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Question DetailsAsked on 10/7/2011

How can we get a painter to come back and fix a horrible $10,000 exterior paint job or, if he can't fix it, refund the total cost to us?

Convinced over 4 yrs ago that this contractor, though far more expensive than other bids, could "float" a material over old paint-blister scars so the new paint job would be smooth, we agreed to his $10,000-plus charge. However, the following summer we found huge paint blisters, FAR more numerous than from the previous bad paint job! He sent out his painter, who said this technique had worked very well in California (we're in Washington) and was confident that it could be remedied. They tried pressure-washing (which tore parts of the wood on the side of the house) & applied primer over the spots. They didn't come back that season. The next summer, they repainted it with color when we complained, vowing that they were still trying to find out how to make our paint stick. The local Sherwin Williams, from whom we got his card on a counter, was no help. It's been another year now, and we would be very happy to just get our money back. We took some photos. Any suggestions?

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3 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Without seeing the project I'm not sure exactly what is happening. HOWEVER, I've never heard of someone "floating" over paint blisters - just logically that can't work. If air or moisture are trapped (because that's what causes blisters) painting over them won't fix the initial problem.

I have a couple suggestions - My first would have been to contact the paint manufacturer - whether it's sherwin williams, benjamin moore, behr, etc. to see if they would send a rep out to give their recommendation. We have done this before starting a project to get the best possible recommendation for work to be done and have found them to be very helpful in diagnosing what is currently going on and the best way to fix it.

If that doesn't work, I would call either the better business bureau or maybe the local paper if your contractor isn't willing to work through the problem with you. Also, If your contractor warrantied the work I might re-read that to see what they cover if anything.

My guess is that there will have to be some sort of dispute resolution process.

Hope this helps!

Answered 8 years ago by jondecpainting


Thank you, Jondec. Your answer is very helpful, but it sounds like I puzzled you with a poor explanation of the beginning condition of our exterior walls. What we were trying to "float" over, were indentations left in the paint when the earlier blisters had been chipped off, and not scraped or sanded prior to the last paint job. This resulted in a finish revealing all the exterior edges left by the broken blisters and the deeper center areas where the paint from the blisters had been removed. The contractor used the word "float" but perhaps the word "fill" would be more illustrative. Thank you for your help.

Answered 8 years ago by Pat-n-Bob


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Answered 8 years ago by Cas


Sounds like he is trying, just not competent - sounds like pretty much everything he did was wrong, from not rfeathering out the old paint, possibly not stripping it if it has significant blisters, maybe not drying the wood out, leaving it primed a year without finish coat, etc. Unfortunately, you paid top dollar for a bottom dollar job. After 4 years your chance of recovery is minimal - heck, he could say it is time for a repaint anyway by now, though if he has a bonding company MAYBE you can recover IF you have proof of his saying he is still trying to make it right and his interim efforts. Still, sorry to have to say it, but 4 years was WAYYY too long to wait to get a resolution to any matter like this, and REALLY degrades your chance of any recovery, especially in court. You have been WAYYY too forgiving of him.

I seriously doubt you want him to do anything more - do you really think that after several failed tries he will be able to do the job right, and if doing it for no additional payment, what are the chances they will not rush it and try to do it on the cheap ?

The only way to fix this is going to be to heavily sand or to strip the siding, then dry it completely out (water in the wood is likely the cause of the original problem) and then go from scratch clean base material, or to completely reside - probably close to a tossup pricewise, and if moisture coming through from inside the house or getting down behind the siding is possibly the cause, residing with new housewrap would be a wiser move than trying to strip and repaint, which is VERY labor intensive. If the problem was due to moisture UNDER the siding coming through from behind the paint, this will just happen again, so it is quite possible that putting on new pre-painted siding and then finish coating that is the best option - you would have to have an expert remove a bit of siding to evaluate that issue.

There is no way Sherwin Williams can be expected to make good on this, though they may surprise you just as a public relations matter. Also, note that most places selling Sherwin Williams paints are not owned by the company - they do have 2300 stores, but thousands more places sell their brand name products but are just distributor. However, from the sounds of it he ignored good painting practice, so they cannot be expected to cover for his mistakes.

I would write a certified mail return receipt letter to him, itemizing the dates and steps taken to date and that the problem has gotten worse and he has failed to be able to remedy it, and demanding your money back from him. I would not push for interest - not much of a rate these days anyway, and you don't want to tick him off if there is any chance of getting your $10,000 back. If you decide to sue (which may be barred or soon to be barred by statute of limitations - 3 years in Washington State for property damage and for product liability), which would undoubtedly run from the initial painting date, may be able to add it on there.

If that does not work, then maybe Angie's List dispute resolution process, because that will put him on notice that a bad Angie's List review is probably next in line if he does not pay up. However, he is a lot more likely to want to try to remedy it himself than pay out $10,000, so that is a long shot too.

I do wonder what his California experience was - you might check his name on the California Contractor's licensing board website to see if he is licensed, or has had his license revoked there ? If so, that could strengthen your case against him, but unless your state has a pretty high limit for smalll claims court, $10,000 is about at the breakpoint where it does not pay to sue, especially as you have no way of knowing if you will eve be able to get the money out of him even if you did win.

I have to be negative on this, but like all too many homeowners you did not say STOP when you should have - as soon as he started to fail in his performance.

Good Luck

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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