Years ago, when I asked my brother, who was a professional house painter , if I could come work for him he said, “Sure. You can be my secretary.” Well that is not what I had in mind, I wanted to paint houses with him. That was that, or so I thought. Who knew years later an opportunity would present itself to me to become a painter.
I got accepted into a program called Women in Trades, which was an exploration of trying out different trades, painting, woodworking, carpentry, electrical, drywalling and even brick laying. In all honesty for most people, it was too short to really decide if there was anything that interesting enough to apprentice in a trade. For me, I knew I wanted to pursue painting and / or drywalling.
During the program I worked with a husband and wife team who showed me a few of the basics in painting and they discovered that I was naturally talented in the area of “cutting in.” I was led to believe that there could possibly be a job for me at the end of the training. Once the training expired I was not kept on because now they would have to actually start paying me. Yes they took advantage of free labour. There was nothing I could do about it.
When I was younger I never would have attempted to go it alone, starting something new. I had no confidence what so ever in myself, or my abilities. Since then I had met a man who helped me realize that I was just as good as everyone else, I could do whatever I wanted to. He instilled such confidence in me. I never knew I could do all the things I would eventually set out to do.
I think there are a lot of people, men and women, who don’t feel confident enough to try new things. For women it is probably a bit harder because the opportunities to try traditional men’s employment are fewer. If not for my (now) husband, I don’t think I would have tried going out on my own as a house painter. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t just up and do business cards, buy equipment and go telling people I was a professional painter. It took a lot of hard work to get to where I wanted to go.
Once my training was done with the married couple, I told my husband I had really enjoyed it and had always wanted to go painting with my brother. I told him that I would like to somehow get into painting houses for a living, although I didn’t know how I would go about it. Again, an opportunity would present itself.
Word of mouth is the best advertising they say and that would prove true for me. I had the basics down on painting. I had learned about prepping, I was good with the brush and the roller. I had no idea about all the different kinds of paints, when and where to use what. I began doing a lot of reading, researching and watching a lot of videos to learn the technical aspect of it. By the time I was ready to take on a job, word of mouth had reached a friend of the family that I wanted to paint. They had a paint job that I could do. They knew I was inexperienced. I had no idea how to price a job, so they bought the materials and I did the work. I’m sure it took me a lot longer to do the job than it would have had a professional painter done the job, however, they were pleased and it did not cost the customer a lot of money. They spread the word. More jobs came in.
I went on to paint small rooms and do minor repairs for about a year and I was confident enough to start advertising and charge by the square foot. This allowed me to make the same money as a professional painter once I got up to their speed. It didn’t actually take that long. Perhaps I was a natural. I loved it. I got one contract to repaint apartment units when they were vacated, but I found that very boring. They usually consisted of filling a bunch of nail holes, prep and painting one coat to freshen up the place. I did that for about a year, I became fast enough that I could be in and out of a one bedroom apartment in one day, not including doors and trim and definitely not including the ceiling. In-between some of those jobs I got jobs to do in homes that were actually changing colors of paint, painting more than one color and they proved to be so much more interesting.
Eventually, I was introduced to a Contractor who built homes. My husband did the electrical work on his construction sites for new homes and mentioned that the contractor had lost his painter. The guy got another job. We chatted and he agreed to give me a shot. One problem arose though. I had never used a paint sprayer and he wanted his doors sprayed. Ugh, of course I wouldn’t say I couldn’t do it so I went out and spent about $1000. on a Graco Sprayer. I never did get to enjoying using a sprayer. I went on to paint a couple of houses for him and a few more for another Contractor.
As luck would have it, I got a call from a potential customer who lived in a subdivision that was about 5 – 7 years old. I got the job and from that job I got 10 more houses to do. If one does something, they all want it. From that point there was just no turning back. For 10 years I carried on as a professional house painter and also dabbled in the drywall mudding end of it too, which I seemed to also be a natural at. I would have liked to have gotten in to more of the drywall taping but the equipment was too much for me to handle. I bought myself the $300 Cadillac of stilts like the drywallers use. I am only 5’2″ so I had to have them fully extended to three feet in order to reach the ceiling. I could not get use to it, so I traded my stilts for a small scaffolding unit.
Once I got the scaffolding unit I decided I would get into doing exterior painting as well. That would be my downfall. One job had me climbing 4 1/2 sections of scaffolding (not my little scaffolding, the big commercial ones. Climbing up and down those outside to do window trim and painting stucco, etc. wore my hips and knees out. I still continued to paint for a few more years but I did finally have to give it up. I haven’t painted professionally now for about 12 – 15 years. I can manage an hour or two at a time, which is enough to splice together a few do-it-yourself videos.
When I watch people paint, either just being around someone I know who is painting, or watching on you tube, I notice a lot of people use a broom handle for an extension pole, cheap straight brushes, cheap roller cages and the hardest to watch is someone using masking tape to protect the trim and baseboards when they are painting the walls. That is why I decided to do some painting tutorial youtube videos. The job can be so much easier if you spend even an extra $50 on the right tools unless you are just doing one room or something. Just in the last week I have uploaded a wall prep video for minor drywall repairs and “How to paint without using masking tape” video. I am adding the video here so you can check it out if you are so inclined. There will be more how to videos coming when we replace our windows and possibly build an insulated and fully drywalled shed. I may be able to talk my husband in to being recorded while he does electrical on that shed. He is a certified Journeyman Electrician.
I hope you find this video useful, share it if you know someone who is going to be painting soon. It is easier than you think. You can skip through the first basic stuff if you already know how to sand walls etc.
Don’t forget to Love yourself for being you