Interior Painting in Pittsburgh – - DIY or Hire a Pro?

Okay…. so really this applies anywhere, but if you’re in the Pittsburgh or the Western PA area, ImageWorks Painting would sure like to help.  Sometimes it makes sense to hire us…… sometimes it makes sense to do it yourself.  Here is some information to help you decide what is best for you.

Of course, as with most DIY (potential) projects, the main factors to be considered in making a decision as to who should complete the work are money savings (if any), available time, and the varience in the quality of the job (if any).  Here we will discuss each of these factors, along with some good how to advice if you do choose to take on the project yourself.

Early in the decision making process, we often consider price to be the major issue in determining if we are going to hire a contractor to complete a job for us.  Addtionally, if we do choose to contract our project out, price is again one of the determining factors in deciding to whom we award the job.  This factor, though important, normally ranks lower as information on the other factors is gathered.  Even more so, price drops in it’s level of importance when choosing between potential contractors.  If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a contractor — we hear people’s great stories ALL the time — you quickly come to learn the value of doing your homework before allowing someone in your house.  Cheaper is only better until you regret it!

Most poeple in today’s society struggle to find the time to fulfill family obligations, share valuable quality time with family, maintain friendships and relationships, keep up with our excessive work loads, and still find the time to enjoy the hobbies and recreational activities we (would like to) have.  The time portion of our decision making process, and the importance placed upon it, varies from person to person.  Knowing that for most good, experienced DIY painters, interior rooms should take from 5 or 6 hours to a couple of days to complete.  The varience in time depends on the ability to paint quickly while maintaining a high quality standard, the amount of trim and other items to paint around in the room, and the array of items to be painted…… is it just the walls, or do doors, door jams and window casings, trim, crown moulding, closets, ceilings, or other items need painted?  Does the room have high ceilings or difficult to access areas?  Is there patching or priming that needs to be done?  Simply put, if you have a couple rooms in your house to paint (or more), what is more valuable — a couple weekends (or more) of your time or the cost of having a reputable, good quality, trustworthy painting company come in and do it for you?

The quality aspect of the job is the final factor to consider before choosing whether or not to do a job yourself, and also in choosing who to allow to do your work if you decide to go that route.  There are a lot of painting jobs that simply must be done by professionals.  However, when we’re talking about standard, everyday interior house painting, most people (if they take their time and follow some simple rules) have the ability to do it themselves.  A few of those simple rules to ensure you are giving yourself the best hope of a great finished product are as follows:

1) ALWAYS use top quality paints. The money savings from using a cheaper or midgrade paint will inevitably cost you more in the end, and will normally make you regret your decision along the way.  Better paints last longer, don’t burnish as easily, touch up better, require less coats (always 2 coat with a color change… no matter what paint you use), apply more smoothly, wash better, and provide a better finished appearance.  Each surface you’re painting (walls, doors, trim, etc.) has a paint specifically engineered for it.  Custom fit the product to the surface.  Don’t trust someone in a bigbox store to lead you correctly…. go to a real paint store — it’s worth it!

2) Use high quality applicators.  $25 for a good cut brush, a few $6 roller covers, and some 3M blue tape or FrogTape instead of cheap masking tape will make an incredible difference in your paint finish.  Use good canvas drop clothes instead of cheap plastic — it’s better for the environment, they will last you for years, and they absorb paint, thus decreasing the likelihood of you getting paint on the bottom of a shoe and tracking it through your house!

3) Remove everything you can remove.  This includes not just furniture and wall decor, but also shelves, switch and outlet covers, light fixtures, etc.

4) Do good patchwork.  Paint doesn’t fill holes!  Caulk your gaps… it makes all the difference.

4) Apply your paint like a pro.  It’s amazing how often on DIY shows (which I love to watch), they apply paint in ways that cannot possibly leave a good finish.  Do your cut-ins first….. Double cut!….When it’s time to move on to rolling out your walls, start in a corner…… keep a wet edge……load your roller — dryrolling takes forever and doesn’t look good or perform correctly…. get an even spread (paint N’s)…… spread horizontally to achieve even mil thickness…. finally, finish in all downstrokes.  These important steps will help you avoid roller marks and achieve a professional looking, long last finish.

