Painting disaster

July 11, 2013
The painter (hired by contractor) painted our trim with BM semi gloss paint. As you can see in the pics, there were numerous drips and visible nail holes. When I saw the first coat being applied, I stopped him and said that it needed to be fixed or I did not want them to continue and make matters worse. We were told that the paint had issues (it was running a lot) and the filler shrinks, but, they would make sure that everything looked great and I would be happy.
However, now there are 3 coats (primer and 2 coats of paint) and the trim looks absolutely AWFUL. The pics shown here are of my basement trim which is the smaller casing. In the main areas of the house I have larger trim and it has the same issues. The house is new construction, 4,500 SF and there are drips and visible nail holes on ALL base boards, crown (throughout whole house) and window trim.
The contractor (that we hired for interior finishing work) has said that he would have the original painter come back and try to fix it. However, I do not want him to come back as it is apparent he is not a good painter - certainly not detail oriented. I've asked the contractor to get another painter and if they can fix it, I would pay the original agreed to amount.

He suggested that I am being a "bit picky" and he has not had any other complaints from other painting jobs. We have been otherwise happy with this contractor, but at this point, I really don't know what to do.
Should I try to let them fix it? Or should my husband and I just do it ouselves (which is what we had originally planned, but then we decided to let the professionals do it)?
If we do attempt to fix ourselves, any suggestions on what products to use to remove the built up paint in the corners?

Comments (62)

  • judianna20
    I am the WORST painter in the world and I could do better. That is one bad paint job.

    Picky? Hardly! Go get 'm.
    Lynda thanked judianna20
  • Lynda
    The contractor asked me to mark the areas that need attention, so I went to the house this afternoon and put tape on all the runs and nail holes...had a lot of blue on that door trim. We'll see what he says tomorrow.
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  • judianna20
    Stick to your guns. No touch ups The whole area needs to be re sanded and re painted. Watch "the fix" carefully.
    Lynda thanked judianna20
  • fredm51
    I think you are doing the right thing. Your contractor telling you that you are too picky is just him trying to save money. He knows his painter is no good and does not have a good replacement.
    Lynda thanked fredm51
  • PRO
    YOU ARE SO PICKY !that s what I always here from my contractor anytime they don't want finish the job in professional job they tell me I m the picky one!my experience as designer is you have the right to get the best,unless you choose cheap contractor over professional group.
    Lynda thanked N.O.R,LLC
  • groveraxle
    One more vote for holding the GC's feet to the fire. That is the worst paint job I've ever seen.
    Lynda thanked groveraxle
  • Keitha
    A similar situation happened to my daughter... Painter did a bad job on her front door and even admitted it himself. He promised to fix it and she went ahead and paid him the balance of the money she owed. Needless to say, he never came back and we had to repainted ourselves. So, I'm hoping that you have withheld money until the project is totally complete!
    Lynda thanked Keitha
  • PRO
    I always tell my friend and family you should pay step by step and I never ask for half of the contract on the first day and who works with me know I never pay them more than 1/3 contract the first day and by middle of the job I pay them another portion of the contract.the best way to hold on to big portion of your contract.
    Lynda thanked N.O.R,LLC
  • 7768
    If the BM paint was runny it is because they thinned it. I have used it in 3 houses and never seen this. I have however seen awful painters and gc who want to pass the buck unfortunately.
    Lynda thanked 7768
  • PRO
    Wyland Interior Design Center
    This No Doubt Is A Bad Job! I hope you still owe the contractor money, like N.O.R, LLC. I have always told my clients the same thing, hold back at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the remaining balance until the job is completed to your satisfaction. That way if the contractor/ tradesman have items to repair and they refuse to fix them or they don't fix them properly you have enough money left over to hire someone that can.

