Paint Essentials: Why Pros in the Know Choose Premium
Glenn Targac doesn’t believe in shortcuts or giving customers an inferior product. Owner of San Antonio-based Fix Your Home— a remodeling, repair and home-solutions business Targac is all about quality and transparency with his customers.
And using a premium coating is Job #1.
“My goal is always to educate the customer to use the highest-quality paint their budget will support and aid them in making an informed decision after they fully understand the long-term benefits,” Targac said.
As any pro will tell you, it’s not always easy in a cost-conscious consumer market to make the case for spending more money. Targac understands customers’ price sensitivities, so he gives them options to consider.
“I estimate the total cost of up to three quality levels of paint and show them the total price differences between them for their project. Then I explain the quality differences—and particularly the ease of cleaning, durability and fade resistance of higher-quality paints. At this point, I discuss paint ratings from tests performed by a leading consumer organization.”
COST VS. LABOR
Targac also separates the labor from the material costs when quoting a job.
“I also explain that a higher material cost today will result in not having to paint as often, thus saving considerable labor expense in the long term. Labor costs are always higher than paint costs. Usually, an upgrade in paint will result in a 10% or less increase in the cost of the total project. Higher-quality paint will save money in the long term and maximize the investment the customer is making in their home.”
Chris Polidoro of Shoreline Painting & Drywall, Inc., a long-standing family owned and operated company that has been serving customers in Connecticut for more than 40 years, agrees.
“Since labor is 85% of painting costs, it only makes sense to use the highest-quality paints, primers and varnishes available to us,” Polidoro said. “Using a premium product will save the customer money over time and will create less labor during a repaint. In the Northeast, it is normal to paint your house every five to seven years using domestic paints. We like to offer our customers an annual maintenance program that will ensure the most life out of our paint job.”
Polidoro chooses the Fine Paints of Europe brand for his jobs.
“When I was at the Fine Paints of Europe factory in Holland, researching and developing a new product, I was amazed by the quality control instilled in the staff,” he said. “The batch and quantity sizes of each batch of paint are small and controlled. My personal philosophy is: Use the best products available to us; our customers deserve it.”
PREPARING FOR PREMIUM
How do you know what’s going to work best? Polidoro knows it’s not always an easy answer. “With anything, it takes practice to master. I suggest using the product on something you are not contracted for. Your own house, family members’ homes, etc.” Polidoro says. “It also depends on the application and finish desired. A high-gloss finish on Sheetrock will take time to master. At the end of the day, it is all in the preparation of the substrate. If you want a perfect finish no matter what the paint is, you must have a perfect substrate.”
Targac always looks at surface preparation when choosing premium products.
“First, and just as important, is excellent surface preparation,” Targac said. “Quality paint has many benefits for the professional painter: adhesion to the surface being painted is superior; and the paint will smooth out, eliminating brush marks, and will cover better than lower-quality paints often with only one coat. There is less drip or spatter with thicker paints. It is more cost and time effective to be able to finish a job with fewer rolls or passes with a brush. Less time is used going back over areas with inadequate coverage. Most importantly, the customer will be more satisfied with the completed appearance.”
CHANGES IN PREMIUMS
With the exception of the many new more eco-friendly paints, changes in the premium-coatings industry have not been dramatic, said John Lahey III, president of Fine Paints of Europe, a nationally distributed New England-based paint manufacturer.
“Frankly, I haven’t seen a lot of change in the premium market, or not as much as I would have anticipated seeing,” Lahey said. “I think the biggest change in the premium category is that most, if not all, premium water-based coatings are now 100% acrylic. They have all been forced to go from a vinyl acrylic or latex acrylic to a straight 100% acrylic product. These paints cost more to make and, as a result, cost the consumer more, but the coating itself is far superior in every way you want a paint to be better.”
Lahey believes there are two places to make good money as a painting professional—the very low end and the very high end.
“The person in the middle is getting squeezed from both sides, as they are too expensive to get the low-end work and are not always able to land the very-high-end work,” he said.
“They are forced to compromise on both sides and, as a result, don’t make the money they want to make in the trade. Your jobs are being judged and picked apart for how they look. Why not use the best products you can find to get you there? I can assure you everything is more fun on the high end; why not use a product that can get your work to that level?”