If you do choose to use a painting company.  Do your homework.  Check references, but know that everyone can come up with a couple people to say nice things.  Get a physical copy of a contractors liability insurance and make sure it’s current.  Ask for workers compensation insurance, and know that workers comp insurance is VERY different from liability insurance.  Most painters carry liablility insurance (it’s cheap), sadly few carry workers comp (it’s very expensive).  The importance to you, the customer, is the level of protection the two provide.  Liability protects your carpet if the painter tracks paint across your house – it does nothing if he falls off a ladder, or hurts his back, or slips on your stairs.  As wrong as it may seem, if a worker in your home gets hurt for any reason, you can be held liable in a lawsuit IF he does not carry workers compensation insurance.  The law holds the homeowner responsible to check for this important safety measure.  Bad things happen every day.  Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of someone else’s negligence!  A reputable contractor can provide you with a workers comp insurance certificate….. if they can’t, get them out of your house!  Check the Better Business Bureau and Angies List.  Bad ratings and non-ratings are a sure thing to avoid!  Read all the way to the bottom.  If a company has a bad reputation and changes it’s name, BBB will usually catch it and list it at the end of the page.   Mostly, make sure you feel comfortable with the representatives of the company that you meet — they’re normally representative of the rest of the company.  See that the company’s culture is one you’re comfortable with.  Remember, you’re choosing who to trust in your home.  Make sure you’re comfortable with the company you’re choosing.

We hope this helps!  If you’re about to take on a project yourself, good luck — you’ll be fine!  If you do choose to hire a pro, we certainly hope you consider ImageWorks Painting.  We’ve worked hard to build our exemplarary reputation, and will do everything possible make sure you are enthused about your decision when we leave your home.

Thanks for reading!


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ImageWorks Painting wins coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award





ImageWorks Painting, Inc. Earns Coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects businesses’ consistently high level of customer service


ImageWorks Painting, Inc. has been awarded the prestigious 2011 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the businesses rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service and health providers.


ImageWorks Painting is a locally owned and operated business that specializes in both residential and commercial work.  “We base the success of our business on customer referrals, and always try exceed our customer’s expectations.” explained co-owner Perry Nesselroad.  “One of our goals beginning the year was to earn this coveted award.  We are honored to have been reviewed so highly by our customers, and to have been chosen by Angie’s  List for this award.”


“Only a fraction of the businesses rated on Angie’s List can claim the sterling service record of being a Super Service Award winner because we set a high bar,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “The fact that ImageWorks Painting can claim Super Service Award status speaks volumes about its dedication to consumers.


Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their clients and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.


Ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2011 Super Service Award logo next to business names in search results on



Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 2 million consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.


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What to do with rusted metal handrail?

If you look around, you’ll see it everywhere.  Steel handrail and spindles, wrought iron rail and spindles, tubular handrail mounted to block walls along stairways, and various other forms of metal safety railing are everywhere a fall could take place.  If you pay attention, you’ll see that a majority of this steel is mounted in concrete, and the metal around the intrusion points is rusting.  This happens for a few reasons.  First, most often the posts are grouted incorrectly, if at all.  Epoxy grouts should be used to secure the posts in place and keep water from wicking to the steel.  Very frequently, when contractors mount these railings, they use mortar or cementious materials to do this grouting instead of epoxy.  This corner is cut so frequently due to the high cost of epoxies in comparison to cement, along with the comparative ease of use.  The result of this action is inevitably rust.  As the posts move in their mounting holes, the abrasive cementious material scratches the protective coating on the steel, allowing the moisture that wicks through concrete to react with the the exposed ferrous metal and rust is created.  In northern climates, this effect is magnified by the fact that salt is commonly thown on walkways to treat snow and ice, greatly expediting the formation of rust.  Once this process begins, it is a short matter of time before the thin metal used in most manufactured handrail rusts through, creating the need for this expensive handrail to be replaced.

So, what to do once you realize your handrails are rusting?  If caught early enough, most handrail can be saved.  If there are holes in the metal, new steel can be welded in to repair the bad areas.  Hopefully, if caught in time, this expensive step may be skipped.  To repaint rusted steel, proper surface preparation is every bit as important as choosing the correct coating system.  I’ve read tricks written by others, ranging from wiping with vinegar to chemical treating the rust to wire brushing the heaviest corrosion away and then painting over.  All of these will result in the quick return of the same rust you’re fighting to get rid of.  To fully remove rust, along with loosely adhering paint caused by the rust, the best, most thorough method is to sandblast the rusted surface.  Immediately following the sandblast, the bare steel should be primed with a high volume solids rust inhibitive alkyd metal primer.  In humid climates, flash rust begins almost immediately on bare steel, so it it essential to not waste any time.  Following the priming step, you can coat steel with either a rust inhibitive alkyd topcoat, or you can upgrade to an epoxy/urethane system – which despite being substantially more work and significantly more expensive, certainly pays for itself in time by increasing the durabilty and longevity of the coatings.