    I would give the contractor an opportunity to fix it, if he doesn't follow through then I would proceed with someone else.
    Lynda thanked Wyland Interior Design Center
  • jeezlouise7
    That is a terrible painting job! You are NOT being picky. Benjamin Moore paint is the best I've ever used. I agree with another that the painters thinned it to make it run like that! Do not give in!!! Make them fix it!!
    Lynda thanked jeezlouise7
  • Joseph Hartley
    Both the contractor and painter should know that anything with a sheen is going to show EVERY imperfection. I would say it needs to be sanded or stripped down nail hole filled with more filler and repainted. Don't accept their excuses because you'll never be happy. You sound like me about details.
    Lynda thanked Joseph Hartley
  • Geneviève
    It looks like they had a sale on nails ,they sure used enough of them for a door frame. It sure looks like a mess ,a good sanding down would have prevented this mess . I'm not a professional and I don't even make this sort of mess when painting. I think that they didn't mix the paint properly this is why it was watery as they claim that it was. perhaps these people don't know what they are doing or the heat got to them. Get the contractor to hire a better crew to finish your painting or contact your local College they perhaps have students who are better then them. talk about a sloppy job ...that is it .
    Lynda thanked Geneviève
  • champcamp
    In the house we recently bought, I painted the golden oak trim, six panel doors, and bifold closet doors in my house's bedroom wing a nice pure white color. It took a long time to go over the golden oak, but unless the painter was drunk I don't see how he possibly could have left that many drips. That's what takes so long painting trim because you have to go back over it and check it as you go. Of course, I did have a couple of minor drips - they are inevitable when a toddler is "helping" you, and I found them to be a major pain to sand down and then have to redo. As others said, you would need to carefully supervise the redo because based on the number of errors (your blue tape picture made me shudder!), fixing this will be 10 times more work than doing it the first time
    Lynda thanked champcamp
  • beachrunner5
    I don't think you should be seeing clumped and drippy paint. The nail holes... that's something you may have to turn a blind eye too. But you really shouldn't be seeing too much on brush strokes, etc.... i'm picky about that stuff too!
    Lynda thanked beachrunner5
  • inabunker
    OMG, bad job and can't believe the door molding pic with the upper trim drips - eeks. I sincerely hope you have withheld any final payments to the contractor. Whether he paid the painter or not, it's his responsibility to hire professionals that satisfy his clients, i.e. you! I'd get him to get another painter to fix ALL of the problems until you are satisfied. You don't need to fix it yourself. I am in the process of finalizing our construction project and I keep tabs on everything. I am also in the process of the painter completing the exterior paint on our house and am watching how he preps (which is about 60 percent of painting). If the painter screws up, my contractor is not getting the money until it is done right, period. It's best to catch it and fix it now then wait. Good luck.
    Lynda thanked inabunker
  • PRO
    That's sloppy work and a poor craftsman blames his tools (or materials in this case).

    I suggest using MH Ready Patch which is an oil based patching compound to fill the nail holes. You should be able to completely hide most nail holes and see only occasional minor indents on the remainder. Also, any existing dings and dents should be filled and smoothed out. The occasional flaw in a paint job is to be expected. Even good painters occasionally miss a nail hole or have a small run or sag. I'm thinking like one or two marks on an entire wall of baseboard or door trim, not one or two every foot.

    The clumps of paint you are referring to may be sloppy caulking underneath the paint.

