Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Why, on those HGTV shows that I can't stop myself from watching, do the hosts always say, "Oh, you don't like the paint color?  That's an easy fix."  Every real estate agent I've used says the same thing.

Sorry, but painting is not an easy fix!  If you do it yourself, you need a couple of days per room, plus the cost of supplies which is not insignificant.  You can't paint a little bit here and a little bit there.  You need to have big blocks of time, so, if you're like us, you'll have to hire it out.  If you do, it is close to $1000 per room (at least that's the big city price), and you still have quite a bit of inconvenience.

I got three quotes to paint the entire interior of our house including all doors and trim, and two of them were higher than the cost of replacing all the windows in the house.  Can you imagine that?  Something just seems off here.  Luckily, I think I found a guy who will do it for just a bit over half that.  He was recommended by someone I trust, so as long as I watch him and his crew like a hawk, I'm hoping it will be ok.  There's nothing more disturbing than a bad paint job.  We've been living with what one painter called "the worst touch up job I have ever seen" for a year now.

Tip: When buying a house, if the paint is in bad shape, ask the seller for a credit of about $1,000 per big room (don't count bathrooms and hallways - just bedrooms, living room, kitchen, etc.).  And if they won't give it to you and you still want the house, make sure you have that much to spend.

And don't trust HGTV!


  1. I am so with you on this one! Painting, especially with kids around, is a pain! I don't have big blocks of time to do *anything*.

  2. I have wondered this myself. The only answer I can come up with is that painting is an easy fix compared to replacing floors or cabinets or plumbing or gutting a room and starting over. But painting is certainly not easy in and of itself.

    This post makes me feel better about the $800 we paid to have our master bedroom and bathroom (vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom, and we asked them to paint the non-vaulted ceilings in the master bath) last year. I thought it was a little steep at the time, but the more I learn about the cost of hiring professionals, the more I think we got a great deal.

  3. Tori, Yes, in Michigan we paid about $700 for a stairway with the usual difficult high ceiling, the kitchen ceiling, and one small bedroom. I was shocked at that price. We did our own master suite in MI before we had a child and lost the possibility of things like "one whole day." Adam is actually a great painter and we had fun doing it. But that was in the old days, B.S. (before Sam). ;)

  4. We've always been lucky when it comes to painting. My wife is a NP in the occupational health field. She is always doing exams for workplace injuries. She inevitably meets a lot of members of paint crews looking for a little extra work on the side. We've accumulated a pretty small but good network that will paint for a reasonable hourly rate.

    With the recession and the downturn in the housing market, we were able to get our entire full size basement painted (including the stairway) for about $450 (including paint).

  5. Brian, now that's more like it! And that's very resourceful of your wife. I actually know one handyman who has his own network of hourly guys and I thought of going through him until I found this half-price guy. I think if you can find trustworthy hourly workers and if you can be a benevolent, micro-managing dictator when it comes to quality, that's the way to go.

  6. Unless the walls need repair, $1000 seems way too much for me not to do the work myself - even piecemeal. If the walls need repair, I think the job would be worth approximtely $10,000 to me! We've tried really, really hard to do drywall repair but unlike painting, it's quite a skill (that we don't have).

    In my vast paint/repaint experience good prep work (wash, Spackle, sand, prime as needed, and tape, tape, tape) is the key to success. So, while it's not that easy, painting does not require the expense of a professional. (Just sticking up for my HGTV.)

  7. Lynne, I guess it's true that it's a pretty easy fix if you have the time. We did plenty of painting in our last house, Before Sam. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't as cheap as I was led to believe, but it was reasonable. It's only insane when you have to hire someone. Adam thought he would do some painting this summer but it never happened and then he said over Christmas break but then had to bail out on that too. It just seems unimaginable to ever have that kind of time again. Maybe if we could get the grandparents into town for a whole week!

    We've tried 2 drywall repair jobs and you're right - it's not easy to get it just right! Luckily, we don't have that issue now. Just lots of Spackle and sanding.