Finally, after proper surface prep and application of a high quality rust inhibitive protective coating system, we return to the grout step.  If there is a gap left around the base of the posts, properly grouting the posts with an epoxy grout material will go a long way towards keeping this process from needing repeating any sooner than absolutely necessary.  If cement has already been used to grout the posts, a good concrete sealer will help to keep water from penetrating the surface and hastening the process of corrosion.

If you have rusted handrails, lightposts, I-Beams, or for that matter any rusted ferrous metal surfaces that you would like to have addressed, the experts at ImageWorks Painting would love to discuss your project with you.  ImageWorks can handle all aspects of the job from sandblasting, welding, and specialized coatings to concrete repairs around the substrate if necessary.


The result of ignoring rust


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Why do many painters use “good” not “great” paints?

We at ImageWorks Painting, Inc. are asked by customers a few questions, time and time again.  Questions like, “What kind of paint do you use?”, “Why do you use this and the other guy was going to use Acme Whateverbrand paint?” or “Can’t I save money by using Super BigBox store paint?”  There are a lot of reasons painters choose to use “okay” quality paint, and there is one good reason why we don’t.

As a former Professional Coatings Sales Representative for the largest paint manufacturer in the US, one daily aspect of my job was to discuss with painters why they chose to purchase the paint they used, and provide them compelling reason to switch to a product I was selling instead.  Early in my career, I always believed that I could get any painter to buy from me if I could just get the opportunity to test my product head-to-head against the inferior product he was currently using.  We would spend hours applying paint to test hide, coverage, durability, adhesion, mil thickness, viscosity, dry time, washability….. any of the many factors that separate one paint from another.  As time went on, I came to the harsh realization that winning these paint-outs did not mean that I won the customer.  When a painter chose to use a paint on his customer’s homes that was just clearly proven to be inferior, it invariably came down to one of two reasons.  One, better paint was more expensive.  Easy enough….and normally true.  Two, better paint lasted longer.  Yes….lasted longer as a negative.  “If this paint looks good for 15 years instead of 7 years, I’ll be retired by the time the customer needs it painted again” was a sadly common response.  A painter may say that paint is paint, and coming from a “professional”, they may sound so confident in saying it that you almost believe it.  You may even believe the often true statement that in a more expensive product you’re just paying for the name.

There are some basic truths about paint that you, as a customer about to make a considerable investment in your home, are truly best served to understand before choosing which product should go in your home. First is that the choice of what product you have put on (or in) your home is almost as important as choosing what painter will be putting it on.  Paint is not just aesthetic, it is protective of the surface below it.  Also, if the surface prep is done correctly and the paint is applied properly, the remaining controllable factor that determines the lifespan of your paint job is the quality of the paint itself.  To give a very basic, but real, example:

You spend 5,000 to have the exterior of your home painted.  All other factors being equal (prep, application method, film thickness, weather), if you use a “good” paint and don’t need to repaint your house for 10 years, your beautiful, protective paint job costs you $500 per year until you spend your next $5000 10 years from now.  If you spend the small amount of extra money on the “great” paint and that same paint job lasts you 15 years, your cost per year of keeping an attractive, protective coating on your home is now only $300 per year and you don’t have to mess with it again for an additional 5 years.

So…. What kind of paint do the quality conscious professionals at ImageWorks Painting use?  We are not glued to a single label.  As former coatings representatives, we understand the importance of choosing a product based on the type of substrate, the exposure to elements, existing coatings systems already in place, and the myriad of additional factors that combine to determine which product will work best on each project we complete.  The manufacturer of the paint, the grandeur of the advertising, and the name of the store it’s coming from is not as important as resin type, quality of ingredients and additives, and characteristics of the paint itself.

In the end, on each and every job we do, we use the very best product for our customer.  If the result of this is that we don’t get to repaint your house for another 20 years…..GREAT!  We’ll happily accept the resulting confident referrals to your friends and family instead!

Thanks for reading!!

Steve & Perry, ImageWorks Painting, Inc.

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Welcome to ImageWorks Painting’s new Blog!

Thanks for visiting.  In the upcoming weeks, months, and years we will be posting info on our favorite projects, offering how-to advice for DIY’ers, giving updates on IWP charity events, and detailing new products in the paint world that may be helpful to homeowners and professional painters alike.  We hope you follow along and benefit from our Blog.  If there are any subjects you would be particularly interested in, feel free to make recommendations.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

The ImageWorks Painting, Inc. Owners and Staff

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