    I believe that it is not the customer's responsibility to mark all the problems with a paint job when there are so many obvious issues. Depending on the size of the project, 20, 30, maybe 40 marks max (in a big room!). For something like the door you have shown, I would mark a couple spots as an example and tell the contractor that it is his job to inspect the work done by his subs.
    Lynda thanked Linda
  • PRO
    Rockin' Fine Finish
    All I can what a shame as a painting contractor myself . Contractors like this guy make home owners not want to hire a qualified professional painter with there future painting jobs. I would make the contractor take the full brunt of the cost by hiring a new painting contractor to do it correctly . Like mentioned above it can be fixed it will take time but it can be done . If they used Benjamin Moore advance that paint does have a learning curve you can not slap it on it has to be applied in thin coats . Good luck keep us posted .
    Lynda thanked Rockin' Fine Finish
  • PRO
    Wyland Interior Design Center
    Well said, Rockin Fine Finish! So true! It is such a shame that unqualified painters like him do reflect badly on the good painters making people hesitate to hire anyone. It is also true in my line of work.
    Lynda thanked Wyland Interior Design Center
  • nwduck
    It is your GC's contractual responsibility to correct this with his subcontractor. Speak only to the GC. I would get a big roll of that blue tape and mark every single spot in the house I found unacceptable, not just the trim paint. Take photos after you mark it. It is up to the GC to manage this correctly, as that is what his % of the cost of construction is for. Do not fix this yourself. Do not hire a different painter. In general, if you just forge ahead with either one, this can let the person contractually responsible off the hook. (As you did not give them the opportunity to correct, thus you could have to pay them anyway.) Then you've got a big legal dispute on your hands. It is up to the GC to decide if he wants the joker who did this to come back, or hire someone else. He can, and should, dock the painting subcontractor accordingly. Keep on the GC until you get what you want, and have paid for.
    Lynda thanked nwduck
  • PRO
    ReMax - Lisa
    I agree with all of the commenters and absolutely can't believe he is questioning the quality of the work. Keep lots of pictures and hopefully emails, in case you end up with a legal battle. The blue tape picture made me laugh out loud! I'm no painter but could have done a better job after a bottle of wine!
    Lynda thanked ReMax - Lisa
  • PRO
    lickity split
    They are waisting your time. I wouldn't even walk the job that's the contractors job why he is taking a cut off the painter then you do finial which should only be a few items. I hate when people play the "I'm done" game.
    Lynda thanked lickity split
  • inkwitch
    These kinds of issues can also be caused with a painter with bad eyesight. He literally cannot see what he's doing. But you're right, and the GC is going to have to step up. This is fixable, but it will take time. Don't let the GC get away with it. I hope you haven't paid him yet!
    Lynda thanked inkwitch
  • glitzy
    This is inexcusable! I painted my bedroom when I was 10 years old and did a better job than this. I painted three rooms in my daughter's home last month even though I'm a 65 year old lady with arthritis, I still did a better job than this bozo! You aren't being picky...you have a right to demand a job done to your satisfaction.
    Lynda thanked glitzy
  • Lynda
    Thank you everyone. It is nice to have some affirmation that I am not being picky. In defense of my contractor (who was just hired to manage the finishing work), he has been great on all other areas. And... I was the one that asked if he thought I was being picky - and he answered "a bit."
    The same painter also did my exterior, and it looks really good. It had just a few minor flaws that they happily fixed. However, he sprayed the exterior - and on the interior trim, he used a brush. I think he really needs to stick to only spray jobs!
    Rockin - They are using BM Advance, so maybe that was part of the problem? When they initially quoted me the price, they said they like to use Sherwin Williams. I had already bought some BM paint because we had originally planned to do the trim ourselves. So, they used the BM instead. However, if they were having issues with it, I would have definitely been fine with them tossing the BM and going with whatever they were comfortable with using.
    And, yes, I do still owe the contractor some $$. I have intentionally held some payment back. Only problem is, it wouldn't be enough to hire a new painter to fix everything and start all over. I will talk with the contractor today and hope for the best.
  • Cindy Cordero
    Hope for the best outcome for you. I agree with everyone else, even I who have a 1% of Knowledge of DIY Painting could have done a better job. Is that you even pointed it OUT to the painter when he was just starting! He could have saved himself a lot of work and fixed it from the get go.
    Lynda thanked Cindy Cordero
  • ajo3141
    Professional is a term used loosely and self given most of the time. This looks terrible and it will always upset you. Stand strong. No fixes. Redo or new trim. Good luck.
  • Lynda
    I talked with interior contractor 2 weeks ago, he said he would hire a different painter to fix the issues. Yesterday, I asked him when they might be able to start since we were hoping to get a CO in the next few weeks. He then tells me he doesn't think he'll ever be able to get it right. He stated that since I wanted Benjamin Moore paint, this is why we had issues (when all along I told him to use what he was comfortable with - and I never asked him to use Advance!)
    He says he wants to "just be done with the job today - and we can call it even"! - He tells me that if he hires someone to try and fix it, he will be losing money on this job!
    Of note is that his worker is also in the middle of tiling my walk-in showers - literally HALF done. I had already paid him for all the trim work and painting, but he says since I owe him for 2 weeks of labor on the showers, we should be good with the money.
    Seriously? I literally drove away in tears hoping that he was just frustrated and didn't mean it. I drove back with my husband an hour later and we see his truck leaving with all his crews' equipment - he was done!

