewee: Chris Griffiths, Durban, KZN

Chantal (Design Elements): What is your trade speciality?

Chris (Paint Specialist): Paint and Paint Application

Chantal: I’m painting the exterior of my plastered house. What will significantly affect the cost of my project?

Chris: A lot of things can influence the final price of a painting project. Most homeowners tend to jump into a painting project without thinking about building maintenance. You should do a general inspection before starting the project.

Chantal: Hmm, okay… where do I start this inspection?

Chris: Work from the top down – start with your roof. Check the waterproofing is still good, cracked roof tiles, and leaking gutters. If there’s moisture in the wall, you’ll need to check where it’s coming from and fix it before you paint. Painting twice is expensive. Check if the old coating is chalking (oxidizing) before adding the new coats. Swipe your finger over the wall – if a powdery residue is left on your finger, your wall is chalking. It’ll probably need a full coat of solvent-based primer.

Chantal: What else do I need to look out for that will affect application and maintenance?

Chris: Any oil on the surface must be thoroughly cleaned off. Fungal growth needs to be treated. Cracks need to be dealt with and not just painted over. What type of crack is it? Determine whether they are settlement cracks, structural, or hairline-type surface cracks. Can you do remedial repairs on them? What are the micro and macro climates the paint system will be exposed to? Is the substrate suitable for painting? Maybe it needs priming.

Photo from Freepik

Chantal: Does the paint itself have an effect on the task?

Chris: Absolutely! Different paint systems have different properties. You can’t use interior paint outside – you need something that can combat weather exposure. Interior walls in high-traffic areas need washability. Kitchens and bathrooms need paint that handles moisture well.

Chantal: How do I reduce long-term costs?

Chris: Proper paint systems last longer and can be cost-saving as the years go on. Often projects budget for a limited painting allowance and shortcuts are taken. The market can drive painters to achieve deadlines on reduced budgets. You should do a structured maintenance plan on a 10-year cycle. Put away a small monthly allowance in a savings account or pocket so it doesn’t creep up on you (your own private levy, if you will). Sectional title and shared block properties implement this via the CSOS Act.

Chantal: Have you got any eco-friendly tips?

Chris: Support a brand that supports the planet! Look for “low VOC, lead-free, eco-friendly, and sustainably produced” on the packaging.

Photo from Freepik

Chantal: Give me a budget DIY tip.

Chris: Moisture levels should always be inspected before painting. You can tape cling film to the wall and leave it overnight to check for condensation.

Chantal: Any other tidbits of knowledge for us?

Chris: Ask about warranties (legal agreement with paint manufacturer) and workmanship guarantee. Most paint failures happen within the first 3 to 6 months of the project. These faults will generally be visible after rainy periods.

Chantal: There’s definitely a lot more to consider than most people would realise. Last word for homeowners to think about?

Chris: Not every wall is the same, and a true professional will identify issues that need to be rectified before they begin their work.

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