The Martin Painting “Primer” Including Customized Price Adjustments  

Color Selection

Far too many of my customers do not like the color selections that they make!

Your color selection should make you happy, not necessarily the paint store clerk, a decorator, or your painter. When considering any color other than possibly an off white, I strongly recommend that you get a quart sample and brush on a test spot right next to some trim, or roll a good sized spot on a sunny wall. You may think that you have a “good eye for color” and that you can make a good selection from chips alone. Good luck. I would never skip this step at my house! Pastel colors are somewhat easier to select than darker colors. I’ve had over 30 consecutive customers change their minds when seeing actual colors that they selected using chips alone. Of course that was an unusual stretch of bad luck.

Color matching using chips is also far more difficult than it appears. A suitable match is seldom made on the first try. If you have a can of touch-up paint from the previous painting (you should!), then matching it is easier. If you don’t have a can, then the best practical way is to cut off a piece of the drywall paper itself with a razor blade, and then have this matched by the paint store. Samples taken to a store should be about two inches square. Cut off the sample just above the baseboard, hopefully avoiding the joints where the paper is covered with compound. Allowing the paint store twenty-four hours to match colors beats a long wait in the store. Matching is difficult, even when assisted by computers, and the attendants do a better job when they aren’t rushed. Sight unseen matches are often not close enough, so examine your custom match. Again, buy a quart and test it before you commit to our buying gallons of it! Don’t depend on a store to keep track of your colors!

Doing this legwork saves you $30 per trip if we don’t have to do it for you!


Your second consideration is sheen. This affects the pricing. Flat paint is always the preferred finish for appearance’s sake: it goes on with a much nicer texture, and touch-ups and repairs are far less noticeable, lacking the “shiners” associated with sheen touch-ups. Sheens are more washable than flat, however. Eggshell (the lowest sheen) can be made into any color, and I recommend it for kitchens and bathrooms.

The bid assumes the use of flat paint, unless otherwise noted. Selecting sheens such as eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss adds to the “Wall Color” figures, which helps defray the higher material cost. Higher glosses may require a third coat, adding 35–45%.

If you have rooms that need considerable spacklingsuch as children’s bedrooms, which often look like a pincushionand you use anything but flat paint, you will see dull areas everywhere the spackle was applied. To prevent this, you will need to allow an extra 50% for priming the walls.

The Paint Itself

The price quoted is for Pittsburgh flat paint. We always roll on two coats, even with the so called one-coat paints. There are brands of paint on the market that can add considerably more cost, particularly when I can’t buy them with a discount. We hope that you will select Pittsburgh’s no-VOC paints that won’t pollute the air and have very little odor. It comes in flat and eggshell (adding 5% to the “Wall Color” figure). “Deep Base” colors (see the label) require the most expensive paints and may require three coats, adding 50% to the normal price quoted. “Clear Base” paints (primarily deep reds) may require 3 or 4 coats. Testing the product with a brush in a corner would be helpful. Olympic’s no-VOC paint also costs no more than ordinary paint: see back.

The Second Coat

A second coat of paint rolled onto the wall is quite important. We never do one-coat jobs unless the color and sheen are exactly the same as before, which only saves 25%. A third coat, adding 35–45%, may be necessary if you choose a drastic color changeparticularly reds. Some yellows are also extremely difficult to cover withparticularly “lemon yellow” (“ye” colorant). Walls will have many weak-looking areas except for where the roller was first placed on the wall. Ceilings seldom have the marks and dings that walls do, and ceiling white has higher hiding ability. One coat is often sufficient. One coat on ceilings costs less than two, so if one coat is sufficient we can deduct 33% from an itemized two-coat ceiling price.

Most paint stores keep “painters hours”: 7:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M. and Noon–5:00 on Saturday. Lowe’s and Home Depot have better hours if you need them.

Rainy Day and Heat Advisory Scheduling

There is a limited opportunity for rainy weather schedule advancement [overnight notice work] for jobs under $750, or which can be done piecemeal two or three rooms at a time. This also applies for 95°+ “heat waves” in which we can do your interior work ahead of schedule.

Spackling and Drywall Repair

We try to spackle most defects larger than a pinhead. If you remove nails from the wall, we’ll assume that you want those holes filled.

Removing and Re-placing Furniture

Removing and re-placing furniture and all other belongings back in place after painting is something that most people prefer to do themselves. The pricing assumes that you will re-place everything, although we will gladly help move an empty hutch or other heavy item.

You can also ignore the itemized “Removing furniture cost” if you move everything away from the walls by at least three feet before we paint, or if the room is empty at the time. If only ceilings are being painted, simply remove your knickknacks from tables and things on the walls so that they aren’t damaged when we put drop cloths over them. It’s safest to re-place your electrical switch covers only after the walls dry overnight, especially if any kind of sheen is used. Pictures can be replaced within two hours unless a sheen is used, which slows drying and would also require drying overnight. Curtains often make the wall inaccessible; we’ll remove them if you don’t, but will not assume responsibility for any problems that arise from doing so. Most people skip closets rather than empty them; normally these are not priced. Re-placing your belongings saves 5–10% from being added to the walls figure. We will generally move items too heavy for you, except for loaded-down hutches, etc., which must be emptied first.

Multiple Wall and Ceiling Colors

Switching colors adds a fair amount of extra clean-up work and leftover paint. Each extra color (or the same color in a differt sheen) adds an additional $25 to the job.


Woodwork is completely itemized on the back of the contract. One coat is almost never sufficient. Latex enamel is applied for 60% of the price of oil enamel, a great savings. One latex primer coat (white or tinted) is necessary when switching from oil to latex. Priming adds 40% to the price of each item. Latex is much less prone to yellowing! Outside entry doors should be done in latex, because fast drying is necessary so that the door can be shut that night. Dull lacquer can be greatly beautified with just one clear coat of “Quick 15,” but the fumes are horrendous.

$30 Color Selection

If you do your homework and call in to us all of your color names or formulas at one time, without us making a trip to your house or the paint store, or if you just pick your colors from my color fan deck, at the time of the bid, we can save you money. Giving us old cans or other color samples to match and being willing to accept the store’s matches, sight unseen, can also save you time or money. We add $30 per trip to the store to help you in selecting colors, and more if you don’t like the paint, which is non-returnable. When you change your mind on a color, which happens exceedingly often, the next two coats also cost as much as the original “wrong” color.


Priming anything, such as in preparation for the use of a deep base (very dark) paint, or covering extensive wall repairs (as in under wall paper just removed) that I have not indicated a price for, will add 60% to the cost of painting that item. This price also accounts for the extra cost of deep base paint that costs me double the normal cost.


We don’t remove wallpaper. If it is sound, it can be painted over. Painting over may cost half of what it costs to strip first and then repaint. Seams must be spackled. Ask for details. All paste must be washed off of walls if you remove the paper, which is often more of a job than the paper removal. If poor sizing was applied, considerable wall damage may need to be corrected after the paper is removed. If this occurs, we can also repair damaged walls.

CCB License# 185641

No longer taking on new jobs.