    Left us with a shower with a half dried mortar bed, another shower ready for tiling, unfinished stairs, repairs needed to the drywall (that his crew installed), no grout in utility, mud, dog shower, and 2 baths, a pocket door that doesn't close all the way.... and of course, 4,500 SF of crown, base, door and window trim that needs to be repaired and redone. (I had already paid for all the above, over $28,000 - all I owed him was 2 weeks of labor on the showers).
    Now I am left with trying to find someone that can finish the showers and the rest, just weeks away from finishing the house.
    I am beyond SAD right now.
  • qam999
    You have a contract with him and no, he doesn't get to walk away just because his painting sub is an incompetent slob. Blaming those huge, completely unacceptable drips on "Benjamin Moore" paint is simply ridiculous. I know painters have their preferences for brands, but I have talked to many painters about this. Any competent painter should be able to make any brand of paint work. And if they feel they can't be successful with materials specified by the customer, for whatever crazy-@$$ reason, they should let the customer know that up front. My last painter said he didn't really care for the brand I chose (I asked him), but he still did the job very competently and the ceiling, walls, and lots of trim and furniture all looked perfect.

    To continue, if he walks away, you should try to get him back, but if unsuccessful, you complete the work yourself, save all the receipts, and sue the pants off your GC. Any chance you are in California? Laws protecting the consumer from defaulting contractors are stringent.
    Lynda thanked qam999
  • Marilyn Wilkie
    This is a horror story for sure and I feel so bad for you. That painter was NOT a professional and should be ashamed of what he did and did not fix. The contractor is also not a professional. Yes, I would do everything in my power to let others know what kind of work they do. I would go to Angie's list and anywhere else where you can leave a review on both him and the painter. If there is any legal recourse that would not cost an arm and a leg I would do that too. Now you are in the position of finding someone to correct all of the mistakes and finish the work. This is so wrong!
    Lynda thanked Marilyn Wilkie
  • PRO
    A Crew of Two
    Wow....you poor thing, it sounds like a lawyer is in order for sure, but that does not get you in your home. First take tons of pics and make sure you have the date stamp on them so you have recourse. You do not want this man back in your house, so if it is feasible, have a lawyer look into your options, then get a new contractor for the tile so you can move forward. You can fix the trim yourself if you are patient. You will have to sand, a lot, to get the finish smooth and even before you repaint. You paint job is only as good as the base it is applied to. Then fill holes, re-prime the trim and paint. I always lightly sand between each coat to get a super smooth finish. Sponge sanding blocks in a 220 grit are awesome. Get good brushes so the job is easier. There are tons of videos on the internet to guide you. If you have the means hire a new painter and go after the GC thief for the cost. Good luck! http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=how+to+fix+a+bad+paint+job+on+trim&mid=18801C375FDC382B0BFA18801C375FDC382B0BFA&view=detail&FORM=VIRE5
    Lynda thanked A Crew of Two
  • certdesign
    Look at your contract and you probably have legal recourse. Either hire a lawyer to contact the GC or try calling yourself regarding the terms of the contract. If the GC says he won't finish, then I agree with Marilyn Wilkie and review them on Angie's list. I would review them on every type of social media venue possible, but be careful not to slander, just the facts.
    Lynda thanked certdesign
  • PRO
    wow!I hear the same story once in while about contractor and every time I m surprise,I would be sad it might cost you more since its in middle of the job,I always offer my client home improvement job as well as renovation since I know its easier for me to deal with contract and other items and home owner some times cheaper estimate make them happy of course not for every case some case your estimate is fair and the contractor not give them what it was include contract,I always tell my client make sure to go every detail on your contract and ask your contractor make these changes in contract and referral would be another way,
    I have a painter that once in while some one call me and ask about his job and he is really good but I mention how they have to make deal with him.
    Good luck !please dont forget to claim it and if they have establish business write review for them
    Lynda thanked N.O.R,LLC
  • nwduck
    Your state most likely has a process to deal with your situation. Check the state website, contractor's licensing section on filing a complaint. Their arbitration/mediation process could help solve this financially without you having to use an attorney. In our state, the complaints of high dollar value and with time issues such as yours get priority processing.
    Lynda thanked nwduck
  • Sue Davis
    No you were not too picky Lynda. That was a horrible, horrible paint job and it will drive you nuts every time you look at it. Completely unacceptable and you shouldn't have to fix or pay another painter for this. It is not your fault the GM is losing money on the job. It is his! He employs substandard subs and then doesn't take responsibility. Seriously I wouldn't let either of them in the house again. Please keep us updated as I think we can all learn from your experience.
    Lynda thanked Sue Davis
  • rautiok
    Make sure you turn this person into the BBB! Please, folks, we need to speak up when we pay a fair wage and receive an inferior product.
    Lynda thanked rautiok
  • PRO
    Warline Painting Ltd.

    Do you mind sharing what the budget was for the interior painting of the house?

  • PRO
    Enderby Contractors LLC

    Runs do happen, but the painter should know to continuously check back on his work so he can smooth it out. That said, runs are unacceptable. It is important to put your trim paint on in several thin coats. Furthermore, the best way to get runs off is to scrape them first. You will get most of it off that way. Then you sand it down smooth again. As far as the nail holes showing, everybody is different. If it was bare wood when a painter begins, then yes, he should use some wood filler and make it smooth. And that should be a part of the bid. Additionally, if it has already been painted over, then it could be assumed that you were ok with it, especially if it wasn't brought up.

  • cierrasmomi9
    I'm in the same aituatuon you are! Our trim wasn't even painted semi gloss and we have very visible cracks and holes in trey cielings and walls. contractor told us to go theu n put sticky notes to be fixed then told me at our expense! what the ----! how can they get away with this...
  • PRO
    Rockin' Fine Finish
    is your house new construction
  • PRO
    Rockin' Fine Finish

    if the house wasn't a custom built home and its in a community of homes. unfortunately that's the standard not my standard but that's where builders cut corners and money.

  • Rita Schiferl

    Take a look at these eyesores!!

    That's "quality" according to the builder!!

  • Bertha Barleycorn

    I just had this happen with my kitchen cabinets after firing the first lady on the job for not meeting deadlines, putting our job off and taking too long. She texted and said, "I am having issues with bubbling and am going to roll your cabinet doors." I am handy and paint myself, but hired someone to do this job for me. I took her off the job and hired my neighbor's perfectionist son who does the "best" work. It has been a nightmare, I am out $3200 and my cabinets are botched like the stuff you posted here. I am over the half assed work people do in construction. People are lazy, they do quick work and a lot of them just don't understand paint and physics of products.

  • StephE

    Perfectionist or not, neighbor kid obviously didn't have the experience to take on the project. I wouldn't blame him, especially since you seem to know the product well but didn't teach him, prior to hiring him. I hate to say it but if you randos to do a tedious and somewhat skilled job, then you get what you get. I would suggest doing the work yourself if you know the product and have the skill to apply it like you say. I'm guessing you are all taking about Advance, which is one of the best products I've ever used.

  • PRO

    I agree with the comment about people not understanding paint and physics. I would add that chemistry is an unknown subject to a surprising number of painters and wood finishers.

    One of my major gripes about the average guy in the industry is the lack of continuing education and failure to keep up with new products, tools and techniques. Don't tell me that this is the way you've been doing something for years when it's clearly in the wrong, according the manufacturer or supplier of the product.

    Recently I had a guy use that line on me and I asked him how many times he had been back to check how his work had weathered the test of time. He couldn't think of a single suitable example. I knew of one project that had some questionable site conditions which were ignored at the time and the job showed issues within a few years.

  • Bertha Barleycorn

    Steph, I have mulled over in hindsight what I would have done differently in this loss. I would have either spent money refacing the cabinets with a better quality door and had the doors lacquer painted for durability through the years, or had them sand the entire kitchen and done lacquer paint from the beginning. My "knowledge" about the paint didn't come before this project started but during the process. Life lessons. I would never hire anyone I know personally again, because you walk on eggshells and don't have the recourse you do with folks you have only a professional relationship with.

  • Robbi O'quinn
    I too had a similar experience. My painter only painted over the nail holes and corners where the baseboards meet without using and filler. He told me it is the responsibility of the floor and trim installer. When confronted he said he would do me a favor and redo and fill. However when said and done these ‘holes’ are now ‘mounds’ of off-colored fill are not even sanded!!! The corner joints aren’t filled once again! Once confronted he again tells me it was a favor! Since he’s been back twice now I do not want him back. My question is how much do I deduct from the bill for this?
  • Robbi O'quinn
    More photos... do I have to strip the whole baseboard to fix?
  • acm

    Start your own thread rather than pinning a new issue onto a four-year-old thread. People are more likely to answer, and the responses will get sent to you.

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